Joy and Tracy: The Interview

Tracy Benjamin, (me), Joy Wilson

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege to interview and hang out with Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker and Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.  They’re pretty much the most awesome bloggers out there!

I attended their food styling and photography class at Teahouse Studio in Berkeley.  It’s such a cute little space to get your creative juices flowing!

I was beyond excited to meet Joy and Tracy.  I follow both of their blogs, and listen to their hilarious podcasts every week (because that’s what normal 15-year-olds do, right?).  They’re both so unique, and I love how their personalities shine through their blog posts.

And, you know what?  They are just as as fantastic in person.

Being around them is like listening to one of their podcasts live.  A few things I learned?  Joy took AP Euro and journalism in high school… guess what I’m taking right now! Kinda crazy, right? Joy thought journalism was super fun.  I’m trying to convince myself that she’s right (aka, I’m trying to survive). And, Tracy and I are both anal.  Joy totally isn’t.

Pumpkin Milkshakes

The one thing that threw me off guard?  Joy’s height. No joke.  For some reason, I was expecting her to be around 5’11.  She’s not.  Of course, she’s still a head taller me, but that’s not really saying much, considering I have yet to break 5 ft.

Thank you, Joy and Tracy, for such a fun Sunday.  I learned so much, and you guys did a great job teaching!  I really appreciate you making me (and my teenage akwardness) feel so welcome and comfortable.  I really did have a great time, even if it looked like I was just sitting there like a bump on a log.  I was busy soaking up all the information :)  Hopefully I can apply your tips and tricks to my photography and blogging.  (Thanks, also, for having the class on Sunday too, and therefore giving me an excuse to skip homecoming.  It was totally not something that I needed to be a part of.  At all.)

Lastly, a big thank you to Michael for teaching me how to use my borrowed camera.  It’s quite helpful to know what happens when you push certain buttons.


I’m making Tracy feel awkward… and Joy totally knows it.

Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean: The Interview

Megan: What inspired you to start your blogs?

Joy: I was inspired to start my blog because I feel like blogging is a really good way to combine my passion for writing and my passion for food (which is serious), and I get to also tell stories through my photography too.

Tracy: I started my blog as a way to channel my creativity.  I did a lot of photography in college, and that’s what I studied, so I wanted a place that I could showcase my work, but through the process and through blogging, I figured out that I really like working on food, so I shifted gears and started playing around with food and photography, and so it became a food blog.

M: Did you guys expect your blogs to become as big as they are?

JTB: (This is Joy!) I have been working on my blog for four years, and I definitely didn’t expect that it would become very popular.  For many years,like two years straight, it was not popular, really, at all, but I would still work on it almost every day, and I was doing it because I really really loved it.  I think that if you do something that you really love, it can become popular, you know?

TS: (This is Tracy!) When I started my blog, I just wanted to be a part of a community and find people who were like me, and who I could start a conversation and a dialogue with. I never had the intention of having a popular blog.  I just wanted to feel like I connected with other people.  And, it came!  The more I worked on my blog, the more people came

M: What’s the best tip you’ve ever gotten, or what’s helped you the most?

JTB: I think what’s helped me a lot with my blog is learning to be consistant.  That can mean consistent with your voice, and like, being able to tell stories in a way that feels authentic to you.  And, consistent in how often you share things with people.  I try to blog three times a week and I think that it helps people know that I will have something to offer them 3 times a week, and if I took a month off where I didn’t blog at all, people would be like well, “Wait, wait wait!  Where’s Joy?”  Consistency is a big deal.

Tracy: I think for me (this is Tracy), it’s about being authentic and being yourself, because you can easily compare yourself to other people doing the exact same thing.  But, there’s only one you, and there’s only one way that you can tell your story- there’s not  one way you can tell your story- but it’s your story, it’s your life.  The more authentic you can be, the more people respond to that.  So, when I do a post, I do something that I know and love, and peoplc can see that.

M: Umm, alright.  Let me think.

JTB: No presh. Ask us about pizza… we like it! (more laughs)

M: Well, ok, what’s your favorite pizza recipe?  You guys were talking [earlier] about that no-knead pizza?

Tracy: Yeah, we both really like the Jim Lahey no-knead pizza dough.

Joy: We’re obsessed with it.

Tracy:  Yeah, we’re obsessed with it ’cause you can get a really thin crust on it, and it just tastes really good.  There’sno fuss involved.

Joy: We just like making pizza at home.

Megan: Do you have to use a pizza stone?

Joy: Nope.

Tracy: No way.  just a baking sheet and olive oil.  It takes about 2 hours for the dough to kind of settle in and puff up, but it’s so easy, and kind of brainless.

Megan:  Yeah, pizza stones are kind of a mess sometimes.

JTB: Yeah, aren’t they?

TS: the nice thing about this recipe is that you get a rectangular pizza, so you don’t have to worry about filling up a perfect circle, and things being uneven.

M:  Yeah, ’cause I’m so anal, that if it’s not a perfect circle, it’s not going to be okay!

TS: Yeah, true!

JTB: I’m fine! I can deal with a rectangle.  It’s really cool.

M: Okay. this isn’t really about blogging, but what degrees did you get in college, and where did you go?

JTB: I went to the University of Washington in Seattle.  I have a degree in English literature and playwriting.

TS: I went to the University of Oregon in Eugene, and I got a BA in fine arts with a focus on photography.

M:  So, the occupations you have now… I thought you said you’re an accountant?

TS: I do accounting on the side, but the training I had with art school really helped me with my blog.  It’s just a way for me to practice that and keep going.  When I got out of college, I felt this tremendous amount of pressure to do photography, and I didn’t know if I could make a living off of it, so now I’m kind of creating my own job …in my own … on my…

JTB (whispering): terms!

TS: on my own terms.  Yes, thank you Joy.

M: Do you think your English degree helped you with the writing aspect of your blog?

JTB: I do think my english degree has helped me feel comfortable with my writing.  But, I have taken my English degree, and everything I’ve learned in it, and I’ve thrown about 98% of it out of the window.  (Laughs) I do make up my own words,

M: dot, dot, dot,

J: I use dot dot dot frequently.  I have a tremendous amount of typos, but I’m not anal, so I don’t care about them. But, I know how to structure a sentence, and I know the rules of using the comma and the semi-colon, but I choose not to use them anymore.  ‘Cause I’m grown. I do what I want!

M: Do you guys have any upcoming projects?

JTB: Tracy?

TS: Well, we podcast every week, and we’re hoping to do more classes across the country.  Maybe a retreat or something.  And, we’re trying to do some online stuff, like courses.  So, there’s a lot of stuff we’re working on!  ~~~

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