• Nobelle Liew

Unexpected Friendships

The best thing about going around eating all day, is meeting the lovely people behind each joint, talking to them about their passion and their dreams, and somehow just making new friends along the way. That's really how a lot of my relationships with foodies start, and sometimes blossom into something even more — as is the case with Yan here.

I met Yan — her boyfriend, actually (what, he was manning the cashier!) — when she was running a pop-up booth at a weekend market. I'd be fibbing if I said we had time for a colourful conversation all while she had her hands stuck to the deep-fryer, but we did catch up after, over Instagram, when I posted a photo and left some feedback.

The first casual shot I got for my Instagram.

I'd like to say there was more, but really that's where we kinda left it off.

So imagine my utter surprise when Yan reached out, and asked if I could do the official photography for her upcoming physical store! Literally cannot put my excitement into words.

The idea was simple. Get a couple of images that can be used for print, making sure styling's on point, clearly differentiating between their day and night concept. Just jotting this down's getting me all hungry and drooling. By day, they've got housemade har cheong gai (aka prawn paste chicken) wings with fragrant chicken rice and a fiery chilli, starting from a jawdropping $3.

I'm not kidding.

At night, they've got fancier (but no less hearty mind you) street fare going. Think okonomiyaki with shrimps and crab meat, a huge golden har cheong gai cutlet with fries, and their signature wings.

We met up for a couple of hours, went back and forth with reference images and details over text, and voila two short weeks since first touching base we were off to shoot.

And by jolly it was so much fun.

We were chatting about everything from work, to boys, to drama serials that we like, all while I was styling and snapping away. We took smoke breaks when the light was harsh, shared lunch where we bought one short, and cleaned up the space in comfortable silence when there was no need for banter. For people who have never worked together, I was really astonished by how we seamlessly worked as a team on set.

The deal was 8 photos, inclusive of huge poster feast shots and less fancy ones of individual dishes for their menus; but in the end, shutter-happily snapping away, I offered Yan extra photos to use elsewhere.

And I found myself more than pleased to.

There was a lot of post-processing involved in this job, but also a lot of fun. I got to play around with food, chow on some uh-mazing har cheong gai wings along the way, push my boundaries, and at the end of the day hand a set of photos to a very pleased friend. Here's to your new venture Yan, may Ah Tan Wings grow to be as big as your dreams.

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