Women Changing the Food Game: Michaela Hartwig

Meet Photographer and Videographer, Michaela Hartwig


Women Changing the Food Game:
Meet Photographer and Videographer, Michaela Hartwig

March 2020 marks the 30th year of National Women's Month. Though equality for women globally has a long way to go, it's evident that we're gaining momentum. Like most industries, Food Media has always been male dominated. From editors in chief, to celebrity chefs, to top writers and photographers. BUT, I'm flipping the script and facilitating change the best way I know how, by honoring all of the bad-ass women in our community! 

This month, I am interviewing an array of women in the food industry from writers and photographers to stylists -overall cool AF trailblazers. Each week we will feature a new creative and ask them about their work, how the industry has treated them (the good, the bad, the ugly) and hopefully this conversation will inspire and open the minds of other men and women in the industry and in our community. This week, it is my honor to share with you all, Michaela Hartwig, an amazing photographer who's work you might have seen on our Chocolate or Baking Instagram accounts. 
Q:  Welcome, Michaela!  Tell us a little about yourself!

A: I am a self taught food photographer and stylist, nowadays I think my job is called content creation. Most commonly I don't shoot big campaigns, but create content for other brands for their website or social media accounts and from time to time I also do sponsored work with partners I trust as a blogger and photographer. I started writing my food blog in 2013 and since 2016, I was able to make money with photography.

Q: What are three foods you've had recently or trends that are exciting you right now?

A: My top 3 foods right now? Sourdough, Fermentation and French Patisserie in general.
Q: You and I both started our careers in fashion. I working in still styling while you worked in design; I always felt like the two worlds are so similar and translated well. Do you think your design background has helped you in the food/photography world?

A: At first glance, fashion and food are not really compatible, but both topics have one very important thing in common: aspiration for aesthetics. I've never really been into the fashion world and its trends, but I was a passionate handbag designer for a German luxury brand because I loved playing around with shapes, color and proportions. Sometimes moving details around just a few millimeters turned the design from good to brilliant. I think the same can be applied to food photography, and the gastronomical world in general. Food has to look appealing. I see BEAUTY as the big common element in both worlds.

Q: Your bio from your blog shares that you moved to Berlin for university, what’s your background? Have you always lived in Germany? What is the food scene like  there? In America, food media, from magazines to bloggers influence a lot of the food culture, do you think it’s the same in Germany?

A: I grew up in a little rural town in the south of Germany. That was the reason for me to move to Berlin after school, because I was longing for a different world from the one I already knew — one which was more open minded, creative, and less conservative. I've never lived in a foreign country, not because I didn't want to, just because all the opportunities that opened up were quite by chance located in Germany. I think magazine culture here is still a little old fashioned in comparison to the US. Indeed, in the meantime, a lot of food bloggers with different focuses (rustic lifestyle just using seasonal products or completely vegan) have been launching their own cookbooks. Actually the influence of Instagram has become more important over the past couple of years, especially for the younger generation. But still, you won't find any "avant garde" food magazines in the supermarket next door, it's still dominated by old fashioned formats. I hope that this will change over the next few years!
Craving waffles? Check out our waffle feed on our website HERE!
Q: What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in photography and styling in the food industry?

A: Practice is most important. To push yourself to a level of quality where you want to sell and someone is willing to invest in. Through studies, culinary school, workshops, self taught, whatever. When you're ready to start out I think it's most important to stop undervaluing yourself as an entrepreneur - I've made that mistake several times myself. Furthermore, I think it's very important to network with other women and to build a community where you can find help whenever you need it. In Germany we have a photography club just for women, where you can ask for help or give advice to others, especially when it comes to pricing your work or stuff like that. I am in a Whatsapp group myself for female photographers in Munich. I've experienced so much support from my female colleagues already and I feel honored to be a part of a very supportive, helpful community and to know other amazingly talented women.

Q: What do you wish you had known when starting out in this industry?

A: I think it wasn't so much the knowledge about photography or styling. It was more the knowledge about pricing. I wish I knew what licensing your image costs and what you have to include in your first quotation. I started out on a very low daily rate and it's hard to explain to long-term customers, why they have to pay more now.

Q: Who are your top 3 women in the industry that you find inspiring and would urge our community to check out/support?

A: My good friend and food photographer Claudia Gödke from Berlin (@claudiagoedke). She's not only a badass photographer, but also a strong woman, open-minded, very funny and everything she says is well conceived. I look up to her.

Ana Ros, head chef of the restaurant Hisa Franko in Slovenia. Her way of dealing with local ingredients is breathtaking.

I also love the work of Kathrin Koschitzki (@Photisserie)- she's a photographer and patissière chef and she is defining beauty in her very own, unique way.

Scenes from Walchensee, Germany, photography by Michaela Hartwig
Q: Do you have any writers, artists, bloggers, organizations etc. that you feel are doing some exciting work right now?

A: Food related: I am a big fan of Bea Lubas. And she is launching a book in the summer - and i am pretty sure that this will be a MUST for any food photographer.

Not food related, my friend Leona from Berlin (@avecpluscommunity) is doing amazing work. She is working as a freelance coach and everything she says is so true. She's honestly speaking about depression and loss, and develops strategies on how you can start loving and valuing yourself again. Very important for this fast lifestyle, that many of us are living today!

Big thanks to Michaela for sharing your story with us. Tune in every Tuesday all through the month of March for a weekly feature of amazing creative women!
Check out Michaela's Profile on The Feedfeed.com HERE