BRITISH COLUMBIA
09/05/2014 03:46 EDT | Updated 09/05/2014 03:59 EDT

B.C. Photographer Of The Month: Joann Pai

Joann Pai is used to eating her dinners cold.

When the food photographer first started playing around with a camera, she would take the necessary time to style and shoot her meals. When she was finally done, the food wasn't hot anymore.

A small price to pay, though, for discovering your passion.

joann pai

Pai was born in Taipei, grew up in New Jersey, and moved to Vancouver 15 years ago, where she majored in criminology and psychology at Simon Fraser University. But after graduating, she found herself bouncing aimlessly from one desk job to another.

"I had the notion that I worked to live, not lived to work," she told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email. "I woke up one day wanting more out of life; I wanted to really start living."

So she took a leave from work and booked a flight to Paris. There, she was inspired to document the beautiful things she saw, photographing the meals she and her friend prepared for themselves. That's when her love for food photography, shall we say, began to cook. That was four years ago.

joann pai

Joann Pai found her passion in Paris.

"Soon after I started I couldn't imagine my life without photography," said Pai.

"Whenever I picked up my camera it felt like I was finally doing what I’m meant to be doing."

She began freelancing on the side and recently quit her job to pursue photography full-time.

The 32-year-old said that for her, light and composition "are the foundations of good food photography. I like photos that tell a story; ones that give you a sense of time and place."

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Food Photography Of Vancouver's Joann Pai

She loves photographing food with interesting texture and colours, and calls melting subjects such as ice cream "a pain but a good challenge."

While anyone with an iPhone and an Instagram account can take a nice photo of their meal (Pai included), a lot of work goes into a professional shoot.

Pai acts as both photographer and stylist on smaller scale productions.

Before any shots are taken, she chats with her clients to develop the art direction and find a location. Then she sketches out composition possibilities so that she has some ideas when the day comes.

At the actual shoot, Pai works with chefs on the preparation timing of their dishes so that they look as fresh as possible. She said she takes a "main" shot and then tries out different compositions. And then, lastly, comes the editing.

joann pai

Pai has received international attention for her work, including in Forbes, The Telegraph, and Wired.

She also recently launched the online lifestyle magazine Acorn with local designer and photographer Tina Albrecht.

"Both of us wanted to create a platform where we can push our creative boundaries and showcase local talent," Pai said.

"There’s nothing better than doing what you love with people you love."

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