How a Food Instagram Turned Into a Dream Job

I was that girl on your study abroad program who was not only taking pictures of everything she ate, but who was also stopping to get the perfect shot of the sunset or the street performers. You name it, I was documenting it. And a few years ago, I decided to put all those photos to good use. I started the @jqlouise Instagram account and https://jqlouise.com as a creative outlet to explore my interest in photography and travel writing. And little did I know that by the time I was 24, I would have my first book deal.

My hobby quickly turned into an obsession. Only a few weeks in, I found myself staying up ’til 1 or waking up at 5 to edit photos and write blog posts. And I loved doing it. Looking back, it’s clear that the obsession was actually a passion. Taking pictures of cityscapes, beaches and plates of food, was adding a whole other dimension to my life.

As brands and restaurants began to reach out to me, I realized that I was doing something right and that I might be able to turn this passion into something more. I even began to wonder if this could become an actual paying job.

As I worked on my writing and photography, I found more and more opportunities. I’ve done pieces on the Food Network Snapchat, I’ve reviewed a restaurant on TV, and Thrillist even called me a “travel expert.” But just the fact that people have actually begun to pay me for my words and my pictures, is a dream come true. I’ve worked with the Ritz Carlton, W Hotels, and so many more of my favorite brands all over the world.

People ask me all the time: how’d you build up your following or how did you land that project? I always say the same thing — consistency. There is no trick, like any career, “becoming a writer” or “becoming a photographer” doesn’t happen overnight. I work at it every day (every hour actually, trust me I’m on Instagram a lot). Like Samuel Goldwyn said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Opportunities will find you; you just have to be ready for them.

When I was a little girl, I used to write down ideas on the school bus ride home. I literally had a notebook filled with ideas for poems, novels, articles, tv shows, and movies. And somewhere along the way, through high school and college, I forgot about those dreams. I went on to get a degree in business and thought I wanted to make it in the finance world or the tech world. But that itch to travel was always there and any chance I got I went somewhere new — even if it was just that new place that opened up down the street.

But thanks to Instagram and a little perseverance, I resurrected those childhood dreams of becoming a writer. While I never could have guessed that the path to finding my calling would involve daily doses of cropping, editing, captioning, liking, and commenting, I am so grateful that I found my passion and I get to work on it every day.

Last year, when I was 24 years old, I got my first book deal for a food guide called Boston Food Crawls. Last summer was the summer of restaurants. Writing and shooting the photography for a food guide is a huge project (who knew?)! I visited about 120 restaurants and took over 80,000 photos all over Boston. From Southie to Eastie to the North End, there I was, camera in hand.

The book has been both the most challenging and rewarding project I have ever worked on. Days spent literally running around town to dozens of restaurants and nights filled with editing and writing are exhausting. But I love it.

A day where I wake up and have to go to one restaurant per hour for 10 hours may sound like a cakewalk, but trust me it’s not. Between tasting, shooting, taking notes, interviewing the chef, and staying on schedule, it’s anything but a vacation. But trust me, I’m not complaining. I crave the work, it energizes me — the way no job ever has. I definitely made a dent in my 10,000 hours in 2017.

Boston Food Crawls launches this spring and I can’t wait to share all the culinary delights my dear old Boston has to offer. It truly was a labor of love. Ask anyone; I have been giving restaurant recommendations since I could talk. And Boston is such a vibrant city, with a rich food scene. I am so excited that I get to share that with all of you.

2017 was a crazy ride. But that little girl writing ideas in her notebook would be proud of me and just thinking about that makes me smile. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store, but one thing I can guarantee is that I’ll still be the one snapping pictures of my food.

Related: What It’s Really Like to be a YouTuber in College

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