Life Lessons From Food Blogger Camp 2011
January 14, 2011 § 56 Comments
I’ve been reflecting a lot on the Food Blogger Camp I attended at the lovely Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Mexico last week. I’ve been connecting with the new friends I made and remembering the generously candid stories everyone told. And then I realized that the biggest lessons I learned from Food Blogger Camp (aside from the fact that I still really like tequila) weren’t about blogging.
Well, of course, they all apply to blogging. And, I do have pages and pages of notes on the technical and strategic aspects of blogging and food photography. But, to be honest with you, the three biggest things I took away from Food Blogger Camp apply just as well to any other vocation or avocation.
LESSON 1: KNOW, AT YOUR CORE, WHO YOU ARE.
I was intrigued by how many people had come seeking direction for their blogs (myself included). And I was equally struck by those who had figured it out; they exuded a sense of conviction about the path they’d chosen. They know that they’re meeting a need that they, uniquely, can fill. For instance, some know they want to be useful or entertaining to their readers; some know they want to delight viewers with their food images; still others know they want to publish cookbooks and were using their blogs as platforms.
In other words, these folks are operating with a sense of purpose derived from knowing, at their core, who they are and what they stand for.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu
LESSON 2: DO WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY.
My grandpa always told me to do what I loved and the rest would follow. Sometimes, that sounds easier said than done. But it seemed true at Food Blogger Camp. A number of people had found joy in writing about or photographing food and, as a result, had truly changed their lives. They halted the stress of working in kitchens or in tech to build blogs that became their businesses; they discovered new passions and worked (and are working) their butts off to build those passions into careers; they overcame seemingly insurmountable health problems through better food and are fired up to teach others how to do the same.
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal; instead pursue the things you love doing. Then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” – Maya Angelou
LESSON 3: BE A GOOD CITIZEN.
I was humbled by how openly my fellow bloggers taught, shared and inspired; in short, they modeled what it is to be good citizens and build community. Diane Cu of White On Rice Couple patiently taught me, shot by shot, how to adjust my shutter speed and aperture to capture this image just the way I wanted it…
…and then came up to me at lunch afterward to offer more help. Her partner, Todd Porter, geeked out with me about citrus trees and growing our own food. Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic schooled me on how to replace white flour and sugar with more wholesome alternatives without making it feel like a lesson (being on the beach didn’t hurt!). Robin Cherry, Elana Horwich, Diana Johnson and Susan Salzman encouraged me to combine my passions for sustainable food and education, and Nancy Singleton Hachisu — after inspiring me with her life stories — is helping me do just that. Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes somehow read me in an instant, offering this motivation:
“The only limit to what you can do is your own creativity.”
Thank you to Kerrygold Butter for sponsoring, and to the session leaders (Matt Armendariz, Elise Bauer, Diane Cu, Jaden Hair, David Lebovitz, Adam Pearson and Todd Porter) and the other participants for a life-changing experience!
*Thanks to Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic for this photo. I’m glad somebody snapped me with one of my favorite drinks in hand!
Here’s a round-up of other participants’ posts:
- Food Blog Camp 2011: The Whole Enchilada (Acorns and Apples)
- Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Food Blog Camp 2010 (Adventures of an Amateur Foodie)
- Chefs Who Play With Fire and Healing Through Food & Friendship at Food Blog Camp (Awake At The Whisk) — **second post is a beautifully written, poignant dedication to the blogger’s lifelong friend; worth a read
- Oh! Mexico and Mexico Camp Part II: Chicken Chilaquiles Recipe (Bake Cupcakes)
- What I learned…Food Blogger Camp 2011 (A Communal Table)
- Food Blog Camp: Seeing the Light and The Greatest Job in the World (Confections of a Foodie Bride)
- Food Blog Camp: Hello from Mexico! (Daily Nibbles)
- Food Blog Camp Re-Cap (Deliciously Organic)
- Food Blogger Camp 2011 Grand Velas: Top Ten Things I Learned (Dianasaur Dishes)
- Food Blogger Camp Riviera Maya (Family Fresh Cooking)
- 10 Lessons Learned from Food Blog Camp 2011 (Food Woolf) — **this one gives a GREAT overview of blogging-specific lessons
- If You’re Happy and You Know it, Eat Foie Gras and Looking Back at Food Blog Camp, 2011 (FRANtastic Food) — **if you ever went to summer camp, read the first post; hilarious
- Food Blog Camp! ¡Hola! México! Part Uno (Kitchen Conundrum)
- Food Blogger Camp 2011 (Kitchen Corners)
- Food Blog Camp 2011 (Ladles and Jellyspoons)
- Food Blog Camp 2011 (Mommie Cooks!)
- Wordless Wednesday: My Kind of Camping Trip (Pinch My Salt)
- Food Blogger Camp: Molecular Gastronomy Demonstration, Food Blogger Camp Overview and When Ego Goes to Camp (The Recipe Renovator)
- Margaritas & Food Blog Camp (Sally Cameron)
- Hola from Riviera Maya (SaVUry and Sweet)
- Escape From Grand Velas (Undercover Caterer)
- Community Across the Globe: Food Blog Camp 2011 (The Urban Baker)
- Food Blog Camp-Cancun (What’s Gaby Cooking?)
Session leaders’ posts / blogs:
- Food Blogger Camp (David Lebovitz)
- Food Blog Camp 2011 in Mexico, including Pool Time! Video (Matt Bites)
- Adam Pearson, food stylist
- Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer
- Food Blog Camp 2011 (Steamy Kitchen)
- Food Blog Camp 2011 & Dancing Video (White On Rice Couple)
Food Blogger Camp photos:
- Food Blogger Camp Photos (Flickr)
Organizer and P.R. contact:
- Prose & Co. by Kate Moeller