This year Visit Stockton put on their 10th annual Stockton Restaurant Week and I was asked to do a takeover for them to highlight local participating restaurants. I love being able to share my story through my city’s Instagram channels and help local businesses capture their food in great photos. I thought I would share some of the behind the scenes with you from this year’s takeovers of @StocktonCA and @VisitStockton. Make sure you check out my article posted to Visit Stockton and let me know your favorite spots that you’ve visited.
When I do these takeovers I hear a lot of the same questions over and over. “Are you getting paid to Takeover?” “Do you get free food at all the restaurants?” “Do you get to choose where you go?” “Why do you do these takeovers?” I think a lot of people would be surprised by the answers.
Are you getting paid to do these takeovers?
This is one of the biggest questions I get from people. I do receive compensation for my restaurant week takeovers with either a $25 gift card or comped meal at some of the restaurants I visit. I feel like I’m pretty old school and while I love free food, I feel guilty if I don’t pay for anything while I’m enjoying a meal. I always plan out my visits so that I’m paying for at least a portion of my meal and ALWAYS leave a tip for the waitstaff. Yes, taking pictures is harder than it looks and yes, my time is worth money, but when you’re served at a restaurant by a waiter or waitress they’re not the ones who invited you out and they shouldn’t be penalized for your free meal.
Most of the time I’ll go to the restaurants on my list with friends so that they can order food as well and we all share and pay for the difference. More people means more food to take pictures of too!
While a lot of Instagram Foodies wouldn’t think the compensation is enough for the amount of work put into a takeover I also think of it as a service to my city. I’m a Stockton Certified Tourism Ambassador and I view every post I make in my city as a chance to boost positive feelings about Stockton and spread the word about all the amazing restaurants we have. There are places with a lot of history here in Stockton that need their story shared.
Do you get free food at all the restaurants?
The short answer is no. During Stockton Restaurant Week I try to go to as many participating restaurants as I can. This year since I was doing a three day takeover of @StocktonCA and a week long takeover of @VisitStockton I was able to choose eight restaurants to receive a $25 gift card or comped meal at. I truly love what I do and I believe good food deserves to be paid for, when I head to a restaurant that is not on my list I pay like a normal patron and usually don't even mention the takeover. I admit sometimes I bring it up though to justify my photography equipment, like my extra lighting for darker restaurants. My friends get a real kick out of taking pictures of me taking pictures.
Do you choose where you go?
Absolutely, with Edible Hours I am very particular about what I actually post onto my feed. I want to post about foods that I actually enjoy and share meals that I think my followers should try too. I try a lot of new restaurants out and sometimes they don't hit the mark, if I don't like it I don't post it. I would love to see Edible Hours get #Sponsored or #Ad posts in the future, because who doesn't like making some money doing their passion?! I want to make sure my followers know that the food I'm sharing is worth their time, just like it was worth mine. You can also check out my Yelp Page for reviews and more pictures from my restaurant visits. Most of the time for takeovers like Stockton Restaurant Week I am showing off places that I know I enjoy so I can properly share my experience. This is not to say other restaurants aren't amazing, I just can't speak to them like the ones I've chosen and may cover them another time.
Why do you do takeovers?
Takeovers are a fantastic way to bring your skills to another Instagram page and collaborate on a project. For me, being able to share my photos with thousands of new people and help @StocktonCa or @VisitStockton generate some unique content is a win-win. restaurant week is always a stressful one for me because I balance my day job with visiting one or two restaurants each day. I plan strategically for when I'll be closer to a restaurant, if lunch or dinner is a better option for my schedule and if I can go there with other people to capture more food options.
Eating is a very social activity for me and when I'm not snapping pictures I love catching up with friends and coworkers. Restaurant week can also get expensive and you definitely want to make spending a couple hundred dollars worth it by grabbing some great content and creating some awesome memories with friends. Ultimately being able to share my photos, promote businesses and spend time with my best friends is well worth it to me.
Let me know what you think about takeovers on Instagram and where you're eating during Stockton Restaurant Week in the comments below!