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Sharing My work, My Passion: Los Angeles Photography Workshop…


As soon as I turned the key in the door, I could not help myself and let a corny "Honey, I’m home!" only to be met by my other two honeys…the pups. Then I remembered, B. had probably gone from his day job to a music job. He would not be home until after 11pm. I had plenty of time to chill, unpack, do laundry, snuggle with the pups and find my place back home after this past week in Los Angeles.

This has been our rhythm since May that Plate To Pixel, the book I wrote on food photography was released (went in second printing in July y’all!). With his schedule of day work and music keeping him busy late into the night at least five days a week, and mine of shoots, on location or at the studio, made it really easy to take the decision to travel as much as I have this past Summer and Fall. Whether for a shoot or for a workshop, I was pretty much following an average pattern of 8 days gone – 10 days home. Up until now…

Culver Hotel - Culver City CA

My schedule so far indicates that most of my shoots will be on locations relatively near or at my studio. So far. I think. Unless an out of town gig comes up, of course.
But right now, the suitcase has been shoved to the back of my closet and everyone is finding their groove again. I am happily taking the time to comb through messages and emails, making plans for friends and family for evenings and weekends.

I am also planning my parents' arrival for Christmas and the leisurely trip they want to take to DC and New York with us. Train. Walks. Restaurants. Museums. Another kind of trip. I can’t wait to be in the kitchen with my mom and cook our favorite comfort foods for the holidays, make care packages and drop them off to friends together.

But before this and the next recipe I have simmering on the stove as we speak, I wanted to leave you with some pictures of this last workshop I held in L.A this past weekend.

Culver Hotel - Culver City CA

I have a soft spot for L.A. I love that city. In all its contradictions. It may be spread out and intense with people and buzz, the lack of skyscrapers is of major appeal to me. I don’t walk the streets looking for the famous pretty face. I listen carefully hoping I’d catch the ghost of Myrna Loy or Jimmy Stewart. I know…L.A is much more than the movies. I discover that everyday. So many great cultures migling at once.

I loved staying at the Culver Hotel this time. It was cozy, within walking distance of great restaurants, full of history and with live Jazz almost every night. Great cocktails too. The lovely room, staff and general atmosphere combined with the chance to catch up with friends such as Carrie, Jenny, Cathy, Andrew and Matty (not all at once) over cocktails or dinner gave the trip a bit of a homey feel I love so much.


With Carrie and Jenny.

The great part is that I had this much fun and good feel during the workshop. Those three days teaching were jam packed and went by so fast! It was intense but everyone had a lot of fun at the same time. I loved how everyone in the group tackled each exercise and obstacle with such fierceness and determination!

Hope you enjoy this little recap through pictures…

Studio Chair

The workshop was partly at LightSpace Studio in Culver City. Loved the decor there.

Helene - L.A Workshop November 2011

First day demonstrating overhead shooting. Picture courtesy of Liren Baker at Kitchen Confidante. The lovely Micah was my assistant for the weekend.

Lightspace Studio - L.A Workshop November 2011

The kitchen and prep area at the studio on day one.

Liren - Lightspace Studio - L.A Workshop November 2011

Liren practicing some of the lighting techniques discussed in the workshop.

Lightspace Studio - L.A Workshop November 2011

Students at work…focused and intense…


The second day of the workshop was held at Hollywood Sierra Kitchens where the attendees could choose before many different kitchen vignettes to create a scene and tell a story with their food and the decor. This location shoot had so many different lighting options, from natural to fluorescent that there was always a decision to be made and a challenge to be met.

Hollywood Sierra Kitchens - L.A Workshop - November 2011

Inside the showroom.

Hollywood Sierra Kitchens - L.A Workshop - November 2011

Sneaking in a few shots myself.

Michelle - L.A Workshop - November 2011

One of the attendees, the lovely Michelle of Luka Looks.

