Sam Ushiro takes us behind the scenes of her vibrant shoots
The creative genius behind "Aww, Sam," Sam Ushiro, posts colorful photographs daily that are incredibly fun to look at, but that's not to say that each is easy to conceptualize. Sam's process starts from baking her creations, a step that could take hours depending on how the final product turns out. From there, the photoshoots last from dawn until dusk, as Sam times all her snaps around natural lighting. And if that wasn't enough, this is a one-woman project, meaning that Sam does everything completely solo. This is no easy task by any means, but the results are completely worth it.
All of Sam's dedication and attention to detail comes forth in her incredible Instagram account, which boasts over 120,000 followers. Whether it's her signature donut decorations or her avant-garde, gravity-defying milkshakes, each photograph comes out clean, colorful, and completely unique. It's the reason why so many people out there (including us) have become addicted to her vibrant aesthetic.
So next time you tap like on another one of Sam's stunning Instagrams, take a moment to appreciate just how much work went into that one image.
To help you learn more about her intense creative process, we talked to the DIY star of the hour about what goes on behind the scenes of her signature shoots, where her love of donuts began, and what actually happens with all the food after she's done photographing.
And if you want even more Sam Ushiro news, head over to AOL.com at 6 p.m. ET to see more exclusive features, including the biggest pressure she faces as an Instagram star.
If you could give us a snapshot of what your photoshoot process, what would it look like?
So it's not as glamorous of what everyone thinks it is -- but I think that's how everyone's life is when they do shoots. So I have my own studio space, but obviously, because it is New York, it's not as big as I would love it to be. I end up having to move things around all the time. And I don't have fancy equipment; I was just using tinfoil on a board for as a reflector for a while. And my whole set up for shooting food is putting a table on top of another table so there's a background and a place to put the food. If it's a good light day, I start shooting and styling right when I wake up. There are a lot of times that I wish I had a photographer since it's all me. I have help from my boyfriend when he can occasionally, so if he has a little bit of time in the morning, we power through everything that I can't take pictures of. So it's me and a little bit of him too.
And a lot of bloggers don't know photography and I'm not a photographer, so there are a lot of things I don't know how to do. But I do know how to work these low-budget items really well. It's funny because I think if I did end up getting really nice equipment I would have no idea what to do with it.
Did you ever dabble in photography before this, or was it really because of your blog you learned how to shoot?
In high school I tried to do the photography that everyone tries to do in high school, but when I started doing Instagram stuff is when I started doing more photography. And it's definitely gotten better. There are times where I will scroll back on my Instagram account and think, "This looks so bad!"
So a normal day of shooting ends up being just one blog post?
That's what it always ends up being -- maybe not one photo, but one blog post. So I end up doing seven total photos and there are days when I can power through three different shoots. But I have this long list of shoots I want to get through and I might only be able to do half of them.
How do you conceptualize your blog posts?
I have a huge list of ideas that I've thought of. I'm not organized at all -- I have lists on my phone for ideas I thought of while I was sitting on the Subway. So I decide that I'm going to do say one food post, one fashion post, or something varied throughout the week. But there are definitely weeks where I can't think of anything good and there are just four food posts, because they're the easiest for me to come up with. I have notes everywhere of ideas so I just pick and choose.
Why did you decide on donuts for a lot of your posts?
Donuts are the new cupcakes. Cupcakes happened two years ago and now donut places are everywhere. But they really are the easiest things to figure out what to do with, because they're just a circle. So you can just think, "What else is a circle?" and just apply it to a donut. Plus, it doesn't hurt that they're also really delicious.
So what happens to all your food once you've finished baking and shooting them?
A lot of it gets eaten. My brother lives with me too and he gets mad about the amount of stuff he has to eat because he feels like he needs to finish the whole cake if I bake a cake. So him and my boyfriend end up eating it all. But sometimes stuff has to sit around for so long -- this is the behind the scenes of photographing any type of food -- so it can't be eaten eventually. So I'll bake it one day but can't shoot it maybe a few days later and it just sits there tempting people.
I can't even imagine how much work goes into baking! What is that process like?
Donuts can be easier sometimes since I can always just get donuts and show people how to decorate them. So that's easier if it's not a specific flavor of donut. But there have been times that I have planned out a shoot and then I bake the dessert and it looks terrible, and then I have to redo. I end up having to do a lot of midnight baking.
YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And come back at 6 pm EST for more exclusive Sam Ushiro features, including the biggest pressure she faces being an Instagram star.
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