As David Lebovitz put it, ” Yesterday was the best day of my life. Okay, it was the best day of the year ” and we agree with him 100%. Here at the Club Med Food Blogger Camp in Ixtapa, Mexico it has been a tremendous 7 day experience of valuable blogging workshops and of course, not to mention all the sun, beach and cocktails. Not bad for a day of learning. If school was always this great, we’d be 2 Ph.D’s smarter and always donning a beautiful golden tan.
Our last report was about Adam Pearson’s food styling workshop and Michael and Donna Ruhlman’s writing and photography seminar. Next up was Matt Armendariz’s workshop on food photography. It’s not just any ordinary photography, it’s stunning food photography, the kind that makes you want to poke at the computer screen because it’s so deliciously food pornographic.
(These are all just a fraction of what was discussed! It’s impossible to share what was covered in 2 hours of talk)
Matt shared some great tips to think about when shooting:
- Photograph, practice, and photograph some more.
- Learn to work with what you have. Having a bigger, better camera isn’t always the answer. There are some great food shot with a point & shoot and some bad shots with an expensive camera out there.
- Think about what you’re trying to communicate in your photograph and that will dictate how you photograph. Think about different ways to communicate your image.
- You don’t always shoot so close-up, so tight. Shoot further away, show different elements around the food because that tells a story. Shooting a little further away to include the environment gives more context to your image.
- Using a tripod is helpful to get consistent shots and a tripod will help steady your shot and avoid camera shake.
- Food needs directional light, sometimes it’s as simple as a good light source in just one direction: back light or side light.
- Once you start with a directional light source, learn to boost that light with bounces such as white foam core boards. You can use pieces of paper or anything white as “fill cards”. Anything metallic will help fill in more light and get light back to where you want it.
- Using vellum paper helps diffuse light, soften the light.
- He loves working with props and telling a story. Some as simple a on a cutting boards shows shape, texture and tells a story.
Jaden from Steamy Kitchen and David Lebovitz presented an engaging and fun 2 hours of discussion on “blog to book” and their journey from blogger to cookbook author. They both came from two different backgrounds and their approach to getting their cookbook deal were so vastly different.
Jaden and David have different opinions on how to approach the publication of your first cookbook. Regardlessof how these two hashed it out (all lovingly, of course), it was wonderful to be exposed to all the different routes one could approach in getting a cookbook deal and still be successful.
Regardless of their different approaches to cookbook publishing, both have an immense amount of respect for each other and their successful cookbooks proves that there are many options available out there to publishing a cookbook and to still be successful. You must be open minded!
- Both agree that there isn’t alot of money involved in selling cookbooks for the tremendous amount of work it takes to finish one.
- They both are committed to building their blog, content and their “brands” through using different forums of networking to share their content, like Twitter and Facebook. Jaden is especially brilliant at reaching out more and building Steamy Kitchen by accessing additional forms of media: television, radio and in print (her newspaper food column).
- Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen started from a grass-roots, home-cook situation, where she did all the food writing, food photography, styling her self. On top of that, she didn’t have a literary agent represent her, she did it all her self. Jaden also spent personal money in marketing her book by hiring a private PR agent to represent her. Because she had such a small publisher, a large amount of funds weren’t available to her for marketing. But her personal money and effort to her cookbook was a great investment because she’s been able to sell tens of thousands of cookbooks, which will set her in a great position to get a better and more profitable second cookbook deal.
- David, already being an established pastry chef from Chez Panisse, had years of restaurant experience heading into his cookbook projects. So he was able to have an agent represent him to get his cookbook deals. But even getting a decent cookbook deal doesn’t guarantee financial rewards. He still invests huge amounts of personal time marketing his cookbook and has spent personal funds to pay for recipe testers and food photography for specific books. Thus, David confides, there doesn’t leave much money left at the end of a cookbook project.
- Being a cookbook author is definitely a labor of love!
- Pro’s and con’s of self publishing cookbooks: David believes one can self publish a cookbook and still be successful because the world of cookbook writing is changing. He thinks resources to self publishing options out there allow everyone to get their voice heard and the exposure they want. Self publishing options can get anyone’s cookbook out there.
- Jaden is still cautious about self publishing your first cookbook because the success of your first cookbook determines the future (if any) of your second cookbook. She believes for all the hard work and personal money that you would to put into your self-published cookbook, you must sell alot of books and sell enough of them to create more opportunities for you. If your blog is relatively new, or no one really knows what your brand is, who will buy so your books? So she suggests that you work hard at building your brand, getting your brand noticed and then approaching a publisher to get a deal. Having a publisher will help provide the some funds and legal, marketing assistance.
- Both emphasize in getting your name and blog out there to be noticed and building your “brand” (David doesn’t like this word) is just one of the valuable points in starting your journey to becoming a cookbook author.
Zihuatanejo Market Trip
Whew! So much information, now time to play! A group of bloggers went on a great market trip to Zihuatanejo market. We ate a ton of great local foods and just being a part of the local food scene added some special flair to this rewarding week. Here are a few images of the colorful local flair. More pictures to come on a later post.
Here are some previous posts from Food Blogger Camp: