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Case of the Fridays – Food Blogger Whitney Bond

I’ve chosen food blogger Whitney Bond for today’s “Case of the Fridays.”  Whitney started her food blog a few years ago and it has since gained incredible popularity.  Her site gets over 100,000 visits per month, she has her own web series TV show, and is regularly featured on sites like Yahoo and Huffington Post.  I really wanted to interview Whitney because she has demonstrated a true pursuit of her passions in life, and has achieved a lot of success in regards to her goals.  In college, she successfully produced a fashion show, was featured in Maxim magazine, and is now maintaining a highly successful food blog – all big achievements that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Whitney is based out of San Diego but her work is independent of location.  This allows her to travel sometimes up to 6 weeks at a time, and removes any pressure to be in one place in order to run her business.  I’m excited for the years ahead for her, as I’m betting you’ll be seeing her on the food network in her own show.

 

I interviewed Whitney at her home in downtown San Diego, where she does the majority of her cooking, food photography, and blog writing.  Here’s a visual for the conversation that takes place in the interview:

 

 

What is your name/age?

 

Whitney Bond – 28

 

What is your occupation?

 

Food Blogger – soon to be published cook book author.

 

Where did you grow up?

 

Edmond, OK.  It was a good place to grow up – nice people, small town, grew up across the street from my grandparents, great cooking.

 

What level of schooling have you completed?

 

I have an AA in broadcast journalism.

 

How long have you been doing what you currently do?

 

It will be 2 years in August since I started my blog, but it will be about a year of being a full-blown food blog.  I’ve been doing it full time since January, shortly before that I was working as a social media manager for another company.

 

Did you have a 9-5 job before that?

 

I worked one somewhat 9-5 for a few months, selling custom-made suits for men.  That was probably the most normal job I’ve had.

 

How did you become involved in the work that you currently do?

 

I was in LA & started writing a blog about all the stories I had to tell…my brother’s best friend wrote a blog that I really liked, so I decided to make one for myself and follow a similar format.  I liked cooking for my friends (I’ve always loved doing that), so I talked about that a lot when I first started.

 

In college I’d bake cookies and just give them to people in my dorm as a way to introduce myself.   Being from out of town it was a good ice breaker and it was a great way to make new friends!  Haha

 

I started experimenting with more foods, making my photography better, and sharing recipes on the blog – and more and more people started sharing them and commenting on my posts, so it just caught momentum from there!  Eventually Huffington post emailed me asking to feature one of my posts – and that’s when I realized I was a “food blogger”.  It was a *career path* that I was now heading down, and that made a pretty big impact on me!

 

How much longer do you envision yourself working in the field that you’re in?

 

That kind of depends on the food network and when they give me my own show (laughs).  I’ll write my blog for the rest of my life…might be one post per week or maybe other guest writers to continue the food blog but I’ll keep writing going forever to journal my life.  All of these goals and aspirations that I have for my life – I see the blog going along with it.  It’s a part of me, and I can never really see letting it go.

 

So if the food network offered you a show next week, would you move your concentration to video and put the blog on the sideline?

 

I’m used to working a thousand hours a week – so if I’m doing the show and working 120 hours a week, I’ll still go and write a blog even at 2 AM to maintain consistency.

 

What is it that you love about your work?

 

I love being in the kitchen and making something from nothing and then being amazed at what I’ve created – how it tastes after I cooked it.

 

Giving people access to recipes to people that don’t intimidate them.  Having pictures to show people helps take some of the intimidation out of the process, and helps assure people that they’re ‘doing it right’ along the way so they don’t run off course.  You never know what recipes people are really going to latch on to.  It’s an awesome experience to go from conceptualizing a dish to making a dish, to photographing the dish, to tasting the dish, and then putting it in a blog post and hitting “publish” - you have NO IDEA whether a thousand people are going to view that post or a million people will view that post.  It’s so exciting…you never know.  You just have to put yourself out there.

 

Do you feel like that carries over to other areas of life, or other businesses that people may be in?

 

Yeah, you know I really do put myself out there, I’m very social and I’m sometimes loud and crazy, but it’s all in having fun with what you do and putting yourself out there for people to get to know you.   I never know what I’m going to get as a response from people – but at least I’ll know that they’ll either like me for being me or they wont like me for being me.

 

What is your least favorite thing about your work?

 

The business side – the side where I actually have to make money off of it.  It’s such a personal thing – your putting yourself out there and now you have to commercialize it to make a profit.  But you gotta pay bills, you gotta make money.  I’d love to just write and not have advertising.  But I love the products that I endorse, so it helps that I believe in them and actually use them.

 

I don’t like people saying mean things – some of the comments I get are just so mean-spirited.  Sometimes people will make some kind of mean comment about my cheese – “what’s wrong with my cheese?  Why would you say something about my cheese?”

 

Are there any questions that random people ask that you might feel are inappropriate?

 

“How do you make money?”

 

“How much do you charge your clients?”

 

Is there anything you miss about life back home? 

 

Yeah, the simplicity of it.  And of course I miss my family.  That’s the hardest part of everyday – going without seeing them on a regular basis.  I just miss a simpler life – being out on the lake, no cell phones – no computers.  Just you and your family out at the barbeque.   Warm summer nights.  Everything gets more complicated the older you get.  Living in a city is just more fast-paced.   I think people in Oklahoma have good values while Californians lean more towards a self centered culture.

 

What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?

 

I get to eat REALLY delicious food everyday – so I’m very well fed!  Haha.  Great for my soul, bad for my waist-line.

 

I can go home for a week and see my family, and still work from Oklahoma.  I can extend my trips back home, or if the Thunder keep winning like they did last season, I can stay for 6 weeks!  Haha

 

I’m not confined by anyone – I have complete control over my business and my brand.  I understand why when you work in a corporate environment – rules can be so structured to protect what they’ve built.

