Listen to this episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast using the player above or check it out on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.
This episode is sponsored by Clariti.
Welcome to episode 355 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Joanie Simon about ways to improve your food photography.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Clara Kapelembe Bwali from Black Garlic about how she’s using her business to share Zambian food with the world. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Food Photography
We’ve all heard the phrase, “We eat with our eyes first,” right? So it should come as no surprise that food content creators place so much emphasis on growing their photography skills!
Today, we are talking with one of the biggest names in the food photography space: Joanie Simon from The Bite Shot. She originally came on the podcast three years ago, and it’s been so incredible to see how her business has grown since then.
Through her courses, videos, and book, Joanie has taught students all around the world how to improve their food photography. And in this episode, she’s sharing some of her best tips with our listeners!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Joanie got into food photography
- What her current goals are for her business
- Easy ways to improve your food photography
- Why she recommends shooting in manual mode
- Why lighting is so important for photography
- Why she loves shooting with artificial light
- How to get started with tripods and tethering
- What software she likes to use to edit her photos
- Why she decided to take a social media break
- The Bite Shot
- The Bite Shot YouTube channel
- 185: Darkness and Light: A Photographer’s Journey from Addiction to Success with Joanie Simon
- Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
- Tasty Food Photography eBook
- Sally’s Baking Addiction
- Pinch of Yum Income and Traffic Reports
- The Bite Shot Photography and Video Gear Guide
- The Modern Proper
- Half Baked Harvest
- Adobe Lightroom
- Capture One
- Tether Tools
- Follow Joanie on Instagram and YouTube
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
About This Week’s Sponsor
We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!
With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.
Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:
- Early access to their $25/Month Forever pricing
- Optimization ideas for your site content
- An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
- And more!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by our sister site Clariti. C-L-A-R-I-T-I, is how you spell Clariti. All different iterations of how people say it, but it’s Clariti because it helps you to be clear on what it is that you need to be working on and really gives you direction around how you can go around improving and updating and tracking the content on your blog.
Bjork Ostrom: We built it because we had been managing everything in a spreadsheet. So, my guess is there’s two people listening to this podcast. One would be, you are people who track stuff. Then you probably track it in a spreadsheet, maybe air table, maybe notion. And my guess is it’s a lot of manual work.
Bjork Ostrom: There’s another group of people who just aren’t tracking anything, and that’s okay. You’ll get there eventually, but Clariti’s going to be the tool that’s going to allow you to do that more easily. It’s going to allow you to not spend as much manual time doing the tracking, updating, improving, and just generally understanding the lay of the land with your content.
Bjork Ostrom: And one of the things that I think is most important, a lot of times we talk about hiring on this podcast, but one of the things we don’t talk about enough, and I probably should talk about it more is some of the first positions you should hire for are software. It’s not an actual person, you’re hiring software to come in and to do a lot of the work that you are doing.
Bjork Ostrom: And that’s what Clariti is for us as the Pinch of Yum team, Food Blogger Pro team. We use Clariti to take manual work away from our day-to-day tasks. And we automate that. It’s one of the easiest ways to have your first hire.
Bjork Ostrom: So, if you’re thinking, “Oh, I hear people talk about hiring a lot. Who should my next hire be?” My encouragement for you would let your next hire be a tool like Clariti where you’re going to spend 25 a month and you’re going to save an incredible amount of time. That’s what it’s all about.
Bjork Ostrom: So, if you want to check it out, if you want to learn a little bit more about what it is and how it works, you can go to clariti.com/food, and you can deep dive into the ins and outs of Clariti just by signing up for that list.
Bjork Ostrom: And that’s not going to sign you up for the app. It’s not going to sign you up and process any payments or anything like that. It’s just going to allow you to understand the tool better through some onboarding emails that give you a little bit of context around what Clariti does and why we built it.
Bjork Ostrom: So again, that’s clariti.com/food, if you want to check that out. And as a last note here, we’re halfway through this 25 Forever deal. So, when I say you can think of hiring Clariti at $25 a month as a little team member who’s in the background working for you, that deal’s not going to last forever. We’re just wanting to get to our first 500 users as we’re in the early stages with this.
Bjork Ostrom: You’ll still get a lot of value out of it. But the great thing is, as the value within Clariti increases, as we build out more features, as we build out more functionality, you will be locked in at that $25 price as a thank you for signing up early, for getting … for being somebody who’s using the tool early on, giving us feedback, but also finding a lot of value out of it.
Bjork Ostrom: We’ve actually had two people this week, it was last week actually, that followed up and one person said, “I LOVE …” It was all L-O-V-E capital, “… this service.” And somebody else said the same thing in the Slack channel, which you can join and be a part of that after you sign up for Clariti to see how other people are using it and the questions that come up and offer any insider feedback along the way. So, thank you to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m really excited today to have Joanie on the podcast from The Bite Shot. Just recently we had some people mention The Bite Shot as the place that they’ve been inspired to level up their food photography. That’s what we’re going to be talking about here today.
Bjork Ostrom: You’ve been on the podcast before, so this is you are now a repeat guest. We have to have like a special jacket or a medallion or something, we can create our own cryptocurrency that we award to anybody who’s been on the podcast multiple times.
Bjork Ostrom: But today we’re going to be talking about some of the best tips that you have for food photography and food styling. And I think it can apply to beginners, intermediate and advanced. I think there’s always little takeaways and nuggets and things that can be applied from your vast knowledge, your expertise.
Bjork Ostrom: You have your YouTube channel, over 300,000 people following you there. You’ve written a book. We have it on our bookshelf right over here, and you’ve just done some incredible things. So, I’m curious to know if you rewind the tape, at what point Joanie were you like, “Hey, I’m all in on food photography.” When was that, and what made you decide to go all in?
Joanie Simon: It’s so funny, because yeah, I started my journey as a food blogger, went through Food Blogger Pro, set up my first WordPress site.
Bjork Ostrom: Love it.
Joanie Simon: Did all the things Bjork told me to do. And I even remember after I set up that site, I was so proud of myself because I don’t consider myself a techy person.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Joanie Simon: And I just sent an email and I’m like, “Bjork, I set up my site. I’m so proud.” It was 2015.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Joanie Simon: And you’re like, “Congratulations.” So, I think that one of the things in that journey was that I continued to … I think we can pay attention to where we gain our most energy.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally.
Joanie Simon: And then also where we get most drained. And for me personally, I felt like I could just sit behind a camera and take photos and style food and think about props and colors and all these things for hours.