Carole - Liren - L.A Workshop - November 2011

Carole came all the way from Brazil to take the workshop. Here with Liren during a team exercise.

Hollywood Sierra Kitchens - L.A Workshop - November 2011

One of the vignettes at the showroom. Kind of modern Italian.

Helene - Lightspace Studio - L.A Workshop November 2011

Shooting with a medium format Phase One camera…Picture taken via phone by Micah.

We wanted to add different voices to the workshop and different points of view or just have attendees the possibility to think about "the next step" if they wanted. The lovely Marie-Anne Aizac, photographers agent for Velvet Artists and Mara Serdans, agency art buyer from Deutsch, came to talk about what agent and art buyers were looking for in photographers, gave them pointers on how to put their best foot forward. I loved how the discussion was clearly two ways orientated where attendees were able to share as much of their passion and interest as Marie-Anne and Mara. It was wonderful!

In the last part of the afternoon, John Moeller of Digital Fusion, came to talk about his company’s work as digital technicians on photo shoots. He came with a Phase One medium format camera. I think the 80 megapixels of horsepower of that baby made everyone super nervous. Having handled a few Hassies back in the day, I jumped in and started shooting. Soon enough, everyone was excited to try shooting with this tremendous camera.

Carol - Lightspace Studio - L.A Workshop November 2011

Carole jumps right in and tries the medium format camera too.

Digital Fusion - Lightspace Studio - L.A Workshop November 2011

John also demonstrated their super efficient storage system, DF Studio, similar to a cloud system but much more oriented toward a client-photographer smooth relationship.

Mary - Lightspace Studio - L.A Workshop November 2011

Mary planning her move with the medium format. No intimidation there! I love it!

Shrimp & Arugula Salad

Now that I am back and staying put for a little while, I can’t wait to fill up the fridge with greens and seasonal produce and make plenty of healthy meals. Stay tuned for this salad recipe soon and plenty more!

Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes And Portland Trip Part 3

Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes

Finally edited the last part of my trip to Portland a few weeks ago. I get lost in my memories of Portland every time I look at this last set. The day was jam packed with fun adventures…it kept my camera busy and happy.

I ended my trip on the same note it started, taking Sunday as an extra day to chill before getting back to work. A day spent with friends, visiting more of Portland, free of schedule. More time to spend with Tami, Nicole and Andrew to go about town. One pit stop at The Meadow salt and chocolate shop inspired the Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes pictured above.

Before I start waxing poetic about the shop and the salts, let’s (re)visit that last part of the Full On Oregon trip. Kuddos again to Travel Oregon for the incredible trip. I can’t wait to go back with Bill or my family.

Portland Market

We started bright and early at one of the farmers market. A mix of food vendors, fresh produce and flower stalls as far as the eye can see…Desserts and small bites from the dinner appeared behind a case and I was tempted to get more macarons and brownie bites…

Portland Market

Gorgeous displays of pastries from various bakeries in town as well as what seemed to look like an ever ending sea of flowers strewn about the market.

Portland Market

I must say that seeing one of Portland farmers market made me very proud of our own. Although smaller, we are equally serious about quality and diversity of produce, farmers and artisans.

Portland Market

A display of various kinds of mints and basil as well as other Asian staples. Heirloom tomato season was in full force and they were popping at just about every corner.

Portland Market

Flowers as far as the eye can see…

Portland Market

Bouquets of Brussel sprouts and colorful cauliflowers.

Portland Market

Artichoke flowers…mesmerizing color.

Portland Market

Gorgeous produce everywhere. I am telling you, my finger was glued to my shutter button!

Portland Market

My favorites… Ronde de Nice zucchini are perfect for "Petits Farcis" like my grandma used to make. Recipe here.

Portland Market

Garlic, garlic flowers and more gorgeous flowers…

Portland Market

After a thorough tour of the market, we actually had to stop and shop for the items we would use during the first workshop of the day on preserving and canning. As you can tell, it was not a complicated task to find everything we would need!

