When we first discovered Diamond Troutman’s photography, we were stunned and impressed. She manages to capture the essence of the subjects she photographs in subtle yet powerful ways. As a content creator, Diamond pays attention to her surroundings, is aware of her senses and observations, and gives herself writing prompts to stay sharp. Diamond seizes her youth every day, and she has a loaded schedule creating content for The Style Line, Conscious Magazine, the French Institute Alliance Française, and Life & Thyme Magazine. Oh, and she also speaks four languages – French, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic.
We’re so inspired by Diamond’s go-getter attitude, discipline, and hunger for knowledge. Read on to learn more about how she organizes her busy days, tips she has for learning a new language, and the advice she has for those interested in being content creators.
Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?
Diamond Troutman: ‘Seizing Your Youth’ means exploring what makes you happy and chasing after it every chance you get.
CJ: You attended Drew University and studied French Literature and Language and Sociology. How did you determine what to study?
DT: While many know me now as “la parisienne” behind Paris Elsewhere, my life in The City of Light (including my studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle University and volunteer work at Élèves Décrocheurs and Le Club Barbès) was never quite planned. Before beginning college, I was a student of three foreign languages (Spanish, French and Chinese) and upon my arrival at Drew University, I added Arabic language studies to the mix. My objective was to major in Linguistics and minor in Sociology – I soon discovered that the Linguistics major was no longer offered and opted for Spanish, before ultimately deciding on French.
CJ: You created the travel and lifestyle blog Paris Elsewhere to introduce Paris as you know it: a city of people and businesses participating in communities, relationships, and their own unique stories. How did living in Paris influence you and impact your life?
DT: The strongest influence Paris has had on my life is my regard towards tradition. Since my involvement in the United States as the Director of Communication for the Alliance Française of Greater Phoenix, I have witnessed firsthand the invaluable role tradition plays in unifying people of a shared culture. Coming together to celebrate over food and conversation is health giving and something to be anticipated and enjoyed.
CJ: Besides English, you speak four languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. Very impressive! Where did you learn to speak these languages, and what tips do you have for those learning a new language?
DT: I was first introduced to French at age 11, when play dates with my friend turned into casual lessons of language and culture with her French mother. I truly believe this was the sweetest way to learn French joie de vivre, as I was introduced to traditional pastries like sablés, clafoutis, madeleines and more, in addition to grammar and vocabulary lessons.
I started learning Spanish during middle school, but it wasn’t until I met my best friend Valeria, that I began to practice the language outside of school. We were the closest of friends, so close that I was considered part of the family. We spoke in Spanish all the time; our friendship indirectly immersed me in the culture.
I picked up Chinese my freshman year of high school and strengthened my studies with weekend sessions at a Chinese school and language camps during the summers.
I was introduced to Arabic at Drew University. I studied the language all throughout my third and fourth year in college and stayed with a host family in Rabat, Morocco for a summer.
What’s my number one tip for learning a language? Immersion! Listen to music, watch movies, join a conversation classes or even travel abroad for a short stay. Put yourself in the setting to live another culture.
CJ: Travel is a big part of your life. How has traveling influenced you, and is there a particular trip you have taken that stands out in your mind?
DT: The first day of my Mandarin Chinese language class was the most challenging yet; understanding characters as references for words required a new sort of discipline and dedication. All the same, my stay in Chengdu, China compelled me to *just do it. I listened to the radio on the way to school, ordered my drinks at Starbucks, enjoyed pastries from the nearby bakery, all in Chinese. The more comfortable I became with the language and culture, the less of a barrier the characters seemed to present.
CJ: You are a pro at content creation, whether you’re contributing to The Style Line, working as an Editorial Collaborator for Conscious Magazine, or consulting on strategic media and community relations for the French Institute Alliance Française. How do you brainstorm content to create, and what is your process for executing your ideas?
DT: As a non-fiction food and travel writer, my brainstorming is heavily influenced by my senses. Location means everything. If I’m writing a story and hit a roadblock, I’ll complete a writing prompt that challenges my awareness of place and people. I joke, what’s a pen to a person if not to write a story, and interestingly enough, I don’t always carry paper on me and I’m often left to jotting notes on napkins at coffee shops. My approach to note taking and writing prompts looks a little like a crossword puzzle. I write the words that come to mind and find a way to link them together.
CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from your experiences in content creation with a variety of publications, companies, and websites?
DT: I’ve learned that the process to content creation is most valuable. I am passionate about establishing a collaborative client environment to ensure pre-production work aligns with the client’s anticipation and brand identity. It’s rather easy to misinterpret ideas, so I’ve become keen on incorporating a mood board and weekly consultations to stay on the same page with clients.