Joanie Simon: But trying to write a blog post was like, felt like, I don’t know, emergency surgery, like I just didn’t want to do it. And so I think also too by paying attention to the people around me and what seemed to also be working. That there were local restaurants then that were noticing my work and saying, “Can we hire you?” And different food brands. I wasn’t pitching them for sponsored content, but that all of a sudden they were wanting to hire me to shoot their website or their social media.
Joanie Simon: And so I think that as you just start to watch, there wasn’t necessarily this one magical moment that I can pinpoint and say, “Oh look, this is the moment that I said food photography was where I was all in.” It’s that gradual process. But as you just start to pay attention to where’s your energy and what are the people around you telling you.
Joanie Simon: And it was so funny because as I ended up in food photography, people are like, “Yeah, I’m surprised that you didn’t qualify yourself as a food photographer earlier than you did.”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Like your journey was a little bit slower to say, “Hey, I’m a food photographer.” You were doing it maybe before you were saying that you were doing it. Is that kind of?
Joanie Simon: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.
Joanie Simon: Yeah. Because we just walk around going, “Oh, I’m not really that.” Right? Like, “Oh, that’s what other people do.” But there is that moment that then you can look around and go, “Oh, I guess I do have a photography business.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, this is a business. This is … At what point was that? And to speak to your process of finding that, I think one of the … Something that’s worth calling out is you got there because you started and you’re not, you didn’t end or you didn’t end up where you started, but you wouldn’t have been where you are if not for starting.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think that’s one of the great things about diving in and saying like, “Hey, I’m going to do a blog,” you get into blogging. And you’re like, “Wait, photography is awesome. I don’t like writing. I’m not super into the tech side of it.” But there’s this poll in this, in what for some people is like a sliver of what they do, but for you it could be the whole pie and you want to just do photography.
Bjork Ostrom: And we’ve seen that happen with people who get into it and they’re like, “I actually really love the tech side. I love development. I love technology.” That becomes the pull. So, I do think there’s something to be said about and we want to shine a light on the fact that starting is really important, but also be okay to pivot, change and adjust based on, and you said this to pieces, where do you see people coming to you like, “Hey, can you do this? Can I get your opinion on this? Could we hire you to do this?” So, there’s a poll from other people.
Bjork Ostrom: But also where do you find your energy? And I think of the book Designing Your Life and one of the activities they have you do, I think it was a Stanford class, like one of the most popular classes they had, and so then these two professors wrote a book out of it.
Bjork Ostrom: And one of the things they did is like, hey, each activity in your day, do a meter from like a gas meter from empty to full. Does this empty you or does it fill your tank? And it sounds like for you, it was like photography, a lot of that was filling your tank. And so not only were people saying like, “Hey, can you weigh in on this? Can we hire you to help with this?”
Bjork Ostrom: But also that’s where you want to be. And that intersection is really awesome if you can find it. But you don’t find it until you start and dig in. So, at what point were you like, “Wait, this is a business, I am creating income from this, I am going to really lean into this.”
Bjork Ostrom: Was there an inflection point where you realized like, “Hey, this is something that I can do as my full-time career and be really successful with it.”
Joanie Simon: Yeah. I think that my journey was unique in that I had been full-time in a sales job, in a different industry, not food photography, or food blogging, or content related. And because of personal circumstances made a really strong pivot toward opting to something that was creative. Right?
Joanie Simon: I knew enough about myself. I didn’t know that it was going to be photography. I didn’t know where it was going to lead, but I knew I needed to do something creative. And so for me, it was taking that big risk to take that big leap. But I 100% believe, and I’m still in that process of that you don’t know until you do something and it’s in that uncovering phase.
Joanie Simon: It’s like the whole process of the creative process, right? It’s like we give ourselves this bizarre expectation that we’re supposed to show up and commit and know exactly what it is and start doing it right away, and that this is exactly how it is.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Joanie Simon: And that’s just not how creativity works. It’s that whole I left my day job, I started food blogging, I started figuring out this camera stuff, I started teaching local food bloggers how to take better photos. I started reading tasty food photography from Pinch of Yum. I started doing all these different things that then collectively, but it’s in that creative process.
Joanie Simon: So, as far as how to turn this into a business and a living, so much of that I would say definitely came along with then the launch of my second YouTube channel, which is now The Bite Shot, because I had another YouTube channel prior to that, which was all recipe videos and cooking and trying to do the hosted Food Network style, here’s what I’m doing.
Joanie Simon: And it was again in that creative process that then suddenly I realized, “Oh, there is a business.” And I do think that something that was also important was starting to have models in that, seeing other people who were doing it like thinking about Sally’s Baking Addiction and you guys with the income reports and going, “Oh my gosh, this is real money. This is not just a hobby.”
Joanie Simon: And so likewise starting to connect with other photographers and see, oh this isn’t, people aren’t just charging $200 for photos. People are charging big, serious money that can turn into a full-time living, and way more than I was making in education 10 years ago.
Joanie Simon: So, I think that also having those connection points and having models to see. So again, I don’t think for me that there was a clear moment. I think it was a slippery slope in a positive sense.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, like a gradual becoming. Yeah.
Joanie Simon: The gradual process of uncovering this thing and this thing and doing lots of odd jobs and trying on lots of different things like, “Okay, now everybody’s doing buzz feed style tasty videos. I’m going to go learn how to do that. And I’m going to start to make those videos. And oh, I can charge more for that than I can these still photos. And now I can teach other photographers and I can turn that into courses.”
Joanie Simon: And so I would love to say that there was a big grand master plan in place, but there really wasn’t. It’s just been consistently showing up and looking for where does my energy go? But then also I think you had a really good key point, that is something that I would say I credit much of my success to is that I don’t rest too much into sunk costs.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.
Joanie Simon: That I’m like, “Okay, I set up this food blog, joaniesimon.com. If you go in the backend, there’s 300 recipes there and they’re not doing anything. They’re not … You could say, ”Oh, that’s a failure.“ But I go, ”That’s not a failure at all. That was my education. That was how I got to where I am.”
Joanie Simon: And at the same time though, okay, it’s time to cut bait with that, because that’s not, I’m not getting enough energy. I’m not passionate enough in this realm to make that work because you really, like the insane amount of time and energy, you have to totally love it to continue to show up consistently.
Joanie Simon: The amount of hours that I’ve lied behind a camera is you’d say, “Oh, this is kind of really that’s insane.” But it’s because I love it so much that I can continue to show up day in and day out even when it’s not fun. Even when I’m frustrated, even when I’m like, “I don’t want to do this today,” but I’ve made a choice to do this and this is now where I’m pursuing.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. I love that. And I love the idea of those not being … the idea of a sunk cost, meaning like, hey, just because you’ve spent 200 hours on something doesn’t justify spending more time if you don’t think that’s what you should be doing.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think sometimes we can get trapped in some of those, it’s almost like a mental mindset piece or a mental framework of like, “Oh gosh, I’ve done so much work and so much time in this certain area, I got to continue to do it.”
Bjork Ostrom: Well, you can view that as a learning experience to say, “Hey, this informed me that this isn’t the thing that I should be doing or shouldn’t be spending time on,” in pursuit of always getting towards that place that’s more aligned and making those micro-adjustments. Sometimes they’re macro major adjustments, but those micro-adjustments along the way to find that spot that really feels good.
Bjork Ostrom: So, do you feel like that is where you are now? Do you feel pretty aligned with the work you’re doing, and on any given day, are you in that space that feels appropriate both for energy and also in return on your time? Or are you still trying to find that?
Joanie Simon: Yeah. I think that that’s a constant discipline of checking in. I think I’ve been now The Bite Shot as a YouTube channel and as an educational platform has been around since 2017. And so four years of time and the wild adventure and success that that has found that I didn’t …
Joanie Simon: I just remember starting that channel thinking if I get 10,000 subscribers that my life will be forever changed, that will be incredible. So, that I’m sitting here with 300,000 is just unbelievable to me. But I think you do get to a certain point in your creative evolution, you go, “Okay, I’m not going to be a YouTuber forever.” Let’s just be … Who knows if YouTube’s even going to exist in five?
Joanie Simon: I’m sure it’ll exist in five years, but how that looks today is not going to look the same in the future. And so wanting to follow that evolution and to evolve the business and to keep myself creatively inspired. And so I think right now it is an evaluation of okay where, we’ve found success, we’ve found what does work and how do we return back to where we started?
Joanie Simon: Because I think that to the further you get on some sort of successful path, suddenly you’re pulled into lots of different opportunities and lots of different directions and you have to go, “Okay, but where did we start? How did we get here and what is still true today and what can now follow the long haul of the next …”
Joanie Simon: I’m not necessarily thinking about what does my life look like in five years, but knowing that my life will not look the same in five years. And so thinking about what is long-term sustainable. And so I think for me, it is there. I’m in a phase of wanting to simplify in certain ways that a lot has come into the business, and so how do we hone back in, how do we focus back in?
Joanie Simon: Does that mean removing certain social media platforms from what we’re doing? Does that mean focusing more on blog content? I think that, that, and how do we work with clients and you can only do so many things really well, and there’s so much value in that pointed execution, I think.
Joanie Simon: So for me, I shoot for clients, but then I also shoot for my YouTube and my content. And it’s like these two really great things that I have a really hard time deciding which do I like better, but then I think about, well what is, what am I uniquely gifted at? And I think that I’m more uniquely gifted as an educator than I am as necessarily a photographer.
Joanie Simon: I don’t want to discount my abilities as a photographer, but I think that when I look at myself as an educator versus a photographer, the education weighs out. And so really in this next year, focusing in more specifically just on the education side and doing that to the best of my ability and bringing more people into that process as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting to hear you talk about that. I feel like a lot of business owners, creators, publishers can relate to this idea. It almost feels like, as you were talking about it, I was thinking of this analogy of breathing where I feel like we take in something and it’s like the rhythms of breathing more extended, but around creating and reducing complexity.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think as business owners and publishers, creatives, a lot of what we’re doing is we’re creating complexity. That could be something like hiring. It could be growing your following. It could be adding a course. It could be adding a social media following. You create this complexity by adding in another thing, pursuing another opportunity.
Bjork Ostrom: As you are creating that opportunity, you’re also exhaling and wanting to reduce the complexity. So, it feels like there’s this sweet science between growing and seeking opportunity without creating so much complexity that you kind of get crushed by it.
Bjork Ostrom: And there is no perfect answer, but there probably is this in-between, and I think we’re always seeking that to find that balance between pursuing that growth, pursuing opportunity, but not at the expense of creating something so complex that it weighs us down. And it’s not going to be easy.
Joanie Simon: Yeah, because I know that if I’m going to take anything into my business, it needs to be something I can repeat over and over again. That like a YouTube video, I can publish a YouTube video once a week. Now I’ve kind of veered off that course, because I think that there was so much complexity that entered my business. And so I stopped uploading regularly because then suddenly …
Joanie Simon: I’m only one human person, and I’m starting to hire people and learning that lesson as well of how I need to bring other people into that process and start to delegate. But regardless, from the creative standpoint and that magical stuff that only you can put into the world, it needs to be something that you can do on a regular basis, because yeah, that consistency factor is huge.
Joanie Simon: And so when things like, what’s, I’m trying to remember now what’s the name of it? What’s the platform where everybody gets on Live and chats on and it was super exclusive for a hot minute?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Joanie Simon: Clubhouse.
Bjork Ostrom: It was Clubhouse. Yeah.
Joanie Simon: And so when Clubhouse comes along and I was like, “Oh my gosh, okay, to be a relevant creator, clearly I need to join every platform that’s coming along. I need to start doing this thing.” And so I Clubhouse-d and I instantly realized there’s something about that platform that literally I would do an hour on it and then I’d be useless the rest of the day.
Bjork Ostrom: Done for the week.
Joanie Simon: I was exhausted.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally.
Joanie Simon: The mental gymnastics to participate in Clubhouse to me was just … And some people love it, which is fantastic. And so I don’t want to tell people don’t go after Clubhouse, but for me personally, I was like, “This is not a fit. This is not where I’m going to invest my energy. And this is not furthering for me personally the goals that we have for the business.”
Joanie Simon: And likewise the same with TikTok. Would I love to have some fun and get creative on TikTok? Yes. But do I know I also don’t have the energy and enthusiasm for that particular outlet that I would need in order to find success there? Yeah. So, we’re going to continue. For now, YouTube is really … Continues to be long-term where I find energy, where I find inspiration, what I get excited to get out of bed in the morning to do.
Joanie Simon: It’s hard work, but it’s also really fun and rewarding and it’s that equal balance of value to the audience while also being value to me personally.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And it’s one of the things that you said that you get a lot out of is the education piece. And I know that a lot of people will be interested not only in your story of growing your business, but also in how they can become better photographers. That’s what you teach people about.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Your courses, the content that you’re creating. What I’d be interested to hear you talk a little bit about is do you have, like if you were to … I think the easy example would be like, “Hey, here’s some tips,” like what are the tips that you have for photographers. But one of the ways I was thinking of it was almost even an audit.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Like if you were to come in and you were to … You didn’t know anything about a photographer because we’re speaking to a lot of people generally who know photography, maybe some are really great, maybe just some are beginning, what would you say would be a checklist of things that you’d walk through to say, “Here are the opportunities that you see knowing what you know for people to improve their photography.”
