A Taste of Ghent

Sooooo… this post has been a LONG time coming.  Between travel, weddings, holidays, and all around no free-time I have just not had the time to write this post.  I’m sitting in front of a large fireplace in Denver at this very moment and thinking about how blessed I am!  My sister is interviewing for different residency programs all over the US and I’m so, so, proud of her (and my brother too) and when she asked me come down to Denver during one of her interviews I jumped at the opportunity. It also helps that it coincides with both of our birthdays, so after interview’s we’re going to hit the town and celebrate (and we’re always open to great places to visit, eat, or enjoy here).

It’s crazy how quickly life happens.  4 years ago, we were celebrating our birthday’s again, this time in New Orleans, as she interviewed for medical school and now here we are.  On graduation’s door and here I am again, being able to enjoy this exciting moment in my sibling’s life and I couldn’t be more proud. I’m glad all of my siblings share my travel bug.  None of us stayed close to home while studying, much to my mother’s dismay, though we visit regularly.  We’re all always learning, traveling, and growing in our professions.  This leads me to my wonderful learning and travel experience to Ghent, NY with the lovely team of the Made in Ghent farm, and our teacher’s  Michael Piazza and Kevin Masse.

From the moment you pull up to the lovely Made in Ghent farm, you’re greeted by farm dog, Bumble, and the farm owner’s, Richard and Mimi. Warmth and homeyness emits from this place like you wouldn’t believe.  It’s like a little slice of paradise complete with wildflower fields, chickens, and Mimi’s fresh made sour dough bread (that I’m still dreaming about).  They have a wonderful set up kitchen/store that is the first building you pull up to.  Here, Mimi and team make TONS of farm fresh food, from jams and ice cream to pork rillettes and breads.  It’s also the perfect setting for classes, with cooking books lining the walls, kitchen props, tables, and chairs.  A breeze blows through the open space with a pond in the back to gaze at as you sip coffee and snack on homemade yogurt and granola. I was in foodie, photographer, traveler heaven.

Through corporate photography day job, I had signed up for the “How to Create Magazine Quality Food Photographs’ 2-day course.  We learned photography and styling from Michael Piazza and social media and networking expert Kevin Masse.  In between lectures, Mimi and team cooked us up spectacular meals (that still make my mouth water thinking about them) and we were also free to wander the farm and take photos of all the livestock, wildlife, and meal prep.  Our group was small and filled with everything from food stylists, to lawyers, to bloggers.  It was such a great plethora of people passionate about food and photography.  These are my people!  You know the ones?! The people who get you…. when you start talking in depth about how beautiful pastries look when lighted correctly and who get excited about shooting food tablescapes.  Those people.  My people.

We started the day off with tons of delicious breakfast, meeting and greeting everyone and literally breaking bread (sourdough, yes!).  Michael led us up to the main house, i.e. natural light photographer’s dream.  Seen in photos above, I swear half of it was windows, with a stunning open kitchen (with a blue-tiled back splash I was obsessed with), HUGE farm table, beautiful prep and sitting area, and a garage loaded with food props for us. We started with basics, natural lighting, and learned Michael’s favorite food photography techniques.

Isn’t that backsplash dreamy?

Experimenting with different light setups.

Another bomb-diggity meal done by Mimi and crew.

Wandering the farm post-lecture.

After a day of lecturing.  We took a break.  We wandered the farm, conversed with each other and waited for the feast that Mimi and her team were making.  Everything was sourced from less then 10 miles away from the farm.  How awesome and local is that?!  Here we got to shoot tablescapes, from prep to sit down.  The best part?  We got to eat it after we photographed it all.  Probably my favorite photographic part of the whole workshop.  I mean, this was the food spread and location of dreams.

Mimi cutting all the yummy chicken straight from their backyard!

madeinghent-41

Dreamy right?  And ohhh sooo delicious! We all left full of inspiration and satisfied bellies!  Day two was just as exciting!  If you wanted, you could come early and get photos of some of the farm-hands helping out on the farm as well as take a walk with Richard into the produce and wildflower fields (which then are sold as bouquets in the shop)!  Of course I was there bright and early!  It was such a perfect day for it too!  With tons of photo ops!

Jen, our ‘chicken whisper’ and catcher for photos (thanks Jen!)

Richard, leading the tour and posing for us in the long grass.

Bumble in all her glory, exploring with us!

The group experimenting with reflectors in the woods.

Robyn, Michael’s trusty assistant who helped with EVERYTHING throughout the day.

Cornish Meg, who regularly helped with all the food prep, arranging the flowers picked from our walk.

After the walk and breakfast, we headed back up to the house.  Michael focused more on helping with styling and telling a story for this lesson.  We photographed galettes from start to finish while learning how to show the story of food being made.

Following Michael’s lesson, Kevin Masse arrived to give us his lecture on social media.  How to use it successfully, what you can do to improve yours photos, and how to get more followers.  All very interesting and I learned a TON!  Especially with Instagram, I was a bit clueless when it came to all things hashtag and @.  Kevin helps tons of brands with their social media presences and it was so great learning from someone with some much experience in this.  It’s what I seriously lack in.

We followed Kevin’s lesson up with a photo session for ourselves to use what we had learned an implement it.  Shooting galettes in different lightings and environments.  Also, the spread that Mimi had left out for us.

With sadness, we all had to say goodbye to each other.  But we left with lifelong friends, great experiences, and tons of food photography knowledge!  I couldn’t have asked for a more creative retreat!  I can’t wait to visit Ghent again and stop by Richard and Mimi’s shop, of course to get some of that sour dough and I would highly recommend anyone in the area do the same!

**Special thanks to the wonderful team that put this together and made the experience so great!  To find out more info about the teachers or Made in Ghent Farm I’ve listed their links below!

Made in Ghent

Michael Piazza

Kevin Masse

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) www.alyshayoderphotoblog.com (w) www.alyshayoderphoto.com

(e) alyshayoderphoto@yahoo.com (p) 610.762.7810

(i) www.instagram.com/ayoderphoto/

 

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