My Weekend With The White On Rice Couple

Hello!  January is not my favorite month.  Is it anyone’s?  With my boys back at school after the holidays and the house undecorated and uncolorful, my mojo was taken out with the dried up Christmas tree sitting curbside.  I’ve always liked the saying, “if what you’re doing isn’t working, change what you’re doing”.  As much as I like this saying, I usually forget about it when I can’t muster the motivation for the change.  But this year, my desire for not revisiting “that January feeling” was stronger than my lack of motivation.  I took a step this past weekend to rekindle my spirit.  It turned out it was more important than I ever thought it could be.


I’m always looking for classes or workshops to attend.  This past fall I attended classes in both digital photography and Adobe Illustrator.  During the summer I took an intensive Photoshop class and before that, a class in graphics for web design where I found myself completely lost and although I didn’t learn a thing, it still opened me up to a new experience. I’m always game for that kind of opportunity but what I really love is participating in workshops that focus on food styling and photography.  They are usually a quick one day only class and more observation in nature than hands on.   When I found Todd and Diane, the White On Rice Couple, I had a feeling this workshop may be a bit different.  That was an understatement.


I never expected such an openness of shared information and techniques.  No subject was off limits, all questions were answered and to top it off, Diane and Todd fed us throughout the day beginning with a hot breakfast and all without skipping a beat between presentations and exercises for us to work on in both styling and photography. 


After lunch, the air filled with the scent of freshly baked cookies and around four, the aroma of the bubbling cheese dip baking away for appetizers before dinner nearly had me drooling on my camera. 

This pair is definitely the culinary dynamic duo.  Effortless and seamless.  Diane and Todd’s cooking and rose bubbly that accompanied dinner was above and beyond and I can’t wait for their cookbook to come out this year.


Seven of us, all unknown to eachother on Friday morning, spent almost twelve hours each day together and we still lingered and were reluctant to leave when the time came.  For two days I felt I had come home.


Every prop in their extensive collection was available for us to explore and use.  We even painted two background boards to take home with us.  Everyone found their own style and it was fascinating to see what others came up with.

I found this mini juicer in the prop room and had to make it mine for a photo.


This photo was of fruit just sitting on the counter.  It was not styled at all but I saw the beauty in an unexpected place and had to capture it.

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At times there was a lot of chatter in the air and we were very talkative and at other times you could hear a pin drop as we edited while music played softly in the background.  It was a perfect balance conducive to creativity.  You could feel the happiness everyone was experiencing.

raspberry drink

I was given another gift from the universe by attending this workshop – I met the person who beat me this past summer for the Best of Show award for the best blog post at the OC Fair. I won the title last year and came in second this year.  When this happened I was naturally disappointed and I thought, “okay who is this guy”.  About two minutes into our first conversation, I told him if I had to lose to anyone I was glad it was him since I could not have lost to a nicer person.  He is a lovely soul and his name is Trevor.  His blog is Sis.Boom.Blog.  Please visit him and tell him I sent you.  You will love his passion for bistro cooking.  What were the chances of meeting him?  I think this ‘coincidence’ was amazing.  We paired up and styled and shot the macrons together.  We purposely challenged ourselves to shoot a light colored subject with a strong backlight.  Trevor added the brown mac and I placed one outside of the bowl. I think we made a good team.

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We played around with simple styling and contrasting colors.  The tangerines were my first photo of the workshop.  I focused on my ‘hero’ fruit with the leaves but I think some camera shake got in there.  I was a tad nervous taking that first snap and working my big, new 100mm macro lens.  He is such a big, bad boy and I love him already.  I’m talking about the lens, just to be clear. 😉

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On the second day, Diane set up a speed round for us.  There were eight stations for us to go to that she had styled and we had one minute to find our angle and shoot.  Although we were told there was no wrong or right and there really wasn’t, I felt sometimes I got it right…

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… and other times, not so right…

bad cookies

Everyone was very friendly and it was interesting to hear what lead them to the workshop.  We were all diverse – a couple of students, a professional wedding photographer, a children’s book author from Wisconsin, a counselor, etc.  It was nice to be in a community that shared a common passion since this is something no one close to me has an interest in. 

valentine fizz

When I got back home on Saturday night, the last of the two workshop days, I walked in the house slower than usual.  I was exhausted but in that satisfying way when you’ve hit the wall doing something you really love doing.  My husband jokingly remarked he didn’t know food photography could be so exhausting.  I told him he no idea and that I was surprised myself.  All the muscles on my right side were sore from my arm down to my thigh.  I got a great workout.  No need to do lunges when trying to find different angles all day.