Bjork Ostrom: Maybe the low-hanging fruit, and we can work down kind of a list of different ideas that you have around how people can potentially improve as a photographer. So, would that be something we could do is just talk through what some of those are?
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Great.
Joanie Simon: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: So starting with number one, what would be the first thing that you would look at as an opportunity for people to improve their food photography?
Joanie Simon: Yeah. When I think about improvements to food photography, certainly there’s the aesthetic components, and that being aside, I feel like so much of, from a food blogging perspective and thinking back to how can we create consistency in something that we’re going to continue to be able to show up to day in and day out because you know you have to do this photography thing, and even if you don’t love it, how do you do it in such a way that you have control over it and you don’t have to waste your time?
Joanie Simon: Because I do see a lot of food photographers, food bloggers getting started out there who they’re kind of poking around in the dark. Right? Because that’s easy to feel like that. You’re like, “I think I’m doing it.” But there’s some really little key things that can give you a lot more control over your camera and over your situation.
Joanie Simon: And so for me that very first starting place to really gaining control is shooting in manual mode, which can feel like a monumental challenge from the outset because it is, especially for folks like me who I would say I’m not a numbers-oriented person, I’m not a sciencey kind of person, right? I’d say much more right-brained.
Joanie Simon: But at the same time, once you force yourself to do that discipline and figure that out, it really does yield so much more control that then you know what you’re doing, right? That we’re not guessing because I feel like you just lose so much time in the photography process with just like, “Ugh.”
Joanie Simon: I just think back to there was this shoot that I did for an early on client. It was a corn dog client and I was still shooting an auto mode when I was shooting for this client. And I just remember the shoot took hours and hours because I was like, “Why are these images just not bright enough or why are things blurry?” Because I just didn’t understand.
Joanie Simon: And so that foundation of shooting in manual is just going to give you so much more control and make your life a lot easier because then you can make those choices.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I love that. And it is a bit of a numbers game. Right? You have to understand how does changing this number, let’s say aperture, impact shutter speed.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And then how does shutter speed impact aperture? So, what do you see as the biggest hurdles for people when it comes to manual mode, the things that, or even the light bulb moments where somebody is like, “Oh now I get it.”
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s this thing is really hard to understand, but once somebody unlocks that, then they can kind of understand manual mode in general. Could you pinpoint that?
Joanie Simon: Yeah. It’s just like you said, it’s the interrelatedness of each of those functions that you’ve got that exposure triangle, the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO and how those three things independently operate, but then they also operate together.
Joanie Simon: And I think that it is, to me I think back over my career and the things that I’ve learned in photography and it’s like it can be really hard to understand it conceptually, but then you really, just you need to get in there and start to do the work.
Joanie Simon: And I tell the story of when I was learning manual mode and I just still, my brain was like, “I am not making this connection. I do not know why I cannot put this all together.” But I was like, I knew enough, right, I knew enough to kind of in general get the concept.
Joanie Simon: And so I was shooting at a food festival for six hours and I promised myself, I said, “I’m going to put the camera in manual mode and I’m not going to …” Now granted this is a little risky to do this on a page shoot, but whatever. Here we are. Right?
Bjork Ostrom: You got to do it at some point. So yeah.
Joanie Simon: Yeah. So, I rip off the band aid and because, I think, that situation too, where I was kind of forced to have to perform. And you kind of, if you can sort of artificially create these situations where you have to learn something, there’s a compelling reason.
Joanie Simon: I think this also goes into why I think sometimes traditional education isn’t necessarily the most helpful because there’s not a compelling, immediate motivation to do that. And so in that day, that six hours, when I said, “No, this thing’s in manual mode and I’m going to have to figure this out.”
Joanie Simon: Suddenly things started to click because I was doing the work, and because I had to, because I knew at the end of the shoot, I had to deliver photos to a client, and then that muscle memory was built.
Joanie Simon: Because honestly then, once you get … That’s the beauty of a lot of these skills in photography is that once you’ve built that muscle memory there, then suddenly it’s like, “How did I not know that?” Right? Like you’ve stepped into a whole new world. And so it does feel like such a monumental thing to overcome, but kind of forcing yourself.
Joanie Simon: I love to create scenarios for myself that force me to have to learn things, which I think the education I’ve gained as a photographer in teaching on YouTube has been invaluable. Like the things that I’ve learned because people would come and say, “Oh, I want to learn about this. Or I want to learn about focus stacking or what.” And I go, “I don’t know what that is, but I’m going to go look it up and then I’ll make a tutorial about it.”
Joanie Simon: Because you learn so much through that teaching process. And so creating opportunities for that as well, I think can really up-level your skills.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. There’s something about creative pressure. I think the times that, similar to you, that I’ve learned the most is when I have a deadline and I have to do something, and it affirms the idea of do then learn, not learn then do.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think so much of what we do as entrepreneurs and business builders and creators happens through the process of doing, it’s not first learning and then doing. So, the encouragement to people being like, “Hey, step out, commit to doing it and learn along the way,” and the creative pressure around that.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think the other piece that I really appreciated within that is this idea of teaching and teaching as a form of learning. And maybe one of the best ways to learn is by teaching because you have to have a certain level of mastery in order to feel comfortable going in front of somebody, whether it be a small group or thousands of people on YouTube to say, “Here’s how you do this.”
Bjork Ostrom: And we’ve seen that too with the work that we’ve done. I think some of the things that I’ve learned the most is when I’m writing an email or a blog post or even in a podcast, those are the times when I’m learning the most versus saying like, “Oh, I’d really love someday to learn this thing,” and making a note to go back and learn it or to attend a class or a course.
Bjork Ostrom: Those are important, but doing those as much as possible paired with the actual execution of them, I think is really significant. So, manual mode really important.
Joanie Simon: Yes, manual mode.
Bjork Ostrom: So, prioritizing manual mode, figuring out how the interplay between shutter speed and ISO and aperture works. Is there any quick tip that you’d give to people or I’m guessing you have YouTube content that we could link to that’s maybe the best place to start.