 

I had a mother of 4 boys emailed me telling me that the first time she cooked for her family was one of the recipes she had found from my website.  You don’t get that kind of feeling when you’re working at a corporate job.

 

Wow!  That’s pretty remarkable.

 

I want some kid to go home and ask his mom to make him a recipe from my site and go, “Mommy, I want that buffalo chicken that Whitney posted on Little Leopard Book”.

 

What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?

 

No salary would be #1.  You’re completely on your own when it comes to money coming in the door.  I know there are other perks – health insurance, benefits…although I maintain a pretty healthy lifestyle so that doesn’t really play in too much.  I guess it’s all that bacon grease that I grew up on in Oklahoma.

 

Mainly the biggest thing that I miss is just having someone deposit a bunch of money into my account every two weeks.  Haha!

 

 

How different is the dating scene for you?  Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?

 

It’s tough.  I feel like I’m never going to meet anyone that works as hard as I do.  I feel lonely a lot.  I feel like not a lot of other people understand or identify with what I’m going through with my business.  My friends are THE BEST – and it’s not that I feel alone – but sometimes I just don’t feel that not everyone can identify with what I’ve got going on during a weekly basis…except my mom.

 

I feel guilty because I don’t want to squish someone’s fun –  they should be able to go out and have fun on nights & weekends or whatever.  I just want to find someone that’s passionate about their work and wants to go until 10 o’clock at night because they love what they’re doing.  They don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur, but someone that’s just stoked on what they’re doing for a living.

 

What do you think about work/life balance?  When is it too much?

 

It’s hard because I think a lot of successful entrepreneurs will say the same thing – they’ll set “personal time” off to the side until after they’re done with a project.  But then once the projects done, something else comes along.  And when does that stop?  When all your personal relationships deteriorate?  It’s a difficult thing to balance doing what you love with spending time with the people that you love.

 

Is there enough time for a relationship?

 

I think there is.  I don’t mind giving someone my time as long as they don’t waste my time.  Sometimes relationships can go pretty quick because I realize that a certain person isn’t someone I want to be with for the long run – I’ll recognize red flags early on & just end it before we both waste our time.

 

Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?  Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?

 

Haha I definitely don’t spend it on luxurious goods – it all goes back into the business.  There’s no such thing as savings right now.  My number one motto in life is to live everyday.  If you’re saving all your money and not doing the things you want to do right now, I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make during your youth.  I have a friend who always says she wants to go on all these trips but can’t because “she can’t touch her savings”.

 

And to me I’m thinking, “What?!  What do you mean can’t touch your savings?  Are you serious?  If you die on your way to work the next day – that money’s gonna go to someone else.”

 

If you have that entrepreneur mentality where you know that you can find gold at the bottom of the ditch, you wont have any problems if you lose all your money.  Like, say all my clients decided they were going to suddenly stop advertising on my site – I’ll figure something out – I’ll start doing social media consulting, I’ll start doing catering.  It’s not the end of the world.  Financial security should not be your top concern in life – it should be having a good life.

 

I have more business ideas than I do time to carry them out.  So I’m sure that I’ll figure things out should obstacles arrive financially with Little Leopard Book.

 

How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?

 

I don’t think I’ll ever retire – I love working.  When I was a little girl, I played “own my own business”.  I had a bank, a post office, many restaurants…I always had all these businesses – I didn’t play with barbies.  I had my mom bring home deposit slips from the bank so I could pretend and use them for my own pretend bank.  I never dreamed about my wedding, I dreamed about being on the today show.

 

Why sit on the beach when you’re 60 – you’re gonna be all wrinkled and old!  I’d rather sit on the beach now while I’m fit!

 

I don’t ever see myself just trotting around the globe and not working.  Maybe not directly running my businesses like I do in my 20′s and 30′s, but I’ll still have an active interest in how I make a living.

 

Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?

 

You know…it’s not my priority right now.  I’m a very fairytale dreamer where I feel like there’s one person for everyone – if I’m lucky enough to meet him tomorrow, then sure.  I’m not the girl that brings up the conversation about marriage after 6 months.

 

I think those commitments can be made without having to go to a courthouse and signing documents.  I’d love someone to be there to share the highlights and be there for the bad days.  I love kids – probably more than everyone I know, but I never saw myself as having my own.

 

If I do, I’d imagine myself having one kid that would travel with me and come along for the adventure rather than having my life completely changed and oriented around raising children.

 

What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?

 

My business is right now my #1.  Making it to where myself and my family can live a comfortable life for the rest of our lives.   I want to be able to live in the same place as my family, spend time with them and be around them – my mom is my best friend and I love hanging out with her.  She’s come out here because I’ve had meltdowns and she’s come to just be there & go hiking, or go eat In & Out on the beach.  Or we celebrate when my business is doing great.  And then I get to treat her to a nice restaurant or go to Disneyland together.

 

Definitely on the giving back side – as far as my time is concerned, I’d really like to speak to younger girls.  Most families aren’t as encouraging and supportive as mine has been – sometimes even critical and tell their kids that their not going to make it or achieve much.  I’d love to go back to my hometown and share my story with girls who wouldn’t imagine a possibility of moving to California or making their dreams come true.

 

I want to be able to be there in their corner to help them believe in themselves.  To be willing to put in the hard work.

 

The second part – the monetary thing – I’m gonna go back to the restaurants that I worked at when I was young, and leave a $10,000 tip because waitressing is THE WORST job ever.  And it’s the toughest!  Those people really deserve it and it will be one of the best days of their life…it will be awesome to give them that feeling.

 

I have recurring nightmares from my waitressing job when I was younger – people don’t realize how tough that job really is!

 

If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?

 

Don’t settle for the first thing you do.  If I did that, I’d still be working at Sonic.  My first business was a modeling agency.  I used to tell people “not” to eat, now I tell them “to” eat.

