A weekend away from home. That’s all it was, just a weekend away. And for some, not even an entire weekend, just a Saturday afternoon. So how did something so simple as a weekend away change so many lives?
The first Food Blogger Connect was held on November 28 in London, glorious London. Well, rainy and gray London yet all aglow in stunning holiday spirit, bright Christmas lights and the radiant faces of 50 excited food bloggers. One day packed with laughter and sharing, information and networking, friendships strengthened and friendships formed. This event was a first of its kind, bringing together 70 bloggers from all over the world – Germany, Holland, France, Ireland, Switzerland and India, making this truly an international connection.
Together a dynamic and knowledgeable team consisting of Bethany Kehdy of Dirty Kitchen Secrets, Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry, Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey?, Jamie of Life’s a Feast and Mowie of Mowielicious all joined forces and pulled together an event that had the world of food bloggers all abuzz and atwitter. An exotic location, Lebanese restaurant Levant, leant an ambiance lush, rich and romantic, candles glittering amongst the gold, fairy tale music whispering in the background and a breathtaking buffet of incredible Lebanese food held the promise of a wondrous, magical day.
Food blogging is often a lonely game: Though passionate about food we find ourselves all alone in the kitchen, in front of a keyboard or peering through a camera, most likely talking to ourselves as we stir and knead, snap and type. We suffer like the kid in the back of the class wondering how everyone else seems to be so popular, amazed that all the others know just what to say and know just the perfect outfit to wear, so stylish and attractive, invited everywhere while we seem to be odd kid out fading into the woodwork. We doubt, we question our determination and ask ourselves if we really have what it takes to be a successful food blogger. Well, Food Blogger Connect 09 answered these questions with a resounding round of applause! Finally meeting and talking with other food bloggers just like ourselves reassured each of us that we are not alone, confirmed that we are all part of a community willing to share and encourage and that nagging doubt about our place in the marvelous world that is food blogging was replaced by excitement and determination.
Food Blogger Connect was a day packed with networking, exchanging ideas and information amid the laughter and the hugs. The FBC Team had put together an accomplished, lively group of speakers who shared their experience and insight into important food blogging issues. After Jeanne of Cook Sister presented the BloggerAid project and Cookbook, Meeta kicked off the speeches with her out-of-the box look into food styling and photography including her look at “guerrilla shooting”. She shared with us her unorthodox tricks and easy solutions towards producing edible-looking food photos. She touched on lighting, color, texture as well as props, highlighting her words with a slide show of her amazing food photography. We all learned so much from Meeta’s own experience gleaned from 4 years of blogging and her self-taught photographic evolution.
Meeta’s advice: “Use your camera as a painter would a canvas and start coloring.”
Kang of London Eater focused his talk on indoor food photography in both natural and artificial lighting situations, otherwise known as “Photographs in the Dark” for those interested in taking pictures for restaurant reviews. He dissected his camera in front of us and showed us all how to get those gorgeous shots in low-light situations.
Both Meeta and Kang’s enthusiasm and evident passion for their food photography excited and inspired the crowd to grab up their cameras and start shooting!
Jeanne and Jamie, both writers who cook (as opposed to cooks who write), followed with a passionate, sexy talk on finding your writing style, your voice, expressing your own personality through the writing on your food blog. Of course, they touched on the basics of grammar and punctuation, visual clutter and blog post structure and organization, but they brought home the fact that a food blog is all about food and they explained how to find just the right way, the right words to stimulate the senses and inspire desire. The emotional and cultural experience of food should punctuate your writing, but keep it simple, natural and accessible to your readers. And stay true to yourself, who you are and no matter how often you are bitten by the envy bug, you should never try and copy another food blogger’s style. Jamie and Jeanne also discussed stat envy, focus and how to stay motivated through thick and thin.
Kang jumped back in with an interesting and fun talk on social media, how to notice and be noticed, how to use social networking sites to your advantage, increasing both your visibility and your traffic.
Jeanne closed up the session with a brief but important discussion on staying on the right side of copyright laws – and protecting your own work.
The FBC Team gathered an enormous amount of input and immediately began sketching out the outlines of the next Food Blogger Connect in 2010 the very next day. Tentative dates have already been set – 5th-6th June. We all learned so much and left so inspired and motivated to put everything we learned at FBC 2009 into practice, but at the end of the day, everyone, both the organizing team and the attendees, realized that we all wished we had had so much more time to go further in depth on each and every subject, ask questions, share our own information and experience with a give and take and have more time just to get to know our fellow food bloggers. Taking this into consideration, we have decided that next year the event will be spread out over two days and offer interactive workshop type presentations so each question, each query and every idea can be shared and discussed in detail. For the team it is vital to get as much feedback from bloggers as possible. One of the huge success factors of this event is that the team will be relying partly on input and ideas from bloggers, making Food Blogger Connect 2010 an event specifically tailored for the requirements of a food blogger.
In the upcoming weeks lots of details and information, like the slides used at the FBC 2009 and round-ups of the speeches will be available at the Food Blogger Connect website. Keep checking for updates. Furthermore, there will also be the opportunity for bloggers to submit questions to ask the speakers, interact with everyone that was at the event, and so much more. And of course updates will also be provided for the next Food Blogger Connect 2010.
So if you often feel alone and left out as a food blogger, if you find it exciting to actually meet and spend time with others of this great family of food bloggers, or if you want and need to know more about optimizing your blog, improving your food styling and photography, finding your ideal writing voice, cleaning up your space and presenting your brightest self to the food blogging world as well as increasing your visibility and maybe even getting published, then keep your eyes open for information about Food Blogger Connect 2010! It’s going to be bigger, better and hotter than ever!
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