Joanie Simon: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I’ve got … So, I’ve recently started, because one of my big focuses for the year ahead is obviously I’ve got a wealth of information on YouTube and it’s years of videos, but I’ve never backed that up with blog content and people are like, “Oh Joanie, the low hanging fruit @thebiteshut.com.”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Joanie Simon: I’m like, “I know. I know.” So, that is a big focus for 2022 is to turn a lot of that into blog content. But what I have created I’m in just the final stages of a test group of a beginner boot camp, which really is like you have just bought your first DSLR or mirrorless camera last week and you literally don’t know what any of these buttons mean.
Joanie Simon: You don’t know how to take the lens off, all kind of really starting from the basics, working through operating the camera as well as Adobe Lightroom and basics of editing, getting focus, all sort of those foundational concepts. And so that is a free blog series.
Joanie Simon: So, that is … There’s currently a group of that running, but it should be all ready to go by March. So, I will be sure to send you a link to that. But there is a landing page for it in the meantime so that you can get notification if you opt in before it’s ready.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. So manual mode, really important. How about number two? Like when you think of people who are mastering, getting on their way to master photography, it could be food photography or food styling. If we’re in pursuit of a beautiful photo, manual mode is one of the most important things, understanding how to use your camera to change, manipulate the image in a way that allows you to do it, and that you can’t just do with automatic.
Bjork Ostrom: What’s the next thing that you say would be really important to master or understand in pursuit of beautiful outcome from your photography?
Joanie Simon: Yeah, it’s definitely light, right? It’s the big thing that every photographer says is their favorite topic. It’s their favorite thing. And so whether that’s natural or artificial, the light is really then what changes the game. And my favorite part about light is that it follows very predictable rules. That it is legitimate physics.
Joanie Simon: So, it’s not going to change. It’s not going to deviate. If you understand the foundational principles of light in terms of the size of your light, the proximity of your light to the subject, the quality of that light, is it hard, is it soft, understanding those kinds of things so that you can diagnose when you’re working in natural light, that you can diagnose the kind of light that you’re working in, or if you’re working with artificial, how to manipulate the light that you have in order to get the look that you want because it is so interesting.
Joanie Simon: Folks, one of the things that I hear a lot of people complain about is my images don’t look crisp. They don’t look sharp. And a lot of times we love to blame our lenses and say, “Oh, it must be because I have a crappy lens.” And I go, “No, no, no. The kit lens that comes with your camera is plenty good. It’s a great lens. The problem is most likely your light.”
Joanie Simon: And once people really get a handle on those foundational concepts of again, the size of the light source, the proximity of the light source, the amount of diffusion, all of those things, once you have a handle on that, suddenly you’re like, “Oh my gosh, these images are so sharp. They’re so clean.”
Joanie Simon: And that is owing to the light much more so than the glass that you’re shooting within your lens. So, it can make … Nothing breaks my heart than seeing people who don’t have a handle on light and think they need to go buy different cameras and buy different lenses and buy all this gear.
Joanie Simon: I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no it’s coming right through your window. You just need to know how to manipulate it and understand the way that light works.” And that’s going to really change the game.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And it’s interesting because I’m guessing manual mode also impacts light. Once you understand manual mode, how to change your aperture and your shutter speed, one of the primary functions of what that’s controlling is also light, but also depth of field.
Bjork Ostrom: It actually brings up a question that Donna, from the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook group asks, we always pull in some questions, we’re starting to do a better job of this.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: She said, “Should I be using a narrower aperture to capture the full frame of my overhead shots? My shots are blurry and I want the whole frame and focus.” She said, “Struggling with this, help.”
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: So, what would your advice be? It kind of maybe touches on manual mode stuff, but also potentially maybe lighting a little bit. And then there’s another question from Mika here around lighting that I’ll ask after that.
Joanie Simon: Love it. So, we’re talking top-down shot, right? Our flat lay situation and you want focus from the top to the bottom. You want everything in focus. And so I think that one of the things that’s important that I didn’t realize when I first started working with cameras is understanding that the depth of field is really based on a flat plane, which is parallel to your camera sensor, which I just kind of think of as the LCD screen on the back of the camera.
Joanie Simon: So, if you just imagine your LCD screen is your plane of focus, which direction is that focus, is that pointed. So, if we are in that overhead position pointed straight down and you have your aperture set, say for example, F 4.5, that’s not necessarily a huge depth, right? You don’t have a huge area of focus.
Joanie Simon: And so if you’re top-down and you have some fairly tall things, like if you’re shooting, say for example, a cake overhead and you’re getting the top of that cake and you’re at F 4.5 and that plane of focus is flat, and so maybe all of the top of your cake is in focus, but then your surface, maybe if you’ve got some sprinkles off to the side and you’ve got some other props off to the side, those maybe out of focus, because they are lower than where that depth of field is placed.
Joanie Simon: So, you are going to want to go if you want focus from the top to the bottom or if you’re shooting head-on from the front to the back, you’re going to want to work with one of those higher aperture numbers, something like F9, F10, F14. Can I take it up from there until you get everything in focus?
Joanie Simon: But the thing to also keep in mind is that the more focused you have from top to bottom, the smaller the opening inside your lens is going to be, the smaller your aperture. This is where … It’s always funny to think about photography. It’s like you got to step into the world of backwards land, right? Because you’re like a bigger number is a smaller opening, and a bigger depth of field or a smaller depth of field, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Joanie Simon: So, it’s like all backwards. But all that being said, the smaller that opening is, the more focus you get from top to bottom, the less light it’s letting into the camera. And so you’re going to either need to compensate with one of your other camera settings or you’re going to need to introduce brighter light to that scenario.
Joanie Simon: So, that is just one of those trade-offs, is that the deeper you’re going to go with that focus, the more light you’re going to need.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You can really start to see how those four all impact each other, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and light.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I like to think about is if you have a camera and there’s a yardstick attached to it, or maybe three-yard sticks, so it’s like this if you have, there’s lots of variables within this. But if you have a really small number, like 1.8 on that yardstick, there’s going to be maybe one inch that you can slide, is maybe even less, a half an inch that you can slide and say like, “Here’s what’s going to be in focus.”
Bjork Ostrom: And every time that number gets bigger, 2.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, that it maybe goes from an inch to two inches to three inches. I don’t know what that actually is.
Joanie Simon: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: But that number on the yardstick of what you can actually have in focus gets a little bit bigger, that visual has always been helpful for me. Do you know what that number actually represents? When they say F stop, what does that actually mean? Do you know?
Joanie Simon: F stop relates to the amount of light that is being let in. So, for example, and this is where it’s like, “Okay, numbers and maths.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Joanie Simon: But effectively one full stop is double the amount of light. And I’m trying to remember the exact correlations. We can get into the minutia, but yeah it’s effectively the amount of light that’s being let in.
