Food vlogging: more than meets the eye
Whether it’s a birthday party, going out with friends, or just spending time alone at your favorite cafe, eating out has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. With the advent of restaurants and the rise of social media users, we have entered the era of food vlogging.
Some of us find the idea laudable, while others find it cool. However, food vlogging is not limited to what we see in videos. These include stories of struggles, challenges and successes interwoven with misconceptions and prejudices. By digging deep, we have retrieved the intricacies of the food vlogging scene that fascinates us so much.
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Community not competition
The food vlogging industry is mostly made up of people who just love dining out, so much so that most food vloggers started with the goal of sharing their experience with a wider audience, to help them decide what to try and what to avoid, saving a volume of their time, not to mention disappointments.
Unlike most other industries, it is an industry that values community over competition, where members learn, grow and thrive together, while pursuing their passion. It’s a place to collaborate and help others grow, while allowing people to explore new foods and places through content they can relate to.
It’s also a foodie community where age is just a number. In Bangladesh, we have food vloggers from different age groups. While Fahrin Zannat Faiza and Iftekhar Rafsan are among the younger cohort, Adnan Faruque and Mahathir Muhammad Fahim Khan are a generation apart, but everyone is equally welcome.
Passion or job?
Food vloggers basically comprise a passionate group of people who are enthusiastic about food. However, this passion comes at a cost in time and money. Food vlogging, in most cases, is not impromptu. It’s a long process from planning to publishing, which involves thinking about content, deciding on a location, recording and editing. Although it is a hobby, it takes a significant amount of time.
While some may consider it a profession, it is still seen as an unconventional path in our society that lacks respect and acceptance. People who decide to build their career around content creation are also considered mavericks. On a more positive note, this mindset seems set to change with our generations and future generations as we embrace new ways of living and earning.
“Although content creation is not yet accepted as a profession, it opens up networking opportunities, improves presentation skills and is a way for people to express themselves. At least now our older generations are open to listening, and that’s a start,” shared Khudalagse co-creator Salman Sadi.
Overcome the odds
We see in the videos what the presenters choose to show us, but there are a lot of complications on the other end. Even the best content creators can actually be camera shy, anxious, and uncomfortable. It takes a lot of confidence and courage to face the camera and deliver in front of a large crowd, even for professionals.
Nusrat Islam, content creator at Zoltan BD, and also a newscaster by profession, agrees. “Although I’m used to speaking on camera, when I started food vlogging I had to overcome the stiffness that naturally crept in. It usually took a few retakes to get it right.”
Apart from personal conflicts, there is a horde of people ready to launch shameful comments leading to cyberbullying, which all food vloggers have inevitably experienced. Receiving rude remarks rather than constructive criticism from the audience they are aimed at can be extremely hurtful and can even lead to depression.
“Like most other channels, ours is also sometimes inundated with negative comments. But we realized that one group will always hate no matter what and the other will shower you with love. We chose to prioritize to the latter and to continue doing what we do,” expressed Rasif Shafique and Ridima Khan, content creators at Petuk Couple.
Masked with misconceptions
There are some misconceptions about food vlogging, and certainly the biggest one is paid reviews. While there’s no doubt that paid reviewing is part of the vlogging scene, not everyone is part of this unscrupulous practice. However, inadvertently, the responsibility falls on everyone who belongs to this foodie community.
There are basically three ways to make money from food vlogging – via social media ads via monetization (the contribution of which is insignificant), sponsorship and paid collaboration. While the first two are legitimate ways to earn rewards for effort, the latter is considered unethical, diminishing the authenticity of food vloggers in general, contaminating an entire industry.
Another common misconception about food vloggers is the idea that their goal is to achieve and enjoy fame. However, for them, it often comes across as a struggle rather than an achievement, as it damages the credibility of their critics.
“After garnering a number of subscribers, I started getting special treatment from restaurants, which I really don’t appreciate. Instead, I want to get the raw experience that any regular customer would get and share my unfiltered stories. After all, we are not here to criticize, but only to share experiences,” said Fahrin Zannat Faiza, content creator at Khudalagse.
The invisible challenges
Although building a social media presence seems easy with low barriers to entry, it’s hard to break into it. Of the hundreds of content creators available today, only a few have made an impact, and it hasn’t come without challenges. However, it is also a place where professionals are easily replaced. With this in mind, it is necessary to be consistent, to improve over time and to adapt to changing trajectories.
Due to its unconventional nature, getting started with content creation and food vlogging doesn’t come with a set of guidelines, and it’s up to the individual to figure things out. “Initially, when I started, I had no technical knowledge and had to learn how to film and edit from scratch. It’s a steep learning curve, but it’s worth it! ” said Iftekhar Rafsan, content creator at Rafsan TheChotobhai.
Since its inception, over the years, food vlogging has come a long way. While in the past it was laughed at rather than valued, people are slowly realizing its importance. It’s not just another fad in the age of digital evolution, but food vlogging is here to stay, and there’s a whole lot more to it than meets the eye.
Photo: Khudalagse, Petuk Couple, Rahsan, Zoltan BD