Ettersburg Castle: A Regal Food Photography and Styling Workshop in Weimar

“Do you still get nervous?” Julia asked me a few minutes before we were to start with our presentations. I smiled and answered “Yes!” That never changes - it’s like stage fright and no matter how often I have given workshops for food photography and styling there’s always a slight sense of anxiety when the room starts filling up with a new set of participants.

Earlier this month I got together with photographer Julia Cawley and designer/author of the Anni cookbooks, Lisa Nieschlag at the stunning location of Schloss Ettersburg here in Weimar and welcomed 14 participants to a workshop under the theme Design and Composition. I love showing off Weimar to people who travel from near and far. It’s a small yet spectacular little city with so much to offer.

This weekend we were going to be talking, living, breathing, dreaming and working on photographing, styling, designing and composing our food for various needs. I say various because our participants came from all walks of life. There were bloggers, fashion designers, interior designers, computer scientists, cooks, photographers - it was a fantastic potpourri of incredible experience coming together for 2 days.

I was excited about this mix. It is one of the main reasons I love these small hands-on workshops. Never two workshops are really quite the same. The dynamics of the venue, the synergy of the participants and instructors and the symbiosis of entire group is always so different. Meeting and working with people who share a similar passion is something I cherish.

Our group at Ettersburg came from all over Europe: Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland and from right across Germany. Some were old friends but many were new, however each and every one of them had that spark in their eyes, raring to grasp and learn new things and they looked towards Julia, Lisa and me to be teaching them this. So YES … I do get nervous!

However as soon as the morning kicks off and we ease into the day the nervousness is replaced with a passion and excitement in me. Passion to share all I can and excitement to see how fast many of the participants put what they learn into use.

Our day started early on Friday morning with “Elevator Pitches” where each of the participants introduced themselves. Videos, presentations or a humorous insight, the participants’ creativity begins here and it is a part I enjoy extremely.

The staff at Ettersburg Castle arranged a delightful brunch in part of their very expansive gardens. Under a green canopy of trees the tables were set with some lovely dishes. We all got a chance to get to know each other a little more closely and of course the cameras were out and clicking away!Ettersburg2012Collage2Ettersburg2012-0015Ettersburg2012Collage4 Ettersburg2012-0011Ettersburg2012-0014 We dived straight into the theoretical part of the day with a discussion and presentation on styling by me and photography techniques by Julia. For me it was a first to be only talking about the styling aspect, something I have to say I enjoyed very much. It was nice to leave the techniques to someone else and concentrate on props, angles, composition and all the creative aspects that create a set-up.

Julia took over and presented an insight on how the techniques of a camera work in harmony with each aspect, showing great visual examples.

It was time for the participants to show us what they had learned and after dividing them into teams they were let loose on on their first practical exercise.

Ending the days session was Lisa with her very entertaining discussion about the story of how the Anni cookbook series came to life and the logistics of creating a cookbook. Ettersburg2012Collage3Ettersburg2012-0009Ettersburg2012-0038

The day rounded off with well deserved aperitifs - Aperol and Prosecco - on the terrace of the Ettersburg restaurant overlooking a spectacular sight of green hills and forests.


The following morning the very delightful Holly Becker of Decor 8 joined us from Hannover as a guest speaker and instructor. Holly is kind, gentle and full of inspiring words, motivating almost everyone she talks to. Her thought provoking presentation had all our participants (and me) ready to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and go out and touch the stars. My head was whizzing with ideas and new projects I would like to work on after Holly completed her inspiring talk.

The prior evening we had divided the group into pairs in which they were to work in all Saturday on their main assignment. Lisa, Julia and I selected the pairs carefully trying to pair them in the most effective ways so that each would benefit from each other. To the topic of either a “Summer Picnic” or a “Lunch at a Castle” we gave out the assignments, adding a few slightly more challenging guidelines to their project.


With fresh summer produce, delicatessen fine foods from our generous sponsor Viani, impressive selection of props from our über awesome prop sponsors Kahla Porcelain and an entire castle kitchen and grounds at their disposal the participants set off for their final challenge.


The castle offered stunning corners and quaint niches for the participants to create their story, work on the project and capture the essence of their chosen theme.

This time is so exhilarating for me as I walk around to each of the teams working intensively on their set-up, taking into consideration several of the points we discussed over the 2 days. Each of the instructors adds some more input during these very intimate sessions - hands-on and one to one. It is during these sessions that individual questions are answered, specific tips or tricks are passed on and a deeper insight is shared.

For me it is also a time to take in the people behind the gorgeous faces of our participants. Learn what drives them and what their goals and dreams are. We share jokes and talk about the future.


Finally as our participants began to work on post-processing their images and presenting their work, there was a buzz of chatter back in the classroom, as the teams pondered and analyzed their images to present them in the given theme.

During the evaluation session it was vital for me to include not only the feedback from the instructors but also have the entire group contribute their thoughts on each of the final results. I find this important as it not only provides a variety of ideas, opinions and thoughts but it also allows the participants to use some of their knowledge they gained in a constructive way.

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As we winded up for the weekend, I felt drained but seriously stoked to have achieved a successful workshop in Weimar. It was so great seeing Simone and Marta again (both Plate to Page Workshop alumni), although I wished I had more time with them.

