Another year, another successful Academy France! Returning to this little slice of heaven in the French countryside always feels like coming home - and it’s so special to be able to share that unique experience with others. Here’s a little look at how the Styling & Photography Workshop unfolded this summer.
After a gorgeous welcome reception in front of the château, we kicked off the week with the much-anticipated brocante. We all shopped (a little too much) for beautiful treasures and unique pieces to not only bring home, but also to use during our styling practice sessions later in the week. I always tell attendees to pack light and leave lots of room for purchases - this brocante is why!
After hours of shopping, we returned to the château with baskets full of finds, which we then shared with one another in a show-and-tell session in front of the château. It’s always so interesting to hear why each person purchased each item - I’ve had ladies select things because it reminds them of a loved one who has passed, because it reminds them of something from their childhood, or simply because it reflects their unique personal style.
Next came the styling lecture and hands on practice sessions, which is when everybody really gets the chance to put their creative minds to work. We first learn the elements and techniques of styling and photography, then work individually followed by a live group styling session. It's so fun to see how everybody utilizes the props they picked up at the brocante, and it gives me a wonderful chance to connect with each attendee and give them personalized feedback and guidance as they hone their skills.
This year, I added an additional lifestyle photography exercise, which allowed us to practice capturing movement creatively. The best way to learn and improve a skill is to practice a lot and give yourself new challenges. One of my goals is to provide as many learning opportunities as possible for the students, and there’s no better place to explore creativity than the French countryside.
In addition to lots of styling and photography practice, we also explored the Dordogne region. We visited several charming medieval villages, wandered an UNESCO World Heritage site enjoyed a delicious French picnic, and perused a local farmer’s market. This gives everyone the opportunity to practice their street and landscape photography. The scenery and local village life in France makes for the perfect subject matter. There is beauty coming at you from every direction!
And last but not least, we enjoyed many leisurely dinners together, thanks to the delicious cooking of our private chef, Marisa Curatolo. Aside from all the beautiful sights we get to see and the creative inspiration we’re able to gather, another wonderful thing about this week in France is being able to connect with like-minded creatives. I've seen many ladies become lifelong friends after sharing The Academy experience, and that warms my heart.
The group this year bonded instantly on the first evening - with a shared bottle of wine from the chateaus vineyards, they gathered together in our bohemian salon, nestled in on worn, comfy leather sofas and shared stories as they got to know one another. Their immediate connection with each other set the tone for an incredible week in France as everyone felt that togetherness.
We are in the midst of working on the final details for next year in France and plan on opening up registration soon. I’m looking forward to teaching and hosting a new group of creatives and hope that one of them just might be you! xo, H