@GirlEatWorld: Meeting the Instagrammer Behind the Camera

June 8, 2015 by Helen Winter

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has become so much more than Valencia selfies or X-Pro II cats. Beautifully shot images of fashion, travel, and of course food, have got more than 300 million of us scrolling in search of inspiration.

Admired by over 137,000 followers, Indonesian native and full time web consultant, Melissa Hei is making her mark on the Instagram-verse with her account @girleatworld. We caught up with the girl behind the camera, who travels the world snapping drool-inducing images of local foods in front of the world’s most incredible land and cityscapes.

https://instagram.com/p/tt2y_SoSsU/?taken-by=girleatworld

I came up with the idea for @girleatworld in 2013 on a backpacking trip in Europe…

I was travelling solo and I didn’t feel like asking strangers to take pictures of me and I’m not too fond of selfies. But, I am always eating! I started taking pictures of the foods I was discovering in front of whatever memorable site I was in. I posted these pictures to my personal Facebook where I received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback.

One of my Instagram-savvy friends convinced me to create a dedicated Instagram as he thought that other people would enjoy the photos as well. I only finally got around to it after my Japan trip in May 2014 — about eight months after I started taking these pictures. And that’s how the @girleatworld Instagram was born!

Melissa Hai

Melissa Hei, aka @girleatworld

I usually photograph street food…

It’s handy because street food is readily available and easy to hold up in front of the beautiful sceneries. I always use local food and it’s even better if there is a story behind it that I can tell my followers.

I use an iPhone to take all my photos…

The image quality is really great. After I’ve taken the shot I just enhance it using the photo editing app VSCO Cam.

To make the photographs look effective I just follow some well-known rules of photography…

I take time to make sure there is a good ratio between food and the scenery behind it. After all, in my images I am trying to tell a story about both.

I have been to 32 countries and counting…

It would be impossible to list them all and picking favourites is difficult too! I guess if I had to pick, it would have to be Japan or Thailand.

Hellokittydonut

As for the best and worst food I’ve eaten…

The best is everything in Japan and Thailand. I loved onigiri in Japan, which is a rice ball with various stuffings. I haven’t had any food that I dislike but I have had some weird ones! One notable one is sannakji, which is a Korean delicacy made of freshly chopped octopus and some sesame oils. The limbs are still moving when it came to our table even though the animal was technically dead… It was really weird, but it didn’t taste too bad.

My ultimate food destinations to go to would be…

Mexico as I love Mexican food! I’d also love to go to Turkey and China.

https://instagram.com/p/recfAkoSv4/?taken-by=girleatworld

I can’t believe how successful my Instagram page has been…

It’s absolutely nuts. I didn’t think people would enjoy my pictures so much! I think people like my images because they tell a story from a single photo. I try to pick food or places that have an interesting story behind them and represent the culture of the country I’m visiting. I think deep down everyone has that longing for travel and to eat food they have never eaten before, so my Instagram helps them experience that.

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About Helen Winter

I'm a passionate (see: obsessed) traveller. I love to explore a new country on foot; whether it's through the narrow streets of historic towns, or along ambitious hiking trails in a national park. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @winter_wanders