The D.C. food scene is pretty fantastic. Now that we’ve got some Michelin stars, foodies are flocking to the District, inspired by some of D.C.’s best and brightest food Instagrammers. One of the most popular of the bunch, @DCFoodPorn, captures the most delectable meals in the area. Over the past three years, the account has racked up 109,000 followers and partnerships with tons of restaurants and companies.
FamousDC met with the man behind the mouthwatering shots, Justin Schuble, to learn about the account and the best (and weirdest) of D.C. food.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and how you ended up in D.C.?
My name is Justin Schuble and I am 22 years old. I was born and raised in the DMV and attended high school in Potomac, MD before going to Georgetown University to study marketing and finance in the McDonough School of Business. I am currently a senior at Georgetown and plan on sticking around D.C. after graduation in the spring.
Why did you start @dcfoodporn?
I started @dcfoodporn because I love food. I always have, and I always will. I created the account, originally named @freshman_foodie, at the end of my first year at Georgetown. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it and never imagined it would grow to the size it is today. To be honest, I hated eating at the dining hall and started to explore the D.C. food scene instead. I always considered myself to be an artistic person and started to photograph what I was eating with my iPhone.
At the time, taking photos of your food was not the norm, and #foodporn was just starting to become a thing. I never thought the account would be anything more than a place where family and friends could see what I was eating. But people started to follow, and I saw an opportunity to really create something. I decided that I wanted to change the name to something a little edgier, something that people would remember. I eventually decided on @dcfoodporn, to the dismay of many family and friends who thought the name was a little too “out there.” After that, I bought a DSLR camera and focused on improving my photography skills, posting content on a consistent basis, and growing the account.
What is the best part about running the account?
Free food, lots of it! Honestly though, the best part about running the account is that I get to do what I love every day. Food and art have always been two of my passions, and the fact that I can do both full-time after graduation is exciting. I have had the opportunity to partner with a lot of inspiring brands, both big and small, and I hope to work with even more in 2017. I have also met many incredibly talented people throughout this process, some of which have become close friends of mine. It is amazing how social media brings people together. I wouldn’t trade the relationships I have developed for anything.
What is the best meal you have ever had in D.C.?
I don’t like picking favorites, but if I had to choose a meal that truly stood out, it would have to be Little Serow. I love spicy food, and this Northern Thai restaurant brings the heat. I also am a big fan of their fixed menu concept. It is fun to walk into a restaurant and not have to worry about what to order. At Little Serow, they take care of everything, and they do it well. The meal is around seven courses of, and each one is more flavorful than the last. At one point, I had to wipe my tongue off with a napkin because everything was so spicy. I loved it though!
What is the weirdest/worst meal you have ever had in D.C.?
I am not going to comment on the worst meal I have had, but one of the weirdest and most memorable meals that I have had in D.C. was at Minibar by Jose Andres. It felt more like I was in a mad scientist’s lab than a restaurant, but the experience was unique. The courses consisted of a lot of liquid nitrogen and unusual ingredients and pushed the limits of what I thought was possible with food. This is a meal worth experiencing.
Do you have any tips for aspirational food photographers?
Lighting is SO important! Natural light will be your best friend when it comes to food photography. Finding a spot in the shade or catching light coming through a window is ideal, since direct sun can create harsh shadows. I always ask for a window table if it’s available. If it’s 20 degrees out but the lighting is better outside, that’s where you’ll find me.
Your equipment is also important, but less so today than it was a few years ago. I typically use a professional camera (Sony a6000), but some of my most-liked photos were taken on my iPhone. It has become tough to tell the difference between the two since the quality of phone cameras has dramatically improved.
Editing is also a crucial step. While I am a huge proponent of keeping things simple and not over-editing, it’s important to make sure you are showcasing the food and making it look as real as possible. This sometimes requires some adjustments to things like exposure, contrast, saturation or hue. My favorite editing apps are Lightroom Mobile and Photoshop Fix.