Last week was the annual Food Bloggers of Canada conference and this year we were in Toronto. I was again lucky enough to be a part of the volunteer crew. And this year it just seemed to be busier and flew by way too fast. When I got home I looked at my phone and there weren’t as many photos as I normally take and my notebook was empty. It was because of that I almost didn’t do a post.
But I decided otherwise, obviously. The theme of this year’s conference was “Do the Work” and I thought how my experience was perhaps different from everyone else’s. I didn’t get to sit in on every workshop. The ones I did get to sit in on, particularly on Sunday, my body was so tired I could barely reach my notebook to write anything. Upon reflection, this is different to how I have experienced my past two conferences. When you are focused on the physical work, like stuffing swag bags or labeling brussel sprouts, you need to figure out another way to find those little nuggets. I was always listening and tried to pay attention to the interactions around me. That is what influenced my takeaways from the conference.
On Thursday, after we stuffed all those swag bags, we went as a team to eat dinner at Loka. I could do a whole post with just photos from this meal but here is my first takeaway. Dennis Prescott and his wife Leanne came along with us and I was fortunate enough to have Dennis sit across from me. I didn’t intend to talk about photography but it naturally went there. I mentioned that I bought a new camera last year but I really should take a class to learn how to use it. And here’s the nugget.
He told me that my first step should be to study the camera’s manual to learn what your camera can do. That way you can adjust your settings and find what YOU want to photograph. You can let the camera’s settings take over and just point and shoot but why let a machine control your vision? So here’s one of my homework pieces, this weekend I have been pulling out my manual and this will be my ongoing project, to learn my camera.
Fast forward to Saturday morning sessions, which were different this year because we broke out into smaller groups instead of meeting altogether in the same sessions. As a result, we as volunteers each took a session room to make sure things were running on time. In my room I had the same two sessions run back to back and I got a double dose of Brittany Stager with Visual Branding for You and Your Blog and Heather Travis speaking about Key Messaging for Bloggers – How to Get Your Message out to Readers, Brands and PR Agencies. Even though I saw the same two sessions twice I think it still important because I was able to hear things the second time that I missed before.
Both of the sessions were complimentary as Brittany and Heather had similar messages. Both Ladies started by stating you need to figure out who you are and what you are trying to say before you fill in the rest. Some of us know exactly who we are but I would venture a guess that there are some out there trying to figure that out, I know I still am. This is the basic building block before you continue on with your visual brand or your words. Both workshops were filled with practical information and good ideas to think about and I’m glad that I got assigned to that room.
The rest of the weekend was filled with a-ha moments that I smile and look back on. Like I may not have been able to get the full on Breville breakfast experience on Sunday morning but I did take the bus to the restaurant on Saturday with Stephen Krauss, the President of Breville Canada. He is truly passionate about his products and I loved the twinkle in his eye as he described what The Tea Maker in action looks like.
Finally, I want to talk about connections, which is why I come to these conferences in the first place. I love chatting with all of you on social media but it doesn’t compare to seeing you face to face. It’s so much fun to see my old friends but to also meet new ones and even better yet, see what you are all up too. We have such a unique community and we all bring something to it. Each of us is important and you really see that at the conferences when we are all there bubbling full of ideas.
A big thank-you to Melissa and Ethan who are our visionaries. They put together this conference for us every year and give us a safe place to learn, grow and be together. They pull together the sponsors, who we need for this conference to exist, and all of the people that make the weekend move. They thoughtfully choose speakers who provoke us and give us ideas to chew on throughout the year. They also put people in place who help keep everything moving while we enjoy the meals and the sessions. A big thank-you to Sandra Fernandes who is there behind the scenes dealing with logistics and the hotel staff so Melissa and Ethan can be available to talk to us. She is a big part of these conferences and keeps us running smoothly.
And of course, my fellow team members who are there to assist with the rest of the needs. Sondi Bruner was good enough to room with me. She has such a wonderful spirit and it was a joy to spend time with her. I was able to reunite with friends Beth Dunham and my fellow Heather in crime, Heather Travis. Our team was rounded out by new faces this year, Samantha Gutmanis, Ksenia Prints and Lisa Bolton. I have said it before but I’ll say it again, I always enjoy hearing what is going on in your lives and what you are working on. I learn so much by listening to you Ladies. Thank you for your fellowship.
I guess I had a lot to say! If you stuck around to read all that thank you. Next year is in Ottawa and I can’t wait.
And before I leave you, here are a few fun photos I got throughout the weekend that I wanted to share.