Thursday, January 20, 2011

When not in Provence, in Mexico

However beautiful it is where you live, you sometimes have to leave, so that you can come back refreshed and with a clearer perspective on your life.  Hopefully you will also have learned something from your travels.

With this in mind I went to Food Blogger Camp 2011 at Grand Vales Riveira Maya,  half an hour from Cancun airport at Playa del Carmen.  It was a long haul for me to get there from Provence and took three days with stops in London and New York; but the long journey was forgotten once I was there.  It was a beautiful, all-inclusive, resort with two huge pool areas.  Every morning I swam in one of the pools and wondered how rich I had to be to have a pool like this in my garden.  It was very long, so I had a lot of time to ponder on it.

Each morning we had seminars given by leading food bloggers and photographers, Jaden Hair, Todd and Diane, David Lebovitz, Matt Armendariz and Adam Pearson.  They all shared their tales of how they got to where they are now and gave us advice on how we might follow in their footsteps.
Each of them was generous with their insights and experiences and each had a different angle to show.

I learnt how to use my camera, which I had had for two years and never moved the dial from auto. I learnt how to use light and depth of field to give different effects and create different moods in a photo.
I learned technical things like how people can find me more easily, how I need to use multiple skills and to develop personal branding.
I had to write more often and be consistent, to know my intentions and what I am trying to achieve with my blog.
I should always be generous and give feedback to other blogs but not use it for self-promotion.
My blog should be about me and my individual story and I should be focused and know my audience.
I also learned some clever food styling tips, and even though I've been around food stylists for years, working on commercials (it usually was more about how to get a perfect head of beer, or how to make instant noodles look appetising) I learned how the professionals make delicious food come off the page and make your mouth water.

What to do with fois gras and a blow torch
Giving the food that smokey taste
In the afternoons we got to watch and photograph the resort chefs cook their signature dishes, some even posed for us, so we could learn how to take a portrait shot.

Oh and there was the whole of the beach front to explore or just lie down on on a sun lounger whilst someone came and brought you a bucket of water on ice and Pacifico beer.  If you wanted a snack, they'd bring you that too.  Or you could swim up to the poolside bar and order a margarita.

So now that I am back in Provence, I'm reflecting on all that I have learned and hoping that the experience, along with better photos (out of focus pictures aren't funny, they make people feel sick)  and a better site (moving to Provence Calling soon, thank you Garth) will give you, my readers a better time when you are reading my blog and that you will tell other people about it and I will get many more readers, who will want to follow my blog and make lots of comments. And that some time soon I will be able afford a pool that I can swim in every morning before sitting down at my desk.  But that was another thing I learned, not to do it for the money, but for the pure joy of it.

With thanks to Kerry Gold butter and Grand Velas for their kind sponsorship. I was truly spoiled rotten and my craving for Mexican food and Margaritas is sated for the time being.   Also thanks to Kate Moeller for organising everything and always being helpful and patient, no matter how stupid the question.  It was great to meet fellow bloggers, and to share their experience and to feel the comradeship of community and realise you're not alone in the strange world of blogland.
And this was entirely made of butter
Read more from others who were there (just don't compare their photos with mine!)

Food Blogger Camp 2011  (David Lebovitz)
What I learned in Mexico (Pinch my Salt)
Food Blogger Camp 2011 Grand Velas (Dinosaur Dishes)
Health through Food & Friendship at Food Blogger Camp (Awake at the Whisk)
Escape from Grand Velas (Undercover Carerer)
Food Blog Camp: Seeing the Light (Confections of a Foodie Bride)
Food Blog Camp-Cancun (What’s Gaby Cooking?)
Food Blog Camp 2011 (Mommy Cooks!)
Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Food Blog Camp 2010 (Adventures of an Amateur Foodie)
Hola from Riviera Maya (Savuryandsweet)
Food Blogger Camp Riviera Maya (Family Fresh Cooking)
Pool Time! Video (Matt Bites)
Food Blog Camp (Steamy Kitchen)


Julie Mautner said...

We'll be drinking margaritas in your pool soon. Don't you worry!

Wylie Goodman said...

Nice job with the photos Angela! Brought me back there. I think it'll be a long time before I eat/live that well again!

Renee & Ari said...

Such a nice post- and I love the name of your new blog. Also, is the artist the one who made all those lovely drawings on your blog? They are so nice! It was very nice to meet you in Mexico. Perhaps next year we will get to speak more!

Sally said...

Angela, I love the way you write--so unpretentious and the reader is right there with you. Look forward to your new blog and reading more. Let me know about that pool thing. I'll come for a swim. xxoo Sally

Celia Lindsell said...

Well done for doing the trip. You will get better and better at this and I loved the photographs, makes a big difference. It will all have been worth it.

Kate said...

I'm so glad you made the trip all the way from Provence. I also like the new name "Provence Calling" which is very "Clash" like. The perfect blend of UK and France :)

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

That must have been such an amazing experience! I am really going to try to go next year.

David said...

So glad you crossed the Atlantic to join us (although it only took me 36 hours!) And I didn't take advantage of the pool, but everything else was truly a joy. Thanks for coming along!