Best of Dallas 2023 | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Sarah Schumacher

Best Of Dallas® 2023

It’s only natural that we’d put out this special issue highlighting social media influencers. Best of Dallas® is the OG of local influencers, after all. We’ve been giving readers our opinions on where to find the best of everything in Dallas for decades, so we know and respect the immense amount of creativity and hard work that goes into to tracking what’s new, popular or happening under the radar in Big D and delivering that information to followers in new and entertaining ways.

That’s why we often rely on influencers, readers and our cast of contributors to help us keep tabs on our town. For the past several Best of Dallas issues, one of the people we’ve relied on the most to help keep things lively and lovely to look at is creative director and photographer Kathy Tran (@kathytranx).

What does that job entail? It’s pretty simple, really … for us, anyway. Every year, the Observer staff picks a theme for our Best of Dallas issue and passes it on to our art director Sarah Schumacher and, for the past several years, to Tran and her team (@kathytran.creatives). Make us look good, we tell them. Somehow, they do.

In 2021, the theme was “Roaring ’20s,” and it was Tran and company who arranged the costumes, models and locations to create a speakeasy vibe. In 2022 it was “Space Cowboy” (we never said the themes were all good), and the team found the creative juice to create a sci-fi/Western vibe. In 2019, for “Party With Pegasus,” her partner/writer Daniel Rockey donned a full-body red Pegasus costume and posed for photos in August heat. (We’re really glad we didn’t kill you with that one, Daniel.)

Tran began shooting food photos for the Observer and other publications about 10 years ago, and her work has captured the eye of other outlets and businesses in need of good, creative content. Food photography is still her “bread and butter,” she says, no pun intended, but her businesses has blossomed far beyond that. Operating under the rubric Kathy Tran Creatives (, she has expanded her brand and now employs a half-dozen staff members. In recent months, she and Rockey purchased a combination home and studio space in Kessler Park (@kesslerstudioco). Some of their work includes creating content for influencers, though soon she might be her own biggest client on that score. She is expanding her personal brand with an eye to becoming an influencer focusing on her lifestyle and all that entails: home decor, entrepreneurship, wellness and food . Keep an eye out for her coming YouTube channel.

“I’m like a hybrid,” Tran says. “I’m still a photographer, but I want to build my brand.” She’s happy with her success in Dallas, but has plans to expand her reach into the wider world.

Still, photography and photojournalism are her passion, she says, and she conducts three to five shoots a day. And Best of Dallas will always hold a special place in her heart she says, words we have written down in our notes and plan to have notarized in hopes that makes them a binding contract.

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