Portland - Preserving Workshop Instructor

Jennifer from Sassafras Southern Kitchen led our workshop on canning and preserving. We set up at KitchenCru, a community kitchen and culinary incubator which is about 24/7 so that various business can cook and package their products safely when their schedules allow it.

Portland - Preserving Workshop

We used all the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes we had picked up earlier at the market and set up various station of chopping and canning for the next three hours.

Portland - Preserving Workshop

The final product was Sassafras Southern Kitchen signature tomato relish. A little sweet, a little vinegary and simply delicious. I made it twice since I came back from Portland and we are just slathering it on everything. Will post the recipe soon!

Portland - Salt & Straw Ice Cream

Lunch was served right in the dining area of KitchenCru space and catered by three award winning chefs in Portland. Again, we did not lack great food exquisitely prepared. The meal was topped up in the most delicious way by Salt and Straw Salted Caramel ice cream. This team is young but they are already creating some big buzz around them. Justifiably so.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

My afternoon session was all about charcuterie. My choice. I know, I could have gone with chocolate or ice cream making but I wanted to do something completely different and challenge my camera eye, my perspective and well….I do love charcuterie. Plain and simple.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

Our class was led by Paula Markus and Eric Finley of Chop Butchery and Charcuterie. The enthusiasm and care they have for their business was contagious and evident in the quality of their products and the meats they use to keep such standards courtesy of Mt Shadow Natural Meats.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

We started by making chicken liver bourbon mousse, then moved on to starting pancetta (it needs months to cure) and gathering herbs and seasonings for it.

Portland Charcuterie Workshop

Both Paula and Eric tagged team throughout the afternoon to take us through the various products and processes of their operation. They also had a whole hog brought in and took us through the various cuts and how they’d be used. Learning where you food comes from…

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

After our session and a quick refresher at the hotel, we boarded a bus, direction the Willamette Valley wine country for the Full On Oregon culmination dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. The surroundings were gorgeous and we got here right as the sun was setting and the Golden Hour was setting a wonderful cozy glow on everything.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

More flowers everywhere and even more surprises at every turn in the garden. More on that later.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

The dining room was beautifully set and each table was adorned with more flowers and a tablet of local Xocolatl de David chocolate bar was given to each attendee. I regretted that we did not get a tour of the property or the operation. It would have been nice to hear about their vision and products.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

The dinner was executed by local chef Vitaly Paley and his staff and each dish was paired with different wines. Although all exquisite in their own way, dishes and wines, I must say my sensory palette was overwhelmed. So much so that I can’t tell you who was what and where.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

One of the surprises waiting for me at the corner of the patio where we were enjoying hors d’oeuvres and wine was the small garden patch brimming with gorgeous fresh produce. Tomatoes galore of course but so much more…

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Onions…and more tomatoes….

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Swiss chards and blooms.

Portland - Dinner at Penner-Ash Wine Cellars


Portland - Penner Ash Wine Cellars Dinner

Yes…I know. More tomatoes. But admit these are gorgeous. I just wanted to cut one open, sprinkle it with salt and eat it right there and then.

The Meadow

Speaking of salt…After this official closing dinner party on all the events of the Full On Oregon trip, I had decided to leave Portland on a red eye flight Sunday night. It was leaving me more time to hang out with Tami, Nicole and Andrew. We started with a little bite a food truck in town and met up with Andrew at The Meadow. The famous salt shop…and wow…were we in for a treat!

I picked up a few salt including a really fragrant lemon salt that immediately made me think of a sweet/salty concoction. The vision of lemon cupcakes with lemon salt was already dancing in my head…

We also took some time to walk through the Japanese Gardens before saying our goodbyes, eyes full of wonderful sights and bellies repast with delicious meals. My heart was just making jumps of appreciation and gratefulness for knowing so many nice and genuine folks.

Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon Salt Lemon Cupcakes:

Notes: I used The Meadow lemon salt to top the cupcakes with and I realize it’s not accessible everywhere. One easy substitute is to rub some lemon extract with coarse sea salt and sprinkle it on the cupcakes. Another option is to just use a very light sprinkle of high quality sea salt on top. The salt and sweet combination is really tasty.

Makes 12

For the cupcakes:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1½ cups Jeanne’s gluten free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
zest and juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and airy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture and milk alternatively to the butter/eggs mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add the zest and lemon juice ad beat until smooth. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out free of raw batter. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the buttercream:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of a lemon

Prepare the buttercream:
Place the yolks in a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to 238F (on a candy thermometer) in a medium saucepan set over high heat. Slowly pour the hot syrup over the egg yolks and continue to whisk until cold. Change to the paddle attachment and beat in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Add the lemon zest and continue to beat for a few seconds until completely smooth.

Pipe the buttercream on the cupcakes and top with a few flakes of lemon salt or coarse sea salt.

Thoughts On My Ace Camp Photography Workshop In Sante Fe, New Mexico


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

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.

Sante Fe Window

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 & Kay

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 & Megan

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.

Olive Oil at Oleaceae

Olive oil at Oleaceae.

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…!

Chickpea Salad

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 & Mike

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 & Julie

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.

Salad Styling Session

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.

Xarene & Janice

Xarene and Janice.

Leslie, Kay, Lisa, Megan, Elysia, Mike, Selah, Julie, Xarene, Janice, Sasha, Pilar and Angela: Thank you. You have made me a better person, a better teacher and an even more motivated photographer.

Sasha & Pilar

Sasha and Pilar.

Yes, if you ever have the chance to take an Ace Camp with Angela, do not hesitate one second! Angela will feed your belly well (just look at this spread!) and your soul and creativity will soar!

Sante Fe

When the doors of perception are cleansed. Man will see things as they truly are…infinite.
– William Blake.

Memories Of Provence

La Cadette

I honestly think the older I get, the harder that jetlag thing becomes. Maybe it is simply that each time it becomes a tad bit more significant in emotions and events. I did give myself the weekend off to do the mundane "back from vacation" routine and spend some time with B. and our friends getting re-adjusted.

I also took time to write down some sort of schedule as my work time is pretty much spoken for until this April. I look forward to come here on this page and unwind with more recipes and stories!

La Cadette

In that spirit and to tell you "Thank you" from the bottom of my heart for reading, laughing, frowning and smiling with me, I put together a little basket of French goodies I picked up on my trip to give away today. Head to the end of the post for instructions on how to enter…!

La Cadette

In the meantime, on to the Southern part of my trip back home. I do hope my aunt and uncle won’t mind my posting about their gorgeous home and the wonderful meal we had when we stopped there on our way from the Alps to Aix-En-Provence. I am so proud of the work they have done, I can’t help share some pictures.

La cadette

I have always thought my aunt Agnes should have been a stylist or an interior decorator and this visit proved it once again. They basically bought a ruin in Provence with 4 walls, a roof and pretty much nothing you could call a home inside. Today, they have turned it into possibly the most peaceful retreat one could think of.

La Cadette

I don’t tend to carry my camera to every meal I attend but I knew that lunch at their place would be the perfect opportunity to make you part of an everyday meal for us. French food and cooking is always surprising. A perfect mix of intricate, controlled preparations, detailed methods and a more relaxed, everyday cooking which makes going out a true fete and dining in a celebration of simplicity.

La Cadette

With the myriad of regions, provinces and history in France, it’s not uncommon for visitors to go a tad bit crazy over the fantastic food. I know I do everytime I come home but really French cooking is nothing but a strong appreciation for seasonal foods and the cooking methods that bring out the best of it. Simple, fresh, fragrant. And Provence is naturally perfect for that.

