After our successful day gathering props at the brocante, we were ready to begin utilizing those finds in our styling sessions. In addition to what everyone found for their own prop collections, I set up a table with an assortment of small dishes, linens, fresh produce, herbs and spices, and beautiful artisanal bread.
Our first few mornings at The Academy begin with lectures on the proper techniques and aspects of styling. Starting with the fundamentals, the attendees are able to understand the how & why behind creating stunning that resonate meaning and convey the vision they wish to express. They are then able to implement those concepts and skills as they continue to practice throughout the week. But more importantly, upon returning home, they will have an arsenal of techniques to apply in their own body of work and creative pursuits.
Following the morning lectures, refreshing light lunches were served on the patio. Jill whipped up delicious soups, sandwiches, and gorgeous salads for us to enjoy, as we spent time relaxing in the sun and lingering over coffee and dessert. Nearly everyone was asking for her recipes!
In the afternoon we began the hands-on sessions to apply what we learned during our morning lecture. Everyone was allowed to work at their own pace and encouraged to collaborate with one another. Some were styling food, while others created tablescapes and vignettes using the props they found at the brocante.
Chloe styled a simple, yet striking en masse display with an assortment of neutral pottery pieces and a cutting from the garden. As a group, we worked on the vignette below while discussing concepts and sharing ideas on what props we would swap out or bring in to represent our own individual style.
Nina found the large wooden trug at the brocante and it inspired her to use natural floral elements to evoke the feeling of a day spent in garden. The photos of Chloe, Nina, and Stephanie (above with her delicious lunch) were taken by Kelly Burgoyne who graciously helped answer technical photography questions throughout the week.
Those first few days of lectures and hands-on sessions seem to fly by so quickly. We get to know each other by styling and photographing in small groups. I love to see them bounce ideas off one another, ask for guidance with camera settings, and share various ways to approach their styling when feeling stuck.
Collaboration is where it's at in the creative field. I've always believed iron sharpens iron. By working in a team environment, the fear of competition is completely removed and replaced with mutual respect and genuine encouragement. Everyone adds value and their combined talents produce beautiful results.
On a more personal level, I've found teaching and leading these sessions to be immensely fulfilling. I'm incredibly passionate about the subject matter and could talk about the subtle nuances of styling for hours and hours. Having the opportunity to mentor others who are on their own creative path feels as though I've come full circle in my career. Being able to openly, and without reservation, share what I've learned professionally over the past decade, leaves me with me a greater sense of purpose than what actually lead me here - a career photographing and styling thousands of images for digital and print media.
I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity and ability to help others refine their talents, and perhaps, play a small role in helping them fulfill their own aspirations. It's pure joy being able to cheer them on from the sidelines. Wishing them much success and happiness as they pursue their dreams and creative endeavors.