If there is one thing out there that I love more than food styling itself, that is to teach how to do it.
This past weekend it was my first group workshop, with my friend and colleague Kimberly aka The Little Plantation. We had an amazing group of women that made possible an exciting exchange of creativity. Everyone brought their uniqueness into the process and that was a priceless gift. Elisa - @happyskinkitchen ; Abi - @abiolayiwola ; Rupi - @rupiandfood ; Sole - @solenasi ; Katja - @breakfastwithflowers Leiliani - @thesecretflavours ; Laura - @heirloomsandwoodenspoons ; Nicole @thewhiteorchidwey Thank you!
We also have been incredibly honoured by the support of makers and small brands, gifting us products of finest quality and integrity. No hyperboles here. We got only the best. You can find them listed at the end of this post.
The first evening we covered blogging and social media mentoring, the session guided by Kimberly gave the foundations to start this business with the right know-how.
We tailored the styling and photography workshop based on the needs of our students and we challenged them with hands-on experience to ensure they could absorb the amount of knowledge that was delivered. You can tell they rocked it, just look at the photos!!
Also working in a group was part of the challenge. In styling the time is everything. You need to know how to hold back an idea to let the styling flow until is time to release it on the scene. Kimberly and I have often worked in a group with colleagues or assistants. Therefore, we know unique views can merge together for an exceptional result. So we wanted our student to experience this unique chance to work together. We never promised was easy! We challenged our students and we ensured was fun. Creativity means before everything else enjoying themselves and the process.
Day 1 of Food Styling - Building up technique
In the morning Kimberly talked about using the camera in manual mode. Then she demonstrated how to style flat lays (bird views) of a breakfast. We took this simple scene as a first example to clearly demonstrate the backbones of a styling that works. Then the students, in pairs, had to style their own breakfast situation. We commented the scenes talking about what could have been improved within the chosen styles. We worked understanding the light, and how to use it. Kimberly kept an eye on manual settings of the students' cameras helping them to understand the use of manual in each situation.
Then we moved to working with tricky food, which is this case was brown food. I styled a scene to make the most of the brown colours, helping interesting details to pop out. I explained my technique step by step and I also talked about specific editing techniques for this tricky case.
Everyone had a chance to take their shots of each of the morning styling.
We stopped to eat at my favourite Indian restaurant ever, so much creativity in these dishes! Lovely atmosphere perfect to relax, keeping inspired by the delicious wholesome food.
In the afternoon session, I briefly demonstrated how to frost a vegan cake talking about hassles of aesthetic and how to prevent cake disasters. How to treat vegan frosting and some tips about vegan baking in general.
We then explained how we organise a storytelling so it is consistent and cohesive. We gave practical tips on how to make the most of the time given with tangible steps by step guidance.
The students at this point were invited to contribute more actively to the composition. Me and Kimberly were giving more space to the students, however always beingthere to help and answer questions.
At 4 we finished and the student received a first goody bags.
Day 2 of Food Styling - Storytelling
The second day was dedicated to style a full storytelling of a potential recipe. We decided to make Kimberly famous soup and my yummy focaccia.
We demonstrated how we organize our work to be effective and make the most of our time. We built a storyline with the student helping them to understand the process we go through to save time and nail the right photos for a consistent and cohesive visual story.
We then invited them to be in charge, putting to work what they learned the first day. Being always there to untangle situations, answer technical and styling questions, we gave them the space to be creative in their terms. The practice of our previous directions gave the students the real opportunity to digest the given material and internalize as many notions as possible.
We had the most lovely sourdough pizza for lunch.
In the afternoon the students did the styling of the finished soup and focaccia shots. We finished at 3 and for the next hour I explained how I edit my photos using Lightroom and Photoshop Camera Raw.
Kimberly and I helped the students to edit one of their photos.
We finished at 4 and the attendees received the second goody bag.
Social Media, nobody can listen to your silence
During the mentoring session, and, also in a more subtle way during and the styling workshop, I heard many times these main doubts coming up from our students: "am I worthy", " do I belong here", " do I have anything relevant to say".
These questions aren't new to anybody.
If you have just started blogging (or thinking to start blogging) and you are trapped in these questions, you are telling yourself a disempowering story.
We all know. It is very hard to virtually stand in front of a virtual crowd and show your labour of love, your creativity. I believe for most people the fear of being misunderstood or rejected can be greater of the fear of not being seen.
Reality is that nobody needs your silence, or you to play little. First, probably those things, they get them covered already. Second, we are kind of here to inspire, right?
How does your voice stand from the crowd?
If you are just beginning blogging or social media work, you probably are feeling like there is nothing more to say and no better ways to say it. Nobody has ever heard your unique voice, my friend, therefore they are missing out on what you say and how you say it. That is it. Your passion your purpose are unique and therefore missing if you don't let other people to access them.
Your vulnerability, your unique story, that, my friend, makes your work stands out. Because we are all here to connect, to feel humanized by our experiences. And that cannot happen over sterile shares. If you hold back, you do not serve your audience with what they need the most. Connection. But if you dare to share what makes you you, there is where starts a conversation.
To be creative you need self-forgiveness and mastering the art of not giving a fuck
To keep going as a food blogger, stylist or creative in general, you don't need the will. You do not need unwavering discipline. Nor a fancy studio space or expensive equipment. You need self-forgiveness. Forgiveness of not being perfect at what you are doing. Forgiveness to do not meet your expectations for a long time. And, BTW who asked you to be perfect in the first place? Learn how to not give a fuck. You can be imperfect as much as you like, we do not have to know it all. And is never been the point. In fact:
We cannot commit to being perfect. That is not a commitment, that is a predicted failure masquerade as high standards.
There are no shortcuts, only good work. The issue is probably that we are missing the stories, we don't go back to see how long have taken to other people to be where they are and we assume we are not good enough at whatever we are doing. But. Would you say to your baby, falling as she attempts to stand, that she will never be a walker? Or a runner? No, right? That would be unfair, horrible and dishonest. So why are you telling yourself? Make me a personal favour, please. Don't. We need to start treating ourselves as fair as we would treat a friend.
On my next newsletter more about "how to share and what to share".
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Last but not least. Thanks to our incredible sponsors. Not just brands but people with a vision!
Daily Cultures– @daily_culture Delicious probiotic porridge to support your gut health, with minimum effort.
TRIBE – @the_tribe_way the best in term of energy bars for athletes (like my husband, plant-based ultra-runner) and for normal people, like me! Not too sweet, and truly flavourful. Light on digestion, a real energy boost made of real food.
Andrea Roman - @ar.ceramics unique pieces of handmade ceramics for a perfect styling scene, I cannot do without her lovely "butter plate" in my styling, so versatile and so perfectly proportionated.
Blooming you - @blooming_you_powders delicious frozen fruit powders, add colour and taste to your foods!
JARR - @jarrkombucha Best kombucha in town, and the bottles? Soo beautiful! And the guys behind? kind and ethical. As we like a brand to be.
MUD - @mud_co super kind girl-powered clay company. Their bentonite clay is an alkaline powder that can boost your gut and help digestion. Among many other health benefits. And comes in stylish packages that I love to have on my kitchen!
Me Matcha - @mematchauk ah ceremonial grade matcha with a hint of vanilla for the rest of my life! This company is a one-show-woman guys! She pays her medicine studies with her prime matcha brand. This premium quality matcha comes in different soft flavours, like vanilla, peach and mango, and pure of course. Perfect addition to my morning adaptogen elixir.