La Cadette

I just wrote myself a sticky note to ask my aunt for her confit de carottes recipe. Melt in your mouth slow cooked carrots that held their shape perfectly right up until you’d close your mouth upon them. Then it was an explosion of sweet and savory, garlic flower and thyme.

La Cadette


We ate and drank and took our time to appreciate the scenery before us. So much so that we made our way to Aix-En-Provence in the later part of the afternoon. The sun falling down over the city was casting a gorgeous golden glow on the house fronts and pebbled streets.



Going back there was a treat for all of us. My father went to school at the Institute of Political Studies there and got a bit emotional showing me his first apartment right on the Cours Mirabeau. We spent quite a bit of time in that area retracing steps to stores, restaurants, and other places we used to visit.



Things have inevitably changed since we used to live in the area but a few things remain as we remembered. The markets, the plazas, sitting at a cafe listening to an open air classical concert. Fountains, facades, shops…it was good to be back even for such a short stop but we had somewhere more important to be.


Going back to my old village of Calas-Cabries was amazing in ways I can’t explain. In the five minutes I was out of the car, everything came back. The streets, the turns, the walkways, the shortcuts. My first bike fall, my first crush, my first dive...Trees and bushes had taken over the front lawn in my old house and that was just as well. I could almost hear us play in the pampa’s grass again and not think about the pool newly installed.


Time and life change things. I did not expect anything upon returning home. Expectations ruin things most of the time. The old village had not changed however. The church where I did my communions, the central plaza where I did my ballet recitals. All these years spent there becoming the person I am today. I finally started making sense of myself to myself.


The chapel on the hill where we’d have Scouts meetings. It was good to be home and take a walk under the pine trees and to hear the kids running around at recess. Nothing like a trip home to reset the human clocks right.


It’s good to be home now although I am already planning another couple of trips out West! First is BlogHer Food in San Francisco October 8th and 9th. I am honored to be back as a speaker on a photography panel with my buddy Jen from Use Real Butter as we share the same view about conferences being teaching tools not mere presentations of what is or should be. Sharing is key. We hope to see you there!


Unexpectedly So…

Getty Villa - L.A

Just looking at this picture, I’d say it looked I just took a trip to my beloved Provence. But I did not. This was taken at the Getty Villa in California last week, in between two workshops.

Getty Villa - L.A

If I did not know any better I’d think these were shot right outside the window of the house where I grew up. Cherry blossoms. Figs just starting to budd. Olive trees. Cypresses. Sun and warmth. The ocean in the distance. Still at the Getty Villa.

Getty Villa - L.A

More cherry tree blossoms. Just because I can’t get enough. Because I even love baking with their extract. Because I grew up surrounded by them. In another South. Feeling dangerously like home. Mine. Back home across the other ocean.

Monkey Tree - Vashon

Lunch at the Monkey Tree on Vashon Island, Washington where I stayed with Shauna, Danny and Lu for a couple of days. Giggled with Lu reading books after books. Baked gluten free goodies and ate with friends. Family now.

Monkey Tree - Vashon

Warmth and comfort. Blackboard specials and used wood. Worn. Shared. Felt a community coming together in a great little quaint spot around a good bowl of soup and a crusty loaf of bread.

Monkey Tree - Vashon

On top of the piano at The Monkey Tree. Where things that don’t belong suddenly start to make sense.

Monkey Tree -  Vashon

If I did not know any better, I’d say I were in North Carolina for a couple of days. This cafe. The trees. The fields. The houses and the greens. I could get used to this. There are piers, docks and seagulls. I’m thinking this is so easily familiar…

Monkey Tree - Vashon

Oh Vashon! Temptress… I could easily forget I can’t have any of these. Not with friends who are constantly searching a way to make great foods just a tad bit differently. That’s all. We tried and experimented. The process. The friendship.

Snowy Lucy

And this little one. Who steals my heart each and everytime. And the snow. Big fluffy watery flakes of snow that made the moment just that much more magical.

Thank you dear friends…