It’s taken me 21 hours of sleep and 2 full days back in NY to properly ponder and process my recent trip to Seattle. It was sensory overload on overdrive and I loved every second of it.
When you get off the plane in Seattle you collect your luggage, secure your transportation and check in on Twitter. When you arrive at the hotel you shower, unpack and check in on Facebook. And, most notably, when you put any morsel of food in your mouth you announce it in every social media outlet available to you…it’s practically the law here. Well, at least is it with the people I came here to visit.
The Seattle Bon Vivant(@bonnevivante), Myra Kohn, graciously invited me here to lead a food photography workshop for a group of bloggers, food writers and aspiring photographers. We had begun to discuss doing a workshop over a year ago and were finally able to organize a group at her stunning apartment in downtown Seattle. This intro seems all so repetitive in that if you are at all tuned into social media this news is stale, ripe and browning. This group is so wired in that news of us sitting down for coffee to have our pre-workshop meeting was all over town in seconds. It was quite eye opening, flattering and quite honestly a little nerve wracking.
I was really excited and motivated for the workshop. I am no stranger to teaching situations. Curriculum written, AV presentation prepared, gear packed I headed over to Myra’s for Day 1 thinking I knew what to expect when I got there. I could not have been more wrong.
The power of social media and the way these experts wield it made me realize in short-order that I was not teaching a workshop for the 15 people in the room…I was on a much bigger stage in real time, one I did not really anticipate. I knew people would be live blogging the event but when I checked my email after the first break I knew I was in a much larger pond. I had about 100 new emails all detailing almost every word I had uttered for the past hour…in startling detail. It was a surreal experience to see all of my extemporaneous words documented with such care. I was completely blown away. Some of the comments attached to my quotes were so humbling that I wandered off for a few moments to ponder what was going on. Upon resuming the class, the love and respect these wonderful people were showing me put me so at ease that time flew and we went an hour longer because it was so much fun and productive.
As a high school teacher, I never expected to know what my students thought about my teaching style or ability until long after they were grown and out of school. That has consistently been my experience since leaving the classroom. But this, this was extraordinary for somebody with a teaching background. It was incredible to get immediate feedback on what was reaching the student, what had an impact, and how they felt about that. When I consistently read the word “inspiring” in the tweets it really struck me deeply. It may have been the most complimentary thing I had ever heard about my teaching.
The details of the class have been documented so expertly there is very little I can add but my own personal perspective on the event. I was at the incredible disadvantage that I could not share how I felt as quickly or concisely as those in the class. I believe that in almost every teaching situation I am in, I always learn as much from my students as they learn from me…and this could not be truer regarding my time in Seattle.
I guess the best way to show my appreciation for all those who organized, participated, enriched and enlivened the workshop would be to give them all a proper social media shout out:
To @bonnevivante I am so very happy to have met you and made a new friend. You are a hub of The Seattle food scene and I am so grateful for all that you did to include me in your world. I cannot wait to return.
To @byluuvu…meeting you was a godsend and I hope we have the opportunity to work together for a very long time. Your technical help and camera chops made my life easier every minute you were around.
To the Tweeters who Tweeted, posted, wrote and generally flooded the ether with news and updates, recaps and reflections of my visit at #scrivphoto…a HUGE thank you.
To those who have already posted articles about the workshop…wow…you are quick and really good:
I was clumsily working from the Tweets and posts I saw…If I forgot you please remind me…
To the Students, Restaurants, Purveyors and PR People who provided us with so many amazing things to shoot…I could never have expected the incredible generosity you extended to my class and me:
Tom Douglas Company
Dahlia Bakery @TDRBakery
Blue Acre Restaurant
Dry Soda Company
Taylor Shellfish Company @taylorshellfish
Kate McDermott @katemcdermott
Robyn Wolfe @robynlwolfe
To the Special Guests: Having you there added foodie credibility and expertise beyond anything I could have provided myself:
Chef Pichet Ong @pichetong
Champion Shucker David Leck
I joked when I was in Seattle that I needed a funny T-Shirt to express how flattering and crazy the reception I received there. Upon returning to NY my assistant and great friend Devon Knight sent me the link to the shirt you see above.