In 2019, I worked as social media manager (and barista) for Three Ladies Cafe (TLC) in Davis, CA. In addition to creating and sharing content for TLC's Instagram, I also revamped the cafe's print and digital menu, redesigned the chalkboard menus displayed in the space, regularly updated smaller chalkboard menus brought to the local farmer's market twice a week, and responded to Yelp reviews.

A photo of several books and a smoothie with chocolate drizzle on a table. A photo of a smiling person pouring water into a pour-over coffee set-up. A photo of a cafe with white walls and art hung up. A shadow on one of the walls reads Three Ladies Cafe.

Background info:

TLC is a small, locally-owned cafe that sells baked goods, smoothies, and breakfast and lunch food. With an emphasis on locally-sourced food and primarily plant-based ingredients, the cafe is a bright, clean, pleasant space that incorporates its values into its decor and branding, featuring lots of greens and oranges and natural imagery. It was opened by a group of three mothers, and features a small children's play area and large windows to let in the sunlight. In many ways, part of my job as the social media manager was to draw in customers during a difficult season (many of the students who make up much of Davis' population most of the year were not yet back for the fall). For local social media inspiration, I often looked to the social media presence of local chains like Temple Coffee, and followed popular Sacramento-area hashtags used commonly by nearby small businesses.

A photo of a person sitting at a cafe table, holding a pink smoothie, and smiling. A photo of a cup of black coffee, coffee beans arranged around it in a semi-circle. A photo of a cafe's front counter, chalkboard menu featuring drawings of fruit and reading TLC.

Every week or two, I would bring in my DSLR to take higher quality photos of the cafe. Baristas would pose, some friends came in to model, and the cooks would prepare food for me to take flatlay photos of. Of course, the best camera is the one you have on you, and, on days when I did not have my DLSR, I often still took photos with my phone of the cafe, the food that was prepared, and the drinks that were made. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, during Davis' farmer's markets, I would take and post photos and Instagram stories of the cafe's booth and the food available that day.

A photo of the front counter of a cafe, with text overlaid reading $100 gift card giveaway! A photo of somebody's hands holding and digging a spoon into a green smoothie bowl decorated with fruits and granola. A photo of a bowl of thai curry over rice.

Visual style:

The cafe's beautiful natural lighting is one of its highlights, and our goal was to present it as somewhere inviting, inspiring, and refreshing to visit, so I worked to really focus on those features with the content I created and posted. Spotlighting specific foods and products available for purchase and capturing the interior space of the cafe were two common goals for me. Photos of people also did well on the cafe's Instagram, so I organized a number of photo shoots with guests and baristas, in addition to snapping photos of my coworkers with permission while working shifts as a barista myself.

A photo of someone's hands as they pour milk into a latte, creating latte art. A photo of a corner of a retail establishment, showing shelves with products arranged on them. A photo of two identical twins at a coffee shop, smiling at each other and holding up pieces of a scone so they touch, as if saying cheers.

My favorite parts of the job:

I love creating flatlays! Getting to photograph the beautiful food at the cafe in that style was a real joy. Plus, the baristas all got to eat the food prepared for those photography days after I was done taking pictures!