I’ve been holding back writing this post because I still haven’t been able put into words how much I loved the whole conference, the whole experience. I don’t think I even gave Aldwin a full blow by blow (though to be fair, our schedules have been pretty crazy jumping straight from my conference to his convention). In the end I decided to break up my recap into three posts – The Conference, The Food, The Perks – to help organize all the OMG-Awesome bouncing around my head.
So let’s start with the conference. This little blog of mine is still a baby in blog years (well, in human years, too), so I’m sure it wont surprise you that this was my very first in-person conference. I truly had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the lineup of speakers were all blogs I loved and people I admired. Jaden and Scott of Steamy Kitchen, Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple, Lindsay and Bjork of Pinch of Yum – all blogs I followed, drooled over, blog crushed on. Blogs whose brains I wanted to pick. And here was Food Blog Forum giving me that chance. I was so excited when I managed to snag a family ticket. Little did I know how blessed I actually was to have gotten through.
I’ll talk about the accommodations, park tickets and food in later posts. Those were amazing. The best part of the conference, though, really was the conference itself. I got to meet and befriend other bloggers (it’s so great to have friends who can relate to what you do!), and I learned so much.
Now, just to show you I’m not all rainbows and sunshine, I have to share a funny, embarrassing story with you. As I was rushing to the elevator in the hotel on my to the welcome dinner the first night of the conference I ran into a couple with hot pink lanyards like mine around their necks. As we waited for the elevator I asked if they were part of Food Blog Forum. The woman smiled and said that they were. She asked for my name and blog, and after I introduced myself, I asked for hers as well. She was Elise from Simply Recipes, and the man beside her was Guy. The first thought that popped in my head was I’ve heard of Simply Recipes, so (unfortunately) the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “Oh, I’ve heard of you.” And then it hit me. Simply Recipes…you know, Simply Recipes. You know when you Google a recipe and a link from simplyrecipes.com shows up? Yeah, that Simply Recipes. By that point it was too late to take my initial response back and replace it with the new one in my head (“Oh my goodness, I really admire your blog. It’s great to meet you in person”). Elise smiled politely, but I just wanted to melt into the elevator wall.
Looking back I realize I probably could have amended my response and blamed it on my mind being slow (which is the truth). Oh well, hindsight, right?
Back to memories that don’t make my stomach clench.
The conference kicked off with Victoria Finn, Director of Disney’s Creative, Inc. giving a talk on how to unlock our creative ideas. She’s an Imagineer. As in, her job is literally to imagine and be creative. How awesome is that? She’s also an amazing, inspiring speaker. (Sidenote: I’m in love with her blazer!)
There are two ways to look at a blank piece of paper. One way is to see it as the most frightening thing in the world because there is nothing on it, and you have to make the first mark. The other way is to see the blank sheet as the greatest opportunity in the world…you can let your imagination fly in any direction.
– Marty Skylar, Imagineer
While I’ve loved taking pictures (of anything and everything) for a while, food styling and setting up and shooting my own dishes is pretty new to me. Needless to say, this talk from Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple was so full of useful info for me. Immediately afterward I found that I was more aware of not just the presence of light in my shots but also its direction and whether or not I liked the way it was hitting my subject. Not just with food, with everything.
Keep it real. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
– Diane Cu
You know when people see celebrities from a distance and they get all excited and start secretly (or not so secretly) snapping photos? That’s how I felt when this bunch took the stage. I didn’t have a zoom lens, so this was the closest I could get without charging the stage and making everyone uncomfortable. Thankfully my extreme shyness won out and my bottom remained firmly planted in my seat. But that would have been a memory, huh? 😛
– deep thoughts from Bjork Ostrum
Find a need. Fill a need.
– technically from a movie, but I heard it from Jaden Hair
I don’t know why I don’t have any pictures of Enid Hwang. Maybe because she was on the other side of the stage, and I had a fixed wide angle lens. It’s funny how before I had kids I used to carry my dslr + 35mm + zoom everywhere. Now with kids and all the stuff that we have to pack for them I travel much lighter, even in the camera department.
Anyway, Pinterest. This was super interesting because there are a lot of Pinterest strategies floating around. It was awesome to get some tips and clarification directly from Pinterest itself.
People pin for themselves, not to share content with others.
– Enid Hwuang
One thing I loved about all the talks at Food Blog Forum was that the things I learned didn’t apply only to food blogging or even just blogging in general. I mean, “things change.” That’s a life lesson, yo. 😛
Seriously though, I didn’t think I’d be quite as interested in Elise and J. Kenzi‘s Burnout session only because I hadn’t been blogging long enough to burn out yet, but you know what? Sometimes life can burn you out, too. And while I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced blogger burnout quite yet, between being a full time stay-at-home-mom (to two 2 and under!), part time research scientist and part time blogger/photographer/recipe developer, sometimes I struggle to get it all done. So the one session I thought wouldn’t apply to me totally did. It applied to life.
Always make progress.
– Elise Bauer
Getting to meet, talk to and take a photo with one of the very first bloggers you ever followed? Priceless.