 

If you have that feeling of wanting to go in a certain direction, definitely pursue it – but don’t think of it as being your end-all.  There’s so much thing as a failed business.  You learn from everything you experience.

 

At 18, all you’ve been doing is f*ckin’ around in high school.   I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to be the first 5’3’’ supermodel. when I was that age.  That’s what was in my mind at the time.

 

You have to be flexible – you have to figure out what you love and figure out how to make it profitable in life.  It’s a unique path – take a route on something that you’re passionate about.

 

If you have passion for your work and what you do, it carries over into all other areas in your life.

 

You know, you made me realize something about entrepreneurship and a learning lesson that comes along with – by understanding the amount of time it takes to work on something or make a goal happen, you subconsciously realize how valuable your time ‘outside’ of work is as well.  Does that carry over into who you decide to spend time with.

 

Totally.  My group of friends is absolutely f*cking awesome and I definitely want people that make me feel better by being around them, not bringing me down but being supportive of one another.  I would hope that they feel the same way by hanging around with me.  The ones that have been there through everything mean so much to me.

 

If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?

 

Consistency is huge in a lot of aspects.  You have to be consistent with your blog – if you’re not regular, they’ll follow another writer.  You have to be consistent with your brand.  I think branding is huge.  People expect to come and see something they can get value from.  You have to produce similar kinds of content on a regular basis.  You have to be on top of things when big companies like HuffPost email you looking for a certain recipe or a piece on something seasonal, etc.

 

Personality.  A blog is different than a website because you’re subscribing to get a story.  You go to the food network to get a recipe – with my book – you go to get a recipe and a story.

 

Who inspires you?

 

My mom.  She’s just the happiest person I know.  For no real reason – she just has the best attitude and sees the best in everything and everyone.

 

My dad inspires a lot of my cooking.  He’s so creative in the kitchen and is so supportive of everything that I do.

 

My grandma – she was just so happy being at home cooking for the family, living a simple life.

 

What do you think of authority?

 

I’m not good at authority at all.  I think that’s a big reason for me being an entrepreneur so I don’t have someone telling me what to do all the time.

 

Meter maids really get to me – I love it when I pull up to a meter and there’s still 30 minutes of green left.  Feels like I “won” one against them.  I don’t know how someone can be a meter maid.

 

How do you establish a clientele and a following who regularly attend your events?  Was it hard to get the initial momentum going in the first place?

 

My initial following were my mom’s friends and my friends.  Mainly going to other people’s blogs and commenting on their posts and they’d come to mine.  From there, the majority of my major following came with stepping up my ‘picture’ game.  When my photos and my food looked better, it’d get published more around the web.

 

~FUN QUESTIONS~

 

 

What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?

 

A model.

 

What are some of your favorite sounds?

 

I liked trains until I moved here!  Haha.  The sound of the oven beeping, haha.

 

When my grandma passed away, my dad asked if there was anything that I wanted from her house – I told him “the bell”.   When I was a little girl, my grandma would cook dinner for us all and there was a china cabinet that housed this little glass bell.  And it was the dinner bell that I would get to ring when my grandma was finished cooking.   You could ‘only’ get to ring the bell right before dinner, so that made it special.

 

What’s your favorite curse word?

 

Fuck.  I say fuck all the time.  My mom gives me so much shit for having such a potty mouth.

 

What’s your favorite memory from your past? 

 

When I got the acceptance package for SDSU.  I didn’t even pull all the way into the driveway – just ran into the house screaming that I got in.

 

I remember when I found out I was going to be in Maxim (for modeling).  I always wanted to be published in a nationally recognized magazine.  That was like my end goal – I had done everything that I had wanted to do, and at that point, I was like “what do I do now”?

 

It’s a cool feeling, but it’s scary.  I sometimes think that if I were to die, I wouldn’t be really worried like, “what!  I didn’t do this, or I didn’t do that” - I’ve led a pretty good life.  I feel like I’ve really lived.

 

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?

 

A monkey.  I don’t know they seem like they’re having a lot of fun swingin from tree to tree.

 

What are some of your favorite smells?

 

Flowers.  I love having fresh flowers in my house.

 

What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?

 

Oh!  I got in trouble for a lot!  Just throwing fits & just being a brat.  My mom would tell me to go to my room and think about what I’ve done.  I would scream and kick because she would send me there and I would hate that authority.

 

Most kids would just go through the punishment and just take it.  I’d kick and scream and just throw a defensive up about the whole ordeal.  I think I remember getting in trouble for hitting my brother with a spatula – so I guess cooking just carries over into every area of my life, haha.

 

If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?

 

I’d definitely say Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama because it’s so similar to my story.  Small town->big city, ends up going home and marrying the guy.  Except with me, it’d be moving to the city and starting a business.

 

If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?

 

I would say the 50’s.

 

If there was one celebrity you’d like to punch in the face, who would it be?

 

Oh man there’s so many!  Can I get a double punch of Kanye and Kim.  Chris Brown!

 

What age do people become “old”, what’s the secret to staying young?

 

It get’s older every year that I do!  Haha so when I was 10, it was 20 – when I was 20 – it was 30 – now it’s 75.

 

What’s your favorite quotation?

 

“If you’re not with me during my struggles, don’t expect to be there during my success.”

 

It might sound bitter at first reading, but I kind of take it the other way.  One time I had to move 6 times in one month when I was living in LA – and the same group of friends helped me move each time…I’ll always remember that and I’ll always be there to support them when they need it.

 

If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?