Joanie Simon: And so then the impact that those F stops have in terms of aperture, because when we get into things like working with lights and things like that, we’re also then communicating those in stops. So, stops of light based on the output of my strobe or things like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Joanie Simon: So yeah, but it’s for sure.
Bjork Ostrom: And the thing that’s confusing about it is that the higher the number, the less light.
Joanie Simon: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: And in pursuit of manual mode and understanding that, that’s one of the things that is counterintuitive to your point.
Joanie Simon: Yeah. One little bonus though there, and something else to consider is the distance that you’re shooting from your subject, that the further away you are from the subject, the less pronounced that impact of the depth of field is.
Joanie Simon: So, in situations where I’m looking at a shot and I’m like, “I want less, I want less perceived depth of field. I want to get a bit more in focus and maybe I’m at the F stop. I’m at the F number on my aperture that I want,” then maybe I’ll back up a little bit or if I want to accentuate that and I’m already like say, for example, I want kind of that glowy, magical bouquet effect on the edges, but I’m already at the whatever the lowest number it is on my lens.
Joanie Simon: Like if that’s the F 4.5 in the kit lens, you’re like, “Oh, but I really want that magical thing like those people who are shooting at F 1.8 have.” Well get closer to the subject because it will make that depth of field more pronounced the more physically close that you are to that subject.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Mika’s question is actually about light as well. And she says, “How can you make sure that your artificial light looks natural? Is that done through editing or are there things you can do while shooting?” So, do you have a preference first of all, do you like shooting in natural light, artificial light, it depends.
Bjork Ostrom: And then if you are shooting an artificial light, how do you do that well where it looks not like artificial light?
Joanie Simon: Yeah, totally. So, I pretty much shoot 99% of the time in artificial light. It is the control themed in me just loves the control and the consistency factor that I get from artificial light that from the first shot to the last shot makes my process in editing a lot easier.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Joanie Simon: But where I feel like my aha moment in working with artificial light was in understanding when somebody says to me that artificial light looks artificial, I was like, “Well, what is it about it that looks artificial? And what is it about natural light that makes you think it’s natural?”
Joanie Simon: And so much of it has to come down to… it’s not the actual light itself because really light is light, whether it’s coming from the sun or it’s coming from a bulb, it’s a matter of what are we modifying that light with.
Joanie Simon: So for example, a lot of food bloggers, myself included, my very first light that I ever bought was one of those low ego, little tabletop lights. And the problem with those is that you really can’t manipulate them. You really can’t change that light. It sort of is what it is. Whereas the lights that I recommend, I’ve got a gear guide with recommended kind of different budget tiers and things like that, depending on the kind of work that you’re doing, but different modifiers that go with those lights.
Joanie Simon: So, what is the softbox that you’re adding to that? Or there’s a lot of different things that we can do, but typically softboxes or scrims, what are we shooting that light through so that then it appears more natural because I always also push back on people and say, okay, well the natural light that I see from The Modern Proper versus the natural light that I see from Sally’s Baking Addiction versus somebody in Northern California versus somebody who’s in Texas, that’s going to look different.
Joanie Simon: And so by being able to quantify well what does natural light look like to you? For me, there’s a certain amount of contrast in the shadows, but we want a certain amount of softness. So, when we talk about light and the very first instant to me, like game-changer of making artificial light look more like natural light is getting a really large modifier because the larger the light source, the softer the shadows are going to be.
Joanie Simon: So, when we’re shooting in natural light, most of the time we’re working with a north or a south-facing large window. I recently saw Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest had a little setup of where she does her photography. And it was like, yeah, that totally checks out. It’s like this giant, big old window. Right? And you’ll see that with a lot of food bloggers who are shooting in natural light.
Joanie Simon: And so in that scenario, you’ve got a really large window, which is a really large light source and most likely that’s north or south, which means you don’t have direct line of sight of the sun. Right? Because the sun, even though it’s really large, is super far away. So relative to our subject, it’s a very small light source creating hard light, which checks out, right?
Joanie Simon: Like if you go outside at noon and you put your food under that direct sunlight, you’re going to have really hard shadows. And so looking for a really large natural light source, well how do we do that in artificial land? Well then we get into large softboxes. My personal favorite one that I think creates a very natural window light look is a 31-inch by 47-inch softbox and it’s kind of rectangular and it looks like a window.
Joanie Simon: So, if somebody’s like, “I want to recreate the look of the light that I get out of this window.” I say, “Well, what’s the size of the window you’re working with? Is this like a big Arcadia door? Is this a little like keyhole window?” And how can we then purchase a softbox for our light that then modifies our light to have that same sort of shape and size?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s almost like if you have that huge natural window, natural light window, great. For a lot of us, we don’t. And even if you do, to your point, it’s helpful to be able to control that because eleven o’clock today is going to look different than eleven o’clock tomorrow, especially in Minnesota, like it’s snowing, it’s cloudy right now. Yesterday, it was super sunny.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And so you can control that a little bit more. You had mentioned that you have a gear guide. I think that would be something super helpful for people because I think one of the things that always comes out of a conversation like this is which one, which softbox should I buy? Right?
Bjork Ostrom: Where should I go for my … What should my first purchase be if I’m going to do artificial light. Do you talk about that in that gear guide?
Joanie Simon: I do. Yeah. I break it down into if a budget is your concern and the base least expensive packages around $200, because I know not everybody is looking to start getting heavily invested in light. And I don’t think too it’s wise to necessarily go all in and spend lots of money as you’re learning these things.
Joanie Simon: So, there’s a good like basic package and it’s for Canon icon, Sony, Fuji, and then there’s sort of like, “Okay, now if these are some additional considerations based on what you’re needing and then here’s some of the …” Like if you want to get wild or do some different styles, you really love that Chiaroscuro dramatic dark shadows and dark all around with just this sliver of light, like here’s the soft box that does that.
Joanie Simon: So, it really breaks down those different styles and puts it into kits, because I remember when I was trying to figure this stuff out, I’m like how many different parts do I need and what goes with what? So, I’ve simplified all of that all with links and information where to get that stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. We’ll link to that in the show notes. Is that something that people purchased or free download or?
Joanie Simon: It’s free.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Joanie Simon: It’s just on my website. Yeah. It’s all affiliate links.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Joanie Simon: So, there’s some affiliate marketing there.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Yeah. Smart. Love that. So, manual mode really important. Light after that, artificial light, especially if you want to be able to control that. Some people might have the opportunity to use natural light, maybe if they have the right window, the right size, the right location.
Bjork Ostrom: What would be next on your list? When you think of the opportunities for people to level up their photography, is there kind of a number three thing that you’d identify as a really important area to focus on?
