Notes from the International Conference on Food Styling and Photography at BU

by Meg Jones Wall

Photo by Meg Jones Wall

“How many photographers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Ten. One to screw it in, and nine others to say, ‘Oh, I could’ve done that.’ ”

You may not be laughing, but Clare Ferguson’s joke was a big hit at this weekend’s third bi-annual International Conference on Food Styling and Photography, hosted by Boston University’s Gastronomy program and organized by industry leaders Lisa Golden Schroeder and John Carafoli. Bringing together professionals from across the food industry, this conference covered a wide variety of topics highly relevant to both experienced and amateur photographers and stylists.

The four-day event began this past Friday, covering advanced food styling and photography techniques. The morning was spent with Delores Custer, author of Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera, and the afternoon followed three sets of photographers and food stylists, allowing attendees to watch them create sets of photos built around a central theme – cheese. Among the photographers and stylists were Viktor Budnik, Deborah Jones, Jeffrey Kauck, Karen Tully, and Nir Adar. Saturday and Sunday, the main portion of the conference, featured presentations by a number of accomplished professionals, including Ilene Bezahler, David Ledsinger, Jamie Tiampo, Clark Dever, Kate Baldwin, and Antoinette Bruno. Monday’s sessions focused on food blogging, exploring successful elements and photos tips, as well as looking at how to incorporate video and multimedia services into a business model.

As a gastronomy student developing a food photography blog and a searching for a place in the food world, this conference was inspiring – and incredibly intimidating. I attended all four days of the conference, and the morning before the first session, I was so nervous I thought I wouldn’t last the day. But most of the participants were thrilled to meet both professionals and students, sharing their tips for breaking into the business, resources for learning industry skills, and ideas for growth and development. I made a lot of contacts, as well as some new friends, and I can’t even begin to express how much I’ve learned – it’ll probably take me at least a week to sort through my notes and process all the information.

Photo by Meg Jones Wall

I’ve been asked about my conference notes, and am happy to share them once I get them typed and organized – if you’re interested in a copy, feel free to contact me. I’ll also post them to my blog by the end of the week, separated by day (

For more information on the International Conference on Food Styling and Photography, as well as a full list of speakers and presentations, visit the conference website.

Meg Jones Wall is a full-time student in Boston University’s Masters of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy program. She is an avid writer, photographer and cook, and plans to complete her thesis this fall.

Update: All four days of conference notes are now available at ginger-snapped in downloadable PDF format.

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