Toronto writer and marketing pro finds success in food writing and photography

Shannon Poos, founder of Tacos and Xanax. Via: www.instagram.com/tacosandxanax/.
Shannon Poos, founder of Tacos and Xanax. Via: http://www.instagram.com/tacosandxanax/.

Shannon Poos loves to eat, write and cook. She launched her blog Tacos and Xanax with the intention of learning more about food writing and food photography, but the brand has also become a way for Shannon to learn more about herself and her followers.

Marketing professional by day and food lover at all times, Shannon says Tacos and Xanax has connected her with other food professionals, given her the chance to improve her photography skills and it’s helping her explore her biggest passion.

1. In a few words, how would you describe yourself?

Unsettlingly spontaneous. I think I tend to make people nervous.

2. Where did you get the name Tacos and Xanax?

Tacos and Xanax came out of me overstressing and overthinking a name for a blog. I was just kind of doodling in my notebook, writing down random words of things I like, and Tacos and Xanax just sounded pretty good together. The weirdness of the name really speaks to me…

3. How would you describe the Tacos and Xanax brand in a sentence?

It’s so weird to see it called a brand! I know it is, it’s just funny to think about. I guess the brand is kind of about trying to make life more accessible and honest. I like to point out when I messed up in recipes, and be honest about not knowing measurements, or speaking to the ways I injured myself getting through the process.

4. Did you always know you wanted to combine food and writing?

I still don’t. I dabble in everything. Unsettlingly spontaneous. This time two years ago, I was three episodes deep into a web series script about a failed improv troupe. I write about what I feel, but I started to realize that all I think about all day is food. I had been struggling to decide what kind of writer I was – television, novels, journalism? I decided to stop putting so much pressure on [content] and just [focus on] writing whatever I wanted. I keep a lot of notebooks and journals, but what I know is food.

5. Food photography is a THING – especially on the ‘gram. Why do you love it so much?

I think food photography is just incredible because it [brings with it] such common ground. Everyone has to eat food. At one point, I considered starting a water Instagram. Kind of a spoof, I guess, Just glasses of water in different places. Everyone drinks water, so why wouldn’t that be a hit? But no, getting back on track, I think food is yummy and looks especially so when it’s presented well. Which is actually very hard to do!

6. How did you learn to photograph food?

Oh man, I have a lot of work to do. So far, I have just explored on my own, as well as spending a bit of time with a photographer friend. The Internet is also an amazing place for seeking inspiration and coming across tips. I am currently signed up for a styling and photography course online. I just have to hit go on the course, so hopefully I will improve sometime this century.

7. If you could pick one food item to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Potatoes! Smashed, mashed, shredded, fried, cactus cut, scalloped, hasselbacked, spiralized, crinkled, with gravy, with chili – so many options and they’re all dope.

8. When you’re not producing , what are you doing?

Sleeping, eating, working at an ad agency, playing with my bulldog, sleeping.

9. How do you stay motivated to get writing done and photos edited and shared?

My alarm is labeled, “Get up you lazy bitch,” so this keeps me in check. I also just think about the fact writing this blog is ME time and this is what I like doing! All day, I am catering to work, my boyfriend, whatever else I have to do and Tacos and Xanax is my project. I want to do it well and I want to meet likeminded people.

10. Right now, do you have a favourite food professional?

There are so many. For captions and just being hilarious while sharing good-looking food, I would have to say @missnewfoodie. In terms of a benchmark for what I want to be stylistically, @thegoldendionysus. I came across her a couple weeks after my account launch and I found that we have a similar style, though she is 500,000 times better than me. So, I like to strive for that. Also, @hungryhipsters because their photos are loud and bold. They seem like they’re having fun!

11. Do you have any help producing the site and social media brand? Or, are you a one-person army?

Just me! Hopefully one day I will need help…

12. What’s one of the most important aspects about keeping Tacos and Xanax relevant? How do you retain followers, readers, etc.?

I like to keep up with what’s going on around me… infusing pop culture into posts, visiting new restaurants or making sure I get my dirty paws on all the new cookbooks. In terms of followers and readers, I like to just connect with people with similar interests.

13. Why is it so important for you to follow your passion and share good food with great people?

Whether people are watching or not, it’s important to do what you like doing. For me, I would be even more erratic if I was progressing through life down the wrong path.

14. What’s one lesson you wish you could have learned five years ago?

There is more to life than ramen.

15. If you could share any advice with an upcoming food writer/photographer, what would it be?

Do it for the love of food and the rest will follow.

16. What are your next steps – with or without Tacos and Xanax?

Oh man, uh, not really any specifically. It changes everyday. I’m in marketing right now so if I could combine marketing with working at some awesome food place, that would be fun and realistic. If I am blue sky, dreaming big… maybe publish a cookbook? Become a food stylist or photographer? A recipe developer?

17. Is there anything else you want to add or share about your journey so far that you think our readers could benefit from?

Try things. It sounds cliché but it’s important to explore. If you want to do something, really dig into it. If after a while you don’t feel it clicking, try something new. Everyone thinks they’re supposed to have it all figured out early on. You don’t. You might not find the thing you’re incredibly passionate about until later in life, but that’s okay. Just keep exploring until you do.

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