Tag Archives: Life

One More Thought About That Instagram Thing…

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After I wrote that post about what I’ve been doing to step up my “Instagram game” this past weekend, I realized that I left out something very important. It didn’t make sense for me to edit the original post and write the update at the bottom. Instead I wanted to wait a couple of days to think a little bit more about what I was going to say and then write another post. I’m not about to tell you anything that you haven’t heard before.

Another important lesson that I learned from taking “good Instagram photos” is that we project how we want to be seen by others. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but the longer I went on with this the more I found this to be true. When I returned home to Seattle this past June, I caught up with a few friends that I don’t regularly keep in touch with and they all couldn’t stop telling me the same thing.

“You look like you’re doing well and you seem really happy at least from your Instagram!”

Well, little do you know, right? My year of being 25 was just as hard as my 23rd year. Just because your Instagram looks perfect and you’ve set the right constrast and highlights, you yourself, are not perfect. I won’t deny that on those harder days, even those validating “likes” could temporarily make me feel better – make me feel like my experiences were a little more exciting or that I was a little bit closer to home. We may not all admit it, but these feelings resonate within a lot of us, people you know and even those power Instagram users. There was a story earlier this year that ESPN wrote about college athlete Madison Holleran who very much projected a happy life through her Instagram while struggling with a lot more beneath the surface of her photos. Of course, I want my feed to project happiness, but if we’re being honest here – my photos don’t always reflect how I’m feeling inside and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just admitting that.

*We rarely showecase on our social media if we’re feeling sad or unhappy, but I found this rare one that I took back in 2013
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The Instagram Project

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If you’ve been following my Instagram page for the last four months, then you may have noticed a signifcant change in the way that I’ve been posting my photos as opposed to when I first started my account. My co-worker Emily is someone that I find pretty knowledgeable in Instagram given that she runs an account for her cats that does reasonably well. When I picked her brain awhile back about how I could gain followers for my account so that I could build upon Yow Yow, she gave me a very simple answer: Hashtags.

But wait, doesn’t that look kind of spammy?

Not if you put all of the hashtags in the comment section instead of the caption.” 

Caturday

Interesting. So I followed her advice. We happened to be together on “Caturday” at Dolores Park and after editing my photo and posting it, she helped me line up a variety of hashtags. (#cutecats #Saturday #DoloresPark #SF #adorable #cute #cats #catz etc.) Shortly after, the likes poured in. We ended at 54 and I was hooked. I convinced myself that I could do this experiment for another week, but naturally that ended up being four months. I was really put off by the hashtags at first so after I had received the desired number of likes that I was hoping for, I would go back and delete my hashtags comment. However, I learned that if I kept it there without deleting that users would continue to like my photos even weeks after.

That was just one of the things that I learned from this project, but I actually learned a lot more and have some pretty interesting stats to include in this post as well. Let’s start with the stats:

In my four months of doing this I had:

  • 8 regular photographers (people that have taken at least two photos for me. Most of them were my co-workers)
  • 17 photos of my food
  • 38 photos of my outfit
  • been to 3 different cities
  • staged 15 of my photos (had to rearrange things on a table/the way they would be taken)
  • spilled Jamba Juice on my bed. (This actually happened today so I’m still clearly a n00b)

Takeaways:

  • I still haven’t figured out how to gain a significant amount of followers like I had hoped. I gained more than 48, but if I count all of the followers that have been added since this project and stayed “following” that’s the number I have.
  • I was never going to really take off as an “Instagram” star. Unfortunately when Instagram came out, I think I was still using an old school Blackberry so all other bloggers had a huge advantage over me.
  • If I wanted to continue a following, I needed to post everyday at least once a day. I felt a weird sense of pressure from this and as a result felt like I didn’t have enough clothes to rotate into my shots (had to buy more!) and had to continuously look for inspiration.
  • Doing this project made me a better photographer. When I look back on all of the photos I took prior to doing this, I realized I was just taking photos “in the moment” and of my friends and random things that no one really cared about. Those photos just don’t get likes.
  • I still despise the #nofilter hashtag and refuse to use it ever.
  • I started asking myself the question, “Why would people care about this photo?” Why do people care about a group photo or a single shot of my friend from across the table? They don’t. But random strangers care about it if you hashtag it correctly and they’re the ones who will like your photo.
  • It’s very hard to like your first shot. Sometimes, I would come out of a session with 30 photos that I had to continuously delete in a row in order to get to the $$$ shot. There’s lot of photos in between that just don’t “look right” because a strand of hair is in my face or my eyes are blinking or my mouth is open.
  • I still have yet to post a “selfie!” and I probably won’t just because I don’t think I can get it right and they make me feel uncomfortable.
  • Even though I had a set of hashtags that I always used and knew would do well, I still had some doubts that I was missing out on other hashtags that could do better that I wasn’t using.

