Tag Archives: france

My Day in Provence

jamiebeck_mishanonoo_france

So, as you know, I’ve been spending a great deal of my time in a tiny town in the south of France. Nothing about my life is the same as it was. Life in New York has me up at sunrise working, emailing, off to the gym, running errands, doing photoshoots, taking meetings, then social engagements until I finished the day around 10pm with dinner and way too much to drink. Not so anymore…

My day starts at 8am when I naturally wake up. I don’t set alarm clocks. Not a lot happens around here until 11. So, relieved that it’s still early, I go back to sleep until noon. I know, outrageous, but I typically work late here – until about 3am when there are no distractions and America is awake and buzzing.

I go to the café and have my daily cafe créme, something I NEVER would have done in New York. Not taken the time, not taken the milk. Since I don’t have cell service here, a blessing AND a curse, and wifi hasn’t hit this town yet, I listen to podcasts I have stored like Claire & Erica’s “A Few Things“. Today’s episode was especially inspiringI buy my baguette, whatever is left of the varieties they sell, since it’s pretty picked over by the time I roll in. Sometimes they come out with a fresh hot batch midday which is really a shining moment for me, when she hands me the loaf and it’s still warm. That’s when I stand outside and munch.

I come home to my little 17th century apartment. The light is perfect this time of day. I have so many options from direct light to filtered window light, reflected light, and softly diffused. I thumb through inspiration images and I shoot from 2pm to 5pm, mostly on black and white film. Still lives, flowers, self portraits, life.

I clean up, I make dinner, I build a fire. I edit digital stories for social media, I edit client work. I do more research on upcoming commercial projects, and look for inspiration for personal ones.

Living here, that small town life, was super scary at first. I cried every day for a month. There were so many challenges at first. How do I get a taxi cab? Why won’t UPS deliver my boxes? How do I tell the butcher I would like a small steak? Where does one buy scotch tape… and why do I have a washing machine but no dryer?

It took a while to actually reset. To want to shoot. I was so burned out.

I also needed to break out of the hard shell I had built for myself. To find inspiration in creating, not being overly stimulated by a mountain of activity. I have discovered, most importantly, that being here limits what I can do. There is not a lot going on, I don’t have a car (yet). I don’t speak French and everything is basically closed 99% of the time. However, it is in those limitations that I am finding freedom to do so much more. Fewer distractions, more time to create. And that is what it’s really all about.–

Above self portrait, in Misha Nonoo jumpsuit,

inspired from the painting “The Red Beret”

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A Picnic in Provence

  A picnic in Provence

Anyone who has been to Provence knows the south of France has the most stunningly opulent markets. Delicately viened melons, the softest greens and figs so lush they break open in your market bag revealing their dark red seed. Cured meats: wild boar, sun-dried tomato, olive, chèvre. And the cheese… I die for the cheese.

Today’s adventure, a picnic overlooking the ruins of a famed chateau, tucked just above the mountainous village of Lacoste. On the menu: oysters which I shucked myself, washed down with a coupe of Champagne, followed by sticky red grapes, figs, olives, saucisson, and cheese.  I arranged everything on a beautiful blue and white picnic blanket I found in the market and lay peacefully watching the sun fade off the vines of the valley and appreciating the rich flavors of Provence. Delectable. 

Un samedi parfait.

A picnic in Provence A picnic in Provence

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Roussillon, France

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If Cezanne’s heart lies in Provence as it surely must, it is most likely in Roussillon. This village, tinged in blood orange is best seen at sunset. Its earthen colors become saturated and emboldened to the point where they gleam with the warmth of a stove hearth fire in deep winter.
Charming streets wind up the mountainside to the cathedral. Stunning houses sit perched with glorious balconies overlooking the valleys below. Verdant green, speckled by ochre palisades. Complimentary colors arranged as if by chance.
In the midst of autumn harvests, apples and gourds and certainly Roussillon made me feel as if I was curled within loving arms in front of a cozy fire, sipping a fine apple brandy, on a crisp moonlit night.
roussillon_003   roussillon_005

(more…)

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Provence – A New Chapter

Sunset vista from the small Provencal town of Bonnieux, France

I travel a lot. Typically, I feel very safe. I find that most people around the world all want the same things: peace, love, freedom. I’ve traveled so much and so far now I’m good at keeping anxieties down, especially irrational ones.

That was until a recent flight back from Sweden.

There were two gentlemen boarding the plane acting very strangely and it struck me… what if they wanted to hurt the people on board. After a mild panic attack and contemplating being that girl who throws a big fuss and wants off the plane, I realized something important. The first thing that came into my head after I thought “Damn it, I’m on a plane with terrorists!” was “…and now I’ll never know what it was like to live in France.” So I made myself a promise. I said, if this is not a terrorist attack, I would live out one of my dream and spend some real time in this country I have been lusting over my entire life. Being that I’m writing this there was no ill-fated plan to bring down my plane.

And here I sit in France.

Now of course, this all sounds easier said than done. Making the decision and then obtaining a French visa were two very different things. I have never in my life gone through a more frustrating, confusing process.  I didn’t give up, though there were some tears. I learned the first valuable lesson in French living- French Bureaucracy is difficult.

So what am I doing here? First, I’m living. I’m watching the sunsets. I’m picking grapes and eating them. I’m buying a warm baguette at the patisserie every morning and counting the hours by the sound of the bell tolls in town rather than on my iPhone. I wake up with the sunlight, not an alarm clock. I buy the local wine. I marvel to myself how different a lemon smells here freshly sliced and how did I not know the beautiful perfume of fresh cracked pepper before? I pet every dog in sight. I visit the markets and make notes on the minute details and differences. I’m trying new styles from my black New York uniform. I’m SLOWLY learning French. I’m taking my camera out and pointing her at this stunning place, capturing what mesmerizes me about this organic way of life.

To be honest, I needed a refresh from New York. I needed to do something new and different. Stimulate my brain in a different way. I talk about the fragility of creativity and I needed to give mine a rest. I wanted to give her the opportunity to explore new visions and new forms of idea and expression. I know what living in New York means. I wanted to know that aspect of France as well. As I have been taking the time to be present I’m already beginning to have new vision, still lives I want to create around the Provencal table. A place where things come in and out of your life with the passing seasons. A vision of women I want to capture that celebrates their natural beauty on film, un-retouched in a world of manipulation. I feel that excitement toward photography I had when I first started out at 13. When holding a camera in your hands wasn’t a job. It was an adventure. What can you capture, and what can you create…

I think everyone would assume I would have chosen Paris. I love Paris more than any other city in the world. She is my dream. But I didn’t want to just change from fancy New York parties to fancy French parties, the same kind of people, the same kind of work, and the same kind of pace to life. I wanted to really be in a different place, experience another world. I am in the south, in a very small town in Provence, a part of the Luberon. It’s quaint and it’s quiet and though small, it is somehow opening my heart and mind to a whole other world of endless ideas.

It’s not forever, but it is for now and now is right where I want to be. 

Sunset vista from the small Provencal town of Bonnieux, France

Above, working from a hilltop coffee shop in the little charming town of Bonnieux.

More Provence stories here.



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