Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions,
then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.
Ace Camp Group Shot.
These were the words in my heart as I was traveling to Sante Fe a couple of weeks ago to teach an Ace Camp Workshop. These were the words I wanted to give to the attendees the same way they were given to me. As a gift from someone on a creative journey. Indeed, my editor Jenny gave me this quote one day I was having a difficult time telling her how I approached assignments. "That’s it!" I exclaimed.
I wanted to give it so badly to the attendees but I refrained as much as possible. I wanted them to feel what these couple of lines were telling them without explicitly writing it out.
Leslie and Kay.
Together, twelve attendees, myself and Angela who organized everything made an unspoken pact when we signed on for a photography camp in Sante Fe. We agreed to discover and share. To like, dislike and grow. To find our own battles and obstacles. To reach out within our strength and ask of others. To give and take. As a whole, alone, out with words or in our hearts.
Lisa and Megan.
We knew we’d have to be out there and vulnerable. We knew we’d come out stronger. I personally had no idea that twelve people would impact my life this much in the span of four days. I miss everyone of them. Not a day goes by that I think about someone from the workshop. Every single one of them gave me something huge right from their heart: they left them open and free. In a world where we are sometimes misinterpreted or judged without being known, this was a gift indeed.
As Angela noticed in her recap post, I had come prepared. Well, I was following some big footsteps of creative workshops and Angela was trusting me to bring the same level of quality and care to our camp. Hence, I could not fly by the seat of my pants…well not completely…!
Our workshop schedule was intense but so were the hours spent laughing and coming together as a group striving to learn and have a positive impact on one another. At the end of the day, our sessions ended with a group discussion and critique of all the shots taken that day. As you can see in the post here, a glass of wine made the whole exercise way smoother. That’s the French in me, always trying to mix work and play…!
Elysia and Mike.
Seriously though, I wanted to make sure that each attendee had the opportunity to explore the journey behind their picture. I challenged everyone to shoot at the complete opposite of what they usually did and then take the whole group through their own reactions to help them word what they had learned, disliked and liked in the process.
Selah and Julie.
Maybe they would try one new thing in the future, maybe two. Maybe none. At least they tried and were not left to fly solo on this discovery.
There were laughters and frustrations. Moments of discoveries and growth. There were moments that moved me as a teacher and moments that touched me as a photographer.It changed me.
Wow…A year. And what a year…Hard to sit down and reflect on the whirlwind that 2010 has been because my whole body, mind and soul are still twirling from everything that’s happened and is happening. Gratitude sinks in. A sense of accomplishment. Hopes fulfilled. Goals simmering. I hope it’s not too long. There is some photo talk, some cookbook talk, some love and friendship talk, some travel and food talk. I want to write it all down to make sure I did not just dream 2010, it was so incredibly wonderful.
You guys have made this year special with your words, both online and off, sharing your thoughts with me as I came here each week to share some food and a few stories. With this post, I also wish to show the most important persons in my life, my parents and my husband that their patience and support, unconditional love pushed me harder. And the close friends who have shared many a "shoot meal" to help out!
I love reading everyone’s end of the year posts and I especially loved this quote from Matt Armendariz from Matt Bites: "I realized that everything I’ve ever done has led me to this point of my life, even when I hadn’t a clue. I realized the best is yet to come." He is so right! The hours I have spent working and honing my skills have given something that make me whole and thrilled to share with you. I am forever changed by the people I have met this year and the relationships I have fostered.
The year started with a bang setting the tone for the rest of the year. Traveling, teaching, meeting, learning, working. I flew to Atlanta to meet my favorite peeps and delve into a Sugar Coma experience culminating by teaching a macarons workshop.
I came home to start photographing my first cookbook for Carrie of Deliciously Organic (available next week!). Not only did I learn a lot about books, publishing, logistics, etc…I also gained a close friend in Carrie and fell completely in love with her personality and the way she is in life as she is on paper. Honest, genuine and patient. We loved working so closely together that we are co-authoring a cookbook together in 2011. I can’t wait to get started!
Right after, I flew to L.A to teach more macaron workshops as well as some on photography, all so cleverly and perfectly organized by three amazing ladies I miss everyday, Rachael, Jen and Gaby. Why is this country so wide? From L.A, I flew to Seattle to teach more workshops on macarons and photography this time organized by Viv, the hostess with the mostess (no seriously) and I was eccastic to be able to visit with my favorite peeps: Anita, Jeanne, Jen, Shauna, Danny and Lu. Dang that was a good time!
I came home right on time to pick up my parents at the airport and take my mom inside the airport bookstore to show her the first magazine cover I had styled (!) I wanted to show her that all the time and patience they invested in believing and supporting my endeavors was paying off. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 weeks we spent together this Spring. I was thrilled to be busy working on several magazine shoots to show parents how my job goes on a daily basis whether for clients, charity or events that friends were organizing. Volunteer to go beyond what is asked of you. Always.
The summer was looking just about as busy and quite frankly I was just about to burst at the seam from gratitude having this much work and being able to contribute my fair share of experiences to the household. In late June I flew to Utah to speak at Evo 10 and finally met lots of bloggers I had know online for years. From small group gathering to big room lectures, I finally met in the flesh authors and photographers I had been admiring for years and from too far. They reinforced my belief that I was on the right track, that being authentic and vulnerable is the way to open yourself to incredible experiences. From Utah, it was on to Colorado and the Food&Light Photography Workshop. I wish I could have stayed longer and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings but there was more work calling back home.
In one week, I had cleared my head and met some of the most gracious people out there. It would be hard to top. Oh wait! Flying home to celebrate my grandfather’s 100th birthday was seriously THE event of 2010. Forget work, forget deadlines, pending contracts and bills. Forget it all. The man is my Superhero. I wish I could have taken him on the road trip I took shortly after his birthday, heading down to the Alps and my native Provence. I bet you he would have had 100 more stories to tell. It was an amazing trip but there was more work awaiting at home.
Pretty much the day after I landed back in SC, I started doing the photography for another cookbook, this time written by the talented Holly Herrick and all about tarts. I know! One of my favorite topics! It was a ton of work cooking, styling and photographing but again I was teaching myself and learning so much in the process that it made the experience that much more fulfilling. I was looking to a little break during the fall and was thrilled to go back to San Francisco to speak at BlogHer Food once again and give back some of what I had learned. I really re-discovered and fell in love with the city again. Not to mention spending quality time with dear friends again.
I went home and started on my biggest project yet to date with Wiley Publishing and before I could realize I’d do the bulk of it during the holiday season, Thanksgiving rolled around, marking the start of what B. and I label "End Of The Year Craziness". Being able to spend time with both friends and family as much as we have been able to this year has been the key to keeping us grounded. And going. And energized. And peaceful. And grateful
So what’s in store for 2011? I am looking forward to having my friend Taylor here for a few days in January and then driving to Alabama together for the FoodBlog South conference. I’m looking forward to meeting creative people I have been following for years and seeing friends again. I’ll be meeting for the first time celebrated author Virginia Willis, whose cookbook I will be photographing in February. I am also working on finalizing plans and dates for other jobs, shooting more cookbooks, writing my own (I know! That part is crazy!)
See, there is much known and much unknown to 2011 but you know what? I am looking forward to it all. Blog, friends, family, work. They make me whole. I try to take everything as a possibility for growth, good or bad and the kind words, support and frienships you have extended to me this year have made me do this move (from Love Actually) a thousand times over.
This year has been nothing short of feeling like Christmas mornings most days. So to you dear readers, I wish you a lots and more of these moments for 2011!