Tips:

  • If you’re going to capitalize on the fashion thing and the OOTD, then you’ve got to do it in moderation. I learned this lesson the hard way. I once had 3 outfits posts in a row. It didn’t hurt my likes very much, but when looking at the “whole” page of my Instagram, it looked off and didn’t display a “lifestyle” which is what people would rather see. Imagine a whole feed of outfits. No one really wants that.
  • I’ve heard that taking photos in the “Square” function of your camera gives you the best shots. I’ve tried it a few times now, but since I have so many photos with more of the white space around it, sometimes it looks out of place. What I like about the square though is that it kind of centers everything and makes it a lot easier for cropping. I’ll use this feature more when I’m trying to capture more of my outfit.
  • I definitely prefer having photos with more of the whitespace in the background. When looking at all of my photos as a whole, I just like that they give my Instagram page more of a uniform look, but I’ve read that it also provides people with more “visual relief” when scrolling through their feed. Because of this, it garners more likes.
  • Find a buddy! My friend Alex was also trying to step up his Instagram game around the same time as me so we would go on shoots together, give each other advice and basically lean on each other. When no one else understood what I was doing, it was great to have him around.
  • When possible, always include a location for where you’re at. That gives you a couple more hashtags to use.
  • If you’re trying to break into the fashion market, tag the brands you’re wearing. During the Nordstrom anniversary sale, I Instagrammed a Rebecca Minkoff bag that I fell in love with that I couldn’t afford and Nordstrom sent me a $50 gift card! Uniqlo has commented several times on my photos that they’d like to re-use my photo (they haven’t yet) but I have hope someday that they could so I keep trying.
  • High volume Instagram days don’t mean that you’re going to get likes. ie) Father’s Day. Because everyone is doing it and you’re not special. Your dads are – you just aren’t. On Instagram.
  • Just because your meal tastes delicious doesn’t mean it looks good.
  • Be courteous on Instagram. If someone random likes your photo, try and go to their page and give them a couple likes as well. If they leave a comment on your page, do the same.

This is still my favorite photo from this time period.

This is still the most liked photo at 73 likes and the first photo in the series of “outfit” posts.

Tools that I use: 

  • VSCO Cam for editing
  • Squaregram for the whitespace background
  • Twitter for sharing – most of the time I won’t share to Facebook though

Related articles:

So we’ve done 4 months of this. What now? Well, to be honest, Instagram has been way more fun since I started wanting to take better photos that I don’t really want to go back to what I was doing before. We’re going to continue on with the photos, the outfits, and the hashtags, and we’re looking forward to more learning and what happens next!

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How Do We Get These Walls

Black sleeveless blouse – Madewell / Back pants – Uniqlo / Booties – Munro via Nordstrom / Purse – Vince Camuto

My friend Sandeep just returned from an extravagant European vacation so after her and I caught up over a Thai dinner a couple of weeks ago, we decided to venture out over to the nearby Santana Row. I didn’t think that we were going to be able to find a nice backdrop for a photo, but this was a hidden gem. Doesn’t it look like we travel really really far away to some place amazing instead of an outdoor shopping mall?! I’m donning my usual uniform this summer – mostly all black and that wavy hair that I just can’t stop spending an extra 15-20 minutes on every morning.

