International Food Blogger’s Conference


The other day I looked up and saw a single strand of a spider’s web, an arc drooping under the weight of the steam that was still in the air from my shower.

Without thinking I reached up and flicked it loose from the tiles. Light was coming in through the window so it was illuminated as it descended, artful as steam coming off a skillet.

The descent of spider’s silk is nothing like steam curling up from a mess of sautéing shrimp, of course. Steam breaks into the air in unchoreographed swirls. That spider’s web, despite its lazy fall, was gnashing at the atmosphere, resisting gravity. Every molecule putting out a set of heels and digging in to try and stop, stop, stop.

Creating a blog, learning to write, figuring out the relationship between light and the camera lens, these are creative endeavors, and ones that can feel like a tortured descent, like a fight with the air, no matter how graceful the journey might look.

Or, when an idea takes off or a concept clicks, creativity can feel like the space above a pot at a rolling boil. A water-and-air pinball machine.

This blog is a heart-and-soul project. And things of the heart and soul are often products of the night, attended to at odd hours and only when the whim doesn’t conflict with wider responsibilities.

It was exhilarating to have three days to pay undivided attention to this shingle at the International Food Blogger’s Conference last weekend. To go to a writing workshop in the morning. To take notes at sessions on the technical side of blogging and the nuts-and-bolts of writing a book proposal. To bat around ideas with other bloggers over breakfast, and sometimes over wine.

It felt good, in short, to tend to something I care about.

When you tend to something, you hold it between your hands. It’s not falling, gracefully or not. It’s not leaping away, on a kamikaze mission toward the fan in the kitchen hood. It’s intentional and measured out, the way you (you and Chie, not I) might test a recipe. Over and over again, until it’s just so.

It’s how you might learn to take photos of beautiful food in a conference room. You listen to Andrew Scrivani talk about it, studying his photos on the big screen at the front of the room. Then you watch a cooking demonstration and listen to suggestions on camera angle, backdrop, capturing motion. You take careful notes on equipment and watch as he sets up a light source, a backdrop, a scene. Then, even though your lens may not be a fancy one and you know you’ll only end up with some snapshots, you try your hand at it anyway.

A big thank you to the organizers of this year’s conference. It was great fun and great food for thought. Looking forward to 2013!

25 thoughts on “International Food Blogger’s Conference

  1. So glad you had a good experience at the conference. I always admire your pictures, but the ones in the post are especially awesome. What kind of light is that in the 3rd pic? Looks handy!

    • Thanks! I wish I could say that I knew the type of light. It was his – one of those with a clip on it so you can hang it, for instance, on the stand used to display a banner at a conference. He also said you can buy these blue bulbs to put in one of these for nighttime shots. Looking into that one. Gosh I could stockpile a lot of equipment! Thanks for your kind words – it was fun to try to capture these images along with so many other photographers.

  2. “It felt good, in short, to tend to something I care about.” This is exactly how I felt about it Jen – after all my efforts to try to keep the blog a priority despite three kids and a day job and many other distractions…it was truly therapeutic to let it enjoy center stage for a full weekend. And doing so produces amazing writing just like this! Well done!!


    • Therapeutic. That’s the word I couldn’t think of at 1 am! Yes, very. It was quite a weekend. Glad we got to connect and best wishes implementing all you learned in your second year!

  3. I just love your writing! It’s very cool that you got to go to the International Food Blogger’s Conference.

  4. I think I know just how you feel. When we are juggling so many things in life, having a little time to focus on this personal space is such an indulgence. :)

  5. Magnificent photos and words! You bring such beauty to the foods that nourish us. The dance you create between light and space brings life to each berry, peach, and plum. Thank you for sharing your deep appreciation for healthy foods.

  6. Yes, I agree with the other comments. That was the most poetic, beautiful, gorgeous thank you we have ever had for organizing a conference. Thank YOU.

    Allan Wright
    Zephyr Adventures

  7. It sounds like a wonderful way to spend time – learning and looking and watching and, it just sounds ideal! And what a great series of photos you took to demonstrate setting up a shot !
    I enjoyed your personal take on this “heart-and-soul project”, I understand those words too :)

    • Yes, I imagine you do, Claire. Your own project is heartfelt and beautiful. I am so humbled by the food photography workshop. I have lots to learn about taking food photos and indoor shots in particular. Glad you like these!

  8. I agree. My hat is off to all food bloggers who need to be experts in not just writing, but cooking and photography too. Lovely post- and I’m SO jealous of all your beautiful plums!!!! See you at ’13 (if not sooner).

Comments are closed.