Georgeats started on the living room floor of my University share house, while I was studying criminology and Italian language, of all things. My general health had been on a rapid decline, courtesy of an unnamed gastroenterological issue, which remains unsolved to this day. In my zeal to address my never-ending list of woes, I started experimenting with, and photographing, what I was eating, and Georgeats was born. Since my University days, I’ve been diagnosed with gastroparesis (a condition whereby the cleansing wave that pushes food through your digestive system is incredibly slow, which is quite fitting) and SIBO. SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, that causes a whole heap of undesirable symptoms. I’ve found some relief in a gluten free and low FODMAP diet, but I’m still figuring it all out.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you have all this spare time to photograph your dinner?
Great question. I work full time as a freelance recipe developer, food stylist, and food photographer. While I was working part time immediately after I graduated uni, I was offered a small job creating monthly content for a social media firm, so I lived at home, leeched off my parents, and ran with it. Over time, and with a HUGE amount of practice, I have built up my skillset, and my clients. Freelancing is definitely a higher stakes way to live, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What camera do you use?
Let me preface this by saying that what you’re doing is more important than what camera you’re using – I spent the first three years of my photography journey with a super basic, cropped format SLR with a kit lens. I think this is honest the best way to learn if you’re an absolute novice, as I was. I have zero patience for manuals or YouTube videos, so for me personally, it was ideal to learn by doing, and to do it gradually.
These days, I use a Nikon D810, which I’m incredibly happy with. For the majority of my shots, I use a Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens – it’s lightweight, very snappy, shoots well in low light, and is particularly well priced. For everything else, I use a Nikon 24-70mm lens, which is a little pricier, and a lot heavier, but great to have in your arsenal for those situations where a fixed lens doesn’t cut it.
I have nothing to contribute to the Canon vs Nikon debate – I know nothing of tech specs, and Nikon is all I’ve ever known and used. The only advice I can give is the advice I received – pick them up, and see which one feels the most natural and logical to you.
What can and can’t you eat?
I’m gluten free, low FODMAP, and pescetarian. Going gluten free was basically the start of my exploration with eliminating foods, and I started around 5 years ago. Before that, I hadn’t seriously considered the impact of food on my digestive woes (nor had my doctors, which was kind of ridiculous.)
I experienced considerable relief from constant headaches by going gluten free, only to find my health going downhill AGAIN a few years later. Though I’d previously looked at the FODMAP diet, I’d immediately discounted it for being too hard. The difference this time? I was (and still am, in most aspects of my life) desperate. While it’s tricky to maintain any sort of diet as a full time recipe developer, I’ve found the FODMAP framework to be incredibly helpful in managing and minimising my symptoms, while I figure out my diva of a digestive system.
How did you become a freelancer?
I get asked this question a lot, and the short answer is, through some luck, a lot of help, and a lot of non existent weekends. By the time I had finished University, I was a year or two into working on Georgeats (the Instagram, at least) and I was thoroughly obsessed with it. While my whole undergraduate degree had been geared towards doing a postgraduate law degree, (I had even bought the LSAT test books) I decided to take a year off, get a job, and truly evaluate whether I was even interested in the law.
My sister hooked me up with a connection of hers, and I started working a part time administrative role in the media department of a bank. The part time nature of the job gave me the flexibility to work on Georgeats, and the fact that I had moved home to my parents (although an ego bruising move) meant that I had few overhead costs, and could focus entirely on building my client base and business. I say this like I had any idea of what I was doing, other than that I enjoyed it and I hated having someone else being in charge of my time (I would have made an appalling lawyer)
After my contract with the bank ended, their PR company (who my sister had also t’eed me up with, thanks sis) asked if I could create content for some of their brands, and the rest is history. I lived at home for two years, earned meagre money and deprived myself of a social life, but eventually I built up a strong client base that allowed me to move back to my beloved Melbourne, where I continue to deprive myself of weekends and a social life, to this day.
What are your tips for going freelance?
I can’t speak for anybody else, but my biggest personal tip for freelance is that you have to be ready for big ol’ sacrifices. Mine? I moved home for 2 years, commuting one and a half hours to my part time administrative job, as well as my university job (at a chemist) which I kept up for about 3 years after I started Georgeats. When I finally was in a comfortable enough financial position to move back to Melbourne, I also conceded that, as a young extremely single person, I’d have to live alone, not in a share house, which would be fun and ideal. Cooking like I’m a celebrity chef (aka making an enormous mess) being home all day, and starting work when the light is optimal (currently 6.15pm) I knew I’d make a lousy housemate. This, combined with the fact that I work from home, predominantly alone, has resulted in a lot of social sacrifice as well.
This leads me to my next point: everybody talks about how great it is to be your own boss, and nobody mentions the sheer amount of time you’ll spend in solitude. This can be limited, of course, and not every creative freelancer will experience it to the extent I have, but it’s definitely an aspect of the lifestyle to be mindful of, before you take the leap.
A few other tips:
- Sit down and create a business plan. I didn’t, and I’ve spent 2+ years faffing around seemingly aimlessly as a result.
- Build up your client base, or your product, or your visibility, before you quit your day job. The extra income is invaluable while your side hustle isn’t yet profitable.
- Work hard, and be in it for passion, not for money. If you’ve met me, I obviously love food and eating.
- It’s truly amazing what you can learn from YouTube and the general interweb.
- Try not to cry on a regular basis 🙂