A Weekend Away | Finding Focus

Mama, I miss you! How am I ever going to survive college? Her tiny voice sounded even tinier through my headset, making those years before she does pack up to pursue her dreams seem a laughable lifetime away. But ten years, as we know, will…

A Weekend Away | Finding Focus

Mama, I miss you! How am I ever going to survive college? Her tiny voice sounded even tinier through my headset, making those years before she does pack up to pursue her dreams seem a laughable lifetime away. But ten years, as we know, will fly by in a blink of an eye.

She has a flare for drama, that little one. But I like that she’s thinking ahead. College will be here before you know it.

All weekend, I listened to their little voices through my cell phone. We shared our days. Before bed, they told me how they drew pictures of Snoopy and the gang, their latest inspiration. I told them how I played with food and my camera. They told me about the models they built, the colored pencils they used. I told them about the beautiful props and the serious equipment.

One day, I need to remember to tell them to study what makes them happy when it is time to go to college.

I spent the weekend, solo, in Los Angeles, immersing myself in what makes me happy. In the last couple of years, I have come to realize that out of all the facets of food blogging, what has emerged as my favorite, albeit what challenges me most, is the photography. Allowing myself the time to delve deeper at Hélène Dujardin’s intensive food photography and styling workshop was an experience that allowed me time to find focus and to find creativity, without interruption. There were no Mommy I’m hungry, pups to let out, phones ringing, emails dinging, fights to breakup, lost toys to find, or even fleeting daylight. It was a perfect retreat.

Listening to Hélène’s (pictured above) stories behind her images were inspiring and encouraging. Seeing her behind the camera, hearing her work through a shot out loud gave me plenty of food for thought. Being in a studio perfectly bathed in natural light felt like utopia. And challenging ourselveson location” with artificial light forced us to push harder. As I stood at the kitchen counter styling my first shot that first day, I thought happily, I feel like I’m in art class.

I should have taken those illustration courses. I should have played in the dark room. Instead I focused on organic chemistry. Blech.

No matter. I’m finally making up for lost time.

Sincere thanks to Hélène Dujardin of Tartelette and Chris Armstrong of Primary Reps for a phenomenal workshop. I truly enjoyed it, and especially loved the wonderful company of aspiring food photographers and stylists. I hope you enjoy my photos from the weekend.

Still here!? Well then, I just thought I’d mention that I was recently featured on Yupeat, a new San Francisco-based company that provides the most innovative dinner/grocery service ever. I wish this was around when I was single! See my interview and recipe recommendation here.


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  1. Betty Ann @Mango_Queen

    Wow, Liren! What amazing photos! I’m so happy for you. It’s always great to have opportunities to learn. This was an amazing weekend and your photos here are just the beginning of many more great things for you!

  2. Cristina

    Your images turned out gorgeous, Liren. Sounds like a memorable and rewarding weekend…I wish I could’ve attended that workshop {sigh}. What a great experience to have a whole weekend instruction by Helene, play with different photography equipment and use some beautiful props!

    Have a good and safe holiday weekend! :)

  3. Monet

    Wow…these are just stunning. I’m glad you took a weekend to do this…you have so much talent. Thank you for making my Friday a little bit brighter. You are a blessing! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Karen

    This is such an inspiring post. Finding the thing that you love to do is so important, and it’s so much fun once you do! I’m so jealous that you got to do this! Absolutely stunning shots, by the way.

  5. Gina

    I thought photography was your true passion, it shows in your photos. I would have loved that weekend. Just soaking it all up was probably enough to bring your home renewed. It’s hard to leave the kids, even if it’s only for a couple of days.

  6. Kita

    Its great that you are making up for lost time. Your photography is always stunning and I can’t imagine how inspiring it was to be in one of those photography workshops!

  7. Ann

    Absolutely stunning! Congratulations on being featured AND the class looked amazing! I bet it was amazing!

  8. Mary

    Liren, it was wonderful getting to know you and experiencing the workshop together this past weekend. Love your blog and your engaging and “real” style of writing. Hopefully, we will cross paths out there in the blog world again.

  9. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    I live in San Diego and realllllllllly wanted to attend this workshop with Helene. It would have been the opportunity of a lifetime. Wow. Thank you for sharing these tidbits; and as a mom of a little girl, I can relate to everything you touched on :)

  10. Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything}

    i keep telling myself one day I’m gonna attend a photography workshop. I know I’ll have to wait a while until I can leave Tiffany at home but looking at your photos and reading your post I wish I could attend one tomorrow. Everything looks great and you described it so beautiful

  11. Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane

    You are a lucky woman, for so many reasons. I really wanted to go to this workshop, but I’m glad I can live vicariously through you. It sounds as if it was just what you needed — and definitely shows in your photos!

  12. Sukaina

    This post really resonated with me- I also wish I hadn’t studied Optometry and instead, opted for something in Arts like photography. But you’re right- plenty of time left to make up for that lost time eh! Wonderful photos and you’re lucky you had such a great opportunity to learn and be inspired :)

  13. Jacqui

    Gorgeous photos! I discovered my love for photography through food blogging, also, and have recently started thinking about how to bring more photography into my life. Your shots are gorgeous!

  14. Jean

    Liren, beautiful shots! How I would have loved to join you last weekend. I was hesitant to be so far away from him given the circumstances and he was encouraging me to join you. Oh, well. Maybe next time. And how could your little one not miss you? So glad you had a nice time. :)

  15. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

    I love Helene! She’s so inspiring and down-to-earth/friendly. So glad you were able to attend her workshop — though I already have always found your photos beautiful. The little ones must be glad to have you back ;)

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