Plate to Page Workshop

by Jenn on May 26, 2011

in Photography

Have you ever lived through one of those singular moments in time where you look back and know that was the definitive moment that changed everything? I have experienced a couple in my lifetime – and while it’s only been a few days, I’m pretty sure last weekend was one of those moments.

Weimar, Germany

You see, last weekend I went to beautifully historic Weimar, Germany to the inaugural session of Plate to Page: a three day food writing, styling and photography workshop run by four incredible women – Jeanne, Ilva, Jamie and Meeta.

Plate to Page Instructors

I and the other eleven participants were excited as we first introduced ourselves that Friday afternoon, but surely we weren’t expecting the utterly transforming experience that would unfold over the course of the weekend. That’s right. Three days, four instructors, twelve participants. And what an intense and incredible weekend it was! Every minute packed with activities, the instructors definitely put the “work” into workshop – they pushed us, challenged us, worked with us, helped us, critiqued us, laughed with us, shared with us, encouraged us, drank with us, cooked with us, inspired us, and many smiles and hugs were had throughout the weekend.

We had lots of mini tutorial/exercise sessions and three major assignments – the first was a restaurant review, where we discussed what makes a review good/bad, and how to photograph in low light typical of many restaurants. Hello ISO 1600!

Plate to Page Restaurant Review

As for the meal? I think there were seven courses in all of traditional Breton delights – raw oysters, baked oysters, crab & sea snails, scallops, salad, roast lamb, and a dessert of crêpes with ice cream & salted caramel. It was a lovely evening of food, wine, and socializing in a beautiful rustic setting.

Saturday our second major assignment was to do a picnic shoot/article in teams of two – I was paired with Ishay, and we chose to write about store cupboard picnics and impromptu visits with friends, featuring some traditional S. African pantry items like Pilchards and anchovy pastes.

Store Cupboard Picnics & Long Lost Friends

Each of us had brought tasty treats from our respective countries, and the picnic was literally a smorgasbord of flavors – cheeses, cured meats, chocolates, jams, there were so many options to try!

David slicing smoked duck Plate 2 Page Instructors Making a Food Shot

And along with foods, we each brought some napkins and flatware to use as props too, along with having some amazing vintage props so generously shared by Paula Walters to make use of as well – yes, we food bloggers even photograph the props!

Food Bloggers in Their Natural Habitat yummy props for a picnic shoot

Our third major assignment was to partner up and create a magazine style article. I paired up with Astrid and we set out to write and photograph our potential article about bringing a taste of Ireland to the table. Working in pairs with one person writing and one photographing was such a fun experience – we bounced ideas off of each other until we had our concept put together and then I immediately knew what I wanted to do for the shoot – the first thing was to photograph the gorgeous Bord Bía sponsored beef that we were prepping for lunch, as we wanted our piece to highlight the ingredients that make a meal. Then I took the parsnips and carrots and arranged them on a table to get a shot of some of the root veggies that were to be served with the beef:

Root Vegetables and Irish Beef

And of course, after each major assignment was a critique session, which was invariably as valuable as the experience of the assignment itself. I learned so much about my own work – my strengths and weaknesses – and about food photography and writing by seeing what everyone else had come up with as well. I loved seeing how we could take such similar events and see them with completely different eyes, and it was so cool to see everyone’s personalities really shine through their creations.

So what did I learn?? I started this experience convinced writing was hard. It’s still hard! But I can see a path now to becoming much more comfortable with my voice and finding how to let that shine through.  The exercises we did were challenging – both with time constraints and concepts.  But thanks to the wonderful supportive and friendly environment, I did find the courage to share things I wrote – and for someone like me who doesn’t always view writing as their strongest suit, that’s a huge deal and speaks so much to the atmosphere of the event and people there.

And photography – gosh are we a bunch of shutter happy photographers! Ha in fact it was the running joke all weekend that food bloggers don’t get to eat enough because we’re all too busy photographing and analyzing the food – more than a few times I heard someone say,”no more photos, let’s EAT!” Ha what can I say, we love what we do!  I loved seeing the rapid growth of everyone’s photography in such a short weekend – and I think I can finally start to see a direction of how my own photos are evolving, something I’ve never been able to do before.

