Meet DYLAN + JENI, the coolest couple on the food and travel photography scene.
Dylan Ho and Jeni Afuso fell in love over late-night taco runs and cozy suppers at Lucques in Los Angeles. After a day spent stuffing themselves on a surprise trip to Mexico City, followed by a marathon meal at Pujol, Dylan popped the question, getting on one knee, surrounded by flickering candles. Jeni said a teary, "Yes."
And we know all of this because of Dylan and Jeni's now-retired food blogs, which chronicled their food-centric adventures all over Southern California and abroad, post after post of hidden restaurant gems and date nights with a mysterious "D" or "J."
These blog posts are a first glimpse of what Dylan, then an ad agency art director, and Jeni, a former kindergarten teacher, do now. That is, hang out with chefs, travel the world and shoot amazingly beautiful food and drinks for a living.
The L.A.-based duo made the jump to full-time photography this past summer, ditching their old careers (and blogs) for this new one together, and they're doing pretty well. As in: shooting for the likes of Bon Appétit, Saveur, Food & Wine and now Tasting Table for this very feature (!!!), plus scores of big clients, like Bacardi USA, Major Food Group (Carbone, ZZ's Clam Bar) and more.
"We met through food and wrote about our food and travel experiences purely for our enjoyment like many others," Dylan reminisces. "It wasn't until we were asked to photograph for a restaurant and shoot for a publication that we realized that we could make a living out of something we enjoyed doing together."
"We got to a point where we knew we had to choose our careers," Jeni adds. "Most of my recess and lunch breaks were spent on the phone conferencing with clients or checking in on a shoot, but there was something very exciting about transitioning from a long day of teaching to jumping on a plane to shoot cocktails or pizza!"
Follow Dylan and Jeni on Instagram, and you'll see what they mean. One day they're jetting to Thailand to capture the thrill and mystery of street food for Bangkok Airways. The next, they're shooting a new restaurant in their hometown, armed with a heat gun, tweezers and a pretty amazing pair of scissors.
The pair shared their tools of the trade, from their non-DSLR shooter of choice to that all-important heat gun, plus a few coveted items they've collected on their travels (see the slideshow).
Though they blush when they look back on their old blogs, they haven't forgotten their first love connection.
"We talk about writing a travel blog together, but it's on the list of the many things we want to do together," Jeni says. "We'll get to it one day!"
But for now, the L.A. couple is fine with what they're doing: shooting their first book, one with Punch's Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, and eating, traveling and more eating.
"Our passion is learning about a culture and ethnicity, and food is the best way to experience it," Dylan says. "For example, we didn't know anything about Mongolia, and rather than just read about it, we went there for two weeks and really learned a lot . . . about Mongolia and each other."
Now that's true love.
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