Here it is! I answered as many questions as best as I could. If you want to ask me something, just ask it in the comments or via my contact page and I'll include it in Ask Me Anything Part IV, which I'll start working on in August or September.
What are your pet peeves when collaborating with other creatives?
Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts and photoshoots?
I respond to what's going on in pop culture or the news. I also avoid looking at fashion magazines or fashion blogs.
What is the biggest challenge for you as a style blogger?
Nowadays there are so many girls out there claiming to be fashion bloggers but this is not always the case. Having a blog doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a blogger as well. It takes a lot of effort, personal time and sacrifices to be a real fashion blogger. So for me the biggest challenge is to distinguish myself and not be another fashion blog.
What's your favorite fashion accessory you can't live without?
Sunglasses! The bigger the better. I have about 20 pairs but I keep going back to my favorite pair of On The Prowl sunnies by Quay Australia. They're becoming my signature because I'm always wearing them. Even on a rainy day, I like to carry a pair with me. They have the power to transform any look, but are also great in shielding my eyes from the sun or the wind. I have very sensitive eyes, and they tend to tear-up. They also help prevent me from squinting too much.
What is a typical photoshoot like?
I wish I had a typical shoot and a formula to apply to it. Every shoot is so different! For bigger shoots that involve a whole team of models, makeup artist, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists and my intern, I am responsible for scouting the models and locations, creating the moodboards, coordinating the date and time, figuring out a place for the team to prep, communicating with everyone and putting together the call sheet and then of course, shooting and editing everything and writing up the copy for the blog post. For smaller shoots, sometimes it's just me and the model and we're just testing or experimenting with a new location or some new techniques so it's much more personal. Organization is key and sometimes it can take a whole month to put together a shoot. I'm usually in the middle of planning a bunch of shoots in advance so that I constantly have new content for Instagram and the blog.
What do you use to edit your photos?
I love using VSCO presets for Lightroom. I haven't opened Photoshop in years and didn't even bother installing it in my new computer. I spend very little time editing after a shoot. I'm very particular about the way a shot is set up. Every last detail is scrutinized through my lens and the perk is that if I get it all right in the camera, post-production doesn't take up that much time. I learned so much from all the mistakes I made when I first started shooting.
I have long hair and am sick of it. What should I do?
Cut it all off or get bangs. If you decide to do both, even better. If you don't want to cut it, then color it something completely different. Go platinum blonde or dye it all black. If you already have short hair, get extensions or play with some wigs.
Latest fashion trend you are in love with?
Bike shorts in all colors, just like the ones I'm wearing in this post. I wear them alone and under short shorts.
This may be a tough or annoying question, but you're known for being an activist while you've also been embraced by the fashion industry, which has its problems. How do you balance the two things? Or do you even feel the need to?
I do feel the need to. Right now I'm really fighting for more representation of people of color in fashion. So I'm making a concerted effort to shoot more Asian, black and Latino models and submitting those editorials to magazines for publication. Every little bit helps.
I am about to launch my podcast now that I have about 10 episodes. Can you tell me how long it takes for Apple iTunes to approve my show once it's submitted so that I can tell people to subscribe at the right time?
Congratulations! According to my podcaster friends, Apple takes anywhere from 48 hours to 2 weeks.
When did you start writing? And how do you commit to your writing schedule and keep your blog updated? How do you come up with new content?
I've always loved writing. I was a daily journal keeper since middle school where I would write short stories and letters to my favorite celebrities (I only sent one: my letter to Ann M. Martin of The Babysitters Club). I probably have an entire closetful of notebooks I've filled at this point. When I started my blog in January 2015, I was really beauty-focused and I would write about my favorite products and how I would use them. Then it graduated to writing about pop culture and race-related issues. I sit down and write every single morning when I wake up. Sometimes it's a good enough piece and I'll publish it on the blog, sometimes I'll save it as a draft and sometimes I just trash it. But I have to write every single day to stay committed and in practice. Because I write about pop culture, I tend to react to the events around me. Because social media is updated every second with news from all over the world, there is always something to write about!
Do you have any fashion advice or tips for guys?