 

If they’re genuinely interested in doing it and willing to put in the time & effort, and sharing their recipes with people – I’d love to help.  They can email me at whitney@littleleopardbook.com

 

Kimi Evans - Loved this! Whitney…can’t wait to see you with your own cooking show someday! You’re a rock star!!! :)September 27, 2013 – 9:54 am

Jenna - Yay for Whitney! I’m so pleased you’re finding so much success doing something you love . . . and it’s inspiring that you aren’t afraid of failure. I wish you the absolute best!!September 11, 2013 – 10:54 am

Cathy Dod - Hi Tim, Loved this post. Whitney is bright, beautiful and so very talented. No wonder she is successful in all her endeavors. She is an inspiration for sure. !!!September 10, 2013 – 1:51 pm

Ryan Greenleaf - So fun! She seems like such a cool person. WHO WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND HER?! :) I think you can relate to her Tim on “living a good life” with all of your travels. Heck that made me want to book a trip somewhere just to live!

Great Post!September 6, 2013 – 10:31 am

Case of the Fridays – CEO, Entrepreneur, and Media Expert Gary Vaynerchuk

Preface – I first read Gary’s book Crush It back in 2010.  He wrote about how someone can concentrate on what they love – even if it’s Duck hunting, underwater basket weaving, or the 1980′s show Alf – and make a living through blogging about the topic.  The book inspired me, and I’ve since followed several of his online channels to listen to and engage with his content.  He continually motivates me to take a critical look at social media and how it can best serve my business, and is one of the few people I’ve really found to be inspirational in regards to my career.  Here’s a quote from him that I feel hits the nail on the head:

A few people had asked me about how I was able to reach Gary for an interview.  Well, at the beginning of the year – he announced that he would be doing a series of 15 minute interviews for blogs and radio shows.  His company sent out an email announcement and I jumped on it.

I heard back a few days later requesting the interview date to be set in late August.  His schedule is extremely busy, and I had no issue with it.

His content has been responsible for motivating me to have such a go-giver attitude in regards to my business, and his ideas have helped shape my perspectives in relation to technology and social media.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the interview in-person, but I was able to chat with him on the phone yesterday and have dialogue about my questions.  (I’ve gotten responses from others stating they would fill out an email response, but I feel that an actual conversation is so much more genuine and less structured – so I passed for the time being.  It’s important to keep things *real*.

So with that, let’s get to the interview!

********

First off I’d like to say thank you – you’ve been a true inspiration to me. Your books have had a huge impact on how I approach business and relationships, and I attribute a lot of my success to your teachings.  As a matter of fact, this feature (Case of the Fridays) was inspired by your book Crush It.  It really drives me to see people pursuing their passions, and I’m happy to pass along the favor to those that are interested in making the leap.

 

Thank you man, that makes me super happy.

 

What is your name/age?

 

Gary Vaynerchuk, 37

 

What is your occupation?

 

Co-founder and CEO of a social media brand consulting agencyvideo blogger, co-owner and director of operations of a wine retail store, and an author and public speaker on the subjects of social media, brand building and e-commerce.

 

Where did you grow up?

 

Edison, New Jersey

 

What level of schooling have you completed?

 

Junior College

 

How long have you been doing what you currently do?

 

I’ve been a hustling since I ran lemonade stands as a little kid…driving around on my big wheels collecting money from my friends who were running it in different neighborhoods for me.

 

What is it that you love about your work?

 

The control.  I love the fact that I’m pretty in-control and that I’m the boss’ boss.  I like the fact that I’m the one that makes the decisions – what I want to do, how I want to do it, and how I want to go about it.  I would say that the control of my destiny is something that is very, very attractive to me.

 

What is your least favorite thing about your work?

 

I think that I just love to work so much that it draws me away from my family – who are also so important to me.

 

Yeah I actually read your post the other day about how your ‘best mistake you’ve ever made’ was working too much – how do you decide where to draw the line when it comes to choosing between an important family event and an important business opportunity? 

 

Well, I don’t really have a one-size-fits-all answer for you there – of course there are some promises and occasions that I wont miss like birthdays or anniversaries or big holidays – even if it was for the biggest business opportunity of all time…but I think you really have to address each circumstance on a case-by-case basis.

 

What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?  Is it financial success, influence, legacy…to buy the jets?

 

Having the at-bat to buy the Jets is just as good as actually buying them, haha.  And that is one of my goals, sure.  But I mean – look at where we’re at right now – I wrote a book and see how much that has impacted your life?!  That’s insane.  Do you know how I feel right now after you had made that opening statement??  That makes my head explode.  And I’m really just addicted to the appreciation that I hear from people.

 

Recently you put out a suggestion to people to ask their audience how they can be of service to them – I saw that some guy joked about getting a double cheeseburger and then posted a video when you actually sent him one.  What has the response been like to this?  What kind of feedback have you gotten from people?

 

Well, I did a spreecast the other day and got a lot of positive feedback from people that had actually taken it to action.  I, myself, experience GREAT results whenever I do it.  It’s something I’ve been doing for awhile now, but it’s just something that I’ve been ‘talking about’ more recently.  I really believe in the idea, and I think that by giving back – it’s a great way to lead a great life – and also have great business results.

 

You do quite a bit of traveling for your speaking engagements.  I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there that have ambitions to pursue that route in their field – are there any downsides or disadvantages that people might not know about that you’d be willing to share?

 

I think the cliché downsides of speaking gigs that everyone kind of anticipates are well known – the jet lag, the change in time zones, the airport food, the grind of always being up…but it’s all greatly off-set by the financial benefit and the admiration that comes from it.  It’s like a drug.  It’s hard work and it’s not as easy as it sounds, but that just comes with the territory.  It’s kind of like being an athlete or a pop-star…life on the road is hard work.

 

What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

 

I would say that I always want to bite off more than I can chew.  It’s difficult to maintain a solid structure between my ambition and my appetite.

 

I think I remember awhile back you mentioning the importance of learning how to say “no” to opportunity and the downsides of being a “yes man”.

 

Yeah man, it’s a huge struggle for me.

 

Do people ever say negative things to you in response to your videos or blog posts that make you want to stop producing content?

