This summer, I put together a 4-day food photography workshop for our Foodtography School mastermind students (a small group intensive learning experience of 9 photographers from around the country). Our Mastermind is a 1-year program we’re currently in the midst of, and as part of the program we brought them all together in the Hudson Valley for a week of connecting, learning, and of course, learning about food photography!
Audrey’s Farmhouse served as our backdrop for the retreat. Audrey’s was bought a few years ago by a former NYC couple, Sally and Doug, who left the city in favor of the long, windy mountain roads of the Hudson Valley. Their hospitality was absolutely incredible, and they made this retreat so special that we’re already planning something else with them in the near future 🙂
Cocktail styling session // Welcome dinner
The first night started off with a cocktail styling session in the barn. We had the most delicious tequila and thyme cocktail that each photographer was able to style on their own, complete with different garnishes, glasses, and props.
Following the cocktail hour, we had a welcome dinner in the greenhouse. It was filled with light and served as the perfect backdrop for our dinner.
Everyone was tired from traveling, so after dinner we hit the hay early.
Restaurant styling session // Branding strategy session // Cheeseboard styling session // 1:1’s // Head shots // Greenhouse dinner
The next morning we met in the cafe for a “restaurant” shoot. I explained some principles of shooting in restaurants versus in a home/studio and how to use your environment to construct a story. Then it was off to the races!
Fun fact: these waffles were DRENCHED in syrup from all the pouring shots we did!
After breakfast we went to the farmhouse for a round table branding exercise. We talked about deciphering our consumer avatars, as well as how to craft and create content that best suits their needs and wants. It was one of my favorite parts of the week!
Next up? A cheeseboard styling session. I talked about the best way to style any sort of board, from the order you should place things to styling so that each ingredient interacts harmoniously with each other.
Afterwards, everyone got a chance to shoot the board in different types of light and at different angles.
That afternoon we split into two groups. Half of the students had 1:1 sessions with me, where they were free to talk about whatever they wanted, from editing to marketing to branding to styling. The other half got head shots with my amazing photographer, Bettina!
After that, we cleaned up for dinner. It was absolutely stunning, and though it was in the same space as the first night’s dinner, we styled it so it felt completely different.
OK can you believe we’re only halfway through the workshop? Going over all of these photos makes me feel like we did SO MUCH! So you ready to keep going? Let’s talk about Day 3!
Editing sessions // Outdoor BBQ styling session // 1:1’s // Headshots // Offsite dinner
The morning of Day 3 we ate breakfast without photographing it (can you believe it?!). Following breakfast, we left time open for the group to live edit some of their photos from Days 1 & 2.
For lunch, our lovely host Doug and Audrey’s head chef made the most incredible outdoor grilling spread. It was possibly the best meal we had all week, made with local ingredients and seasoned to perfection.
Before we got to shooting, I talked to the group about shooting “live,” or shooting a scene that is constantly moving. It’s all about adaptation, anticipation, and not being afraid to direct your own shoot.
After shooting outside in some pretty intense direct sunlight, we moved some of our scene inside to get a few softer, more indirect light shots.
That afternoon we did more 1:1’s and head shots, then got ready for an offsite dinner at Hasbrouk House. Initially the plan was to shoot our scene before eating, but we were all having such a good time just being with each other and chatting that we ditched our cameras in favor of connecting on our last night 🙂
This was the only in-person food photography experience we had this year, but being a part of it reminded me how much I absolutely love in-person teaching. It’s so rewarding, and you can learn and see things that you otherwise can’t in a virtual setting.
Watching our students’ eyes light up, experiencing their A-Ha! moments, and even seeing progress in a short amount of time made me realize that we need to do more workshops. We just need to!
Because of that, my team and I are in the midst of planning more in-person workshops for 2020 that will be completely open to the public, starting with a
4 day workshop in
T U L U M, M E X I C O
I’m going to be doing a full blog post on it soon, but there will only be 12 spots available, so if you’re at all interested, you can see some preliminary information here, and can email my team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last, some acknowledgements. A huge thank you to the entire team at Audrey’s Farmhouse for hosting us for our retreat. If you are planning to go to the Hudson Valley anytime soon, I highly recommend staying at Audrey’s.
To my photographer Bettina, thank you for always bringing your A-game and for always delivering the exact images I envision in my head. You fit in so well to our team, and I am so happy you could join us.
And an EXTRA HUGE thank you to my team of Shanley, Sofi, and Britt for putting so much thought, effort, and beauty into this retreat. You are the backbone of this company, and I’m so unbelievably lucky to work alongside you <3
HAPPY SUNDAY, PEOPLE!
Photographs by myself and Bettina Bogar.