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Report from the field

(article, Cathy Erway)

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p(blue). Editor's note: Guest contributor Cathy Erway takes over Blog Feed for a week; Liz Crain is back next week with another food-blog find.

Early in his debut food-blogging class, instructor Matt Armendariz brought up the subject of chef and restaurant entrepreneur Mario Batali. 

To most of the 20-some participants, it was obvious why. Batali had recently bashed food bloggers in an interview in New York Magazine: “If there’s something interesting, and there’s somebody editing it and taking care of it, I’m down with it. But some of those people are just bit with vituperative anger and just want to rail at you.” 

Batali isn't the only one who's expressed disapproval of the blogosphere’s inherent freedom from traditional journalistic rules. But if the class — held July 15 at a Whole Foods in New York City — was any indication, food blogging may be on the brink of developing its own rigorous standards. 

[%image Matt float=left width=300 caption="Matt Armendariz passes out pie at his recent blogging class in New York."]

Armendariz, better known online as MattBites, has been blogging about food for two years. With his polished food-photography skills and professional-looking Web design, he was a natural choice for the food-blogging class. Armendariz devised a two-hour course, announced it on his blog, and sold out within weeks. 

Attendees were a mix of current food bloggers (Slice NY, Habeas Brûlée, and Vanesscipes, among others) and people interested in starting food blogs. Divided into two parts ("What is blogging?" and "Photography"), Armendariz's class included practical tips on blogging, lighting skills, and tidbits on food styling do’s and don’ts. Armendariz shared some of the tricks of the trade he’d gleaned from professional food stylists, and passed around samples of photo-ready food. 

But the class went beyond basics into blogging issues: Do you make food to shoot for your blog, or do you shoot and blog about food that you make for dinner? Is there a point when food photography becomes too pretty? Should it strive to resemble the editorial food photography seen in magazines? And just how do you attain that at home, anyway? 

“I wake up really early and that’s when I blog. It kind of centers me,” Armendariz revealed. And no Batali can take that away from him.

p(bio). Cathy Erway keeps the blog Not Eating Out in New York. She lives in Brooklyn.

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