I don’t know about you but when I picked up my camera I didn’t know any other food stylists or food photographers in Australia. Nor were there any resources available that would have been specific to Australian market. All food photography educators I came across at the time, were based either in US or UK. Whilst their location didn’t matter when it came to learning and practicing photography skills, composition, lighting and basic operational skills, it did matter when it came to pitching to clients, coming up with pricing, drafting my own photography agreement etc. And, because I didn’t really know any other food photographer I would feel comfortable reaching out to, it was a learning curve.
Connections mean everything
Running your own business is hard and it can be lonely too when you have no connections to likeminded people in the same industry. It’s really all about connections and who you know.
Sure, I have connected with people on Instagram throughout the years but it’s never been the same than actually meeting people face to face and nurturing a trusting relationship so you feel comfortable enough discussing topics that they too may occasionally struggle with.
Retreat No 1
Food Photography Retreat for me and Shilpi was definitely getting experts to come and talk about various topics we wanted to have more clarity on and therefore learning from their experience. BUT it was also about being inspired to keep us going when we face creative blocks and self doubt kicks in. You know that annoying voice at the back of your head who occasionally keeps telling you “YOU suck!” “You are never going to make it!”
Organsing the Food Photography Retreat was never about making money for us. In fact our first retreat barely broke even and we feared that we woud have to pay meals out of our own pockets because we were short on numbers by a few. When Shilpi and I started organising the first retreat, we saw huge amount of value we would get out of the retreat.
We never planned it as a boring conference. We didn’t want microphones or stages for presenters, we wanted it to keep it super casual and informal. No PowerPoint presentations or a strict word count. We were just honoured to have all presenters agree to come and talk. I think we initially feared that people would be a bit snobby and turn us down. Who were we after all???…………….A couple of buddying photographers….surely Kirsten Jenkins had better things to do than come and talk at some small retreat no one knew anything about. Not naming any names but I did reach out to a few more well known food stylists and got nothing back so when Kirsten agreed to come and talk, we were ecstatic.
The first retreat received a great response and everyone encouraged us to organise another one. I think I had actually forgotten the anxiety that I had when we were organising the first retreat. It was a massive risk that we took – putting deposits down for the venue was scary. What if no one turned up??? So when everyone expressed their gratitude of having being part of the retreat, a huge weight lifted off our shoulders and we felt accomplished.
Enough to agree to organise a retreat no 2.
As mentioned, thanks to a great feedback from the first retreat, we decided to go ahead and organise another retreat. This time we wanted it to be bigger and better, and when it comes to the program, we sure have gone all out. C’mon, where else would you be able to meet Rob Palmer whose name is all over so many cook books and magazine covers? Rachel Korinek from Two Loves Studio……………she was my inspiration when I got into food photography and still is. Rachel is an amazing educator and a photographer who now resides in Canada but has agreed to pop in and do a demo just for us. She is just as lovely she is on the screen. This is once in a lifetime opportunity to come and meet her in person.
We have Lucy Tweed – an absolute legend who is also known for her regular appearance on magazine covers and in a bunch of books, plus she has just launched her own cookbook Every Night of the Week. Go Lucy! If you’re struggling to style brown foods: curries, chocolate cake, beef stew to name a few, Lucy is sure to change the way you see those foods moving forward.
Another legend – Alan Benson. Ex chef and a now a well known and respected food photographer whose work has been published internationally worldwide.
Elisa De Cecchi – someone whose work I have always admired. Her pictures always tell a powerful story. Pink Lady Food Photography Awards Food Influencer winner in 2022 and third in Food Stylist category in 2023. If you have not heard of her….I highly recommend you check out Elisa’s work here
But we don’t just stop there, we have also gathered some talent locally from QLD and Northern rivers area. Fran Flynn will be back for the second time talking about how AI will be changing our industry moving forward. Nelly le Comte will be demonstrating how to photograph bottles and Emma Sheldrake will help you all to get over creative blocks and give valuable insight into how she avoids any burnout, and of course, how to kick that annoying “YOU suck” voice to the curb.
And, if working with an agency is on your list, hearing Red Candy Marketing talk what agencies look for in talent and how to work with a brief is something you don’t want to miss out.
BUT retreat is not all about sitting still and listening others talk, it’s about making new friends, maybe teeing up some mentoring possibilities and connections that may benefit you in your career moving forward. I am glad to say that I am stil in touch with people from the first retreat and I am lucky to reach out to them if I need any advice on something. No more feeling lonely on your photography/stylist journey.
It’s also about taking some time for yourself. Being away from your family and daily routine, spending it with likeminded people can feel inspiring, believe it or not. We all deserve some “me” time and investing into ourselves to return with our creative batteries charged, inspired and happy. Why should you not attend the retreat?
Got questions about the retreat? Contact us below to chat more.