It's nearly impossible to describe the experience I shared with the incredible group of women who attended The Academy in Dordogne, France. Words like amazing and wonderful don't quite encapsulate how I feel, nor do they adequately describe the memories I'll have for a lifetime. What I envisioned when I began planning my first workshop far surpassed what I expected and that belongs mostly in part to the wonderful attendees who gathered with me to learn about creative and editorial styling. Here's a few highlights from our time together in the French countryside and the new 2017 workshop dates for The Academy in Dordogne, France Available Now!
We were up bright and early on our first full day in order to shop for props at one of my favorite brocantes in France. I encouraged everyone to keep an eye out for antiques and objects to use during their styling sessions. Items that would speak to their own personal style and aesthetic. Once our French market baskets overflowing with treasures, we headed back to the chateau for a light supper and an old school show-and-tell.
The next several days were spent with morning lectures on styling techniques in the chateaus 13th century barn we affectionately named L'atelier de la Ferme. In the afternoons we would break for lunch on the estate grounds and then into small groups for hands-on styling and photography practice. Everyone did such a fantastic job and I loved watching them style their vignettes. Loads of talent!
One evening I planned a special Dîner en Blanc for my attendees. The authentic seven course French meal prepared by the chateau owners included oysters, foie gras, pike quenelles, iced nougatine...and so much more. Lingering on until nearly midnight it was one of the most decadent and memorable meals I've ever had.
Several of our days included trips to open air French markets to buy produce, flowers, and patisserie which provided unlimited inspiration while they practiced their photography skills. Another day excursion was spent visiting an 11th century village to take in the sights and stop for a delicious picnic lunch.
I also included an afternoon of jam making so everyone could learn new skills as they relate to lifestyle and food photography and styling. I enjoyed helping them learn ways to direct their models and to style food so that in the future they will be able to convey meaning and show authenticity through their work.
I feel there is so much more I could share but indeed words do escape me. I suppose that's part of the magic. Remembering it almost as a dream. As the chateau owner Laurent said, "You ladies want to live inside a fairytale." Yes, yes we do. And I'm so grateful it actually came true.
All the planning and behind the scenes effort that went in to having such a memorable and successful workshop event wouldn't have been possible with the help of my assistant Jill McKee, who helped plan incredible meals and delightful desserts and used her gorgeous calligraphy skills to adorn so many details, Jaci Smith Carlson for the beautiful imagery and in helping me capture every moment with joy, and for my friend Terry Littman my fellow Francophile who among many other things, came to the rescue when I was (quite literally) putting out a fire!
If you would like to join us June 3-9, 2017 for the next - The Academy in Dordogne, France please don't hesitate. There are a very limited number of spaces available and my hope is that you will take a leap of faith and invest in yourself and your work by attending. I promise you this...it will be an experience you never forget! To learn more please visit The Academy or read our Academy Brochure. Hope to see you in France!
Here's what a few attendees are saying about their experience at The Academy.
"Best. Trip. Ever. Not only was it a magical experience because the accommodations are practically out of a fairy tale. I have never been so inspired in my life." - Stephanie
"This was a trip of a lifetime - the hands on photography and styling tips were all things that I have been dying to get some expert advice on. I feel like we got the best of everything in shopping, travel, food, and the French experience in our week together. I would go again in a heartbeat." - Denise
"It was magical, dressed in white- rules of composing- vignettes tell a story- aperture will never be the same for me. Thank you for bringing us along on this once in a life time adventure." - Teresa
"I gained so much knowledge and I'm slowly putting all your teaching into practice. All the advice you gave us I've taken like gems. Truly a wonderful trip!" - Jamie