Where are you located?
I’m located in Sydney, Australia.
In one sentence, describe your motivation in life:
As cliché as this may sound, it would have to be the happiness, health & comfort of my family.
Tell us the story of how you got started with your food photography, styling, and blog?
A couple of years ago I left a very demanding teaching job for what was going to be a short break. Instead, it became a time of reflection. I began to rethink where I wanted to head (career wise). I really felt I needed a change and change I did!
I decided to explore a different career all together and so I fell back onto one of my first passions, photography!
I enrolled myself into a course and started photographing mostly kids and families and little bit of food photography here and there. This year I decided to put my focus on my food portfolio and now that’s what I mostly do (with still a bit of kids and families here and there!).
I started my Instagram ‘The Lebanese Plate’ in April of this year with really no expectations. I just wanted to share my love for photography, styling and growing interest for cooking Lebanese food. The positive feedback I received was overwhelming with many wanting to know my recipes. So, that’s where the blog was born.
What is one of your favourite images that you have taken and why?
Oh asking me to choose a favourite image is like asking me to choose a favourite child! I have so many and mostly of my own children!
I guess if I were to point out one ‘foodie’ one it would have to be the first time my baby boy sat with us, in his high chair, at the dinner table. You can see his tiny little fingers trying to reach out for food like the rest of us. It was such a precious moment.
What has been the highlight or ‘I can’t believe this!’ moment so far on your artistic/entrepreneurial journey?
My first major highlight was having 3 of my images on display at the State Library of NSW as part of the Canon Shine exhibition.
Another, more recent, highlight would definitely have to be my nomination in Kidspot’s Voices of 2015 online creatives. Making it further from there into the Top 100 and now in the Top 3 of the Food and Travel category, Australia wide, still feels like an ‘I can’t believe this’ moment!
How does your faith affect your approach to your art/business?
My faith plays a major part in my life and hence affects the way I live my life overall.
In my creative world, I tend to address issues affecting my faith more so in my personal work. I feel I’m in a position to send a message through my creative sphere about who we are, especially as Australian Muslims, and what we stand for – as opposed to what’s regurgitated by the media.
This may be by creating thought provoking portraits of happy, young, independent Muslim ‘hijabis’ or a more powerful message such as the one behind one of my Canon Shine images.
The young girl in that image is a proud 3rd generation Australian, of Lebanese heritage and a Muslim. My intention was to send the message that she is very much like many young Australians. She is taught to work hard, be trustworthy, be appreciative for what she has & take advantage of opportunities placed before her.
This young girl is my daughter and like any other parent I have hopes & dreams for her. So I’ve used my art to send this greater message. The hope that she will grow up without fear of discrimination based on her choice of dress or religion. That she will not be labeled as an ‘other.’
And my biggest hope & dream of all is that she will not spend her teenage & adult years proving she belongs in her country of birth – a country she loves & we call our own.
So, through this image (and others) I can relay what my faith means & what we teach.
What/where/who inspires you?
So many different things inspire me. Sometimes it’s other creative pieces such as paintings, drawings or even creative texts. Sometimes it’s the food I eat and where I dine. Other times I can be really quite random like the time I organised and planned a whole shoot around my daughter’s Converse!
How do you handle the inevitable creative block??
I usually need to step away from what I’m working on for a little while and do something totally unrelated. I find this works best for me because my ideas flow at the oddest times and in the weirdest places!
What 2 pieces of advice, based on your own experience, would you give to a fellow creative/entrepreneur starting out?
1. Don’t ever let social media numbers (follows or likes) dictate your worth or your ability to reach a goal. I’ve come across so many online creatives who only have a handful of followers. This in no way takes away from or reduces how talented or successful they are.
2. Never give up! The road ahead will be rocky and the creative industries are saturated but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for you. Be patient, work hard, learn from your mistakes and try and try and try again until you develop and refine your craft.
Favourite Social Media or Marketing Platform?
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Mecca. Medina. Spain. Lebanon.
Where would you love to see your business in 5 years time?
My goal is to move solely into food photography and styling and potentially, when I develop my skills to a desired level, to teach in this area too.
You can find Lina and The Lebanese Plate here: