Inspiring Creator Series: Julia Konovalova from Imagelicious

Post by
Marisa Young
Inspiring Creator Series: Julia Konovalova from Imagelicious

Accomplished cookbook and recipe author Julia Konovalova has turned her love of photography into a key ingredient of her creative process, combining her passion for food with brand photography on her blog Imagelicious.

The foodie favourite from Toronto, Canada first came to our attention with her ‘breakfast in bed’ series, the perfect inspiration to set the scene in your own home where the natural light shines. Since then, Julia has wowed us with her levitation, splashes, smoke and flame techniques which add magic and drama to her deliciously good food content.

If you look at  Julia’s Instagram feed, you'll see that she doesn't mind sharing insights to her creative process and showing behind the scenes as she makes her mouthwatering photographs. We admire how Julia maintains a healthy work-life balance while still being a doting mother to her young daughter, who often appears in many of her Instagram posts and stories.

Keep scrolling to learn more about Julia and her creative ways; she is an inspiration to everybody, not just those in the food photography genre.

Meet Julia

Welcome Julia! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi everyone, Julia here. I am from Toronto, Canada. Sharing with you some fun facts about myself. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Math with a major in Computer Science and have worked in the IT industry for many years.

I am the eldest of four kids on my dad’s side and I have a younger brother and two younger sisters. There’s a 15-year difference between me and my youngest sibling.

Lastly, I have a published cookbook called The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook which came out in 2018. I also have a food styling book coming out in winter 2023. It’ll be called The Ultimate Guide to Food Styling.

Julia isn’t afraid to experiment with unconventional food styling techniques or set things on fire in the name of creativity. Source: @imagelicious

How did your journey to photography start? Have you always been a food and product photographer?

I’ve always been into food and cooking. At some point, I started sharing my recipes on various food sites and forums, that was almost two decades ago and way before personal websites and blogs existed. I started taking pictures of my recipes and some looked better than others. I got fascinated by it and purchased my first DSLR camera, took a few courses, and started working on my skills. A year later I decided I wanted to become a food photographer. I was quite terrible but I didn’t know it back then :)

What equipment do you use? (camera, tripod, lighting etc)

I use a mirrorless Nikon z6ii with mostly Nikkor 24-70 f4 lens and sometimes Nikkor 60mm micro lens. I am a Nikon girl and I’ve always had Nikons. I use a Manfrotto tripod for my side shots and a c-stand for my top-down photos. I photograph with natural light and artificial. For artificial, I use Godox AD400Pro strobe.

What is your favourite lighting to use?

Natural light is my favourite!

One of Julia’s signature ‘breakfast in bed’ scenes set up where she finds the best natural light in her home. Source: @imagelicious

What are your three favourite props to use?

I have so many props, so it’s difficult to choose. Ok, let’s try. One. I have a fake eucalyptus branch that has a slightly yellowish tint and it works great for any season. I love using it in the background and in the foreground also. It doesn’t even look fake, so it’s perfect. I have to stop myself from adding it to too many shots.

Two. Blue/teal coffee mug. It’s from a local artist and it has a beautiful colour as well as the perfect size. Not too big, not too small. Just right. I love using blues in my food photos, so it works great.

Three. Two custom-made cutting boards that I purchased from Ukraine a couple of years ago. They are also just the right size and work great in many photos. I use them way more than I probably should.

The teal mug provides a recurring pop of blue in Julia’s Instagram feed and the perfect prop for her action shots and splashes. Source: @imagelicious


What is your best advice to share with aspiring photographers?

Practice, practice, practice. And when you think you got it, practice some more! I practice all the time. Even if it is not for a client or my social media, I often just practice different setups or lighting techniques or styles in photography.

Also, styles change and evolve and photographers need to stay on top of all the emerging trends. So, practice is essential.

Your behind the scenes reels are very popular, any advice for creatives wanting to produce this type of content?

My advice would be to not overthink it. If you want to create behind the scenes videos, then just create them! Don’t worry about lighting or perfect angles. My setup is a phone on a spider-style tripod that I squeezed between a door and a shelf. It’s the most basic setup. Behind-the-scenes videos are supposed to provide information, so there’s no need for cool transitions or slow motion. Just start filming yourself during your photoshoots.

Two of Julia’s best performing Instagram behind the scenes reels showing her set up in her home studio and some levitation (and photoshop) magic. Source: @imagelicious

How do you keep learning and evolving your skills? Any recommendations for courses, people to follow etc?

Domestika has a lot of courses that are at a very affordable price. I took a couple and don’t regret it. Of course, I’d like to promote my upcoming Food Styling book also. It’s already available for preorder on Amazon. Here’s the link.

For myself, I study photos that I like. I don’t just look at them but I deconstruct them in my head. Is there a specific composition grid that was used for the image? What are the techniques used in the image? What lighting is used? Colours, textures, etc. I try to pick an image apart and then see what specifically I liked about it. And, as I said earlier, practice!!

Which other creators do you admire and find inspiring?

I am inspired by these creators:

Lastly, what is next for you?

Right now I am focused on my food styling book that will come out next winter. So, working on creating a buzz on my social media for it. Next, I don’t know. Taking it a day at a time.

Thank you Julia for sharing your journey with us and being an inspiring to many of our community members through your educational and engaging content. We are looking forward to getting our hands on your new food styling book. If you don’t already, we highly recommend following Julia on her Instagram to keep up with her videos and tips or pop to her website to check out her blog and portfolio.

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