SA's Food Selfie Queen covers herself in edibles & captures it on Instagram

04 October 2018 - 00:00 By Zola Zingithwa
Dragonfruit is the star of this shot.
Dragonfruit is the star of this shot.
Image: Christy Strever

Search for Christy Strever on Instagram and you'll find some very interesting pictures of a woman covered in all kinds of food. From liquorice and guava headbands to vermicelli cake sprinkles worn as a bodysuit, there seems to be no limit to the self-titled Food Selfie Queen’s imagination.

Along with make-up and other props, this professional Joburg photographer takes creative pictures of herself covered in food. The results are artistic, but playful, photos of food like you have never seen it before.

She is not afraid to smear herself with milk or chocolate spread for her self-portraits. She uses honey to stick coarse salt on her face and is even willing to strip to her underwear in a restaurant bathroom to get the perfect shot.

Why, you might ask?

Well, according to Strever's Instagram account (@christystrever), she does it for fun. We caught up with the Food Selfie Queen to ask her more about her quirky project.

We read that your project was inspired by a picture of a woman with a pineapple on her head. Why did it resonate with you so much?

The woman in the picture just seemed to be having so much fun balancing a pineapple on her head at the beach. All you could see were her gorgeous eyes and the pineapple. I decided I just had to try that. I had no idea that it would lead to the food selfie portraits. After I took the pic and saw the reaction, I had an orange in my fridge, and thought, “Why not do it with an orange as well?” Then, well, the rest is history, as they say.

Christy Strever re-enacts the picture that inspired her to start taking food selfies.
Christy Strever re-enacts the picture that inspired her to start taking food selfies.
To create this shot, Christy Strever used condensed milk to stick Vermicelli cake sprinkles on to her skin.
To create this shot, Christy Strever used condensed milk to stick Vermicelli cake sprinkles on to her skin.
Image: Christy Strever
Christy Strever uses a mix of Kryolan face paint and normal make-up to create her looks.
Christy Strever uses a mix of Kryolan face paint and normal make-up to create her looks.
Image: Christy Strever
Christy Strever fashioned jewellery from Liquorice Allsorts for this shot.
Christy Strever fashioned jewellery from Liquorice Allsorts for this shot.
Image: Christy Strever

How do you pick the main ingredient for each shot? Do you just rummage in your fridge or do you conceptualise first and then buy what you need?

Well, this really depends on my mood and what's in the fridge. In the beginning, I went to the grocery shops every day to get inspiration. I would then buy one piece of fruit … every day for two months. I became a local in my shopping centre. Some days I would just stand and stare at the fruit and veggie section for up to 10 minutes thinking about what I would be working with.

Who does your make-up for you?

I love that you asked this question because it makes me feel really good as I do all my own make-up. I use a mixture of Kryolan face paint and normal make-up. I come up with all the ideas and how I need to execute them. It’s a one-man show, really.

Sometimes I amaze myself at my face painting skills … really, I do. I generally don’t wear make-up, so it was a shock to see that I could do fun stuff - thanks to Pinterest, of course (laughs).

How long does it take to dress up for each shot? Clean-up must be tricky?

Again it’s dependant as to what I’m shooting. If I’m making jewellery from the food, or doing very intricate face painting, then it can take a while. Sometimes the food needs to be cooked and prepped.

Clean-up is a nightmare! Oh my word, the worst clean-up was the fresh cream and the honey one. Oh, and of course the sprinkles … Nutella! I had Nutella everywhere. For the sunflower one, I had craft glue on my face, fingers, camera.

Let’s not forget the milk! A friend of mine threw the milk at me and I took the pic as it hit me. My face looks ridiculous in it but it’s a classic picture.

Christy Strever does all her own makeup for her shoots.
Christy Strever does all her own makeup for her shoots.
Image: Christy Strever
'I took this picture as a friend threw a glass of milk at me,' says Christy Strever.
'I took this picture as a friend threw a glass of milk at me,' says Christy Strever.
Image: Christy Strever
'I had craft glue on my face, fingers and camera after this shot,' says Christy Strever.
'I had craft glue on my face, fingers and camera after this shot,' says Christy Strever.
Image: Christy Strever
This Nutella shoot was one of Christy Strever's messiest.
This Nutella shoot was one of Christy Strever's messiest.
Image: Christy Strever

How do you take the pictures? Do you sometimes collaborate with another photographer?

