Eat, Write, Retreat, a conference for food bloggers, was held in Washington, DC last weekend. This was my second year of teaching their Food Styling and Photography workshop with my longtime creative partner, stylist Lisa Cherkasky. This intensive full-weekend event draws attendees, speakers and sponsors from all over the US and Canada. In addition to our class, they featured workshops on creativity, business and culinary skills taught by experts such as author Monica Bhide and chef/author/entreprenuer Andy Schloss. It is organized by entrepreneur and “food blogger resource” Casey Benedict and author/nutritionist Robyn Webb. Having worked with Robyn on several satisfying projects, we were happy to be asked to present at her conference again—and we were proud to see one our collaborations, her Comfort Food Cookbook being gifted to conference attendees.

Our hands-on workshop this year had groups of students working together to compose one shot per group, made with ingredients supplied by a bevy of photogenic sponsors. There was an atmosphere of infectious excitement, creative curiousity, energy, and collegiality. Students’ instincts proved to be very good as they tackled their hands-on compositions. Each group’s project featured a single ingredient, such as the sponsor, Jarlsberg USA, the cheese pictured above. In their case, it gave us an opportunity for feedback from their publicist, Ronnie Campbell, of The Burrell Group, Ltd., who was in the class. She offered her insight into how they prefer to show off their product: Being able to highlight the distinctive patterning of Jarlsberg’s holes is important, as is showing the cheese grated.

Students had a chance to select from a variety of props to complement them, some supplied by generous sponsors, the fabulous kitchen equipment companies, OXO and Calphalon. Similar to our set-up last year, I supplied my own basic lighting, as well as my laptop and camera, which were tethered to a projector. That way, we were able to show the shots as they were captured (via Adobe Photoshop Lightroom) on a large screen. Making their choices for food items and props, groups brought them to the stage and assembled them on the set we created on location in the event-hotel ballroom. As the groups gathered around the set (and shot many of their own photos), we discussed their work, offered suggestions and tips, and answered questions. I shot the students’ initial compositions and showed them on the screen; then, Lisa and I critiqued and adjusted them to demonstrate why and how they could improve. Then, we were able to view final shots on the screen, as well as to compare side-by-side, before-and-after shots.

It was a fast-moving, intense class of 2.5 hours. I wish it had been longer so we could have covered more! Here are some of the other final shots.

Mushrooms courtesy of The Mushroom Council. Pans courtesy of Calphalon.

Watermelon courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Cutting board courtesy of OXO.

Olives courtesy of Lindsay Olives.

Iced tea courtesy of Honest Tea.

Cutting board courtesy of OXO.

Thanks to all of our generous sponsors for supplying the heroes for our photos. I also appreciate receiving the gifts they gave all attendees in our amazing swag bags!

Thanks also to all Eat, Write, Retreat blogger/students who worked hard in class and have given us your helpful feedback. So glad I had more time this year to socialize, which gave us the chance for some good one-on-one conversations, so I could learn more about what you all do and address some of your individual questions in the moment. It was a pleasure working with everyone. We hope you enjoyed class, learned new tips and techniques, and will be inspired to use the new insights in your own work!

(EWR attendees: If you would like to use any of these final images for your own post-EWR blog posts, please credit “Renee Comet Photography,” and please link any of my photos to my website, www.cometphoto.com. Thanks!)