Following Foodies into the Woods

An adventure at #nocrumbsleftnapa2016

I went to Calistoga Ranch in Napa with my wife Stephie this past week. My mother-in-law came to stay with our boys just in time to welcome the first big snow storm and single digit weather to Boulder. I was the keynote speaker to an amazing group of food bloggers (see hashtags below), all brought together by the force of nature that is Teri Turner from @nocrumbsleft. We never left the place. Each lodge had a huge kitchen, beautiful areas indoors and outside to hang in, and lots of great hardware (the Breville toaster is really something else as well as the outdoor shower).

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We ate like royalty, spiked the tea and hot chocolate and of course, drank lots of amazing Napa wine. We talked #hashtags, shared #secrets, and dug deep into using #instagram in new ways.

But here’s the thing — all the bloggers are amazing food photographers. They all just taught themselves photography in the past year or two — and have never seen any of their pictures larger than a mobile screen. I watched them create photographs on backgrounds provided by @ericksonwoodworks on the ground just using available light. They are all self-publishing on Instagram to audiences they have built with passion and sweat and the love of what they are sharing. It is so much fun when people who are all so passionate about food and doing such similar things all meet up to cook for each other and talk shop. 

 

Though they have built incredible virtual communities, it was powerful all being together in person for a couple of days in the woods. When the food came out they all grabbed their phones to document, but it was for their Instagram stories and other platforms. Their Instagram feeds remain precious and tightly curated — true to their recipe wizardry. All the hashtag science exhausted me — but was brilliant to hear about.

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I was brought in to give a talk to the group — sharing ideas about those places we are all connected, appreciating our lives in all kinds of new ways, and finding the place where we use all of our senses to create images. My wife Stephie came up with the title “The Inspirator” for me when I am giving these talks. I do not get too deep into the technical stuff — it is about really paying attention to all the things we miss in our overstuffed, fast-scrolling days. This was easily the best audience I have ever had. They laughed and cried at the work. They got it all and shared with me where my work landed in their lives. For the most remarkable appreciation of all — they asked me to repeat my talk later that night when Alison from @thefeedfeed joined us and they all shared it even deeper. My message of appreciating more along the way resonates to every audience I speak to. Engineers. Creatives. Executives. And this week, food bloggers (that you should definitely follow):

 @bazaarlazarr @thelemonapron @cookbycolor@rainydaybites 

 @thecooksinthekitchen@displacedhousewife @husbandsthatcook @c.r.a.v.i.n.g.s

Photography is an amazing tool for capturing and sharing what we are truly seeing and feeling — both for ourselves and others. When you get to that place where we are all human, all sharing this planet for such short time and realize how precious it all is — then everything we do is better. We share more. We are more tolerant. We are more generous. We enjoy everything more. And we sleep better (although it might also have something to do with the being in a California King with my wife listening to the rain in the Napa forest.)

Some of the shots I took of the group in the woods with @ericksonwoodworks backgrounds:

Christine — @c.r.a.v.i.n.g.s

Christine — @c.r.a.v.i.n.g.s

Adam and Ryan — @husbandswhocook

Adam and Ryan — @husbandswhocook

Rebecca — @displacedhousewife

Rebecca — @displacedhousewife

Zach — @zach_attack_chicago

Zach — @zach_attack_chicago

Deborah Balint — @rainydaybites

Deborah Balint — @rainydaybites

Naomi — @thecooksinthekitchen

Naomi — @thecooksinthekitchen

Stephie Lange — @stephanielange

Stephie Lange — @stephanielange

Ginny & Jennifer

Ginny & Jennifer

Jennifer Emilson — @thelemonapron

Jennifer Emilson — @thelemonapron

Christi Lazar—@bazaarlazarr

Christi Lazar—@bazaarlazarr

Stephanie Vanlochem—@cookbycolor

Stephanie Vanlochem—@cookbycolor