Yes! Go to these sites everyday: Uniqlo, Nike Sportswear and Urban Outfitters. Click on New Arrivals. Boom. You can also check out instagram.com/hypebeaststyle if you lean more towards streetwear, like I do. If you need more workplace inspiration, you can check out The Trendspotter for some more dressed up options. I also think all guys should invest in a good skincare regimen (SK-II products are fantastic and high quality) and a signature cologne (I'm partial to Jo Malone scents). Last but not least, never ever buy boat shoes or cargo shorts.
For someone who is trying to work their way into the media world more so making videos, do you have any videos, do you have any advice on how to start gaining exposure? I know a lot of people say to just put stuff out there but it's also hard trying to make something I'd see as perfect and able to distinguish myself from others.
Videos are another form of visual storytelling and probably the most powerful. To stand out from the others, you have to tell a compelling story. With video, you get to incorporate sound too, so use that to your advantage in the music you choose, the dialogue you write and the sound effects. Remember that you have to make your viewers feel something. The best business advice I've ever gotten is: If you can create emotion, you can create a business. Also, if you want people to share it on social media, keep it short. People have really short attention spans.
If when you face a challenge in photography, do you rely on your natural gifts and inclinations to solve the problem?
Definitely. All the best gear in the world won't solve the problem if you aren't creative and resourceful. Also, learning to scrap your original idea and just evolve into something else is important. Sometimes, if something isn't working, it's time to move on.
How do you get yourself out there as a photographer? I'm a college student and being a full-time photographer is my dream job. I'm having trouble getting new clients and scheduling shoots due to school and work. Any tips?
It depends on what kind of photography you want to do. If you want to do portraiture and fashion, your market has to demand it. If you want to do weddings and elopements, you can pretty much do that in any city.
Since you're still in school, I would take this opportunity to perfect your technical skills and build your portfolio before concentrating on finding clients. This way you can figure out which genre of photography is best suited for you. If you want to explore weddings, ask a local photographer if you can second shoot or assist. Assisting under a well established photographer can teach you a lot more than any photo school can. You should learn studio etiquette, how to treat equipment, how to talk to clients, how to manage a shoot, how to manage a studio, and the basic business of photography (taxes, legalities, etc). If you want to do fashion, start getting your friends to model for you in their best outfits. Build up your social media following and your website. Start submitting your editorials to magazines for publication so you have a lot of tear sheets in your portfolio. Those should come first before you start looking for paying clients.
No matter what kind of photography you decide to go into, make sure you understand as much as you can about lighting. Master sunlight and studio lighting. Maybe attend some workshops (The Breed, Lara Jade and Emily Soto have great ones!).
I also highly recommend learning video. The demand for video will increase no matter what genre of photography you decide to pursue. Also, a lot of the skills you learn for video are transferable so it will make you more marketable as a photographer.
What are the height and size requirements to be a high fashion model?
This is a burning question. The general guidelines for women are height 5'9 to 6'0, around size 4-6, 34B-24-34 and 14-21 years of age. For men the guidelines are height 6'0 and slim build. Are there exceptions to this? You bet. Are these guidelines fair? No.
How can I build my following on social media?
You have to have interesting captions. Even if you have a beautiful photo, you still have to say something. The only people that can just put photos out there with no context and no caption are celebrities. The rest of us don't have 100 million fans who will click on whatever we put out just because they adore us so much. So you have to say something that makes it easy for your followers to comment on. Ask some questions. Start a conversation. Social media is just that: it's social. A lot of us forget that part. This applies to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You also have to start leaving comments on A LOT of people's posts consistently. Consistent engagement via likes and meaningful comments (not just an emoji or a generic "This is great!" comment) is the best way to get the algorithm to work in your favor.
In your professional routine as a whole (social media presence, photography, etc), which element or tasks would you consider to be the most difficult or taxing?
