Tag Archives: provence

My New Year’s Resolutions

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I think this picture kind of sums up 2016. I haven’t spent much time reflecting back, only looking forward. Defining how I will shape 2017 and what I hope to achieve from it. My personal New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 I’m making public here to have a place I can come back to and remind myself of the goals. And you know, if you say it out load you’re more likely to accomplish it.

 

Above self-portrait inspired by Milio BURQUIN’s painting, La buveuse d’absinthe taken in my home in France in Rouje shirt with a traditional French Pastis in hand.

 

  1. Put stronger ideas, meaning and emotion into my photographs.
  2. Take fewer photographs to make more impactful ones.
  3. Study the light of Provence. Break it down into a scientific equation.
  4. Add the passage of time into my photographs through movements like in a symphony.
  5. Shoot more 4×5 film
  6. Make photographs more like paintings.
  7. Get a dog. IT’S TIME.
  8. Build a darkroom.
  9. Move to California.
  10. Work on empathy.
  11. Define the purpose of my photographs.
  12. Define myself and style as a photographer and apply it to everything, not just my personal work.
  13. Make commitments.
  14. Set new professional goals.
  15. Create one photography tutorial a week on social media to share my knowledge and continue to build a community over our shared passion.
  16. Create one film noir short on social media based around a 24 hour story once a week.
  17. Shoot more ballerinas.
  18. Shoot more flowers.
  19. Stop wasting. Wasting food, wasting money, wasting products.
  20. Live with less.
  21. Shoot more for others.
  22. Make a home.
  23. Save money for real vacations, not work vacations.
  24. Finish the new photography portfolio site.
  25. Finish the Cinemagraphs site.
  26. Create Cinemagraphs for art, not commerce.
  27. Do something good for my body’s health everyday through physical activity.
  28. Stop drinking all together.  Drink less 😉
  29. Find a way to create more romanticism in my work.
  30. Build the world I want to live in, not the one others want for me.
  31. Learn to be more comfortable sharing my life.

“If to live is to express the emotions of life, then to create art is to express the life of emotions.” -Edward Weston, Group f.64

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The French Cheese Culture

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France is a culture of cheese, chief amongst the reasons we get along so very well. One of my favorite stops each Saturday at the market is with my local fromager, Clement. His wife’s family raise sheep and have been making cheese for generations. He attends five different markets each week, selling only the finest fromage, has been utterly sweet to me, and is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about his products.

For this particular cheese plate I created on an unexpectedly balmy December afternoon I asked Clement to recommend a variety of cheeses from different regions of France with different textures, colors, and flavor profiles. Some young, some aged, soft, firm, creamy, cow’s milk, goat, sheep.  His suggestions of 5 cheeses (4 of which are available in the US from Murry’s Cheese, my FAVORITE cheese store in New York, and linked below!) led to the most beautifully decedent platter mixed in with a symphony of dried fruits, nuts, olives, tapenades, honey and saussions (cured meats) from the local market.

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A Provencal Holiday Party with Ecco Domani Wine

If there is one thing to do in Provence it is to eat. The food and especially the ingredients in the south of France, combined with the nearby wine regions both here and in Italy, are insanely good. After being here this past May I swore I could never eat strawberries from anywhere else in the world again. It was a transformative experience and made me rethink the power of good food.

The farmer’s market… NYC vs. Provence

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On Learning French…

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One of the first questions everyone asked me when I told them I was going to France for an extended stay was, “Do you speak French?” My reply: “Non.”

When I was growing up in Texas and it came time to learn a second language I declared I would be taking French, to which my parent’s reply was “no, you’re taking Spanish. You live in Texas, after all.” But in my mind, I wasn’t going to stay in Texas and wherever that life was taking me I was sure it would have much to do with Paris. I lost that battle and I regret not fighting back harder for what I wanted now, while reflecting back from a small French village where 90% of the population only speaks the local vernacular.

I took private lessons (if you are in NYC and want my tutor’s info, email me. He was fabulous!) before arriving which was barely enough to make me appear to be not a total idiot. Perhaps the most important thing he taught me was Je suis désolée… I am sorry. I think a lot of people would be terrified to live in a country where they can’t communicate but this sort of thing doesn’t bother me, it’s part of it. It’s part of the opening yourself up to new experiences and putting yourself in unfamiliar situations to test your character on how to survive each day and make it the best it can be.

When I arrived at my little apartment in the south there was an old stack of books on the fireplace mantel, faded from the sunlight streaming in the window on those gloriously quiet afternoons and dusty from years of idle use. Sitting there, just the size of my palm, was an old french language handbook from the late 1960’s. I sat in the sunlight that afternoon practicing the unchanged phrases of French culture and wondering as I felt the texture of the old thin paper between my fingers, what wary travelers had held this book in their hands and fumbled through the phrases as I am today. I imagine them filled with hope that each line of expression will unlock another door in my journey through this foreign land. Where did this book, stuffed into a back pocket, take them and who will possess it after me? What is it that brings us all here, to France, weaving an invisible thread between us?

I have for most of my life been an incredibly social person. My mother always called me a social butterfly. Living in a place with no one to talk to was a release of an invisible social responsibility I had given myself. I don’t know anyone and I can’t really know anyone. There are no parties to go to, no friends to call upon to meet up for drinks. I can’t check in with the neighbors or commit myself to random photoshoots.

It was a relief.

Taking socializing off the table opened up so much time for myself to focus on other things, and to think about photography. It was in a sense a freedom from obligation and made me feel invisible. When you are invisible you are free from the definition you have created for yourself, or has been created for you, and can become a truer form of what you are destined to be.

As the days have turned into weeks people have begun to recognize my face around town. I keep a pretty set routine. I go to the patisserie first thing each day for my baguette. Then to the café for my cafe créme. I buy my cheese at the market from the same man and my eggs from this adorable older couple. Then this marvelous thing started to happen. They each started trying to teach me words. Always with an expression of amusement they say it slowly to me, I repeat it back to them, they say it again back to me. I try to remember it the next time we meet. In these moments I feel what a 2 year old child must. My cheese monger taught me plus and minus, my little vegetable grocer taught me rosemary, the woman at the fromagerie taught me Bon Dimanche (Good Sunday), which is used around town starting Saturday afternoons. This past weekend the organic grocer emptied out my coin purse onto the counter and sat their teaching me how to count change in French. Connecting with another human though their kindness and patience of sharing their knowledge with me has been one of the most generous gifts I’ve received.

I can’t believe I could have possibly lived my life without ever knowing these human experiences, the freedom from myself and the beauty of kindness in others to want to help you learn and participate in this shared life with all walk through together.  Though for the most part I have no idea what these people in my little village are saying to me, I feel more a sense of community with them through their kindness toward me than I have ever felt before and the opening up of my brain as it makes room for new words.



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