FAQs

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I am somewhat flattered when I receive interesting questions about my blog. Many of you have had the same questions so rather than answer them individually, I have created a list of answers to all of these fascinating questions.

When did you start cooking?
I was 7 years old.  My mom was in bed with the flu and it was my dad’s birthday.  A birthday isn’t a birthday without a cake, so I baked him one – from scratch. This is one of my most vivid memories.  I remember making it, the mess I made and the look on my dad’s face when he walked in the door.  I was hooked from that day on. My love for food, cooking, fresh ingredients started at an early age. And each time I traveled to a new city it was all about the food, the restaurants and the culture.

Did you go to culinary school?
Sadly, no.  One of my biggest regrets.  I attended U.C. Berkeley my first two years of college(then graduated from U.C.L.A.).  While at CAL, I was a nanny for an amazing family, 3 days per week(a family I still stay in touch with). When I had a little extra money, which was rare, I would treat myself to lunch at Chez Panisse.  I was all of 19, but even then, I knew good food.  And the more I ate good food, the more I wanted it.

Have you ever worked in the Food Industry?
Does working for a restaurant consultant for all of 3 weeks count? Then…the answer is no.  I have thought about staging for a great pastry chef or taking one of those 3 a.m. shifts in one of our local, hot bakeries.  I have dabbled in a little catering, but most of my cooking is for those that I love and adore.  I bake lots and lots. My friends, neighbors, the kids teachers, our doctors and other favorite people benefit from my addiction.

Why did you start a blog?
I started reading Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer.  Alexis was baking all the time and I related to her. I liked how she boxed up her goodies and started packaging my stuff prettier(thanks, Alexis).  Then I found the Pioneer Woman(she made me LOL), Tastespotting(introduced to me to even more food blogs), Tartelette(made me want to be a better photographer) and I was inspired. Originally, I started the blog to post photos of the kids for relatives and friends whom lived across the country(you can see my bad blog posts in the early stages). Then it became my “journal” and my journey of our everyday life.

It sounds like you have a “day” job, if so, what do you do?
Yes, I have a day job! I am an independent marketing, branding, and product development consultant. In plain english, I consult with small companies, personalities, chefs, and non profits and help them develop their brand, voice, and personality. Most of my current clients did not have much in terms of a website and it became my job to art direct their site, shoot their photography, and help them create community. I am often asked if I make money on this blog. The answer is always “yes” and “no”. I make very little money from the uber amount of hours it takes to publish and promote this blog. But, by paying my dues and working for free, I have learned what it takes to create good content, display beautiful photography, and in turn, I have been put on retainer by some pretty wonderful people to recreate this for them!

Do you work for other “bloggers”?
I generally don’t work for other bloggers as most bloggers (like myself) make very little money blogging.  With that said, I am regularly hired to shoot product, food, and people.  I also, “ghost” blog for a few sights and I do create and sell my desserts (only for large parties).  I have a few clients whom I meal plan for, create their shopping lists, and organize their pantry’s (such fun!).

How did you build your traffic on your blog?
Actually, I am still figuring that one out.  That is a process as well as a learning curve.  A few people that would be better to give advice on this are: Jaden Hair (Steamy Kitchen), Elise Bauer (Simply Recipes), and  Pro Blogger. In reading their blogs, I have gained knowledge and I continue to learn from them daily.

I have heard you have been on T.V.?
Yes (I say, bashfully). Before “blogging”, I had a real job.  The company I founded and created, Little Folk Art, Inc. was an upscale, children’s furniture company that catered to the Hollywood elite.  After being featured in all the top magazines, one of the producers of The Oprah Show found me, she ordered some pieces and a few months later I was invited to appear on one of the shows. I appeared on lots of other shows, but meeting Oprah (on our birthday weekend – yeah – she and I share the same birthday),  was a highlight and an accomplishment.

What kind of camera do you use?
I use a Nikon D300.  I have several lenses as I have been shooting with a Nikon since 1988, but I have a few favorites.  When shooting food, I use a Nikon – 50mm f/1.4.  For portraits, in my opinion, there is only one; Nikon 85mm f/1.4, and for out and around town or shooting the kids being kids, I prefere the Nikon 24-120mm f/4G. 95% of the time I shoot using natural light.  On those rare occassions that I need extra light, I use an SB-800 speedlight.  I have thought about upgrading the SB-900, but I don’t use it enough and what I have does a great job. When I am hired to shoot interiors, I like to use a diffuser.  Specifially, the Gary Fong Collapsible Diffuser. Or a number 10 envelope works just as well(attached to the speedlight with a rubberband – works like a charm)!

Why aren’t you in any photos?
I prefer to be behind the camera, rather than in front of it.

Do you use any photo editing software?
Of course!  I do a little tweaking in Photoshop.  I wish I could get “that shot” every time, but I don’t.  I am learning Adobe Lightroom 3(this book is helpful). But I haven’t had enough time to master it.

Can I use your photos on my site?
Well…that’s a tough one.  Not without my permission and if we do agree to agree, I would appreciate a link back to my blog.

I’m coming to L.A., can we meet for lunch?
Although, I love to eat and chat, my days are pretty full.  Aside from writing, cooking, food styling, photographing, and prepping for this blog, I always have a consulting job or two.  In addition, I have a spouse and 3 very busy boys that need my attention.

Do you have a question that I didn’t answer?  Please feel free to contact me at susan [at] theurbanbaker [dot] com.