Valorie Darling might have began her career in front of the camera working as an actor & dancer yet her passion for a different type of creative outlet led her to where she is today: behind the camera. That is, until she sat down with us to do this feature. While she enjoyed dancing & acting, her subject matter just didn’t fulfill her need for creative expression. This ultimately led to her formation of Camp SoCal HeARTS, a non-profit summer art camp for foster kids & low-income families in Los Angeles, as well as the creation of Skinny Fat Girl Diary, a DIY blog which she formed along with two friends. For a while, Valorie cashed in “friend favors,” asking her photographer friends to shoot the events for free, but when those favors ran out, Val realized she was more than capable of doing it herself. She began regularly photographing her own events & tutorials for SFGD as well as other projects for her friends, & eventually, Valorie Darling Photography was born.
While starting a business is not so simple, the work itself felt incredibly natural for Val. “I’m all about the mentality,” she says, “that the more you give, the more you get back.” She began by offering free photo sessions to help build her portfolio & contributing to sites to gain exposure, all of which helped grow her business & expand into a five-person team when the workload, that now includes international shoots & work for major companies such as LC Lauren Conrad for Kohls, became too much for Val to manage on her own.
Her work has taken her all over the country & to various third-world countries with The Little Market & Kin Travel as well as to places such as Italy for Engage Summit, a conference connecting creatives in the wedding industry. When she’s back in LA, Val loves exploring new restaurants on the Westside, noting that she went on a mission earlier this year to find the best breakfast burrito in the entire city. During that hunt, Val set her sights on mastering breakfast & now prides herself on cooking either poached eggs & avocado toast or hash browns & a latte every morning.
While Val had to say yes to every opportunity that came her way in the beginning for the sake of growing her company, she notes that once she started to make a name for herself, it was difficult learning to pass on opportunities that she felt didn’t make sense for her at the time. She’s also had to learn to locate the areas of her business that need improvement & invest the time & resources to get them to her own standards & those of her company. Val knew that to succeed in growing her company, she had to put the time & energy into the little things, such as knowing when to buy a camera & what kind to get, as well as the big things, like mapping out her finances & envisioning her brand’s future, & everything in between.
Despite all her success, Val has never forgotten to give back, teaching photography & entrepreneurship to help give people the skills they need to discover passions and create visions for themselves. But while many can only dream of turning their interests into a career, it takes the kind of person who won’t stop until they’ve made their own dreams come to life—& Val is certainly one of them—to make it happen.
- 6 tbsp EVOO
- 9 cloves of garlic, minced
- ¾ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 box medium sized sea shell pasta
- 1 cup minced (or chopped) clams with liquid
- ½ lb hard shell steamer clams
- 3 bottles of all-natural clam juice
- ⅛ tsp oregano
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup dry chardonnay
- Boil water according to packages instructions. Strain pasta & set aside.
- In large bowl, combine EVOO, garlic, parsley, all clams, clam juice, chardonnay & oregano. Stir to combine & then pour mixture into large saucepan. Let cook over low heat with lid on until shelled clams have opened.
- Pour clam mixture over pasta & top with parmesan cheese. Serve & enjoy!
Origin of this recipe?
“This is a recipe I grew up on! When I first moved to LA, I was missing home & I was like, ‘I’m going to make the clam pasta.’ My mom sent me the recipe, but I used dried parsley instead of fresh, so I just immediately ruined it. It was a bath of green milk & I was like, ‘Oh man, this just makes me miss home even more!’”
One food company you admire?
“I became a pescatarian a couple years ago, but I still dream about burgers. Ever since discovering Beyond Meat, it’s completely satisfied that craving for me. It tastes great & it’s better for the environment. Those are the solutions that excite me!”
Scopa for their squid ink calamari & donuts, Tasting Kitchen for their cheese plate & bread, & Zinque for their green pea curry soup.
Who is someone you’d love to work with that you haven’t already?
Val says she’d love to shoot for Gina Rodriguez & her fiancé, Joe LoCicero, “I think she’s such a positive female role model & I respect the way she uses her platform for social good. I also love the aesthetic & mission statement of Darling Magazine. Plus, I feel like we’re pretty brand aligned having the same name & all.”
Favorite food memory?
“Once a year we always made strawberry shortcake. It was a tradition my dad had in his family growing up & we’d just have that for dinner. As a kid, I was like, ‘this is so awesome!’”
SHOP THIS POST:
PIN FOR LATER:
*Images via Shannan Leigh for Public Lives, Secret Recipes.
**Editing by Rob Lee.