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Bay Area Eats:

When it comes to brunch in the South Bay, there are very few options. Typically you’ll find diner style type restaurants instead of the really fancy type brunches that you might find up in the city. Nothing against those, but I like to find a happy medium. Sometime last year I discovered Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park and never let it go. Occassionally, Diana and I will find ourselves here during the weekend and sometimes spending upwards of about $60+ on brunch between the two of us. We go hard. Borrone is a popular spot and you can always expect a line here, but it’s also such a casual spot to be dining as well since they have a large area for outdoor seating and you can order your food right up at the counter. Here is just a sampling of the spread that Diana and I have once ordered. However, if you want to do my order, here’s what you need:

  • 1 chai tea latte
  • 1 freshly squeezed orange juice
  • The scramble – with salsa, avocado, and sour cream
  • 1 side order of chicken apple sausage
  • 1 side order of cinnamon raisin bread (toasted with butter)
  • (to split) a half order of the fresh berries french toast
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An Everlane Event

Tank top – Nordstrom / White skort – Aritzia / Grey cardigan – Zara / Black boots

Sometime last month, Alex, Kelly, and I stopped by an event at the Everlane offices to showcase some of upcoming season’s latest items. This was actually the first fashion event I’ve ever been to in San Francisco so it was pretty exciting, but also a little bit intimidating! It was kind of like all of the best dressed people in San Francisco were present at this event and we felt a little bit out of place. I like to think of Everlane as a sort of fashion start-up so it was still just interesting for me to be visiting another office in that space. We didn’t stick around for too long or mingle with very many people, but enjoyed the experience. After the event, we took advantage of the murals in The Mission and used them as our backdrops for our photographs before ducking into a wine bar for some late night sangria. Also, where I happen to be standing in this photo was completely unintentional! Only after did we realize that it looked like I was the one being “painted.”

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We Went to Taylor Swift!

Sometime last year, my co-workers had bought 24 tickets to Taylor Swift. At the time, I was like “Oh, nah I don’t want to go. I hadn’t even listened to 1989 really.” Then the week before the concert was actually happening, a serious wave of FOMO fell over me. I needed a ticket. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to say anything because I had turned it down so hard before! Luckily, someone pulled out in that final week and a spot had opened up to which I quickly accepted. Even in the time since the album was released, I still hadn’t listened to it that much other than the songs that had gotten radio play, but I was still really excited. I’ve heard such good things about Taylor as a performer and I really wanted to see it for myself!

As a group, we held a “Taylor Tailgate” prior to going into Levi’s Stadium. The demographics around us? Young girls and their parents, as expected! This was still one of the most fun things that I’ve been a part of this summer though :)

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Blog Post Headlines in 2015

I’ve been reading blogs for a very long time now, but only recently did I truly understand the meaning of blog post headlines and the importance of them. I think if you go back to some of my very first blog posts, you’ll see that I didn’t quite grasp that yet and I would name my posts really random things or things that had nothing to do with the content because I couldn’t come up with something. This was the wrong thing to do and I should’ve known better because for years I would read posts sometimes mainly because of what the titles told me about them. In 2015, I’ve seen a huge shift. These days, I’m finding that titles of blog posts are becoming sort of tacky and not as genuine as they used to be. Instead, they’re looking a little crazy so that they can lure people in for the “clicks.” It’s something that has been pretty disappointing and not what I would ever do with Yow Yow! but something that I’ve seen in a lot of my favorite blogs.

Here’s an example that I saw the other day:

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Now, this is a blog that I read every day, but this title made me do a double take. What kind of readers was the blog trying to attract? Did the writers have all of the facts? Does this title seem… fair? So I did what I didn’t want to do. I clicked on it because I was curious about what companies this blog gave up and suggested that people go to work at. They suggested jobs at Juniper Networks, Netflix, and Yahoo! They highlight average salaries annually for employees, but what they don’t say is what roles these are for. How does the writer of this post know that their audience could qualify for these positions when they don’t even share what experience is needed. This entire article centers around money and that to me feels superficial. Maybe it’s because I work in recruiting and I believe there’s more to an ideal job than just money, but at the end of the day this blog doesn’t care about what I think because they accomplished what they needed, right? That click from my end on my laptop. Even though I disagreed with that title, I couldn’t keep myself from what they had to say.

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Song of the Day

Hailee Steinfeld – Love Myself

I’ve got something really important to say about today’s Song of the Day. I was actually woken up by this song as my alarm sometime in the middle of the last week and I didn’t think much of it then because I was half asleep so I decided to give it a second chance when I was more awake. And to be honest, I haven’t stopped listening to it since. Do you all remember when I made a whole playlist for “Girl Anthems?” Well, this is the latest great addition!