 

Yeah of course people can react strongly to my content – but I’m aware how I can come across at times and I’ve gotta respect that.  It really just makes me aware of how I’m different.  And as a matter of fact, it’s shocking to me at how little I get despite how outspoken I am and how “Jersey” I am – I really don’t get much at all compared to others at similar levels.  I really don’t like cynicism – I hate it, but I definitely use it as motivation to prove them wrong – to go to higher levels.

 

If someone were graduating college or switching careers to something they’re passionate about, what would you suggest to them to start on the right path?

 

To find an organization or a team that they want to be involved with, and offer to work for as little or as-close-to-free as possible.  Because the access is much more valuable than the short-term money.

 

If you were 20 again, is that what you would do?

 

Well in my case I was working with our wine company at 16 and I was already in love with it.  But if I didn’t have that and I was fresh on my own – 100% without a doubt.  If I wanted to be a lawyer, I’d go and intern at a law firm for free – the best one that I could get toand then just hustle 17 hour days until the right person noticed.  Because that’s how things work.

 

Do you think a lot of people feel held back because of money to do something like that?

 

Oh of course.  They need money for the short term – they have loans to pay, they can’t afford it, it’s just not practical.  But most people – when it comes down to it, they just don’t want to do itThey’ll jump on an opportunity to make 40 or 50K instead of putting in the hustle to work with something that’s going to benefit them ten-fold in the long run.

 

Does that come across as lazy to you?

 

No, it’s just that this approach – or this story – is not one that’s commonly told.  A lot of people get advice from their parents or teachers telling them to go to grad school or get ‘paid’ internships and that they should ignore the free ones.

 

For the bigger dreams – if you want to be “Puff Daddy” when you grow up, you need to go and work for Puff Daddy.  You need to figure out whatever it takes – email or call repeatedly and offer to work for free in order to get your foot in the door.

 

So, find some way to bring unique value to that person or organization?

 

Exactly.  Show them you can be truly helpful and proactive.

 

So, how would you suggest that someone sustains themself to be able to pursue such opportunities?

 

If you’re 18-25, get 6 roommates.  Work at 7-11 at the graveyard shift after you’re finished at your real job.  It really all depends on how bad that person truly wants it.  Truth is, most people don’t want it as bad as they say they want it.

 

So who has inspired you along your path?

 

My parents.  They’re the ones.  Nobody else.

 

~FUN QUESTIONS~

 

 

What are some of your favorite sounds?

 

My favorite sound in the world is the Jets chant you hear when you’re in the stadium.  Also, my little girl’s laugh – some of my friends’ laughs are hilarious.  People with different kinds of laughs are great.

 

What are some of your favorite smells?

 

White and Red wine of course.  I love the smell of barbeque, a pack of 1987 Huff Baseball cards freshly opened.  I also love the smell of burnt BMX bike tire on pavement.  Comes from when I was growing up – we’d all just ride around and skid out.

 

What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?

 

Report cards.  I was good with everything else, but I always got in trouble for getting F’s.

 

What’s your favorite quotation?

 

I’m not really much for quotations – but the only one that’s really caught my eye…that’s really stuck with me was from Jay-Z.  His quote, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”

 

Is that why you have him on your instagram profile picture?

 

Ha!  Yep.

 

Is there anything I can do to help you out today?

 

Uhh, yeah.  I’m really trying to push sales for Jab Jab Jab Right Hook – if there’s anything you can do…buy a couple pre-sales, maybe give one away on your blog-

 

I actually bought 5 pre-orders on Amazon yesterday, along with a couple Crush It’s for some friends because I love that book so much.

 

Awesome.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.

 

Now I’m wondering…what would it take to get an autographed version of Crush It?  That’d mean a lot to me.

 

Email me.  We’ll send it out to you next week.

 

Awesome.  And just one last favor to ask – I usually like to post a photo for people to have a visual of the conversation going down between us on my blog…do you think you could do me a huge favor and just send me a mobile pic once you’re off the line?

 

Sure man, no problem.

Gary Vaynerchuk Blog Interview

 

And here’s one of me in turn.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed the interview.  If you found it valuable, and think others would too, I’d love it if you’d share this.

And if you’re a big fan of Gary, or even if you’re not just yet – I’d suggest getting a copy of his new book coming out this fall.

Christine McDannell - Loved everything he said in this interview! Great questions, Tim. Especially enjoyed how much he preached “Hustling” AKA: Work for free to get your foot in the door and really prove yourself and work your little a** off. Such amazing advice and I am afraid some people think it is just “luck”.August 30, 2013 – 12:37 pm

7 ways instagram has helped me become a better photographer

I’m guessing most people’s reaction to seeing this headline will be to laugh, and maybe get them curious at what kind of amateur non-sense I’ll be talking about in this post.

As a matter of fact – it’s entirely the opposite.

I know several photographers who feel that instagram is an app that makes *anyone* feel like they’re a photographer…especially with all those nifty filters they have available.  And some of those photographers feel threatened by that, and dismiss the app as ‘below them’.

Well, let me say this: you’re doing it wrong.

In my opinion, instagram can be an awesome platform for professional photographers to show how their *eye* is what makes the difference…not that big fancy camera or expensive editing software.  It gives you the opportunity to show that with the same camera (a mobile phone), one’s perspectives can be significantly more creative than the average person.*

How many times have you gotten the compliment, “Wow, you take amazing photos!  You must have a really nice camera!

I sometimes feel compelled to tell them that they must have a great ‘mouth’ for making such a nice compliment.

It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for photographers to educate the public that it’s not about the camera, it’s not about the lens, but what’s *behind* the camera that makes the difference between an average photo and an extraordinary photo.

“Okay, Tim – point taken.  Now how has instagram taught you – how does my photography get better by using it?”

I’m glad you asked.