Joanie Simon: For sure. I would say get yourself tethered. Get yourself tethered to a computer, whether you’re shooting into lightroom or you’re shooting with a software like Capture One or even something like Canon. Any Canon camera comes with the Canon EOS software, which is free on the Canon website, which just …
Joanie Simon: Image management and all of that aside, just purely the ability to be able to set things up so you can see what’s happening on a larger screen because the LCD screen can be just … It can be just so hard to know what’s going on, what are you really seeing and doing that in tandem with shooting on a tripod?
Joanie Simon: I would say I love some freehand shooting and I love the creative expression and the exploring the scene, lots of folks out there like, “You’re not going to get me on a tripod.” But then I would say though there is so much power in being able to compose a scene when you are on a tripod.
Joanie Simon: I take a lot less shots because I know my focus is set. I know the composition that I’m working toward. And then if I take a shot and I like it, but I just want to change one little thing, everything’s still where it’s at and I can see with this tethered ability, it’s really …
Joanie Simon: To me that was that third level up. I learned manual mode and then I learned lighting and then once I started tethering I’m like mind blown.
Bjork Ostrom: This is awesome. So, what does that actually look like? So, you have your … If you’re going to describe the setup, you have your tripod, your camera’s on the tripod, is it a standard tripod or is there any type of kind of funky arm that you have attached to it that allows for more flexibility or is it really just a camera on top of a nice tripod?
Joanie Simon: Yeah, I would say I have a video. I can definitely send you for links to breakdown the different options in the land of tripod because there certainly are some personal preferences in that department. But for me personally, and what has been I would say a good food blogger setup as well is having a nice tripod for your side shots and for your three-quarter shots.
Joanie Simon: Plenty of other folks in the food blogging space also get one that has the articulating arm that then can pop over. I always found that challenging though, because I could just never get that high enough for tabletop status where the legs were always in the way.
Joanie Simon: And so incorporating a C stand is an additional rig for in the overhead, which is not as expensive as other solutions out there. And it’s fairly straightforward as far as just a couple little parts and pieces, which I can get you links to as far as to mount that overhead because we, especially, if you are a big fan of shooting overhead, it’s just nice to not.
Joanie Simon: I’ve just gotten lazy over the years. I’m like, “I don’t want to handle this. That’s exhausting.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Sure.
Joanie Simon: So, that sort of combination set up if you have the space and the room works well or you can just do a really nice, you know yeah, good tripod with an overhead stand. But then you’re going to get a USB cord that’s specific to your camera that’s meant for tethering. And so you’re going to want to look at Tether Tools is one outlet.
Joanie Simon: Their website’s super easy to navigate and they break down like you’re shooting with the Canon 5D Mark IV, here’s the cable because every camera’s going to have a different port on it. I’ve also worked with area 51 cables. They’re kind of a smaller group, but really good quality cables.
Joanie Simon: And so you do want to make sure to get the right cord and then you just plug that into the USB onto your computer and then boot up a software that’s intended for tethering. So for Canon, they’ve got the Canon EOS software, anybody using Adobe Lightroom, that will tether directly to with a live view functionality.
Joanie Simon: So, that ability to see what your LCD screen looks like, but you’re seeing it on a computer and the very first time you do it every time that somebody does it for the first time and then you’re sticking your hands in it, and you’re like, “Look, I can see my hands in it.”
Bjork Ostrom: “This is awesome.” Yeah. Right.
Joanie Simon: “It’s so cool.” I’m like I never get tired of that. It’s so fun. So yeah. And there’s lots of different software out there depending on what you want to do. There’s plenty of folks though too with wireless solutions. I personally have not delved into that as much, I’m a firm believer it’s probably the elder millennial in me that really likes a cable from a connectivity standpoint.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Just a little bit more, probably a lot more reliable when it comes to that.
Joanie Simon: Yeah. Reliability and stability, but there are software out there like CamRanger, which have the ability so that you can be connected to an iPad or to a laptop wirelessly and be able to see that way as well. So, there’s lots of different solutions.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. Another question coming in from our Food Blogger Pro Podcast group on Facebook, Christina, I think I’m saying that right. And this is related to some of the stuff that you’re talking about and I’m guessing you get this question a lot, software. What software would you recommend for image editing?
Bjork Ostrom: Like if somebody’s getting into it, you maybe have a Mac, can you use photos for editing, would there be another way that you’d step into it? Is Lightroom really the go-to place where 90% of photographers are using Lightroom. Any recommendations around best image editing software?
Joanie Simon: Yeah, for sure. I would say always base it on what you can afford, right? Because these things all cost money and there’s definitely free solutions out there or nearly free solutions. But for something that’s going to give you a lot of features and there’s also a lot of education available around and is a great way for helping you organize your images, because the further you get into the world of food blogging, the more images you’re going to end up with.
Joanie Simon: And so having a good catalog system, Adobe Lightroom is going to be a great one. I think that it’s a good intersection of user-friendliness, while at the same time still being a professional photo editing software. And so kind of getting you in that world.
Joanie Simon: It’s $9.99 a month for the photographer package, which also comes with Photoshop, which I would say Photoshop is another level. Right? And that’s going to be more doing surgery on your photos, which honestly, for me personally, I don’t do as much in.
Joanie Simon: I can get the majority of the work done in Adobe Lightroom in terms of adjusting exposure and color and all of those other things. So yeah, Lightroom to me is a great place to start and a great place to continue for the rest of your food photography journey.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Joanie Simon: But there is also, I personally have moved recently, well about two years ago into Capture One because they do have some advanced features in the tethering department, which I really appreciate and enjoy. It’s also a great quality raw editor as well, but it also behaves very similar to Adobe Lightroom.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. So, we’ve hit manual mode. We’ve talked about lighting, tethering being really important so you can see kind of the full picture of it. The idea of tethering really being like you uncouple yourself from the camera. You’re able to be in the space a little bit differently. You’re able to compose things differently, see things differently. Is that right at its core?
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Obviously software is really important post-shoot. Anything else that you’d add to the list of like, “Hey, here are the big bullet points, the big considerations for anybody who’s looking to level up their food photography,” and things that they need to really be aware of and improve?
Joanie Simon: Yeah. I feel like you can throw all sorts of technique in the photography department at a food photo, but really so much of it too just comes down to the styling and that styling is definitely an art. And so the art of teaching styling I think is kind of a bit more mysterious and not as straightforward as being able to teach camera settings.