I don’t collaborate with other photographers as we then get the dilemma as to who should get the credit - the person who sets up the picture or the person who takes the photo. These pictures are hard work; I know exactly what I want done, so it’s easier for me to set my camera up on a tripod, with my cable or using the timer, and take the picture myself. In that way, there is no confusion as to who did what.

On the odd occasion, when my hands are just caked with food and I can’t touch the camera, I take pictures with my toe (laughs). It isn’t that easy and I have had to fight with the cable button not responding to my toe, then the camera will take the pic when I’m pulling an angry face trying to get my toe to do it.

Gordon Ramsay started following me and I couldn’t speak for about 15 minutes, I was so excited

What has been the reaction to your photos?

Oh, people just love them! I honestly felt reborn as a photographer. Before I had 500 followers, Gordon Ramsay started following me and I couldn’t speak for about 15 minutes, I was so excited. I used to be a chef, so it meant the world he followed me.

The first pic of mine he liked was my red velvet one (another very messy shoot), then (he) followed me after I posted the green olives (picture).

Christy Strever's ode to Red Velvet cake.
Christy Strever's ode to Red Velvet cake.
Image: Christy Strever
Christy Strever gained Gordon Ramsay as a follower after posting this shot on Instagram.
Christy Strever gained Gordon Ramsay as a follower after posting this shot on Instagram.
Image: Christy Strever
'This shoot was a super sticky one to do, I promise this will be my last lollipop shoot I do,' says Christy Strever.
'This shoot was a super sticky one to do, I promise this will be my last lollipop shoot I do,' says Christy Strever.
Image: Christy Strever
Christy Strever covered her chest in custard for this shot.
Christy Strever covered her chest in custard for this shot.
Image: Christy Strever

What do you do with the edible props afterwards? Have you been criticised for wasting food?

If I can eat them, I will, otherwise I give the food away to friends or my security.

Anything that has been on my skin, I throw away, unless I can still salvage it, but most of the time the food has wilted or gone dry or has glue on it etc. I haven’t got criticism yet for it but my wastage isn’t that much. 

What is your absolute favourite picture?

Tough question! I have a few, although I was very proud of the whisky shot. I had no idea I could paint whisky pouring in ice like that. However, I also love the sunflower one and, ooooh, my milkshake pic.

I have two of the milkshake photos. The best is with the tiles in the background. I went to a restaurant, as I wanted to photograph a badass milkshake, although to do this I had to go take the picture there. I got there before they even opened, set my lights up in the bathroom, placed very large plastic bags down on the floor on the toilet and under the sink, stripped to my panties and began the shoot. There was sprinkles, ice cream, cream, Smarties and heaven knows what else everywhere! But with the plastic down it was very easy to clean.

Shot in a restaurant bathroom, this is one of Christy Strever's favourite food selfies.
Shot in a restaurant bathroom, this is one of Christy Strever's favourite food selfies.
Image: Christy Strever
Christy Strever credits Pinterest for her impressive face painting skills.
Christy Strever credits Pinterest for her impressive face painting skills.
Image: Christy Strever
Occasionally Christy Strever branches away from edibles and features flowers in her selfies.
Occasionally Christy Strever branches away from edibles and features flowers in her selfies.
Image: Christy Strever
Clean up can be tricky after covering yourself in fresh cream.
Clean up can be tricky after covering yourself in fresh cream.
Image: Christy Strever

What are the Food Selfie Queen’s plans for the future? How do you see the project growing?

I guess there is only so much fruit and veg and then, yes, I have to start expanding. I occasionally do flowers, beverages and certain meals. I won’t photograph with meat. I do want to expand and I have so many ideas for companies and their products. It doesn’t have to be just food. I have had an enquiry to do a shoot with 100kg of rainbow cake sprinkles! Very excited to do that.

Because I’m not making an income off my food selfies, I can’t put my all into it, as I need to work. But, one day, I’m hoping to collaborate with Gordon Ramsay! That would be glorious and terrifying.

I have had people ask if they can buy my pics for their house and, yes, of course you can! One day I’ll do a coffee-table book too.


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