Thahmina Haseen, the brains and food photographer behind the Golden Tiffin blog, chats with us about balancing a full-time teaching career and her blog, advice for others interested in food blogging, and her tips for developing skills in food styling & photography.
You started your blog, Golden Tiffin, in 2014 as a way of combining your passion for food and developing your skills in food photography. How did you prepare for your blog launch?
I had never ventured into writing a blog (MSN Space doesn’t count, right?) before Golden Tiffin but I have been an avid writer for as long as I can remember. As a literature graduate, I felt like I needed to combat the stresses of teaching by exercising other creative muscles. In all honesty, I didn’t do anything to prepare for it! I used to post pictures from a camera phone onto Twitter regularly and somehow got coaxed into dedicated a space to my recipes.
Alongside your life as a blogger and food photographer, you also balance a full-time career as an English teacher. How do you find the time to do both?
Having a full-time career that I love and enjoy doesn’t play second fiddle to blogging. Having a creative outlet enables me to not get stuck in a rut and in turn motivates me at work too. There was a moment in time where I just had no idea where the blog was heading and took a few months to figure out if it was something I was going to take seriously. I underestimated how much work went into creating high quality content.
Now, almost three years later, it’s clear that one of the most important aspects of creating a community and authentic following is consistency and having a schedule. If you know me, then you know I’m a sucker for a spreadsheet! I make a schedule for all my posts; shoot recipes in bulk; draft up posts and set up reminders to promote at various times during the week. What used to be the bane of my life now doesn’t seem like such a hard task.
What are the biggest challenges in balancing a blog, full-time career, and everyday life? How do you overcome them?
I think in the ever-increasingly technological age we live in, it becomes easy to be engulfed by what we see or read online. I may not belong to a blogosphere that puts a spotlight on the blogger, but I’m still constantly comparing myself to other young writers and question whether I’m kidding myself that people want to read what I have to say.
Over time, it’s dawned on me that actually, what’s refreshing about Golden Tiffin is that it’s not made to sell a lifestyle or a dream, just stories woven through food. It’s also important to preserve your integrity: if you feel that you are not creating the content that reflects your brand or philosophy then don’t put it out there. Sometimes, less is more.
What advice do you have for others who want to start their own food blog? What about for people who want to develop their skills as a food photographer?
For those who want to start a food blog, I’d say hurry up! It’s been such a wonderful experience and the people I’ve met through food blogging have made me realise I’m not alone in liking things beyond the material. I enjoy being part of a community that doesn’t put you down.
With regards to photography, I’d say start with your camera phone. There are blogs out there who make their bread and butter by marketing themselves as only shot from an iPhone. There is no reason to hold back- you can’t even use equipment as an excuse!
How do you envisage your blog and personal brand growing in the future? What are you most excited about?
This is a question that a few years ago I would never have dreamt of being possible. I’m most excited about upcoming collaborations with other cool photographers (not food related) and my goal for the year is to feel confident enough to release an e-book or a series of video recipes. I’m ready to embrace all the opportunities that come my way.
Want to improve your food photography skills? We’ve teamed up with Thahmina to host a Food Photography & Styling masterclass. Sign up here