I signed up to attend the Mixed Conference last March and remember thinking how very far away it seemed. I had just purchased the milkglasskitchen.com domain and this blog was nothing more than an idea. I was furiously ordering camera accessories and food styling books and had just started to actually write down my recipes. How far Ive come! But I signed up for Mixed hoping to learn even more. I was not disappointed.
So last weekend I packed up my little carry on suitcase with all my photo gear, flew across the country and arrived at the Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia better known as the Dirty Dancing Hotel.
Yep. Kellermans. Really. Its pretty much just as charming as youd expect it to be. Now, there were no dance classes in the gazebo and no bunny hopping on the lawn, but the Lodge definitely recalls a different time when vacations were spent that way by most Americans. Its charming and quaint and I loved it.
But first things first. Before I did anything else, I dropped my bags in my room, put on my running gear and headed out to the Lower Jungle Trail here. Now, we dont really have trails in Chicago even the Lakefront Path is more like a busy thoroughfare populated with bikes and runners and rollerbladers and strollers. so getting out on this otherwise deserted path for four hard miles was exhilarating.
After my run, a shower and a meal, I settled down for our first half-day of sessions filled with information on topics like ad optimization, video production and getting a cookbook deal. I felt a little like a kindegartener sitting in a college-level course, but maybe some day the MGK will pull enough traffic for these types of endeavors. Maybe some day.
Hersheys sponsored the conference so the table above was available at all times for us to nibble and munch on. I took part, but hey Id already run four miles, so I earned it!
Day two of the conference was also packed with amazing seminars and classes, but I also had a bit of free time to walk around the grounds and take some pictures of the charming surroundings..
Im sure these chairs are coveted on summer afternoons, but they sat empty and softly rocking in the wind on the day I found them.
- The gazebo where Penny gives a dance lesson on the day Baby arrives at Kellermans..
- A bench forgotten along the way, it seems.
- Beautiful forest landscapes.
- With helpful signage!
- Another bench where you can sit and simply watch the day pass you by..
- And an entire room dedicated to Dirty Dancing press photos, posters, autographs and memories.
On the afternoon of day two, we all gathered in the ballroom to hear a talks by some of the most respected food photographers today: Bree Hester, Helene Dujardin and food stylist Tami Hardeman-Boutte. This is Helene and Tami giving their talk on photograph.
Eventually all the seminars were over and it was time to pack up. I met so many amazing people and learned so much at Mixed. Im delighted to have also discovered that MGK is exactly where I want it to be for the moment, with a strong identity, (what I think is) beautiful photography, and a distinct voice. Im proud of what Ive created with this blog and thrilled to be counted among the women and men I met last weekend.
There are too many amazing bloggers and blogs to mention in one post, so Im going to follow up next week with a rundown of all the bloggers I got to meet at Mixed as well as links to their incredible blogs for you to check out. In the meantime, enjoy your Thanksgiving week. Ill be back with a sweet treat later in the week.