Here are 7 ways that this little app has helped me via Karate Kid methodology to improve my quality when it’s game time (AKA when I’m shooting a professional gig)

 

1.  Recognizing light, patterns, unique composition, or a moment and pre-visualizing the end result…on a daily basis.

There’s no substitution for the kind of learning you get from constant practice.  However, you’re not always going to have your professional camera with you wherever you go- and waiting to edit photos delays the learning process.  And ‘sometimes’ those personal photos don’t even get edited, especially during a busy season.

Using your phone on a daily basis to capture images that speak to you provides you with an ongoing experience of trial and error.  You take the photo, you edit it, and you can look back on it and think about how you could have made it better.  The simple system of instagram allows you to avoid the professional process of editing & storing your personal photos and gives you a sense of accomplishment when you see others appreciating your creative outlet.

By doing this regularly, you allow yourself to keep a constant eye out for compelling photos – maybe you see some cool light or shadows, symmetry, or a fun moment you want to share.  Instagram makes the process quicker, and allows you to put out photos in real-time for others to appreciate.

Here are a few examples of noticing some cool textures during everyday life that cross your eyes, but you may not notice:

Puddles.  Pay attention to their color and reflective abilities.

Puddles reflection

Here are a few other examples with puddles:

Took this photo while I was waiting for a client at a restaurant.  Restaurants, clubs, and bars often have really cool vibrant lighting and unique architecture.

Creative photographer on instagram

 

Was over at my friend Kelly’s for a barbeque and noticed the shadows on the overhang above the outside patio.  I moved around a bit to get the crossbars to move in a direction conducive to a photo, so don’t just think that the photo will come at first look.

Hashtag #lines #shadows

 

If it wasn’t for instagram, I wouldn’t have practiced so many reflection shots and understood which surfaces serve well for those types of photos.  Here’s an example of all that practice being put to use on a wedding:

Instagram practice while waiting at the SeaTac Airport:

Seattle Airport Instagram

Actual wedding photo taken with my professional camera:

See how that skill set parlayed?

Let’s move on.

 

2.  Following other photographers that are drawn to certain creative elements, and learning from their perspectives.

For a long time, I kept my feed strictly limited to photographers – as when looking at daily content, it would be filled with creative imagery from everyday life.

Whether it be eating lunch, walking the dog, drinking coffee in the morning, or admiring the local architecture – there are photographers that showcase this kind of everyday life in extraordinary ways.

Some photographers showcase an attention to symmetry, some to the art of telling a story, some to the use of light & color in an image, and some give attention to amazing surroundings.

I’ve noticed their style and approach towards ‘thinking’ about a certain photo, and tried out my own versions of them.  Some ideas I liked and stuck with me, and some I tried and didn’t use again.

As a result, having a regular stream of content filled with inspirational creative imagery rubbed off on me to help make my own original content.  And with that, cultivate my own distinct style.

So my suggestion to you would be: find and follow certain users that showcase the kind of photography you appreciate.  Learn from their composition, use of light, consistency, and try to create a similar version of your own.  As a result, constantly thinking about these elements will keep the train of thought fresh in your mind – forcing you to practice your skill-sets more and more.

Some recommendations of photographers I like to follow:

Chris Ozer AKA @chrisozer – great captures of scenery, particularly urban streets and NY city life

Dirk Bakker AKA @macenzo – awesome use of symmetry, lines, and detail in architectural design.

Dave Getzschman AKA @davegetzschman – really solid understanding and use of light in his photos.  I follow a lot of photojournalists on IG, but he may be my favorite since he’s so deliberate about what content he puts out.

Jose Martos AKA @sevillacreativa - great eye, especially in street photography.  Somehow, he always seems to find great compositions in relationship to moving subjects and their shadows.

Kevin Lu AKA @sweatengine – he’s on a 2 month road trip across the states right now, and showcasing some awesome imagery along the way.  Follow him if you want to get the travel bug.

Shelby Chen AKA @shelbtron - cool use of color palettes and negative space.  He sometimes matches a subject’s color with the background of an image which can spur some good ideas.

Theron Humphrey AKA @thiswildidea – he seems to have a knack for catching the *perfect moment* with his dog.  Cool compositions and fun to see his daily adventures

Teddy Aang AKA @teddyaang – cool editing style with consistently good breakfast/coffee photos.  He’s based in Indonesia, and features some stylish people from that neck of the world.  It’s nice variety to see that part of the world in my daily feed.

Jeremy Veach AKA @jermzlee – dog lovers…this is a must follow.  Amazing photo concepts with his pug.  The selfies are what get me the most.

As a suggestion, if you like one of these photographers – check out some of the other people that they follow.  Odds are, you’ll find more content along the lines of what you’re interested in.

 

3.  Geo-tagging, hashtagging and seeing different perspectives

An easy way to get a different view on a concept/location is to use tags.  Personally, I like to see what photos other users have uploaded from the same places that I’ve taken pictures.  If there’s an image in the gallery that looks like I’ve missed an area or gets me curious, I’ll try to explore to see where they had taken the photo – or understand their vantage point.  (Maybe it’s from above, down low, further away, or up close to something you hadn’t even noticed)

This approach allows you to practice on-the-spot, and can be really helpful in speeding up the learning curve.  It can also connect you with local photographers that might be willing to teach you during a 1-on-1 or an instameet.  (If you’re local to San Diego, check out @alozor, @kdkuiper, @joshuaraymund, @sandiegochris, @justn_sd)

Here’s an example of one of my more recent photos that I’ve taken.

Instagram geotag example

 

If you were to go into the geotag gallery, you’ll see this shot (below) that @joshuaraymund had taken a few days after.  If I wanted to make a shot similar to his, I’d go to the right side of where I was standing in my photo above, wait until sunset, and get down low for the reflection.  Having a kind of resource that allows you to find such creative photography at a moment’s notice is incredibly useful!

 

Another option is to approach a concept of a themed photo using hashtags.  I personally love the hashtag #fromwhereistand and have used it several times.  Browsing through the gallery has showed me ways that people have visualized the concept differently, and interpreted the idea in an entirely different way.  It also keeps the concept fresh in my mind, so that when there’s an opportunity for great photo that would apply to that theme, I’ll recognize it before I even take out my camera.

