If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or a a regular reader of Eggs and Herbs then you already know that I am one of the leaders of a group called Arkansas Women Bloggers. Together with my friends Stephanie, Beth, Fawn and Lyndi we planned, organzied, and presented a conference for 75 women at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas last weekend. It was a huge success thanks to theses amazing ladies and a lot of great speakers and sponsors which you can read about here.
To me, the highlight of the weekend was the Foodie Friday event held from noon until 5 on Friday. My friend Lyndi, also know as NWAFoodie, worked so hard to organize a day long event that was not only educational and informative to the food blogger but fun and exciting for everyone. Here is a breakdown of each session:
Food Photography and Photography Basics for Food Bloggers
This session was led by photographer Jenny Marrs who specializes in Lifestyle Photography. Jenny gave us a brief but informative presentation about how to make the best use of your camera and how to get it off “Auto” mode. Although Jenny doesn’t refer to herself as a “cooker” or a food photographer she shared some principles of photography that can apply to ALL of us – no matter what we are photographing. Here are a few tips for better food photography:
- Know your manual – Check out Magic Lantern Guides to find information for your specific camera.
- Use natural light – Flash and indoor light can make photos, especially food photos, unappetizing, washed out and downright ugly! Get near a window or if you are like my friend Jackie and your kitchen is a “cave” – TAKE IT OUTSIDE!
- Get closer and look for different angles – a unique angle or extreme closeup of a shot can be really creative and attractive to your viewers.
- Check the background – even if the background is out of focus it can be distracting if it is messy or there are objects that don’t have to do with the subject hanging out back there. Check your shot before and after you take it and reshoot if necessary.
- Use color – a plate of all white food will be really boring! Add a pop of color to your picture to spice it up. (See Food Styling below.)
- Use props – props can add interest to a photo. Think beyond the kitchen! (See Food Styling below.)
- Don’t give up – Not every shot will be your best shot. It will take lots of practice and lots of trial and error to get it right. Remember that when you are seeing food shots on TV, blogs and magazines you are seeing the BEST shot that was taken. They don’t show you the 200 digital shots they dumped!
- Edit – Manually adjusting brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation and white balance with a photo editing program can make a BIG difference in your shot. There are several great photo editing apps and online programs that are free and if you are interested in an Adobe product like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightbox they offer free 30 day trials of their products on their webpage.
Food Prep and Styling
Working With and Representing Food Businesses
Natalie Ghidotti who represents Yarnell’s Ice Cream through her PR Firm, Ghidotti Communications, spoke to us about working with products and brands. Her session was informative and enlightening. The piece of information I found most helpful was that sometimes brands have a specific set of things in mind when looking for a blogger ambassador and that is often driven by stats. It is important to be open and honest about your blog stats and not get discouraged if a company passes you over. There is a company out there that will be a perfect fit if you keep looking.
Thanks to Natalie, Yarnell’s sponsored two ice cream breaks over the weekend. I may be a bit biased because I am from the Searcy area but Yarnell’s is my favorite ice cream.
Techie Mojo and Content Star Panels
Lyndi arranged for two panel type sessions where bloggers could ask questions of a few bloggers who were not necessarily experts, but who had tried a lot of different approaches and angles when it came to blogging. Panelists discussed everything from apps, to blogger networks, to sponsored content and the importance of Pinterest. Keep an eye on Arkansas Women Bloggers as we will soon be posting a list of all kinds of great apps, tips and techniques that will help improve you as a blogger.
Iron Chef #AWBU
While the whole day was fantastic and filled with tons of amazing information, the absolute highlight of the entire day was Tina Marie Wilcox. Tina Marie is the resident world-renowned herbalist at the Ozark Folk Center. If you have ever considered growing herbs or using them in your garden Tina Marie is the person you need to talk to. Tina Marie absolutely comes ALIVE when she begins to talk about her herbs. Her passion is evident from the moment she walks into the room. The amount of knowledge and excitement she holds is breathtaking.
After giving the group a tour of her herb garden and speaking to the group about herbs in general she provided all of us with an amazing opportunity called Iron Chef #AWBU. AND, because I am wordy and this post is already long, I will give you all the juicy details about Iron Chef #AWBU in my post tomorrow! Please stay tuned to check it out! You’ll be glad you did!
Foodie Friday was presented by Arkansas Farm Bureau and Ziplock. Yarnell’s Ice Cream, Crayola and Petit Jean Meats also played a really important part in the days events. Thank you so much to all of the sponsors!