You got questions. I got answers! (I hope.)
I will be the first to admit, I'm pretty bad at making a point to share consistent Q&A sessions on Stories. I'm a pretty longwinded person so the idea of typing out a bunch of answers on my phone screen deters me from even going down that road. But! I'd love to make this a consistent monthly series here on the blog, where I'll take 10 common/popular questions from a recent Q&A submission and share the answers here. Let's dive in!
ONE // How have you kept such a structured schedule during quarantine?
Truth be told, it wasn't easy at first. And it's still not terribly easy as it requires a great deal of prioritizing when there's very little outside stimulus to balance out the scale, so to speak (with social events and dinner dates). Since pre-quarantine, I've always loved sitting down early in the morning to assess what needs to be finished that particular day -- deadlines, prep-work, research, editing and the like -- and I try to front load my day with the most important, time-pressing things, to ensure they get checked off the list early. I know a lot of people prefer tackling the low-hanging fruit first to get them started, but I personally prefer the opposite. I find it motivates me more once I check off the biggest, most daunting thing first.
Past that, I try to be flexible with my day, too. No amount of scheduling and planning will ever fully account for things that just go awry, which they inevitably will. I also find as long as I get my workout done early in the day, my motivation levels seem to remain higher throughout the day, as opposed to saving my workout for the end of the day, when I might be losing major steam.
TWO // Thoughts on TikTok, Gen Z and the future of social media?
I kind of love whoever submitted this question, because it makes me wonder what side of the fence they're on as well. In general, I enjoy TikTok. I really do. I find the format to be quite refreshing, surprisingly addicting and even if I don't fully understand all the ins and outs of the "Hype House" kids, I do find it to be a fascinating microcosm. That said, while I have an account and I've made a few Elvis videos here and there, it's not where I prefer to spend my creative energy producing content. That isn't to say I don't respect anyone who creates content over there -- as I saw with the few videos I made (quite poorly might I add), it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get them remotely ready. And quite a few of my friends are amazing prolific at it (see Sai for reference). But as I creep toward my mid-30s, I'm trying to approach more things in life with the question: "How is this helping me improve (my life, a skill, etc)?" and if I can't answer that when it comes to a social media platform, I just can't throw hours of my week at it. At the moment, I'm trying to hone my photography and self portrait skills, which dominates all the screen time I have patience for.
With regard to Gen Z -- I have to say, this particular article was AMAZING at succinctly describing their aesthetic and some of the emotional rationale behind it, which really helped demystify it for me. I imagine Gen X probably felt similarly when the millennial tropes were taking hold, so I'm trying to understand the whole "intentionally ugly" pillar for Gen Z, without sounding like a crotchety old-timer when I ask "is this what the kids are into these days?!" From an anthropological standpoint, I find it all pretty fascinating and a pretty logical pendulum swing from the "perfectly curated Millennial aesthetic." From a content creator standpoint, it's not a lens that I'll be adopting anytime soon, which ultimately may work against me in the long run on platforms like Instagram, as they prioritize these demographics to lure them over from TikTok.
All of this is to say: I have no clue what will happen to social media in the future. And for the first time, in a long time, I really don't care. Oh! My grey hairs are showing.
THREE // Who are some of your favorite accounts to follow on Instagram for photography?
I recently started following: @a_kid_named_trav (spoiler alert: he photographed Beyoncé during Black is King production), @jamiebeck.co for beautiful escapism, @grantlegan and @marcusvrichardson for beautiful storytelling portraits.
FOUR // What is your creative process like?
Short answer: A mess most of the time. Long answer: But I genuinely enjoy it that way. I consume a lot. Photography books, vintage fashion editorials, old movies -- I love when I can approach a project with a tangible storyline in my head. I like to think of my photos as scenes from a film -- stolen moments from a full narrative. Sometimes I start with a location that really inspires me or an outfit that reminds me of a character, and I'll flush it out from there. I realize I'm probably oversimplifying that a bit -- perhaps this needs to be a future post?
FIVE // How did you end up working at Google?
Many, many moons ago, just as I had graduated from college, I worked at a street style community startup in Silicon Valley called Weardrobe. My longtime bloggers may even remember it. Weardrobe was owned by a parent company called Like.com, whose main focus was perfecting visual search technology, particularly for apparel. After 6 months of working at Weardrobe, Like.com went into acquisition talks with Google, as is the case with many Bay Area start ups, and I eventually found myself interviewing for and ultimately working at Google for another 5 years, primarily on their marketing team.
SIX // Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
Definitely an introvert. I actually have another post in the works about how I've grown into my introversion and appreciated it for what it is. I'll try to share next week.
SEVEN // Do you see yourself leaving NYC anytime soon? If so, where would you move to next?
If you had asked me this before the pandemic, I don't know if I'd have a timeline to share with you, even though I knew New York has never been my forever home. But now, with a on-going pandemic, I'm almost certain our NYC clock has started ticking, perhaps even faster. It's not that I want to leave the city -- in an odd way, I've relished these months here at home, despite the hardships, because I found the perseverance of New Yorkers to be so inspiring. But when you consider rent, cost of living and the fact most New Yorkers consider the first items in this list worth it for all the culture and life in the city that now happens to be closed or shut down -- it's a hard pill to swallow. I'm not saying we'll be leaving anytime this year or maybe even next, but I'd be lying if I wasn't looking to a not so distant horizon where there's a backyard, some space and some nature to enjoy. If I could have my dream scenario play out? That would be easy -- a year in Tuscany, at a vineyard villa with limited WiFi.
EIGHT //What's your workout regimen?
In the past several years, it's fluctuated quite a bit -- from non-existent to hyper fanatic (neither of which work well for me). I'm happiest when I'm consistently running (preferably outside if I can) 3-5 miles a day, with 1 or 2 days off, usually the weekend. In my 20s, I would sometimes foolishly keep up a cardio routine for the sake of fitting into some "thinner" image of myself. In my 30s, I savor the head space cardio gives me, regardless what it may physically do to my weight. And I feel much more at peace because of it.
NINE // How did you meet your boyfriend?
Believe it or not -- Tinder! I had been dating casually for a few months prior to matching with him back at the beginning of 2017 and hadn't necessarily been in the market for something all together too serious when we did match. But after about 30 minutes into our first date, I realized I might need to reevaluate my newfound single status. Our banter via text was pretty instant (none of the aloof, playing it cool and waiting to respond games) and that first date went from planned drinks, to an impromptu dinner, to last minute dancing at a jazz bar, to a late night cap and a first kiss on a park bench around 3:30am, before he walked me home.
I woke up the next morning, still exhausted and possibly still feeling my last glass of wine, to a Fresh Direct delivery of potatoes and one nashi from Ty. For some reason, I now can't remember the inside joke with the potatoes but we had talked about nashis (otherwise known as an Asian Pear) the night before, where I basically told him I thought he was making up names for fruit. I mean, have you ever heard the name "nashi" before?! I sure hadn't. Turns out, he was right after all and I've loved his weird sense of humor ever since.
TEN // What's the last thing that really left you inspired?
Without a doubt -- Black is King. The locations, the poetry interludes, the outfits, the storytelling. All of it was visual gold and Beyoncé is the one true alchemist.
Photos by me