After I got back from Matt's, I realized how much meeting a group of folks that share my interests in food styling and photography meant to me. It was just such a thrill to see people light up the way I do. Obviously, that's a large part of the appeal of blogs... to connect with others with similar interests, but there's something different when you are actually sitting down face to face, sharing a meal, or wandering through a market. Newly inspired, I decided I needed to find other people in Seattle that share this same passion. But where to start? I was already a lurking member of a couple of groups related to photography... showing up to one of those would probably be a good start! But, none of those groups really focused on food... more shooting landscapes and people. Not really what I was looking for. So, with a fire in my belly, I decided to simply start my own. Build it and they will come. I went to meetup.com and created a new group for food stylists and photographers in the Seattle area. Frankly, I hoped I might get one or two people interested, but I really wasn't expecting much. But, lo and behold, just a few days later, I have 18 people in the group... most of which really do share my same excitement about food styling & photography! I have to say, I'm a bit taken a back and completely thrilled. Who knew it would be so simple to connect with other people! Why didn't I think of this sooner? Which leads me to this post. Having a local community of food stylists and food photographers in your area can be a huge motivator and learning experience. Whether you are an amateur or professional or somewhere in between, there are great opportunities when you can share what you know. If no group exists in your area, try starting one yourself and doing a little local publicity (Craigslist is free! Or, make print outs to post on the bulletin boards of local artisan cafes and shops). If you are looking for ideas of what to do with a group, here are some that I came up with: - Have field trips to restaurants that feature gorgeous food - Arrange tours of farmer's markets or farms - Hold photo lighting classes - Educational seminars on food styling and presentation - Prop swaps - Host potluck dinners - Share studio space - Collaborate on food projects (cookbooks, freelance stories, etc.) If you have other ideas, let me know! And, if you are in the Seattle area and food and photography is your thing, feel free to join us!