For the past two months, life has looked like this for me: house purchase, remodeling, traveling, working, remodeling, working, planning a food blog conference, working, traveling, remodeling… wait… did I just say planning a conference?
Actually, a half-day #FoodieFriday food blogger conference addition to an already fabulous blogging conference called AWBU (Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged), developed by the seriously light-hearted yet truly professional Beth, Julie, and Stephanie of the Arkansas Women Bloggers.
|Lovely Laughing Ladies: Stephanie, Beth, and Julie|
I cannot say enough glowing words about the three of them. If their goal was to develop a conference dedicated to awakening the writer within, they nailed it. If their goal was to design a conference that stirred the passion of community, they nailed it. If their goal was to provide a weekend to decompress from the life crazies and leave full of get-up-and-go, they nailed.
Thank you Beth, Julie, and Stephanie!
Stories told by the attendees painted magical moments of discovery, bonding, and growth spread over the three day weekend conference retreat.
While I wasn’t able to attend the entire conference, let me share with you what I learned from the food blogging sessions.
Food photography and food styling
Jenny Marrs, local Northwest Arkansas lifestyle photographer, super-mom, and thoughtful blogger (literally one of the nicest people I have ever met) was our skillful guide for these sessions. When shooting food, rule number one is to look for natural light. It makes all of the difference, seriously, ALL the difference! Another food photography tip is get moving and take tons of different angles. Stand up, crouch down, rearrange, or take a long shot. At the end of the day, anything you don’t like can easily be deleted.
|Jenny shows us how to use a diffuser|
Jenny also taught us how to us our hand as a shadow and lighting guide. Try it for yourself; lift your hand and then ever so slightly, turn it from side to side. See how it catches the light? Think about that next time you take a food photograph. Think about how lighting dances across the dish. Jenny also led a “food style-off, where Alison, Brittany, and Christie took to the stage to show off their newly acquired styling skills.
|No, this isn't a secret AWBU wave, it's a photography technique, right Christie?|
Food styling is about taking the time to stage the shoot. Inspiration can come from everywhere – flip through magazines, rummage in your cabinets for interesting spices, scrapbook paper, and even old collectibles from your late-great Auntie. Take $20 and head to a flea market to scour styling props. I personally commit to improving my food styling for this blog after this session.
Thank you Jenny!
Finding your techie mojo
During this session, panelists were selected for specific technological skills and prowess. Stephanie blogs about technology everyday over at evolvedmommy, Rebecca with Haden Interactive leads a company that builds website content, Christie at FancyPantsFoodie uses community events to connect people and events, and Kat with TyeDyeTravels is well known and published for her food site and travel reviews.
|nwafoodie - evolvedmommy - Haden Interactive, fancypantsfoodie - tyedyetravels|
The great thing about bloggers is their willingness to share what they know and help others become better. We learned about photo tagging, twitter, facebook, Evernote, urbanspoon, pinterest, SEO, and more. I was extremely honored to moderate this panel.
Thank you Stephanie, Rebecca, Christie, and Kat!
How to be a content star
During this session, panelists were selected for representing a unique angle when it comes to food blogging. Amy blogs almost daily at OurEveryDayDinners so I knew she would be perfect for talking about content consistency. Tara blogs for TasteArkansas, the Arkansas Farm Bureau (sponsor of #FoodieFriday, along with Ziploc Containers) food blog. She knows what it is like to meet a deadline. Shannon schedules guest bloggers for MealTimeMama’s, the recipe blog within nwaMotherlode. Debbie from DiningwithDeb knows how to keep a blog fresh year after year and Julie has a food blog within a food blog over at Eggs&Herbs. Rebecca from the techie panel was moderator for this panel.
|Haden Interactive - OurEverydayDinners - TasteArkansas - nwaMotherlode - DiningwithDebbie - Eggs&Herbs|
We learned the rules about posting other people’s recipes, overcoming a blogging slump, and ways to uncover fresh content.
Thank you Rebecca, Amy, Tara, Shannon, Debbie, and Julie!
Blogging with your senses
As the #FoodieFriday session came to an end, Julie from Eggs&Herbs and I lead a session that emphasized writing by engaging your senses.
|Julie and me|
Neuroscience has uncovered how important visual images are to the human brain, yet as writers we often fall flat when creating a visual story via our words.
We taught this the best way we could. Through food!
The ladies selected food items, engaged their see, touch, hear, smell, and taste senses, jotted down descriptive adjectives and action verbs on their Crayola dry eraser boards, gathered in groups, and wrote a descriptive sentence or two. The energy was high!
Thanks Julie, I absolutely loved planning and presenting with you!
|"Food" choices were: meyer lemons, beef jerky, buttermilk, bubble gum, red hots, or cracker jacks|
|"Pick the buttermilk! The buttermilk!"|
|Jasmine and Jackie|
|Great example of brainstorming descriptions using the senses|
|Serious brainstorming time|
|Kyran and Diana getting into the "smell" exercise|
|Great example of writing a descriptive sentence by engaging the senses|
There were other great foodie events sprinkled within the day, including a great discussion by Natalie Ghidotti of Ghidotti Communications public relations firm in Little Rock about working with food companies and Tina Marie Wilcox of the Ozark Folk Center, who led an exciting “Iron Chef” competition.
Well done Natalie and Tina!
At the end of the day, every blog rule of thumb says to keep posts short and sweet. Alas, once again I broke the cardinal rule. But what can I say, the day was so special… it just had to be told.
Thank you Arkansas Women Bloggers. You are all an inspiration to me.
Eat well, my friends. Eat well.