Alt Summit Food Photography Workshop Review

Boy, did I take my time getting around to writing this one! Yes, I’ve been home from Salt Lake City for a solid week and a half, but it’s been quite a whirlwind and I wanted to have a little time to gain some perspective on what our workshop really helped people with.

As you know, my friend Lindsey Johnson co-taught the class with me, which made it a little less nerve wracking and a lot more fun. Lindsey is a professional food stylist and photographer, and she has a great depth of knowledge that she could share with all of us. Mere and Kim were such huge helps with the shopping and setup, and for being great friends throughout.

We were really lucky to have such a fun group of attendees, all of whom were inquisitive and interested — and tolerant. For some reason, we were put in a room with no natural light (or tables), so we took it upon ourselves to set up our own little photography stations in the hallway near some doors. With our foam core sitting atop catering trays, we demonstrated how to use height and fresh elements to make food look droolworthy. We also talked about lighting, angles, and composition.

Of everything we taught our students, their biggest takeaway seems to be that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to take good food photos. In fact, when I broke out my trusty little Canon Rebel XT, one of the students exclaimed, “OH MY GOD. That’s your camera?!” I found that to be kind of delightful. You see, nothing that Lindsey or I do costs a ton of money. We don’t do anything to our food that makes it inedible. It’s a very basic approach to food photography, but we get lovely results none the less.

Student Photos from Alt Summit Food Photography Workshop // Frock Files

My favorite part about teaching has been seeing our students implement our advice into their photos. Our Instagram feeds have been full of gorgeous shots ever since!

Lindsey and I are discussing ways to work more together down the road. In the meantime, I put together a little cheat sheet from our session. If you’re interested, sign up for my newsletter (in the sidebar) and I’ll send you the passcode!

P.S. Instagram photos above taken by Andrea Howe of For the Love Of, and Kim Wardell of DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS — both totally impeccable blogs that you should visit immediately!

Justin Hackworth is a Superhero
Justin Hackworth Wedding and Portrait Photographer | Frock Files

Two of my dreams came true last week: teaching a food styling workshop and being photographed by Justin Hackworth. If you’re not familiar with Justin’s name, you’re probably familiar with his work. He’s been the official Alt Summit photographer from the very beginning and his photos are the ones you see practically every time the conference is mentioned. He’s one talented fella.

Justin Hackworth Wedding and Portrait Photographer | Frock Files

But aside from his talent, Justin is just one of those kind, generous, gracious people who make this blogging world so beautiful. After we chatted at Alt last year, I really started to understand my camera. I credit him as one of the big reasons I began to see improvement in my photography.

Justin Hackworth Wedding and Portrait Photographer | Frock Files

I feel really lucky that Justin took the time to take my portrait — and I feel especially fortunate that we could be in the same place at the same time. He has a way of making you feel like a treasure, so it’s no mystery why he’s often traveling around the country to capture brides and grooms on their most magical days.

Here are some of my favorite wedding photos from Justin’s portfolio:

Justin Hackworth Wedding and Portrait Photographer | Frock Files

Thank you for the portrait session, Justin!

Want to know more about Justin Hackworth Photography? Visit Justin’s blog for plenty more magic.

Alt Summit Recap: Don’t Forget

Alt Summit | Don't Forget

Although it’s hard to believe, the sequin filled whirlwind of Altitude Summit is over! The trip was a day longer than expected, since Delta generously bumped me up to an earlier flight to avoid the impending snow storm. My friend Maggie and I boarded a plane together on Tuesday and spent that luxurious limbo day napping, getting pampered at the spa, and eating delicious food. The extra day also gave me the opportunity to head out to dinner with another friend, Erin, who whisked me to a fabulous sushi restaurant called Takashi. Who knew that sushi in the middle of the country could be so fresh?

