The 2015 International Food Bloggers Conference sponsored by Foodista and ZepherAdventures was a great place to pick up blogging tips and photography tricks. Three days packed full of break out sessions in addition to optional off-site excursions by Kitchen Aid, Sur La Table, Sansaire, Miele, Chef’n and Teavana provided ample opportunity to up your Blogging game. My travel companion and fellow food blogger and I opted to tour the city of Seattle for our off-site excursion. However, our foodie friends told us the off-site excursions were well worth the extra cost. Plus, they came back with serious swag you could only get by attending. Hmmmm, I think next year, I will attend the off-site optional excursions. While all the sessions I attended were worthwhile, I did have my favorites.
I am particularly fond of the “panel” type discussions from bloggers who’ve “been there, done that.” I think I retain more from their experience. They graciously shared their tips and tricks as well as there epic fails. It’s nice to have someone share what not to do and save me from having to learn it the hard way. So without further ado, here’s my favorite take-aways from the IFBC.
1.The first and best tip I took away was: “Why do I blog?” Sit down and ask yourself why you blog. I came home and had a serious meeting with me. Once I answered that question honestly, it became clear in my heart why I started the Candied Living blog. It also helped me to make other important decisions as to what direction I want to take Candied Living.com. I won’t tell you because you need to have the conversation with yourself. Why do YOU blog? To make money? To have an outlet for your creativity? Or your views and opinions? To memorialize treasured recipes. To sharpen your writing and photography skills? No answer is right or wrong and everyone’s answer will be unique to them. I truly believe if you’re struggling with the discipline of writing your blog or putting together the dreaded editorial calendar, gathering your thoughts about why you blog will help you have a breakthrough. It certainly did for me. Then write the reason down and post it where you can see it while you’re working on your blog. A truly wonderful by-product of this exercise is that you can now quit beating up on yourself for not putting out two or three blogs every week. When I answered the question, it removed the burden (and guilt) of not posting multiple blogs every week.
2.Tell a story: People love a good story. It doesn’t have to be long or earth shattering, heart rendering or shocking. Think about the recipe you’ll be writing up to post. Do you have memories or stories to tell about the recipe? Or when you served it? What was the occasion? Did the recipe fail the first time you made it? Did your family love it? Or, hate it? We all have stories to share. Keep a little journal handy to make notes relating to the story of your recipe. Jot down anecdotal remarks a family member, friend, or child made when they ate your dish. A short story will help readers relate to your recipe. Just start writing. And, like that first pancake you pour on the griddle, you allowed to discard the first sentence, the first paragraph or even the entire first page. Just start writing. Write, write, write. This really spoke to me because I so need to up my “story” game.
3. Last, but certainly not least: Don’t be afraid to be messy with your photos: This was a huge and freeing piece of advice. I am a total perfectonist. Eeeek! I probably take 30-40 pictures of an angle, reposition and repeat… about 10 times or more. Who knows how many photos I take altogether. I’ve even run out of camera battery taking so many pictures. The speaker suggested that we take pictures all through the process of making our recipes. Have your camera ready to go. Pull it out first when you start cooking. Take pictures along the way. The untidy counter tops, bread boards laden with flour and messy chopped up ingredients or the accidental broken egg. Readers want to know that we are human, not professional chefs and that they too can make our recipes. Sometimes those unstagged pictures are the ones that turn out to be our best! Free yourself from expensive props to glam up your pictures. Or, in my case, make them perfect. Head to antique malls, thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets for appropriate dishes and b-roll props. I.e., if it’s winter, don’t use springtime dinnerware or decor in the background, etc. If your blog is about Tea Time, don’t use paper cups. Borrow Grandma’s fine china tea cups and use her dinner plates as the b-roll props. It’s okay to use the same non-seasonal dish over and over. Christopher Testani, a famous food photographer for the likes of Saveur and bon appetite’ and Cooking Light told how he used a broken orange crate to photograph fruit one time. That photo made the magazine cover. He was stunned! So there you have it. Use random or rustic food props, think about b-roll and be messy with your pictures.
Photo cred below: goodlifeeats.com
Awesome example of a great photo! This is perfect imperfection! I love the wipes in the upper left hand corner!
A trip to Pike Place Antique Store. Had to make a trip to rummage around for food props! There were so many great things I took away from this year’s IFBC. Technology information, social media updates (which is moving at the speed of light) and so much more. Regardless, at the heart of anything we do must be…. HEART. So, remember why you decided to Blog in the first place. Then start writing to hone those story telling skills. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect before you start. Just start writing! Take pictures of every stage of your recipe. Who knows what masterpiece you’ll shoot! And attend trade conferences like the International Food Bloggers Conference to keep the fire and excitement of blogging burning. Sometimes getting out of your own environment and sharing with other bloggers can snap you out of the slump you’re in.
Happy Blogging Foodie Friends!
In exchange for a reduced registration fee, I have agreed to write three blogs on my experience at the International Food Bloggers Conference.