The account @instagram promotes weekend hashtag projects for users to take part in and submit their own content for a chance to be featured on their blog, and it’s a great way to get started.  A few of the categories they’ve done in the past include:

 

#whpFromWhereIstand

Instagram from where I stand hashtag

 

#whpSidewaysCity

#whpsidewayscity hashtag project

#whpSilhouettes

Hashtag #silhouettes

#whpThroughTheTrees

#whpthroughthetrees hashtag project trees

#whpFoggy

#whpfoggy

#whpLookingUp

#lookingup hashtag

#whpTakeAhike

#whpShiftingSeasons

#shiftingseasons how to use instagram hashtags

#whpReflectagram

#whpreflectagram how to do reflection photos instagram

Hashtag projects are great because they get people involved in an active way, and it frees you from regulating your own personal projects.  It’s a weekly challenge that’s completely voluntary, and it’s also a great way to find other photographers.  And while the weekend projects are great, there are also common hashtags that surround fun on-going themes.

Here are a few:

#fromwhereistand – usually of shoes or from the perspective from foot level

#onthetable – aerial and other creative views of meals/desks

#iseefaces – objects that resemble human faces

#putabirdonit – creative bird photography

#funbetweenyourlegs – it’s for cyclist enthusiasts, pervert.

#lookingup & #lookingdown – sounds plain, but surprisingly cool photos in these sets

#sleepclub – people passed out napping.  Not necessarily good for improving photography, but had to include it because I thought it was so funny.

#stairporn – find creative ways to look at stairs.

Using tags to see another perspective is a great way to exercise your mind to think differently.  ”Geotags are my anti-drug.”

 

4.  Only posting top-notch quality photos

This is an item that I’ve been heavily criticized (and appreciated) for.   I joke with friends about how I’m a ‘nazi’ when it comes to instagram – whether it be who I follow or what kind of content I post.

As a matter of fact, it’s even been a little awkward when in the professional realm.  For instance at an event I’ll be shooting – there are times when I’ll take a photo with a client, and they exclaim, “ohhhh put it on insta and tag me!”

Not that kind of instagram.

When putting thought, effort, and energy into your content – it shows others that you care a lot about what you post.  Rather than going straight from taking the picture to posting, take a little time to edit the photo with an app to give it an artistic feel that represents your vision.  I strongly feel that people recognize that effort, and are that much more inclined to comment and engage.  (The next blog post I write will be about “how I edit my instagram images” – so stay tuned)

And naturally, when you’re deliberate about what you post – it makes you *think* about your photos more carefully.  Not just snap and share…but create.  Thinking critically about your photos will constantly put you in a mindset where you pay more attention to detail, wait for the precise moment, and inevitably cause you to make better imagery.

I often find myself taking photos just because I like the composition at the moment…even if I’m not going to do anything to that photo.  Maybe I’ll just look back on it, think about what I did in it or how it could be better – then trash it.

Here are some photos that I’ve taken but haven’t posted either because I prefer not to post too often, the photo wasn’t as compelling as I had hoped, or it just didn’t meet my standard of quality that I prefer in my images.  (Or sometimes I just take selfies to send to the girlfriend or share with close friends.)

 


 

5.  Making photography an outlet for fun

If you’ve made a busy schedule for yourself as a photographer, it can become perceived as “work” whenever you go to take a picture.

For your passion to survive and continue throughout your career, I think it’s important to take pictures for “YOU”.  No pressure, no direction, no limitations, no deadlines, just your own creative vision.  Let a photo *speak to you* and capture it the way you want it.

Here are some photos that I’ve taken time to do purely for the enjoyment of making a fun photo:

 

 

6.  Getting feedback from others

I never really thought of instagram as a place to have my images critiqued or anything – but a lot of times I’ll notice something different about my photos after someone makes a comment.

For instance, I took this photo last year while swimming with sharks in La Jolla cove.  A couple people suggested that I should have turned the photo upside down.  And you know what?  It looked pretty badass that way!

Instagram upsidedown photos

 

I never really thought of doing that with my images, but it made me think in a different way from that point on.  Here are some photos that resulted after incorporating that kind of thinking:

 

 

7.  It’s not just the image that tells the story, but the caption as well.

Maybe it’s just me…but I can’t stand it when I see a photographer that I like bombard their photo with generic hashtags.  I feel like there’s a little bit of anticipation when a person goes to read a caption, and when they see it filled with a bunch of hashtags – they throw up in their mouth a little bit.

One or two aren’t bad, but overwhelming your audience with #’s loses their attention.  The story of the photo is reduced to your efforts to gain more followers – and to me – it comes off as try-hard.  Sorry if that offends you…but not really.  (See my post on hashtags for more of my nazi ways)

Here’s an example of how an image could look in 2 different ways.  How do you feel looking at each one?

 

Your photo tells a story, and the caption plays a part.  Don’t just leave it blank for interpretation either – people are curious about what’s behind the meaning of the photo!  Let them get to know you.

 

In closing…

Instagram is a platform with a tremendous potential for connecting.  If you’re looking for ways to advance your skills in photography, the resources are at your fingertips – and I’ve laid them out for you here.

If you got a lot out of this post, I’d really appreciate it if you would share it with your friends.  And whether you got 1, 2, or several new tips you’re going to start using – I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Notes*1 – I’m referring to professional photographers who strictly use their mobile phone cameras as opposed to those that upload professionally shot/edited photos from SLR’s.  In my opinion, that’s cheating.