The most taxing is definitely keeping up with every social media platform I'm on. I answer every single comment and DM I receive on each platform. I think of new features almost everyday for my Instagram Stories, I come with interesting captions for my followers to respond to, and I have to update all platforms manually. Each platform involves a different approach. When it comes to Twitter, I think in terms of retweets. When it comes to Facebook, I like longer form posts and much more engaged discussion. On Instagram, I am more known as a fashion photographer so I update my feed with images from the editorials I've shot and I keep all the personal stuff and outfit posts to the Stories feature. I update Pinterest with repinnable content. For LinkedIn, I write articles specifically for my audience there, which is very business-to-business and we talk about the influencer and digital marketing industries. This can take hours before I even get to answering emails and working on my actual website/blog. The reason I do this is because you can't rely on any one social network. Look at what happened to Facebook Business pages after the new algorithm took effect a few years ago. It's hard to grow a following on there now if you don't have the benefit of going viral like I did. Same with the new Instagram algorithm. You have to adapt and the only way to do that is to be omnipresent. It's not hard to find me online.
I'm thinking of dropping out of college to focus on photography. What do you think I should do?
I would finish college. Use the opportunity to major in something like graphic design or marketing. You can always minor in photography.
What do you when you've got a creative block? I'm a blogger and I have so much trouble thinking of things to write about.
It's weird. I hardly ever get creative blocks. Everything I do is a means of entry for something else I'm interested in. I read so much. I consume so many books a week and I'm constantly doing research on the things I'm interested in. I credit reading so much to never running out of things to reflect on. If you're having a creative block, consider if it's more about you being concerned about yourself and not your creativity. Think about if you're more concerned about how the world perceives you instead of what you're actually passionate about. This is where social media can get dangerous. So many people get caught up in comparing themselves to other people online and then we think we'll never be able to put out work that's as good as theirs. If you're experiencing a block, step back and ask yourself, what are you passionate about? And then explore every angle of it.
I really want to start a blog too. I'm in college and would really love to make it my side hustle and make some extra money.
What do you want to blog about? You didn't mention what it is you're interested in. I realize the saying, "follow your passion and the money will find you" is super clichéd and usually wrong but in the blogging industry, it couldn't be more true. Even the people blogging about extreme couponing are hardcore passionate about it. Without being able to show your readers any passion, you're not going to hold their attention. And without a loyal following, nobody will be wiling to pay you. Honestly, monetizing your blog isn't easy. It's a full-time job and you're always working on it because you're basically a small business owner. If you want to make some extra money while in school, I would suggest getting a paid internship instead.
I'm sick of my signature lipstick color. I've been wearing the same color since high school and I want to change it up but I'm worried it won't look good.
Try on lipstick without any other makeup on to see if the color suits you. You can also try out the Dior Addict Lip Glow collection. They bring out your natural lip color so it'll look different on everyone. My favorite is Coral but I also like the Pink one. I don't like Lilac because I think purple lips make your teeth look yellow.
Because your work is considered pretty political, do you get a lot of trolls?
Hell yes. At first I would argue with them because I'm the kind of person who thinks, "You're a fucking idiot and here's why." When Dear Asian Women went viral, it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. There were tons of trolls! There were rape threats and hate messages on Facebook, Twitter and in my email inbox. I had Facebook admins constantly asking me if I wanted to report anything to them. The trolls picked apart everything about me: my hair, my family, my outfits, etc. The thing about trolls though, is that they really only exist online and aren't trying to argue with you. They just want to piss you off. So you have to ignore them.
How can I get one of my blog posts to go viral?
You can't plan to go viral. It just happens. You strike a nerve with people and they react. Even for those of us who have gone viral before, we can't replicate it consistently. Trust me, if we knew how to, we would. (The exception is if you're an international celebrity.) There are a few commonalities among people who have gone viral though:
1) They had already been blogging for a while and had an established audience. The reason for this is because the higher your numbers, the better the chances you have someone even more influential than you looking at your work and if they share it, it begins a multiplier effect. In my case, two people with follower counts of 210,000 and 680,000 shared my blog post and from there, it exploded.
2) They provoked a strong reaction in people by writing about something controversial, amusing or shocking. In my case, I wrote about a very taboo topic in the Asian American community. At the time, I didn't realize it was so taboo. I only discovered that after it went viral and saw the reaction to it.
3) They are outside of the norm, meaning that they are providing insightful commentary that isn't usually said.
If you're so proud to be Asian, why do you have blonde hair?
You're fucking kidding me, right? I wrote a whole blog post about that. Read it.
Who did that tattoo on your arm?
The dragon tattoo on my right arm is by Seth Ciferri when he used to be at Read Street Tattoo in Baltimore, Maryland.
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