During the summer a large group of European foodies gathered together at the Hempel Hotel in London for Food Blogger Connect, Europe’s largest conference for food bloggers. The conference had been organised by Bethany Kehdy and her team, who founded Food Blogger Connect in 2009, to unite food bloggers with the food industry and to provide us with the opportunity to meet, network and gain advice.
An impressive line-up of guest speakers came together to share their knowledge, including British broadcaster Tim Hayward and writer Fiona Beckett, both of The Guardian, Alex Mead, the Editor of Food & Travel Magazine and successful blogger and author of Prepped! Vanessa Kimbell. These talks included advice about routes into traditional forms of journalism and print publications as well as on-line media. There were also talks on subject of social media, building traffic and workshops on WordPress.
Bloggers were also able to watch, and in some cases to participate, in food demonstrations by celebrity guest chefs Anjum Anand and Caroline Mili Artiss. The conference was put together with the support of food industry sponsors, which included Cuisinart, Olives from Spain and Cooklet, who also ran competitions to win free weekend passes to the event.
Aside from plenty of home grown British talent, Food Blogger Connect also attracted top American food blogger Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen and video blogging leaders Chef Jon from Food Wishes and Nando Cuca from Cuca Brazuca. The word from across the pond is that video blogging is now leading the way, adding value to your content. Simple formats work best with short clips of how to prepare the dish always attracting the most attention.
Jaden Hair talked about the importance of building content, community and conversation and shared her tips on making your blog work as a financial project as well as a creative one. Talent Agent Deborah McKenna advised bloggers to come up with new or unique ideas, develop good, solid writing skills and become informed about their topics if they are to stand out to publishers looking for new authors.
Another highlight was an optional workshop in food photography in the garden given by Béatrice Peltre, author of the award winning blog La Tartine Gourmande (http://www.latartinegourmande.com/) Béatrice is a French expatriate now living in Boston. She started her blog in 2005 and as a food lover and keen traveller is now able to combine her love of food and photography working as a freelance food writer, stylist and photographer.
Her portfolio of work, which can be seen both on her blog and at (http://www.beatricepeltre.com/) demonstrates her love of home grown food, nature and natural light. She works with clients, such as Edible Boston and French magazine Cuisine Light, as well as from her home studio, sharing her adventures through her blog. Béatrice has also just completed her first cookbook which will be available this year.
One of the most valuable aspects of the workshop with Béatrice was the opportunity to watch someone so full of creativity and patience at work and to observe the ease and pace involved in capturing the perfect shot. Béatrice exudes a very natural charm and grace and this certainly translates into her photography.
There was no haste to capture the shot and we were able to see how the very simple scene before us evolved from a single object on the table to a full composition. The photograph was very much ‘built’ as Béatrice first selected a cloth for the table, and then her bowl and accessories, following with the food itself once she was happy with the colours and light. We were able to see how each new addition changed the picture substantially and how each and every step was photographed in its own right before the final scene came together.
With her very calm and considered approach, Béatrice managed to slow down the whole process of taking a photograph of food, almost at odds with the hastiness and immediacy of many of the photos appearing on typical food blogs.
The set-up itself was interesting too, with the camera being attached to the tri-pod whilst at the same time being connected to a lap-top. This means that as soon as a shot is taken, it appears on a large screen enabling Béatrice to note the colours and the shadows at every single stage and make the necessary changes or adjustments. Another piece of advice was to use a remote trigger to minimise any movement at all.
After watching Béatrice at work, we were divided into groups of four people and were able to style and compose our own food shot using some of the techniques demonstrated. Béatrice was eager to speak to us all about the types of cameras we use and to answer any of our particular questions about style and technical skills.
Along with many more tips on the aesthetic and technical requirements of taking good quality food photographs and a separate talk about trends in food photography, we were all inspired to go away from the weekend and improve our skills as well as our food blogs. As an alternative to the workshop with Béatrice was an equally informative talk inside given by Jemma Watts, an independent freelance photographer based in London.
The entire weekend was packed full of advice, information and of course, very good food. Aside from meeting some very knowledgeable food professionals, we were given the opportunity of meeting so many other like-minded food lovers and writers, each with their own slightly unique take on things. The community atmosphere was immediately evident and incredibly strong, with everyone eager to make friends with each other and share their own individual experiences of food blogging.
In a world where so many of us now increasingly interact socially over the web without ever meeting face-to-face Food Blogger Connect provided the perfect home for us all to finally meet to nibble, natter and network in the real world.
To read many more personal experiences and reviews of the weekend follow the links at –