Last year after Food and Light 2010 ended, my exact words were, “I’m never doing this again.”
Less than six months later, I was emailing with Diane about schedules and who our fourth team member should be. Perhaps I’m addicted to running events, but I don’t think that’s the case. What I am addicted to is running events with a great team. That’s really important to me because if I’m putting everything I’ve got into a workshop, it makes all the difference when the rest of the team is doing the same. It’s exhilarating to work with people who have great attention to detail, have deep and broad knowledge and the skills to communicate it, care most about the students and their education, are wholly without ego, and are genuinely kind and caring individuals. This year’s Food and Light workshop was exhausting, but gratifyingly so because my team was pretty much the best you could ever hope for and then some.
dream team at frasca for dream dinner: todd, diane, and matt
Maybe I feel strongly about teaching because of my experiences in academia. The most popular professors were the ones who “entertained” students, but those were rarely the professors from whom we learned much. Jeremy (a professor himself, and a damn fine teacher) calls the entertainers “candy” because they make you feel good about yourself without actually having taught anything. We’re not about candy here, we’re about something heartier and healthier: true learning. True learning requires hard work, but hard work can be fun and more importantly it can be rewarding in a way that candy can never be. True learning is empowering and it gives a person the confidence to continue to learn and improve beyond the classroom or workshop.
A good instructor is a gift (as are good friends). Just look at these gifts!
matt presents on lighting
todd works one-on-one with an attendee
diane shows what she captured to a group
There’s the other half of the equation, and that is the student. The student cannot be a passive blob hoping to absorb knowledge and skills through sound and light alone. Regurgitation is not learning. Merely being present is not learning. We engaged our participants. We tried to make concepts accessible through tangible examples they could relate to. We crammed SO MUCH information into two days and yet most of our attendees drank it up and eagerly asked for more. This group was incredible. They asked questions when they didn’t understand. They opened themselves up in front of complete strangers to expose what they didn’t know and committed to growing as photographers, as artists, as people. That takes courage, dedication. Several have said they felt vulnerable and yet they were all so encouraging to one another. They worked hard, really hard. But they still found time to laugh, make friends, and enjoy themselves.
Most of all they were delightful, fun, and genuinely warm people.
everyone is paying attention to matt’s presentation
gathering around diane’s styling demo
manisha and diane tackle indian lentils and beans
Our first day started at the Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery in downtown Boulder with presentations on fundamentals, lighting, composition, and styling. But we also scheduled a lot of hands-on shooting time which allowed the instructors to work one-on-one to address the specific needs of individual participants. They were let loose on Pearl Street to find and photograph lunch and then returned for styling, demos, and more hands-on time.
empty gallery: the instructors devour their takeout from the kitchen
matt sets up his demo
The next day we held the workshop at The Kitchen Upstairs which provided a different environment for the students to work their photography skills. Breaking down into smaller groups, each group rotated through our three stations: dynamic shooting (Diane), artificial lighting (Todd), and post-processing in Lightroom (Matt) and Photoshop (me).
matt reviews post processing in lightroom
todd teaches artificial lighting with portraits
diane is the subject for candid and dynamic shooting
Instead of letting everyone break out for lunch, we held a fabulous family style four course meal at The Kitchen Upstairs – a nice way for the entire group to sit down together and bond. Also – no one was out of place milling about photographing the food! We then wrapped up the afternoon with one-on-one time while most attendees processed and submitted their best photo for judging.
i love their smiling faces
with food photographers, you need never worry that someone is going to dig in right away
enjoying the company and the conversations
Judging was tough, but we were finally able to narrow it down to our five awards. Before we announced the winners we thanked all of these wonderful people for spending two days of intense learning and growing with us. I thanked my phenomenal team including Jason (our tech guru). Todd asked everyone to share what they had learned with others. Then it was on to the prizes generously donated by some of our sponsors: KitchenAid (stand mixer), Pro Photo Rental (2 gift certificates), Savory Spice Shop in Boulder (spice set), and Think Tank Photo (lens bag).
Best Photo: Shari
For some, it was an emotional journey of self-discovery. There was more than one eureka! moment over the course of the workshop. Based on all of the hugs and good-byes, many of those who walked into the workshop as strangers the first day left that second day as friends. I’m incredibly proud of this group.
An enormous thank you to all of our sponsors from Atlas Purveyors who provided coffee, tea, and snacks for our workshop participants to Whole Foods Market Boulder on Pearl Street for the lovely food props (produce and pastries). Savory Spice Shop in Boulder included several spice props and Pro Photo Rental (also of Boulder) for loaning us their generous collection of pro Nikon and Canon lenses! We really love our local businesses and two of the sweetest (literally and figuratively) are Helliemae’s Salt Caramels and Robin Chocolates, both of whom provided participant swag bags with samples from their kitchens as well as extras for shooting. Have a gander at these:
you must try these (amazing)
As a reward for those of you who have read this far (I know a large fraction of readers don’t actually read the post), Think Tank Photo has a promotional deal for our workshop attendees which they have allowed me to extend to my readers. Think Tank makes THE BEST photo gear bags. It’s the only brand I use AND trust. So click on over to the promo page and enter the code: WS-462 to receive some free gear with every order over $50.
I must also thank Jeremy for his quiet, yet critical support – logistical and otherwise.
And that’s a wrap!
Other posts about Food and Light 2011:
Arctic Garden Studio
Cooking with Michele
Dash of East
Kimberly Murray Photography
Kitchen Gadget Girl
Love Veggies and Yoga
photos (my photo blog)
White On Rice Couple (instructors)