Like all fun get togethers when you lose yourself in the moment and forget to take photos, we forgot to snap a class photo but Diane took this one as she showed us how to make our own Vietnamese spring rolls.  Such an unforgettable experience.  (My hand is the one in the upper right corner ready to spear the roasted eggplant with gusto).  🙂


I am so grateful to have been a part of this. 

Thank you, Diane and Todd, Octavia, Ester, Shannon, Jennifer, Trevor and Patricia.

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  1. Your photos are just glorious. So much talent. I’m like a broken record with you, but there it is…

  2. Thank you, missy! Your check is in the mail. 🙂

  3. It was fun to relive the two days through your post and pictures Marilyn! I sure had a nice time getting to not only know you better but work with you too! I just know our paths will cross again, don’t you?

  4. I LOVE THIS POST! First you are totaly inspirng me to go take a class on photography (have been thnking of it for a long time) I love how your attitude is to change something if its not working..right on!! Second how fun, this class looks amazing.I wish I was closer. And to meet such a great group…including the guy you lost to, it was meant to be!
    Last your photo skills are “mad good” (borrowing from my kids) I think your pictures are fabulous. How exciting! I so need to do this!! Thanks for sharing….

  5. So, Sis, exactly when do the private coaching classes for relatives begin??? :0)

    I would be remiss if I did not, once again, express my sincere sense of awe when I read your blog and live your experiences vicariously through them. So very impressed by you each time…xoxoxoxo

  6. It was wonderful to get your input regarding a photo class. I’ll look forward to checking out your links. I always talking about classes in photo editing and blog design.. it hasn’t happened. Glad you had such a wonderful experience!

  7. The simplicity of each photo projects the beauty of each object. Pure talent.
    Ahh, thank you for sharing your talent today.

  8. It was so great meeting you, Marilyn! I love your macaroon shot, so much light and beautiful composition! xo

  9. We’re so grateful that you came and joined us Marilyn. Thank you 100x for your energy, spirit and love of creating beautiful things. You have beautiful way of seeing and not to mention amazing styling skills! Look forward to seeing more of your beautiful work and incredible recipes. hugs. xoxo

  10. Trevor – come Girl Scout season this year I’m going to be thinking of you and maybe I’ll buy a coupl extra boxes too. 🙂

    Tina, it just goes to show you, you never know what the universe will gift you with and when you least expect it. It gave me a lot of hope and a reminder someone else must be in charge up there. Love the ‘mad good’. haha. xoxo

    Hey sis – hey don’t give that much credit, you know the real me! lol! What should we make next? Something to celebrate the arrival of Ellah? xoxo

    Hi Leslie, well, I can’t recommend Diane and Todd’s workshop enough. I’m beginning another class this week in photoshop and In Design so we’ll see how that goes. Thank you for leaving a comment. :).

    Hi Bronco Mom, my friend, thank you very much for your kind words, as always. 🙂

    Esther, thank you for visiting me over here. I bet the photos of your wedding cakes will be beautiful. 🙂

    Diane and Todd, thank you for visiting me! What else can I say… The two days with you were magic, pure and simple. I have meringues to shoot and all I can think is, “how would Diane see them”? Haha! xoxo

  11. Hey Sis, I don’t think you give yourself enough credit, but that could turn into an endless debate! Just let me have my “awe” of you! 🙂 something to celebrate Ellah’s arrival would be perfect…what have you got in mind????

  12. Sis – oh boy! Got to be something pink, sparkly and girlie – my specialty! 🙂

  13. Sis…you’ve got the lead on this one (with full reign!) Can’t wait to hear/see what you contrive. I KNOW it will be simply FAB!

  14. Simply beautiful photo’s. You are a very talented lady.

    Carol 🙂

  15. What a dream come true!!!