Joanie Simon: And I feel like that’s something I get a lot of questions about and I’m just like, “Oh.” To try to teach that nuance of art and things like that. And so I think that that is something that you have to keep in the back of your mind and continue to work on, but also so much of that.
Joanie Simon: And I think fortunate for the food blogger audience is that you have culinary technique. And so the great food stylists who I work with, that come into the studio and I watch them and they have backgrounds in culinary. They’ve been to culinary school or they’ve worked in kitchens and they have the experience to understand how the food behaves and that really helps to inform.
Joanie Simon: But I would say too along those same lines, one of the pitfalls they think is this desire to just want to throw so much into the photo. And I think especially when you’re first getting started, really feel free to let the food be the photo.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.
Joanie Simon: We don’t need to throw everything in the kitchen sink at these shots. If the food looks delicious, that’s really, that’s what’s important.
Bjork Ostrom: What it’s all about.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. So, here’s my last question for you. This is actually coming. So Leslie, on the Food Blogger Pro team helps to build out some of the show notes that we have and questions and she dropped this in. I don’t have much context around this, but month-long vacation from social media, YouTube, Instagram, tell us what that was like and what the reason was behind that.
Joanie Simon: Yeah. So good.
Bjork Ostrom: It was great. It was like a mind reset.
Joanie Simon: It’s so healthy. It’s so good. The rationale is just honestly getting burned out and being at a place where I’m feeling just so overwhelmed anytime I’d go to make a video or I’d go to open Instagram, I’m just like there’s a feeling of anxiety there and just … And not having, feeling like I was continually doing and producing, but not necessarily with the depth and richness that I wanted to bring to it.
Joanie Simon: And so knowing that so much of the path that I’m on right now was born out of taking a month-long break in the transition from a day job into a creative career and being like, “I need to go back there. I need to do that again and give myself some permission.” And guess what? The Internet’s not going to fall apart.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, right.
Joanie Simon: It’s also going to be there when I get back and who knows, because I’m just finishing it up here and I’ll come back in March. But I’ve taken breaks from Instagram before and people are like, “Oh it tanks your numbers. It does all these things.” And I’m like at the end of the day, the numbers are not as important as the preservation of my energy and my creativity.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.
Joanie Simon: And it’s just been really incredible. It took about a week for me to feel like, “Okay.” Like I could tell I had been a little too, way too connected to it because it took about a week until that impulse to pick up the phone was gone and then suddenly there’s just certain parts of, oh there is still real life, like this is-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally.
Joanie Simon: This is a good, healthy place to be. And that then the creativity and the energy started to come back in. And so I think that for me in reentering those spaces and thinking about how can I create more boundaries around these platforms and the content I create and the time I spend there, how can I do better in that?
Joanie Simon: And I think that it’s always going to be a challenge because I think that these platforms are oriented to want to suck us in and take all our time and keep our eyeballs glued. And so I think that too, for me, it’s also thinking about kind of that long term strategy of how do I disentangle from some of these things, because I don’t want to have to feel beholden to this and I don’t want to have to feel compelled to do these things.
Joanie Simon: And good news is, my business is still standing. There’s still sales coming in. There’s still people interacting in the communities that I provide off of those platforms. And so that is all still there. And so I think that, yeah, some healthy boundaries with social media, we’re still in such early stages of these things that it’s really hard to know what is the impact and what’s it doing to us.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Joanie Simon: But being willing to walk away and take breaks is really important, I think.
Bjork Ostrom: I love that. I think that’s such a good reminder. I saw somebody in tech, I don’t remember who it was, tweeted and they were saying their belief was in 30 years, they’re going to look back at social media as we do now smoking and being like, “If only we knew the impact that it had,” and everybody was doing it and everybody thought it was okay, but then now looking back, it’s like, “Oh wait, it’s not okay.”
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And then that was smoking 30 years ago.
Joanie Simon: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: What I love about that is I think there is this truth that you said like, “Hey, people are worried hey your numbers might decline or you might lose traction.” But I think the ultimate impact is burnout is like you falling out of love with the work that you’re doing.
Bjork Ostrom: And to bring it full circle, when you talk about pursuing things that give you energy, if you lose that energy, I think your energy around the work that you’re doing and the creative things that you’re putting into the world is one of the greatest multipliers that you can have on your work.
Bjork Ostrom: And if that starts to dim or go away completely, that’s worst-case outcome. So, at all costs do what you can do to preserve that.
Joanie Simon: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: On that note, where can people follow you on Instagram and YouTube?
Joanie Simon: Totally.
Bjork Ostrom: On all the social networks.
Joanie Simon: All the social networks, all the places. Totally. So @thebiteshot. So, bite like the final shot in a shot list, right? You take a bite out of the food. So TheBiteShot on Instagram and youtube.com/thebiteshot, but all roads lead back to thebiteshot.com.
Joanie Simon: So, you can hop on there and find the gear guide as well as the overview of all the gear and some of my more popular tutorials that are pretty well suited towards those just getting started in food photography.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. It’s been so fun to watch your journey along the way.
Joanie Simon: Thank you.
Bjork Ostrom: And to see kind of those initial interactions with spinning up the site and then starting to hear people mention some of the stuff that you’re doing. And now it’s like, “Hey, this is an established part of this industry and it’s having a real impact.” So, really cool to see that. Thanks for sharing your story Joanie.
Joanie Simon: And thank you so much. I would say I wouldn’t be sitting here in this role if it hadn’t been for the things that you’ve done and the groundwork that you’ve laid in the blogging space. That was definitely an inspiration to me. So, I want to say thank you.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, well thanks. Yeah, really appreciate it. It’s one of the great things about doing something for a long period of time. You’re probably getting to this point now with what you do, where you have people who come in at a certain stage, and if you do it long enough it’s …
Bjork Ostrom: My dad owned a greenhouse growing up, a little seed becomes a tree that then can … There’s other trees that come off of that. And if you’re around long enough, you see businesses and people and creative pursuits get to the point where it’s like, “Wow, this is an established anchor. This is a tree.”
Bjork Ostrom: And I feel like the work that you’re doing is that. So, I’m cool to be able to see that and have a really small part in that. So thanks.
Leslie Jeon: Hello. Hello, Leslie, here from the Food Blogger Pro team. We really hope that you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. I wanted to really quickly mention something awesome that all Food Blogger Pro members have access to, which is our deals and discounts page.
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Leslie Jeon: I really hope that you enjoyed learning a bit more about our deals and discounts. It’s one of the awesome features of Food Blogger Pro I think a lot of people might not know about. So, we wanted to quickly mention it in today’s episode, but I think that’s all we’ve got for you. Thanks again for tuning in and until next time, make it a great week.