Taubach, Germany Taubach, Germany

But besides all the fantastic information I tried to soak up like a complete sponge over three days, what did I really take away at the end of it all? I learned that photography and writing need to both work together to tell a story, and each in their own right. I learned that waking up every day absolutely enthralled with photography and creating photos is totally cool and not weird at all ;) And I learned that there are some amazing giving, passionate, kind-hearted people who all share a love for food, and am so excited and thrilled to now call those I met this weekend such dear friends.

Really, thank you everyone – the instructors and the participants, for being so wonderful and open and fun, and for creating a weekend I will never forget.  Ilva, Jamie, Jeanne, Meeta – what amazing giving, helpful and generous women you are – I couldn’t imagine this workshop being any more perfect.  Thanks so much for all of your help and advice, but more so thank you for opening up your hearts and sharing your passions with us.  And to all the participants, wow, y’all are just awesome and bring a smile to my face.   You all were as integral to the success of the weekend as the instructors, and I’m so honored to have been able to meet you and work with you and call you my friends.  Móna called the weekend life changing – it was life changing indeed.

Last dinner with the Plate to Page crew

And also a big thank you to all of our lovely sponsors for helping to make such an amazing event happen!!

Plate 2 Page Instructors
Ilva
| Jamie | Jeanne | Meeta

Inaugural Class of Plate 2 Page
Arthi | Astrid | David | Deborah | Ishay | Jasmine | Jenn (that’s me) | Julia | Ken | Mitch | Móna | Simone | Alessio*
*our honorary member

Plate to Page write up posts (will be updated as more posts go live):
Arthi – Ending on a High Note
Arthi – Reliving the Plate2Page Experience
Astrid – Who Would Have Thought…?
Ilva – Plate to Page Weimar 2011 – The Review
Jamie – From Plate to Page
Jasmine – Plate to Page Workshop
Jeanne – Plate to Page, Weimar – the Super Troupers
Ken – To Weimar with Love
Meeta – We Met in Weimar
Meeta – Plate to Page – Putting the Work back into Workshop
Móna – Life Changing, It Was
Móna – Life Changing it Was, Part 2
Móna – Life Changing it Was, Part 3
Móna – All in a Days Work
Plate to Page – Weimar Impressions, the first Plate to Page Workshop
Simone – Plate to Page – Experience of a Lifetime
Simone – Metaphors, Similes, and What it’s All About

Want to see more???? Follow @plate2page or #plate2page on twitter, check out the Facebook fan page, and follow along on the Plate to Page blog!

*Disclaimer – I was not compensated in any way to mention sponsors, just wanted to thank them for their generosity and for donating such awesomeness to this workshop – all of it was amazing!!

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Simone May 26, 2011 at 7:34 am

What a gorgeous post Jenn! It was so much fun to get to know you this weekend and I think you’re a great photographer (as shown by the stunning photos in this post too!) and love your writing too… It’s great reading everyone’s tales about past weekend and it does seem we all share the same feelings… Hope to see you again soon!

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 8:02 am

Awww thanks Simone! Yes we do all share the same feelings, which just shows what a lovely weekend it was – it was such a great pleasure to meet & hang out with you!!

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Astrid May 26, 2011 at 7:50 am

Great write up Sweetie! you are right with everything you said!
Glad that I had the chance to meet you there, you are a very special person, so talented :)

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 8:03 am

Awww Astrid, you are the sweetie – I’m so glad you were able to come and I had the chance to get to know you and cook and do the assignment together!

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ilva May 26, 2011 at 8:07 am

oh Jenn, you were a big part of the success of the P2P. And what you wrote brought tears to my eyes, thank you so much and a big hug!

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 8:24 am

Oh Ilva thanks so much!!! After reading your blog so many years it was so wonderful to finally meet you – what an inspiration you are – big hugs all around!!

