Danny Kim, the 22-year-old creator of @dannygrubs— is just that. Food Instagrams are a lot of work. To make his digital influencer dreams come true, Kim fills his calendar with restaurant openings and food photo shoots.
In the DC food scene, Kim is officially on the invite list. With 139,000 followers he gets the attention of city favorites like District Doughnut, Iron Gate, Busboys & Poets, and the Michelin Star rated Blue Duck Tavern.
“Once you’ve gained a certain number of followers, people kind of show respect,” says Kim. “And if I create good content, I can help people and support restaurants I really like. That’s the joy I get out of this– trying new food and exploring my taste buds.”
Getting Started on Instagram
Since high school, Kim has been taking pictures of food. It started with pictures of Chipotle burritos and lunches his Mom packed that he would post on his personal social accounts. Then he would get comments like “I’m so hungry.”
Officially, however, he started his account in March 2017 during his senior year at the University of Maryland.
In the beginning days of the Instagram account, Kim saw it as a curating account that would repost viral photos. After a while, he decided to make original content about D.C. food instead. To get his foot in the door with restaurants, he would message them and see if they want some online promotion.
These days he gets paid to post and the restaurants message him. He says the industry standard is $1 per 1,000 followers. However, he generally works with bigger companies and only exchanges photos for free food if he wants the content.
“Instagram is good, its the biggest platform for millennials,” says Kim. “It’s the easiest way to connect, and reach out, and also find new things. Instagram is the way to go right now.”
On Staying Organized
Kim has to juggle his day job as the solo-preneur of his marketing agency, Revenue Boost Media, along with his Instagram. This creates a type of lifestyle he calls “synergized.”
Kim’s life can be hectic. Any given day can consist of about five photo shoots, editing photos, and updating his feed.
“Sometimes I feel bad when I bring friends because I don’t even end up talking to them. I have to focus on posting and putting things on my story. But they get free food so everyone wins.”
DC’s Vibrant Food Scene
When asked why he chose DC for his Instagram he described the food scene as vibrant and growing fast.
“We have 24,000 restaurants in this small city alone so there is a ton of competition. On top of that there are a bunch of celebrity chefs. D.C. is known for Michelin star restaurants, fine dining. With that comes good eats, different concepts, and styles.”
Delicious Camera Angles
Currently, Kim’s favorite way to capture food is from above. The “bird’s eye view”, or from the side with a macro lens.
“When you show the details and texture, that’s what gets people salivating,” he says. He also takes a lot of videos of food, because if you want to go viral on Instagram you need to create videos.
“Anything with cheese pulls, chocolate oozing out– that’s the typical food porn you will see,” says Kim.
“Anything wild, anything I can stack, anything with color or texture. I love all food, but if I had to choose one food I love to post or eat, I’d have to pick tacos because I’m from California.”
Advice For Future Food Instagrammers
If you want to be in the DC food influencing game, Kim says you need to be consistent and post quality content. He also says not to worry about the followers because they will come with time.
“In the DC market, all the restaurants want some sort of press or promotion, even if you have a thousand followers you can still start promoting,” says Kim. “ Just email a lot of people, have a list of restaurants you want to go to, email them, and do good work.”
Photography by Ryan Dixon
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