CJ: You are also an incredible photographer. You contribute writing and photography to Life & Thyme Magazine. What is the process for putting together content for this publication documenting food culture around the globe? How long does this process take?
DT: Thank you so much! Like on any other platform, my process for editorial work is very extensive. My general subject concerns food, lifestyle and travel, so the first step is to begin researching current trends and unique developments in the area. To do this, I will read local newspapers/magazines, observe social media reviews, or what’s most exciting, venture outside of home to see the city for myself. Once I’ve discovered the exact focus of my article, I study it thoroughly to learn and uncover whatever questions I may have. After structuring the interview, I move into determining the visual component to my story. I observe elements of the trade and location, position my storyboard and when the time comes, capture the shot as best as I imagined. Pre-production can take between 1-2 weeks, the interview and photo production could take 1-3 days, and the writing and correspondence with editors could take up to 2 weeks.
I am currently in pre-production for my editorial work with Life & Thyme. While many may find this initial stage somewhat challenging, I am enjoying it to the fullest! Pre-production has allowed me to explore and enjoy the arts and cuisine of Downtown Phoenix, scout locations and provide applications for those interested in participating in the photo shoot(s). Most importantly, pre-production has allowed me to really take pleasure in my work. I look forward to also offering opportunities for assistant production (as a second shooter) on photography assignments.
CJ: From your ‘Kinship by Cuisine: A Conscious Coming Together’ column at Conscious Magazine to Life & Thyme, cuisine and food culture is a big focus in your work. Why are the topics of food, culture, and travel interesting to you?
DT: From EF travels in Italy and Greece, to off-campus seminars in Morocco and China, travel has often been paired with my educational pursuits and has opened my eyes to appreciate cultural differences. Learning has a pivotal influence on one’s values and passions.
CJ: What advice do you have for those interested in being content creators, writers, or photographers?
DT: If you haven’t already, discover the creative community in your city for friendship and mentorship! You can do this by attending events like Instameets (Instagram-facilitated meet-ups) and Create + Cultivate, in-person workshops with The School of Styling or online courses via Skillshare! Your community will inspire and support you.
When you’re ready, social media is a great tool for introducing your style to a public audience and developing a dynamic portfolio – I suggest Instagram for photography, Twitter for writing (ie: developing strategy for effective short copy) and Steller for content creation (graphic design, photography, writing).
CJ: With a variety of projects, how do you stay organized and keep everything running smoothly?
DT: While many may perceive the freelance career as unconventional in regards to the flexibility of office hours and work environment, it takes discipline and motivation to structure this kind of business and stay afloat with multiple projects. Currently, I manage projects with a variety of brands and publications. Each month, I have to honor my in-person responsibilities, such as board meetings, client consultations, creative conferences and events, etc. To keep everything running smoothly, I have to coordinate closely with my agenda on a professional and personal basis. For my personal brand, I’m implementing an editorial calendar for more consistent social media and blog posts. For my professional work, I have designated office hours (onsite for the French Institute) and deadlines for work submissions. Having picked up more work for social media content creation this year, I’m in the process of defining client-specific editorial calendars and mood boards, which are accessible via a private page on my website. To plan meetings and shoots, I use Google Calendar, my booking & availability calendar on my website, and my paper agenda.
CJ: What are some favorite books, resources, and websites that have influenced you?
DT: For gathering insight from successful creative professionals, I look to The Everygirl. For further guidance on software and approach to business practices, I attend Skillshare courses. As a writer, Writer’s Digest is an indispensable resource. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss is a good read into 2016.
CJ: What are you working to improve on – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?
DT: Personally, I’m looking to improve on my diet and sleep. The Fitbit Flex has been instrumental in regulating my water intake and sleeping habits. I’m somewhat of a night owl, so when inspiration strikes, I will stay up as long as it takes to make the most of it. All the while, when busy writing or editing away, I tend to not eat as I should.
Professionally, I would love to take up a new course. I’m following along with The Everygirl’s 30-Day Challenge of learning a new skill. I’d love to expand my knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite.
CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
DT: Write and photograph more. Get out there! Take the train into New York City more frequently, collaborate with other creatives and attend events to stay motivated. Find any opportunity to exercise your talents; it will pay off.
*Phrase by Nike
Portrait courtesy of Dreylon Vang, Copyright 2015 (location: Cartel Coffee Lab) / Photo speaking with Garance Dore: Courtesy of Paris Elsewhere 2013 (location: Open Studio, New York City) / Remaining stock photography images: Copyright Diamond Troutman 2015 (location: Royal Coffee Bar)