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Móna Wise May 26, 2011 at 8:23 am

Jenn,
What a lovely lovely story.
Your voice shines through in every word.
So glad to have met you,
Móna xxx

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm

The feelings are likewise Móna, what a fantastic person you are :)

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Jamie May 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

I agree with Ilva that this post, your writing, brought tears to my eyes while it brought a smile to my lips. You put the whole weekend experience into words. First, I am thrilled to think that what we have created could have had such an effect on each of you! We hoped that we could share our passion as well as push you to think about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you do it all with the hope that you push yourself to WORK to find your voice and be proud of what you create. Second, it was you guys, the participants that made the workshop such a roaring success and we thank each and every one of you.

Big huge hug, my dear friend… and we’ll be watching you! xox

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Jamie you are such a sweetheart – you all had an amazing effect on each and every one of us, I guarantee it :)

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Miriam/The Winter Guest May 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

Lovely story… I envy you!!

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Thanks! It was definitely a weekend to remember!

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Meeta May 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

Jenn, wonderful words and impressive visuals. For me you were one of the dearest sweethearts and I hold you close to my heart. I look forward to seeing how you progress and am so proud of what you achieved. Shine like a start Jenn!

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Awww thanks Meeta! It was so awesome to hang out with you and learn from you – I still don’t fully have words to articulate this weekend, I just know I miss it so much and am so thankful that you helped make it happen :)

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Rosa May 26, 2011 at 9:35 am

Wonderful! Those workshops must have been very interesting and helpful.

Cheers,

Rosa

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm

It was!

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arthi May 26, 2011 at 9:43 am

Jenn it was fantastic to know you and learn from you…you are like the intellectual one…absolutely enjoyed the train journey with you…and yr post made me cry…I so wish we stayed close forever together..learn new things everyday..
Stunning pics my friend!
Hugsxx

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Aww huge hugs back to you Arthi!! We will def. have to stay in touch and meet again, I’m so glad I met you and got to know your fun and bubbly personality :)

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Zita May 26, 2011 at 10:27 am

Jenn!

Thanks for sharing your experience from the weekend. Reading your tweets during Saturday and Sunday I was sure you had so much fun and work done. I wish I could have been there too. My only fear to attend the next one or any similar workshop is that English is not my native language and I can’t express myself as good in English as good in Hungarian. Even if I lived in England for 2 years (that was Oh My God 9 years ago!) I forgot many words and I can’t think in English anymore like I did. I should live in abroad again to speak very good English again. Anyway, I don’t give up and I hope one day my English writing will be better!

Zita

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:36 pm

It was amazing – I would say try to go anyways, there are several people there whose native languages weren’t English, and it worked out fine :) I understand about writing in a new language though, I am a mess if I try to write en français!

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Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 26, 2011 at 11:40 am

Great writeup Jenn – so succinct as well :) I have read countless recap posts of the various conferences this weekend and many of them seem to just be a list of what people liked/ didn’t/ what they did/ what they ate etc… yet yours is reflective and tells what you actually learned. Well written and concise with beautiful pictures? You’re the blogger I want to be when I grow up!

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Aww thanks Mardi – ha I didn’t think it was that succinct at over 1000 words – you flatter me too much!! As time goes on I’m sure I’ll realize more and more exactly what I got out of such an awesome weekend :)

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Wendy @ Celiacs in the House May 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Powerful, Jenn. It is a beautiful thing when a woman finds her place and her purpose and her people.

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Jenn May 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Thanks Wendy – and yes, everything about this weekend was so beautiful, I’m still trying to comprehend it all…

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Shirley @ gfe May 27, 2011 at 3:47 am

Wow, that sounds like a phenomenal experience indeed. I had read one write-up on the event already and was amazed that there were only 12 participants. And it sounds like you really covered what was needed, like low lighting situations (brilliant!). I already consider you tops in photography and writing, Jenn, so I can’t imagine your stuff being better, but I’m anxious to see/read! :-)

Shirley

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Jenn May 27, 2011 at 7:15 am

Thanks Shirley – awww you are too kind! yeah the weekend covered lots of information – some tangible techniques dealing with low light, and some a bit more abstract like developing your own style and voice – all in all absolutely incredible :)

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Mairi @ Toast May 27, 2011 at 4:06 am

Great post Jenn, looks like an amazing workshop. Especially love that last picture at the dinner table…beautiful light & just really seems to capture the moment.