A friend of mine just moved back to Cupertino after a hard break up so I’ve spent a lot of time with her lately watching her re-build herself back up again. We’ve all been there. Shoot – that was me just last year and while over half a year has gone by now, it’s hard to imagine that I am where I am now and that my friend will get to the point I’m at in just a few months’ time. I could spew out a bunch of cliches right now about how you never need another person to be happy with yourself or that friends are the ones who are always going to be there for you over a guy (but it’s true!) however, the most important cliche ever is the one that comes from my mom – that you can’t ever truly be happy in a relationship until you’re happy with yourself. She’s right.

Another anecdote: I was recently propositioned to move in with a friend who is looking to buy a house. I told someone that I could do that… and it would be an okay option, but I love myself too much. He laughed at me. And in my head I thought, but… no. I do. And you don’t really get what I’m saying. I love myself and not in the I’m “full of myself” kind of way. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in my mid-twenties now or if it’s because I’ve just grown up a bit within the last few months, but I am for the first time in a long time feeling more confident and secure with myself more than ever about the things I enjoy and my interests and I don’t really need someone there to validate those things.

Hailee, we approve of you making the switch from an acting career to a singing career. Thanks for giving us women a very powerful anthem.

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Currently Snacking:

oreo thin

I learned a few weeks ago that my favorite childhood cookie was releasing a new kind of cookie… the OREO THIN! Unfortunately, I missed the boat where I could receive a free sampling of it and instead had to wait for it to arrive in stores. Well, I waited…and waited…and waited… Three weeks had passed and they still weren’t on the shelves of my local Safeway. Trust me – I checked. Just when I had thought about giving up on the whole thing entirely, there it was… I had to buy a pack. I wanted to buy two, but I exercised self control. Since, it’s not all that cool to finish an entire package of Oreo’s by yourself anymore, I decided to bring it in for my coworkers, but not before sending out this email to them:

I’ve been hunting down Oreo Thins at the grocery store for several weeks now since they have been released. Just this weekend, they finally arrived at my Safeway.

I brought them in for people to try!! They are as thin as a pencil! Less calories! Super cute and adorable!
!!!
Gone within 45 minutes.

 

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Now… A Sigh of Relief

I have this feeling that I may have executed on my last event today in my career and it is such a huge relief. I mean I started doing this 10 years ago and it brings me a lot of satisfaction, but at the same time a handful of stress and a pinch of anxiety. I used to love doing events because I loved seeing something that took weeks to put together come to fruition. The end result is the best. The appreciation and postive responses make everything worthwhile, but boy – am I tired. I had to unwind at my favorite Pho restaurant across the street to come down from whatever “this” was – something that I adopted way back when and still do today. Good to see how some habits never change. To kind of close the chapter on this, I thought it would be nice to write down a few of my thoughts on what I think it takes to be a good event planner.

  1. You have to love who you’re planning for. Well, if you don’t love them, you should at least like them. Putting together an event for people that you don’t enjoy very much is like torture and you shouldn’t do that to yourself. When you’re planning for people you like, your job is easier. You start to pick up on things you know certain individuals will like. You get excited about the ideas you come up with and you don’t tell them because you want to keep it a surprise and make them even happier. This is my favorite feeling!
  2. No event is perfect. There are always things that you’re not going to anticipate and things that you would’ve done differently. Acknowledge them to yourself. Accept that this happens before it happens and strive for better next time. Because of my experience with planning and my personality, I tend to be overly criticial of myself sometimes even at the event as its happening and this is something that I wish I could’ve worked on before getting to this very moment.
  3. Haters to the left. What’s worse than being critical of yourself? Having others critique your work. No one understands what you do and unless they’ve been in your shoes and have planned an event before, then all they can really do is have an opinion. My co-worker once told me that it’s important to “listen” to all feedback, but you don’t have to take every piece to heart.
  4. You didn’t do this alone so give thanks. This is my most favorite tip and honestly, I’m writing this post mainly because of this lesson that I learned very early on from my mentor when I was 15. It’s likely that you never did an entire event on your own because larger scale events take so many people to help you get to your big day. My mentor taught me always to be extremely grateful to every single person that helps you along the way. When you arrive to your event, introduce yourself to every person helping you and every vendor. When you leave your event for the night, make sure you make the same rounds and thank everyone for being their and helping to make the event a success. This is the strongest piece of advice that I have learned and it is has carried me a long way! I remember at one of my concerts, an inebrieted student had come up to me asking to get past a barrier and when I refused things escalated pretty quickly that one of our security who had noticed the incident and who had met me early on in the day came over to step in. That student was thrown out and while I didn’t find myself in immediate danger, I feel pretty confident that I wouldn’t have had backup had I not personally met with our security staff beforehand.

