While I might be tempted to blame the terrible house fire I suffered back in February 2011 where I essentially lost the entire contents of my house, if I were to be truly honest, that was probably just the final tipping point to me realizing that I was tired and needed a change. Not necessarily tired of going out to eat. Or even interacting with my wonderful gentle readers out there in Internet-land.
It was more that I had and was continuing to have a lot of changes happen in my personal life. I just didn't have the time or energy to write as much as I used to. The interesting thing to note was that I had such a huge backlog of entries already written that I continued to post three times a week for many months before I simply ran out. Without me constantly filling the coffer, the grand machine suddenly just ground to a half.
The changes started when I realized that I could improve the quality of my blog posts if my pictures were better. For most of the history of this blog, a large majority of the pictures were taken with the camera of whatever cellphone I had at the time of my visit to the restaurant. There had always been a handful of restaurants where getting a decent photograph was challenging. And, in fact, there were about three or four where the lighting was so poor that even with the flash on my cellphone, I couldn't get a photograph because there wasn't even enough light for the camera to focus the lens.
Around October 2010, I decided to step up my game and bought a really nice point and shoot camera (Canon G12). Thinking that a dedicated camera would solve all of my woes, I went to Momocho Mod Mex about a week after its purchase and captured some of the most horrific images I had posted to date. I quickly realized that just because I bought a better camera, without proper instruction, it wasn't any better than my silly cellphone camera. This, gentle reader, is how I fell down the rabbit hole and into the massive (and wonderful) sinkhole that is photography.
One class led into another, and another, and another. I began to network. I joined a local photography club and upgraded my point and shoot to my first DSLR (Canon t3i). I used to think that owning a boat was the only unquenchable hobby when it came to squandering money. I now realize that photography can easily be lumped into that category, too. As I was sucked more and more into the photography world, I became less inclined to keep my stockpile of blog posts full and ready to go. And so, by July 2012, I would post the last one on Dante Boccuzzi's DBA.
Since then, I've done a few semi-professional food shoots, had several food articles published in a local rag, and generally just enjoyed my time away, often wondering if I would return. I continue to post to my social media accounts and my Flickr page continues to show the fruits of my labor over the last two years. Learning how to get not just usable, but really great images from ANY restaurant, no matter how brightly or darkly lit it is, has been my personal goal and I think I am finally there, although I am always pushing myself to learn more.
I would be remiss if I were to assert to you that I was taking up my previous schedule of three to four posts per week. Realistically with everything else going on in my life, that just isn't possible. That being said, I will commit to one posting per week, with the hope that I might get a second if time permits. Given this limitation, I intend to change a few of the parameters regarding restaurant visits. With the DBA post, I changed from doing a single visit/single post model to a multi-visit model and then one overall post. I think this makes more sense and gives you a more well-rounded view of what you can expect should you go.
One of the benefits of using a cellphone to capture images was that I was nearly completely incognito. With my current rig, even though it isn't huge, it would be hard not to spot the gear I am using. It doesn't happen all that often, but I've been asked by servers, managers, owners, and other patrons about my intentions. While I had once presumed that knowing I was a food blogger would change my dining experience, sadly, that doesn't happen often and when it does, I take that into account in my review.
When I first began this blog back in December 2008, I truly was an anonymous "everyman." After writing about the restaurant scene in northeast Ohio for four years and continuing to make connections over the course of the last year, I now know quite a bit about the dining scene and those involved in making it happen. Conversely, people also occasionally recognize me, too. I was at lunch just yesterday when a man who turned out to be the restaurant's manager walked up to my table and out of the blue introduced himself to me. After he walked away, my lunch companion was taken aback and asked, "Does that happen often?"
More often than you'd think.