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Personal Branding and Burmese Food Instagram


My guest in this episode is 20-year old influencer, creator and food photographer Kyi Phyu.


We talk about how she started her social media journey and how the next generation of Burmese youth can access the world via the internet.


 


Kyi shares the story of how she decided to start her Instagram account, growing up as an English speaker in Yangon and the importance of utilizing social media as a platform and tool for today's youth to connect with the world.


The first part of the conversation is in English.


ဒုတိယအပိုင်းမှာ မြန်မာလို ပြောပါတယ်။


 


 

I'd like to start with the topic of personal branding. Did you make the decision to brand yourself with your food channel, for example, your food photography?


I guess in the beginning I had no idea what personal branding was. I just started it because because I thought it'd be fun and then throughout my journey, I feel like personal branding would involve posting in certain niches and the manner of way I speak and how I share my food content with people - something that sets it different from other food bloggers.


Can you take me back to the beginning? When did you first get interested? And tell me about the first time you posted.


Right, so I posted, I believe it was the end of 2019. So the funny thing is, one day I was just scrolling through my camera gallery because I was bored and then I came across so many food photos and I just thought, ‘Maybe I should turn that into an Instagram.’


And so that's exactly what I did and I started posting from there. It wasn't until the pandemic during March, April when I actually like started to focus on growing the community and the audience and just improving my photography. And so I've just been trying to improve every single post I do. And yeah, it brings us to where we are now.


Did you ever consider anything else? Like, why food? What attracted you to the food photography?


Growing up, I would say I loved food a lot and then reflecting back to it now, I also loved just capturing the tiny moments and just the fun in life and it makes sense that what I'm doing now combines both food and the capturing part of it. So it's like, things I love doing as a child. It's become like a job now, you know.


Do you think there's something especially about burmese food that makes it photogenic?


Yeah I feel like Burmese food is super unique and especially on Instagram I feel like Burmese food isn't really shown and so it allows me to kind of showcase it super uniquely.


And especially in Burmese food it's like this array of ingredients and salads and noodle soups - they have so many ingredients and so it's great for photos especially.


Yeah totally agree. Looking at your feed always always makes me so hungry.


I'm glad.


 



 

So you started 2019. You started just publishing photos from your camera that you already had. Tell me about the responses in the early days. What kind of response/feedback did you get?


In the early days it was just like my close friends and family that were following me. And I guess they were good responses like, they loved seeing the food as well and so yeah it was pretty good.


What about today? What kind of audience do you have right now?


At the moment I have grown my account, not just for me, People are not just my close friends but now it's like mainly international people, people from the US, Australia and also Myanmar people.


The thing I really like - this must be a new thing - is when you start posting tutorials. Tell me about that. What were you thinking?


So I guess I never thought of posting tutorials in the first place because during the beginning of my journey I was just posting photos but slowly I started incorporating videos, like, the food animations I'm doing now and then.


People started DMing me first, like, they started asking me, ’How do I do this? What camera do I use? How do I create these animations?’ and so I thought I want to help them. I want to help them know what I’m doing and so that's why I decided to create my behind-the-scenes.


People definitely enjoyed the behind-the-scenes more because it's more... it's not just you know like the pretty polished photos it shows you what actually goes on behind every single animation, every single post and people could relate to it so hopefully drive more engagement and growth.


Can you tell me a little bit about your routine? So what camera do you use, first of all?


I use the Fujifilm X-T20 to shoot my photos.


Did you start with your phone?


Yeah actually I did. The first few pictures I posted were just like with my phone and nothing else, no setup, no nothing, just on the phone. And then it gradually improved to a camera and now I have the lighting equipment, backdrops and stuff. So it's slowly improving over time.


When you go out to eat for yourself, do you take photos there or is it mostly set up just for instagram?


Nowadays just because I haven't gone out too much, all of my photos recently are more set up, not really at the restaurants.


How do you decide on the dishes, like what meal to prepare and what to make?


Some of the meals featured on my Instagram are from businesses who reach out and who I reach out to sometimes, and then it's for them. It's promoting for them. And then as for the other dishes I kind of just try to post meals I eat usually.


Do you cook yourself?


Most of them, yes!


Okay let's move a little bit towards your college days. First of all, you said you went to International school in Yangon. Can we talk a little bit about learning English? Because your english is perfect. What age did you start learning?


I actually started when I was super super young. So it was 2005 / 6 yeah. So ever since I was a tiny child, like 4-5 years old.


Do you think it's easy to become fluent in English from living in Myanmar?


It definitely depends because like especially for someone like me who went to an International school at such a young age, all I spoke at school was English and so over time we got used to it you know. Whereas just for a normal Burmese person learning how to speak English, that might take a little bit longer.


And what do you think people's attitudes are right now towards English?




 

Listen to the full conversation on the podcast.


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