Then it was Wednesday, and the hotel really began filling up. For someone who typically spends her days in yoga pants, and for whom blow drying is an effort, the sudden influx of impeccably dressed women in high heels and perfect coifs was hugely impressive. I was lucky enough to room with Mere, who is of the loveliest people you could hope to meet, and we breathed a sigh of relief as we headed to the spa to hand our locks over to the professionals. We emerged an hour later with Alt-appropriate ‘dos.

After that, it was like getting on a steep, twisting slide filled with chatter and balloons. People kept asking what my goals were at this year’s conference, and my answer was always the same: to see my friends. While last year was all about soaking in the knowledge, this year was more about strengthening connections and collaborating. And I’m happy to report that both were fulfilled.

There will be plenty of roundups for you to read this week, but I just wanted to leave you with my one big takeaway: never forget who you are and where you started.

The people I most admired at this year’s conference were a mixture of new acquaintances and established friendships. All of them are humble people who recognize that their success is the result of many stars aligning — hard work, passion, and talent, yes, but also luck, and sometimes even a whole bunch of failure. And that it could all go as easily as it came. There’s no sense of entitlement, just genuine hope and the understanding that you need to roll with the punches if you ever hope to survive.

As the year goes on, I’ll look back at these people as models for the kind of person I’d like to become.


All photos except the first were taken by the tremendously talented Justin Hackworth.

Give Me More Altitude

Headed to Alt Summit 2014 | Frock Files

Today is the day! Depending on the time of day you read this (and your time zone), I’m either flying to or getting lots of hugs in Salt Lake City. Going to Alt Summit this year is a completely different experience than it was last year. Last year, I was so nervous about not knowing anyone. This year, I’m chomping at the bit to see so many of my friends for real, live hugs and long chats and shared meals. Google Hangout and Skype are great, but nothing beats the real thing.

If you couldn’t make it to Alt this year, don’t fret. I’ll be swamping my Instagram and Twitter feed with photos of everything from the panels to the parties to checkout – so come along! There may even be a little competition happening, say, around 10:00am mountain time on Friday. If I could, I’d carry you around on Facetime for the entire event so you could feel like you’re right there in the action, but sadly, my battery would die and you would probably get a little motion sick.

Want to read more about Alt Summit and my thoughts on blogger conferences?

Getting the news about teaching at Alt
Forget fashion; what really matters at conferences
My nice smelling + tasting business cards
The best part about Alt Summit
Tips for growing your blog from Alt Summit (with two of my favorite ladies, Kristen and Erin)
Photography advice from (king of photographers) Justin Hackworth
Being the truest version of you by Jasmine Star

See you next week, for the scoop on everything that happened at Alt!

Alt Summit Food Photography Design Camp

Food Photography Workshop: What to Expect

After chatting with a few new friends about the food photography design camp I’ll be teaching at Alt Summit next week, I realized that it might be a good idea to write a post about what you can expect to take away from the workshop.

Great food photos tell a story that tickles your senses so that you can almost taste what’s there. Lighting, props, angles, and styling all play a role in enticing readers to take a bite out of your blog. I’ll be covering all of these aspects of storytelling in food photography in this workshop for beginner to intermediate food photographers.

What do I mean by “beginner to intermediate”? You should come to class having a working knowledge of your DSLR camera, but you by no means need to be a pro. In fact, if you are a pro, you might find yourself disappointed. I’ll be helping attendees to understand the basic elements of what makes a really Pin-worthy food photo.

Everyone can expect to leave understanding:

– Strong image layouts
– Tricks to make food look appealing
– What props you really need
– How to get the shot you want quickly
– How to work with the light you have (even if it’s not great)

My dear friend Lindsey Johnson will be there to help, and we’re so excited about the workshop! Lindsey has a beautiful blog called Cafe Johnsonia, which is filled with lovely food photos. Her recipes are pure elegance. And on top of all that, she’s really such a kind person. I can’t wait for you to meet her.

P.S. If you can’t make it to the design camp, don’t worry — there will be lots of photos and information, which I’ll share here on the blog soon!

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