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Take your pic of the Food Selfie Queen’s tastiest shots


Take your pic of the Food Selfie Queen’s tastiest shots

Christy Strever covers herself in food and captures it all on Instagram. Here she gives us a taste of the process

Zola Zingithwa

Search for Christy Strever on Instagram and you will be met with 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, it seems no food is off limits from the self-titled Food Selfie Queen.
Along with some makeup and other props, Strever takes  artistic, fun pictures of food the likes of which you have never seen before.
She is not afraid to smear herself with milk or Nutella; 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 do any of this, you might ask? Well, according to her Instagram account (@christystrever), she simply does it for fun. So we caught up with the Food Selfie Queen to ask her more about her quirky project.
I read that your project was inspired by a picture of a woman with a pineapple on her head. Why did that 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 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.
Who does your makeup for you?
It makes me feel really good as I do all my own makeup. I use a mixture of Kryolan face paint and normal makeup. 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. I generally don’t wear makeup so it was a shock to see that I could do fun stuff … thanks to Pinterest of course.
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.
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 the specific food you will need?
Well, this really depends on my mood and what is in the fridge. In the beginning  I went to 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 what I would be working with.
How long does it take to dress up for each shot? Cleaning up must be tricky.
Again it’s dependent 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 was the fresh cream and the honey one. 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.
What has the reaction been 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 that he followed me. The first pic of mine that he liked was my red velvet one (another very messy shoot), then he followed me after I posted the green olives picture.
What do you do with the edible props afterwards? Have you gotten criticism for food wastage?
If I can eat it I will, otherwise I give it 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. I haven’t gotten criticism yet it but my wastage isn’t that much.
What has been your absolute favourite picture?
I have a few. I was very proud of the whiskey shot. I had no idea I could paint whiskey pouring on ice like that! I also love the sunflower one and my milkshake pic. I have two of them; 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 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 were sprinkles, ice cream, cream, Smarties and heavens knows what else everywhere! But with the plastic down it was very easy to clean.
What are your future plans for the Food Selfie Queen? 
I guess there is only so much fruit and veg. 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 an inquiry 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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