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Meet Veronica Kablan and Johnna Todesco of Brunchographers in Westside/Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Veronica Kablan and Johnna Todesco.

Veronica and Johnna, please share your story with us.
Brunchographers was born, not surprisingly, over brunch. One memorable Sunday, we sat on the patio of a restaurant in Venice Beach, enjoying the ocean breezes, while a stream of plates arrived at our table – each full of artfully arranged food, each more beautiful than the one before. We both felt the itch to document the scene; it felt like a waste to let something so pretty go unphotographed. As we each reached for our phones and sheepishly asked our brunchmates if we could snap a quick photo of their meals, we looked at each other and laughed — finally, we weren’t alone in our weird obsession with photographing our meals.

We’d already known that we shared a passion for brunch itself: we both adore the act of a laid-back weekend meal shared with friends and are constantly on the hunt for the best new restaurants in Los Angeles. But beyond the sensory and social pleasures of a good brunch, we also realized that we both derived a great deal of satisfaction from immortalizing our meals through photography. Comparing our jam-packed camera rolls and scrolling through meal after meal, we discussed the power of a food photograph — even if half-eaten or poorly lit, we found that an image of a lovingly crafted plate of food could trigger a whole range of memories and emotions, offering a picture of a place and time, how we felt in that moment, and who we were lucky enough to share the experience with.

Rather than relegating our beloved food photos to the dark depths of our smartphones, we decided to share these little moments with others, in hopes that they’d find joy in them like we did. At the time, Instagram was already exploding, and a community of foodies was growing with it – so the platform seemed like the perfect place to start. We began by posting the very same photos we’d taken so surreptitiously of our friends’ meals using our phones, but it wasn’t long before we were bringing our DSLR cameras along for the ride and were standing on restaurant chairs to get the perfect overhead shot of the entire brunch spread.

As artists with backgrounds in design and filmmaking, we enjoy the challenge of photographing our food in a way that both emphasizes its beauty and tells a story about the dish – but as we learned more about the restaurants we visited, we found that there were so many more layers to their stories that we were able to convey in a single photograph. Naturally, we started a blog, publishing narratives and opinions about our favorite spots as often as we could. In time, we extended the blog to include our own recipes, as well as coverage of the brunch parties we had put together for our friends.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As Brunchographers is a passion project at heart, we make an effort to create work that we feel truly excited about, and try to keep our stress levels surrounding our projects low – but nothing comes without at least some amount of discomfort.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve worked through along the way was learning how to value our work. It’s common for bloggers, influencers, and photographers to receive requests for collaborations or assignments that involve creating custom work for little to no compensation – instead, the creator is promised exposure, a concept that can be incredibly tempting to someone just starting out. While accepting a few offers like these offered us a chance to build up our portfolio and make some new connections, in the beginning, we quickly realized the great disservice those arrangements did to ourselves and to our peers. By offering our time and expertise for no charge, we were not only devaluing our own work but the work of other food photographers. It can be intimidating to ask for what you deserve – particularly if you’re not used to attaching a monetary value to something you’ve created. But, we’ve learned that if we aren’t steadfast in valuing our own work, we’re only contributing to the larger problem when we could be actively working against it. Plus, the worst that could possibly happen is that the potential client will say “no” — which, depending on your perspective, is just one step closer to the next “yes!”

A hurdle that we continue to encounter in today’s social-media-driven market is the dubious task of finding the right audience. With something like 800 million monthly active users on Instagram, it’s all too easy to get lost in the overwhelming amount of media shared and discussions had each day. While we are purposeful about carving out time to research the best strategies for growing our audience and expanding our reach, we strive to keep our focus locked on doing what we love most and do best: creating beautiful photographs and telling compelling stories. By maintaining that focus, we’re able to consistently serve the audience we already have while we continue to hone our craft — a recipe that we hope will result in more gradual, long-term success.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Brunchographers story. Tell us more about the business.
Brunchographers is a blog and Instagram account created by Johnna Todesco and Veronica Kablan, dedicated to documenting our favorite weekend ritual over coffee, cocktails, and conversation. On Instagram, we share mouth-watering photos from our favorite brunch spots in Los Angeles and beyond, multiple times per week. On our blog, we share the stories behind our favorite brunch restaurants, offer up approachable recipes to make at home, discuss our favorite food-related products and services, and provide inspiration for entertaining or throwing a brunch party of your own. We also accept freelance work; our specialties include food, restaurant, lifestyle, and travel photography, recipe testing and development, and short-form food writing.

We feel extremely proud when our efforts result in real human connection – when someone sees one of our photographs or reads our blog, feels inspired, and goes out and create their own memorable brunch experience with their friends or family. It’s incredibly heartwarming to see a photo of one of our recipes as created by a reader and their family, or a selfie of a group of old friends finally catching up over brunch at a restaurant we recommended. We believe that food is one of the purest expressions of love in this world, and seeing others share the experience together gives us so much joy!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We certainly feel lucky that we were placed together as office-mates at the same company because we were given the opportunity to get to know each other and become close friends. We also feel lucky that Instagram offers a platform for food and photography lovers like us to connect and share work – without Instagram, we’re pretty sure this project wouldn’t exist!

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