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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.

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Averie May 23, 2011 um 10:36 pm

If there is a "next year" or next time, I am soooo there! I am signed up for a couple food photography events and now, I wish, I had made the time/money in my budget for yours, too.

Oh, I am soo thrilled for everyone that they no doubt had an amazing time. To learn from you, Helene, would be such a gift!

Any chance we could twist your arm and make a cameo at Food & Light? 🙂

Foodie Ann May 23, 2011 um 10:56 pm

Oh Helen those words really resonates on me….

Claudia May 24, 2011 um 1:07 am

AKKKK I WISH I had known you would be having a workshop here. That'll teach me to keep up with my blog reading. Sigh.

But it looks like you all had a great time (while was working my fingers to the bone just a couple of miles from you)and maybe next year…

Angela May 24, 2011 um 1:12 am

Wow. Thank YOU! Your post and seeing everyone again made my day…and, oh yes, let's do it again in 2012!

Julie the Alkaline Sister May 24, 2011 um 4:09 am

Awe Helene, so glad you enjoyed teaching it and got as much out of the experience as I did. Honestly, I was soooo inspired and I feel like my photography can now grow to the next level. Also, I have vastly reduced the number of frames I need to take to feel like I have captured my desired image-this is HUGE! Thank you for not holding anything back, you are and will always be an inspiration to me. And it was a pleasure to get to know you! Hugs

fanny May 24, 2011 um 7:56 am

it seemed like a beautiful experience for all of you. sometimes I really wish I lived in the US just for being able to attend such wonderful workshops. xx

Sincerely, Jill May 24, 2011 um 4:51 pm

I hope, wish, pray you have an event in North Carolina… or at least close by. I've been following your blog for quite sometime, and I just bought your book. Your work is outstanding, and I can't imagine learning from a better teacher.

rebecca May 24, 2011 um 5:38 pm

i would love to do something like this. i'm a bit of an amateur but in the middle of taking classes right now to change this. i love this post.

Pilar Valtierra May 24, 2011 um 5:58 pm

I certainly asked A LOT of questions! Thank you for answering every single one and sharing much more. My copy of Plate to Pixel just arrived. As I read I can hear your Southern/French voice instructing me all over again…

SK May 24, 2011 um 7:07 pm

Congratulations on the Saveur win! I was so happy to see your blog on the list!

Anne May 24, 2011 um 8:43 pm

That sounds like fun! Love the photos you guys took.

Leslie May 25, 2011 um 2:14 am

Thank you Helene -it was wonderful to meet you. I loved our couple days. I look forward to seeing you again soon. xo

The Experimental Cook May 25, 2011 um 1:37 pm

Awesome photos you have here !

Rocky Mountain Woman May 25, 2011 um 8:29 pm

Next time….

I love Sante Fe, what a great excuse to visit there again!

Mae May 25, 2011 um 9:43 pm


Bites of Sweetness May 25, 2011 um 10:40 pm

I wish I could attend one of your workshops. Hopefully someday I'll be able to! But for now, I just received my copy of Plate to Pixel today and will be studying it from cover to cover. Thanks for all your great advice to an aspiring food photographer!

Unknown May 25, 2011 um 11:57 pm

I need to keep my eye out in the future to see if you'll have classes in the California area. They all look like they are having such fun!

Claire M. May 26, 2011 um 1:52 am

Gorgeous photo!

Claire M.

Eline Du Mongh Photography May 26, 2011 um 2:53 pm

Beautiful blog !

Eline DM*

Parisbreakfasts May 27, 2011 um 1:28 pm

Oh boy! I really, really need this. Finally I'm breaking down and getting an SLR – point-&-shoot just doesn't do it anymore 🙁
I hope you do it again Helene. Great video on Ace too.

Jen June 1, 2011 um 4:15 pm

The trip looked amazing! Attending an Ace Camp is my new goal. So inspiring : )


Jessie June 3, 2011 um 3:56 am

looks like a wonderful trip of learning and discovery! lovely photos!

Robert June 10, 2011 um 8:58 pm

Were do you get those small glass jars for your mousses and verrines

Helene June 10, 2011 um 11:30 pm

Robert: these are small yogurt jars that my parents bring along from France when they come visit.

Thanks everyone!

decocinasytacones October 11, 2011 um 5:40 pm

Loved the post, and I´m in love of that indigo blue color so mexican and so present in the life of Frida Calho. The doors are beautiful and I have to tell you that finally I´m getting your subscription back into my email.
Love from Spain

Valérie (France) October 11, 2011 um 6:32 pm

Un sympathique partage
Je te souhaite une très bonne soirée

angela@spinachtiger October 12, 2011 um 1:23 pm

The day I revamped my blog a few weeks ago, my husband surprised me with my first DSLR. It has been life changing and I would so be honored to be at any workshop where you are. I love taking pictures and trying to find my story. You are an amazing artist.

Dmarie October 30, 2011 um 5:03 pm

LOVE that quote! thanks for this post!

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