I returned from Boston Monday night. The conference left me overwhelmed, exhausted, but most importantly, inspired. It has taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts and organize in my head what it is I saw, heard and learned. I was trying to think about what I should share with you and the essence of it all and believe me, it has not been easy. So much…
I arrived in Boston early Friday morning. I wanted a full day to explore the city and meet up with my good friends Nadia and Ainara (who came up from NYC for the day… she is the lovely girl in the photo). Time flew that day and I didn’t manage to get much done, but we did make time to visit Tatte Bakery, which is one of the places I wanted to visit before leaving Boston. Charming little place with the largest biscotti I have ever seen and delicious cinnamon rolls.
The conference opened early Saturday morning with one of my favorite sessions from the entire weekend. Award-winning photographer Christopher Hirsheimer and stylist Melissa Hamilton, who run The Canal House studio, won me over with their presentation called “Unplugged – Creating your own world”. They spoke of their special partnership, which reminded me how important finding the right team is and how eventually I would like to work in an environment of trust like theirs.
They had a very independent attitude, putting emphasis on how important it is for a photographer or stylist to create and set their own language. One thing they said and I really related to was “please your eye and aesthetics and the rest will follow”. It resonates with me as it’s the only way I can work.
Soon after that, Mel Mooney of Saveur and stylist John Carafoli spoke about the fine, often times blurred line that divides editorial and commercial food styling and photography and touched upon real cases in which commercial advertising campaigns were approached with an editorial point of view.
And the final session of the day was lead by stylist and organic farmer Stef Culberson and photographer Mette Nielsen who approached the subject of sustainable styling and tips on how to eliminate waste, increase efficiency and apply green practices such as taking into account seasonality, placing emphasis on local farms and artisans, ordering the minimal amount of food needed for a shoot, etc. They also shared a slideshow of their beautiful work.
I have to say that one of the highlights of the day for me was to be able to meet Lara Ferroni, one of my favorite food bloggers and food photographers that I have been following from the beginning. Her blog “Cook and Eat” is full of beautiful images, recipes and always fun. And who doesn’t know “Still Life With” right? It has definitely been one of my number one resources when learning about food photography.
Lara and I had dinner that night and talked about food, how it has brought us where we are today, how we approach blogging and life in general. This was the first time in probably three years that I was able to go out to dinner with a friend and enjoy the conversation without being interrupted or having to rush through it so it was delightful to say the least.
I was really looking forward to the first session on Sunday because super talented stylist and photographer Bea Peltre of “La Tartine Gourmande” would be one of the speakers. She had a beautiful, brief but effective presentation about her work and her approach to food blogging. One of the things that I’ve known all along, but she reminded me of again was that food blogging must have somewhat of a personal touch, it must be authentic and it must create a bond of trust with the reader. So true.
After lunch, Harold McGee spoke about what is new in the molecular gastronomy world and I was happy to see him feature several Basque chefs whose restaurants I have visited.
By this point, I have to admit my head was about to explode with so much information. I wanted to run home right away and start implementing all the ideas that kept bombarding my head, but we still had two more sessions to go. Maxine Kaplan made us all very jealous with her one of a kind prop house in New York. I have never seen anything like it in my life. And finally, photographers Mette Nielsen, Pornchai Mittongtare and James Tse shared their work and inspiration with us.
I was ready for dinner and some fresh air after that, so Lara, Bea, Pascale (who I met at the conference for the first time… sweet as can be) and I headed off to dinner at “Rendez-vous” in Cambridge. Great place.
Finally on Monday, we headed to Francine Zaslow’s studio for the workshop we had been waiting for. What a beautiful space this was! It left us all dreaming. Full of props, movable walls, equipment that I wouldn’t even know how to use and a full kitchen.
Another one of the food photographers I truly admire, Deborah Jones came from San Francisco for the workshop. Her work includes many (or at least the best) Thomas Keller’s cookbooks like “French Laundry”, “Bouchon” and “Under Pressure”.
The premise of the workshop was to be able to see the entire work flow of a photo shoot, from the cooking, to the styling, to the shooting and the post production. Francine who has a very artistic and even sculptural style would shoot using strobes and Deborah would use natural light exclusively. They had three stylists cooking for them and it was amazing watching them work.
I had to leave the workshop a bit early to catch my flight back home and I probably missed one of the most important parts, the Q&A. It was an exceptional day though and I hope I get to participate in something like that again.
I think as days go by, new thoughts will re-emerge in my head and I will be able to share them with you as I go. Also, read Lara’s review of the conference. She has great insight as well.
More to come soon!