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Check Out Chris Shields’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Shields.

Hi Chris, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve struggled with disordered eating all my life, and it has controlled me every waking moment for a long time. I went through overindulgence, malnourishment, extreme quality assurance, unhealthy physical fitness, and just about everything in between. When I finally started my path to ED recovery, my perceptions and outlook on food completely changed. I developed a newfound appreciation and admiration of food that I never expected. Once I got past my fears and insecurities, I discovered how excellent food could be in every aspect, from the aesthetics and appearances to the smells and tastes and textures and sensations. Food became something I enjoyed being around, and I wanted to immerse myself as much as possible in that world. I started cooking, baking, and doing everything I could with food. I worked food-industry jobs, researched cooking methods and origins, and began documenting everything along the way. It started with writing down recipes and snapping quick food pictures on my cellphone. I now work as a baker in a local bakery and work with many different restaurants to take high-grade photos of their product. While I don’t have an established business model or anything in the way of professional authorization, I’m having fun, and so are the restaurants. Hopefully, this will lead to a career someday, but I’m fine right where I’m at if it doesn’t.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges?
The road to ED recovery is never easy, which was reflected in my professional journey. Anyone who has struggled with disordered eating can tell you that it never entirely goes away. You get better at controlling it. Photographing food and immersing myself in the culinary world as I did take its toll on my mental and emotional state to the point of near collapse. I often felt I was in over my head with something as simple as going out to a restaurant. After many relapses and an absurd amount of overthinking, I powered through. I’m proud to say that EDs no longer rule my life, and I have my food Photography to thank for that. Facing my fears helped me push through the struggle and gave me a positive outlet for something I found uncomfortable.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I take food photos for social media, which sounds like no big deal in the modern age of food blogging, but the way I do it is meaningful to me. I focus specifically on local restaurants or small businesses exclusive to my area. It started as a way to support local businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic, but I developed a deep passion for it. There’s something special about experiencing food that no one else anywhere in the world can try unless they come to my neck of the woods. Local food is so unique, and it’s exclusive no matter what it is, where you are, or who makes it. In addition to focusing my attention on local restaurants, I also try to edit my photos as little as possible. Of course, I touch things up here and there during the editing process to leave with something worth looking at, but I try to keep everything as true as possible. I even avoid touching the food when it’s served because I feel that presentation is a massive factor in the experience. You eat with your eyes before your mouth. Most food bloggers enhance their pictures to no end, and perhaps it’s the journalism student in me, but it doesn’t feel very ethical. I try to show people a real-life glimpse of real life. It’s more authentic and appealing to me, and I hope it is to others.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
I’m a people person, so I have a habit making friends everywhere I go. My friendly personality rubs off others during interactions, and I always leave with good connections. The food is good, and the hobby is fun, but what I value most is meeting new people and hearing what they have to say at the end of the day.

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Chris Shields

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