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Jenn May 27, 2011 at 7:16 am

Thanks Mairi!! Yeah it was a lot of fun :)

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Gourmantine May 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Beautiful story, Jenn, I can imagine it was wonderful! :) I sadly came across info about it when it was already full, well, maybe some other time :) Have a nice weekend :)

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Jenn May 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Thanks so much!! Hopefully you get a chance to attend a future P2P event, it was wonderful!!!

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Caneel May 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Looks like so much fun on top of learning a lot, Jenn! I’m glad you had a good time and the photos are beautiful!

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Jenn May 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Thanks Caneel! It was a ton of fun!

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InTolerantChef May 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

Sounds like you had such a fantastic time learning and bonding, laughing and eating!

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Jenn May 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Definitely – so many great memories and new friends :)

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Jeanne @ CookSister! June 1, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Oh Jenn – I feel all warm and fuzzy just reading this post and re-living that wonderful weekend through your gorgeous photos! You were such a fabulous addition to the workshop – you brought so much photographic expertise to the table which you were so willing to share (you taught ME a thing or two about colour profile!!). In every photo I have of you, you seem to be smiling, which is how I remember you all weekend long. Thank you not only for your wonderful words, but for your willingness to learn and teach and above all to enjoy yourself!

Love love love the photos and think we definitely need to arrange a Plate 2 Page reunion ;)

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Jenn June 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Thanks so much for all the generously kind words Jeanne!! It was really an amazing weekend, I wish I could do it all over again! And yes, I definitely concur about needing a reunion :)

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Winnie June 1, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Such an incredibly write-up Jenn, of what seems like an amazing experience. I am SO jealous :)

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Winnie June 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Oh, and your photos are just spectacular!

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Jenn June 1, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Thanks so much Winnie!

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Ishay June 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

Hi Jenn

I enjoyed working with you on our Store Cupboard picnic post (pls email me the diptych). You will never guess what happened. We had a power outaage at our house and friends couldn’t get in via electric gates. So, the fridges and their contents went off, naturally. We arrived home late last night, shops closed and I had to delve into the cupboards to make a quick dinner. Arrabiata sauce, penne pasta and a tin of those pilchards! Plus one hungry friend wating for us at home. Couldn’t ask for more satisfying, and our weekend at Plate2Page flashed before me. Love your post.

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Jenn June 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Aww I had so much fun that day working with you – and wow that is so ironic about your really impromptu store cupboard meal – too funny!! It was so much fun getting to know you and spend time with you, and now I can’t wait to hear all about your travels!

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Beth @ Kitchen Minions June 3, 2011 at 4:13 am

That sounds like an amazing workshop! I’m so jealous that it wasn’t around here, but glad you had the opportunity!

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Jenn June 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm

It really was! There are future workshops being planned, you check out the Plate to Page site for information I think..

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Marla June 21, 2011 at 3:43 am

This event looks like sooo much fun. Exactly the kind of thing I would love to do soon :)

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Jenn June 21, 2011 at 7:25 am

It really was!! I’m so glad that this was the blogging event I chose to attend this year :)

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wendy@chezchloe June 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Hi Jenn,
I just attended the Somerset 2012 Plate to Page, also fantastic, inspiring and motivating. I just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying your blog and garnering so much of your ‘amateur’ advice. It’s really hitting the spot. You have SO much info and so many links.
I’ve literally read through most of your tutorials and links (with a fair amount of wandering) in the last 24 hours. Are my eyeballs out to rupture? duh. My head about to explode? yes. Am I going to remember it all? I don’t have to because I’m following you now.
Thank YOU!

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Jenn June 8, 2012 at 8:56 am

Wendy, I’m so glad to hear you had a great time! There will always be a special place in my heart for Plate to Page :) And I’m glad that my tips have been helpful!

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