Simone and I shared a few quiet moments walking around the grounds of Ettersburg Castle soaking up some of the sun and were rewarded with some lovely sights, including a wedding.

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An amazing group of talented and creative people came together in Weimar: Eva, Melanie and Söhke, Corinna, Bianca, Simone, Marta, Kirsten, Sandy, Sabine, Alena, Remo, Kersten and Sophia. Each one added their magic and creativity. We had great discussions, many laughs and shared some emotional moments. Thank you!

Thank you to my lovely counterparts: Julia, Lisa it was great working with you on our second project. It has been a true pleasure and I look forward to the three of us putting our heads together again.

Thank you to Holly for spreading her vivacious good spirits and inspiring us all. Looking forward to getting together with you again.


Last but not least a huge thank you to all our sponsors: Cinebook Online, Aschendorff Verlag, 7sonntage, Lizzawest, Viani Delicatessen and Kahla Porcelain.

It seems the sun has started to shine again and we are enjoying the luxury of a perfect summer. Soeren is out from school for the summer and looking forward to starting a new chapter in his life. Wishing you a great week ahead and enjoy the weekend. Next week I'll be back with a divine treat for you.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. What a nice summary of two inspiring days! Thanks, Meeta! Hugs, Lisa

  2. It looks like you had a lot of fun! A great place and wonderful workshop.



  3. Oh Meeta, this made my day! What a wonderful recap with lovely pictures! You caught us during intensive moments of learning, so nice to see! I wish we could do this again very soon - thanks again my dear, hugs from Sandy

  4. What a lovely recap of the great workshop you, Lisa and Julia did and wonderful behind the scenes shots!! I wish I could be back again there :)

    Herzliche Grüße, Eva

  5. Lovely post about a great opportunity to improve one's photography and design style, friendhsip, common interests and exchanging ideas and all that in a perfect venue! I hope to join you next time. xox K

  6. Oh, look at lovely Simone - that smile just lights up the room! So envious that you got to spend time with her and Marta (and look at YOU in your red shorts! ;o))

    This sounds like a fantastic weekend - super envious of the company, the venue and of course the invaluable teaching.

  7. Meeta, what you described and photographed here just sounds like the most dreamiest of job I can ever imagine. What a wonderful experience with women to share in such a lovely environment. Meeting people from all over Europe must be pretty incredible. You have a charmed life for sure. I laughed at your response on my blog about your son and "reverse psychology"!! Don't worry, he has a good 5 years to go since he is only 10!! Several months of complete boredom (if needed) and he will be begging to go anywhere! Have fun with all of your I would love to see all of those places in Europe!

  8. What a lovely recap...the grounds look amazing as does the food. You are certainly one busy woman!

  9. What a fantastic venue - looks like you all had a really inspiring, enjoyable and illuminating time.

  10. Thank you so much for your comments.

    Lisa - thanks - I enjoyed writing and working on the images for this. Reliving the 2 days was great.
    Rosa - it was. Maybe one day you can join us.
    Sandy - it was a lovely 2 days and these workshops mean so much. I hope I'll see you soon.
    Eva - maybe we need a reunion and lots of Aperol Spritz ;o)
    Karin - yes I hope you can join us soon. Hope you are well!
    Jeanne - yes love Simone always a cheery person and Marta is adorable. Me in my red pants - yup now I need a skirt to match - maybe then I'll get lucky! ;o)
    Sarah - ooh I do not think it's very charmed. LOL! I think we share the same dreams and have the same fears Sarah. These workshops have become a part of my soul and I love them as it gives me the opportunity to give back what the community gave me over the 6 years.
    Peter - love the buzz and being busy. I would not have it any other way.

  11. A delightful recap of the workshop, so many happy moments of imparting learning to others. Aren't they enriching for the teachers as well.

    Though I may not have commented on earlier posts, but I visit your blog very often. Love your photography; in fact you and Deeba are my inspiration to get started on food photography. I am also having my first official photography workshop in first week of August.

  12. What a fantastic recap of a great weekend Meeta and you even managed to take a few decent pics of me ( which is not easy!!). It was really lovely seeing you again an loved meeting all the others too. Just wish that we did have a little more time but maybe next visit!
    At the airport now flying back after a great midweek with Mona and family... And that's probably travel done for this year. Although I might still come to Dubai.... Not sure yet!

  13. Do you know how badly I would have loved to attend this workshop? It looks so fantastic and your team covered everything, balancing out your different talents and experience. And the location is gorgeous! I love seeing everyone at work, especially Simone and Marta!

  14. Meeta, you pick the best places. Love this!

  15. What a wonderful description of the workshop, reading it brought back all the great memories. We are very glad that we have been there. It was inspiring and gave our food pictures a great boost. Thank you :-).

  16. What an experience...the place, people, food everything seems to be in line with the camera! Love your styling, dreamy, bright and full of life. My life time wish is to attend one of the workshops from you day..
    Warm hugs and best wishes for all your endeavors.

  17. I am jealous of all these people who got to spend a weekend with you.

  18. stunning photos as always! thanks for making us apart of all these :-)

  19. This looks like a full on info packed workshop. I'll look forward to hearing the dates for the next one :-)

  20. This blog is very well written and I appreciate your efforts.. Keep up the good work.

  21. Echt ein cooler Beitrag. Mit was für einer Kamera machst Du die Bilder. Die sehen sehr gut aus.


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