What a journey! These were the immediate four that came to mind and I’m sure I’d have much more to share if I wanted to spend more time on it. While I’d like to think that it’s my last event, I feel like that’s probably…maybe… not entirely true. Who knows what will happen?

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Interracial Couples Talking About Stereotypes

Warning: some of this language is not safe for work. Mom and Dad, you’re not going to want to watch this.

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Back Then It Was a Fresh Cut

Black dress – Aritzia / Sunglasses – Marc by Marc Jacobs

Every time I’m back in Seattle, Veronica and I never miss an opportunity to get some shooting time in. After all, she was the one who documented all of the photos for “Space Girl” way back when. Queen Anne is a gorgeous neighborhood with endless hills, a lot of Seattle landmarks, and colored walls like these. This was the perfect contrast to the daytime little black dress I wore that day. Also, it happened to sprinkling on this “summer” day in Seattle, but it was so warm and humid out! We’ve been wearing the wavy hair for the summer and happy to say that a month later, we’re still doing it. It’s just much more fun than straight hair.

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Homeless People Reading Mean Tweets About the Homeless

Just some perspective. Angie Bird has filmed a powerful video that is a spin on Jimmy Kimmel’s celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves. However, instead of using celebrities, she had homeless people reading mean tweets about homeless people as a way to raise more awareness. Instead of taking a few seconds to put others down, we should be spending those minutes helping those in need.

[Source]

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Moorea Seal

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After I moved away from Seattle in 2013, a new storefront moved in downtown and I hadn’t gotten a chance to visit it until this past June when I returned home. I think before they officially had a store, Moorea Seal was completely online, which is how I kept up to date on them through various social media networks including Pinterest. If there was ever a store that embodied me the best, this would be it. When Anna and I finally made a trip to the actual store, I couldn’t handle myself. Two steps in, I threw my hands up in the air and nearly startled the girl up at the front. Everything. Was. Perfect. Anna is such a good friend because she was completely patient as I perused every single corner, shelf, and display of the store. The thing about these types of stores though is that you don’t want to miss anything. I had to be smart with my wallet though because boy, was this store dangerous. I would look at a pair of shoes and say to myself “Yep, these are the one.” And then three seconds later, have my eyes land on a pair of perfect brown sandals that I knew just had to come back with me to California.

While I was there, I also had the opportunity to meet Moorea Seal herself and to let her know how much I adored her shopfront. Don’t worry, we’ll be back! There are more things to buy!

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The Best Time to Visit Seattle

It’s actually been a few weeks since I returned from my trip back home! It almost feels a bit outdated to write this post now, but then I remembered that I couldn’t not share all of the photos of everything that I ate while I was in Seattle. It just seemed like the wrong thing to do. Even though I’m calling the Bay Area home now, Seattle is never that far away and I don’t take advantage of the short flight as much as I should. It can be challenging because I have times at work where I should be in the office and not on vacation, but luckily for me the summertime is not that time. And that time also happens to me when Seattle is the hottest and the brightest! I decided to go back for Father’s Day and a few days extra which ended up being the right amount.

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Before I even landed in Seattle, I had one request and that was for Kevin to pick me up at the airport (okay a 2nd request) and take me straight to Wasabi Bistro. I didn’t get to go here when I was in town during the holidays and it was the only thing that I wanted because no offense – California can’t even match up to Seattle when it comes to sushi and seafood. We were all thinking it. Also, I had sushi three times when I was home, so there.

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