Mary Clanahan - Hi Tim,
We met on the plane from San Diego to Denver where I enjoyed some of your photography. I found some of your work on line. My daughter Teri works a lot with instagram too. Her screen name is tallgal43. I was telling her about you, and she’d like to have your screen name and see your photos. She’s addicted to hashtags too.
She’s a very good artist and does cool work. Have fun!
harleyomaSeptember 30, 2013 – 1:50 pm

Sasha Juliard - This is spot on. I am kicking myself because when Instagram came out I thought it was a bunch of filter tricks and people sharing food pics. If I had spent more than 5 minutes on it I would have seen that it can be so much more and would have had a whole extra year to be playing around with it and improving.

It’s a tiny photo and can only be viewed as a tiny photo. You have to think about what can make an *impact* in such a tiny window. I had to start experimenting with angles and lighting that I wouldn’t have otherwise done. It had me paying much more attention to colors and textures around me which is admittingly my weak spot.

Not only has it helped me improve, but it is also an awesome place to showcase a special kind of photo that wouldn’t be right to post on Facebook or my website and would have died on my hard drive.September 11, 2013 – 12:58 pm

Phil Lambert - Awesome as usual Tim. I still think the airport shot with you in the Snorkel Gear is still one of my favorites, even if the debate still continues about “Who pushed the shutter or who composed the picture.” Taking quite a bit away from this post, I’m always learning.

Thanks Tim!September 2, 2013 – 8:25 pm

Ignite Images - Great article.

Just goes to show that it is the photographer who makes a great photograph, not the camers.September 2, 2013 – 12:16 am

Cate O'Malley - So many stellar tips, but, most importantly, not just a rehash of all the other IG tips articles already out there. And I’m totally going to cool it on the hash tags. ;)August 28, 2013 – 7:10 am

Vince and Angeline’s Winery Engagement Session

To bring you up to speed via HBO series pre-show style, here’s a quick refresher for today’s post:

-Met Vince and Angeline over a glass of wine to talk wedding photography.  Got overly excited, started planning engagement session even before booking

-Said they met at the beach, are now wine club members

-Wanted to make a tailored engagement session, decided to do 2 half sessions since locations were far apart

-Shot a kick-ass engagement session at the beach

And now…to tell the story of what they enjoy doing as a couple.  I know we could have probably done a session at Syrah or maybe a restaurant then tie in some wine & cheese platter to play off the idea…

But that wouldn’t be the *best*.  And I’m a firm believer in that if you’re going to do something, do it the right way, and do it the best way.

So we went to the vineyards.

 

As you’ll see in the photos, I try to get as much variety as I can during a session.  Close up, far away, silhouette, serious, and playful expressions.

 

 

Loved tying in the barrel room for these photos.  Used some off-camera lighting to separate them from the background and give some dimension to the shot.

 

 

You know me and my silhouettes.

 

 

There’s a badass orchard right outside one of the wineries up in Temecula, so we took a few photos along one of the rows of oranges.  Really happy with how these came out.

 

 

Ange giving “the look”, and Vince throwing an orange.  Love it when we can break from the norm and do these kind of fun photos during a session.

 

 

They asked if they could bring their dog Cali in for part of the shoot, and of course I said yes.  I love dogs, and consider them to be family.  Here’s one of my favorites of Cali posing for the camera.

 

 

While I really like this photo on it’s own – there’s a story behind it that makes it even better.  When Vince and Angeline were first dating, there was a day where they had been walking for quite a bit, and Angeline’s feet started to hurt.  So he picked her up and carried her!

Making photos like these that tell a personal side of the story make my work *that* much more meaningful.

 

 

Closin’ it out with the sunset silhouette.

 

Lawrence Bredenkamp - Nice photos.
Your use of light and depth of field portray the perfect mood.August 25, 2013 – 5:17 pm

Jennay - Loveity love love looooooove. Love.August 22, 2013 – 4:40 pm

Vince and Angeline – Pacific Beach Engagement Session

When Vince and Angeline initially inquired with me, I sat down with them over a glass of wine to talk about how I approach wedding photography differently than others.

And before we knew it – we were talking about concepts, ideas, and potential photos that could be made during their engagement session.

During our conversation, I learned that they initially met at Firehouse, and spent a good amount of time during their early relationship at the beach.  Nowadays, they’ve developed a keen appreciation of wine, and are members of a few different vineyards in Southern California.

With each of my engagement sessions, I try my best to bring out the personality and history of the couple.  And while hitting Temecula AND the beach during the golden hour weren’t possible, we made it work.  Instead of doing a normal 2-3 hour session, I was willing to split their engagement shoot into 2 single-hour sessions since the 2nd location was walking distance from my house.

Now, planning a photo session at the beach isn’t always the easiest or most cooperative in regards to weather – as you might have noticed from my post the other day.  However, Vince and Angeline gave me their complete trust on this portion of the shoot and I can’t thank them enough.  I think we may have rescheduled 3-4 times due to the weather not being exactly on-point, and I was afraid their patience was being tested!  I didn’t want to keep delaying the shoot – but felt it was important to make sure they got the very best conditions for their photos.

On the day of their shoot, a few clouds threatened to affect things…but I could tell that they weren’t strong enough and conditions would be perfect for the lighting.  We went for it and came back with some pretty awesome shots!

I’ll split their session into two posts for the sake of variety, and begin with their beach session since it’s the story of how they started out!  (Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow)

Dig the shadows on this one.

This is probably one of my favorites as it’s so “telling” of the beach.

And closin’ it out with the sunset silhouette!

Jihan Cerda - Kick ASS job, as always, Mr. King! :)August 19, 2013 – 6:50 pm

Danielle - Love the shots! U do amazing work! I would love to collaborate in the future :)August 19, 2013 – 2:32 pm

Phil Lambert - Love the reflection in the 4th shot, amazing as usual Tim.August 19, 2013 – 1:57 pm

Vince - Nice shots Tim! We couldn’t be more happy with the pics.August 19, 2013 – 12:17 pm

Mark Gonzales - You already know what photo I love out of this set. ;) Great Job Tim!August 19, 2013 – 12:08 pm