When I read that Aran of Cannelle et Vanille would be teaching a food photography workshop in the Dordogne region in France this year, my heart started to pitter-patter. For a long time it had been my dream to learn from Aran and this was my chance. From last year’s workshop I knew it would be hard to get in, but I was set on trying. To my surprise and delight I was among the first 8 and could hardly sleep the night I found out. I eagerly awaited the trip, looking forward to meeting the other food and photography enthusiasts from Canada, Italy, Jordan, Norway and the US.
Driving on the back roads to our hotel in La Roque-Gageac, Emanuela and I stopped a few times to stretch our legs and to take pictures. It was a beautiful drive and we spent it getting to know each other. We arrived at the beautiful Manoir de la Malatrie, our home during our stay, where our lovely hostess showed us our rooms. As the weather report had predicted only the first day warm enough to go for a swim in the lovely pool, I grabbed the chance and dove in. It was perfect for cooling off and it actually was the only chance I had at enjoying the pool. After a lovely dinner with all the participants at Les Prés Gaillardou, I fell into a comfortable and warm bed. I was tired but much too excited to sleep, thoughts whirring around in my head.
Early the next morning I got up and quietly dressed. I grabbed my camera and headed to La Roque to take pictures before breakfast. After all the tourists we darted the afternoon before, I passed not a soul on my walk through the village.
After breakfast, we met Aran, Nadia and Stephanie. The three of them created a well-organized workshop and were always there to help us when we had a question. Aran went through some technical camera information before we headed down to the kitchen for the first demonstration on how to style and photograph a tartine and an apple custard dessert.
Following a tasty lunch, we donned aprons and started to make sweet treats which we then took the the nearby Jardins de Marqueyssace to photograph. The gardens were quiet and we enjoyed photographing our delicious treats en plein air.
We laughed and talked over a most delicious dinner at La Petit Tournelle in Beynac, recapturing our first exciting day. Before breakfast the next day Jennifer and I drove to Beynac for a morning photography session. Again, we didn’t meet anyone and enjoyed our walk though the sleeping village.
Before taking off on our life-style shoot in a walnut grove, we practiced taking pictures of a salad Aran had styled. Then we took a styled cheese board out to the garden of the Manoir and took pictures of it from every possible angle.
When we arrived at the walnut grove, which is part of the Ecomusee de la noix du Perigord, we whipped out our cameras faster than anyone could say walnut and were taking pictures in the beautiful light before concentrating on capturing Nadia’s beautifully styled autumn picnic. It was almost too beautiful to eat, but I can assure you it was as tasty as it looks.
That evening Stephanie invited us into her “home away from home” in Beynac. We spent the evening eating good food, laughing and enjoying the good company. To me it felt like I had known the other women forever. I fell into bed that night happy and with a warm feeling around my heart.
The next morning we drove to Sarlat, a beautiful town even in the pouring rain. Instead of taking the pictures of the market I was supposed to, I had my camera glued to the gorgeous buildings. Right before we stopped for a hot drink, I spotted Aux Bonheurs de Sophie, a small store selling fabrics and knew I had to go in. I came back out with various fabrics I can’t wait to use in my photography.
That afternoon we split up into groups of two to practice styling and photography. While Nadia worked her magic again in the grange, Tracey and I teamed up and went crazy with the figs, quail eggs, garlic and then radishes. Then the two of us had time with Aran to style and photograph a salad. Wait- use a bright blue bowl? Never! But we did and it looked great. I’ve always been afraid of brightly colored dishes, but this exercise taught me that they might not be that bad after all.
We spent the last night at the Manoir, enjoying the most wonderful Moroccan dinner prepared for us by our lovely hostess at the Manoir. Again, another evening filled with laughter and good food. I didn’t want it to end, knowing the next day we would be parting.
Our last day was spent touring the Château de Beynac, walking down through the village and then having a picnic lunch along the river. We knew our time together was coming to an end.
Thank you to Aran, who let us in on her styling and photography secrets. Her warm and generous nature had me feeling at ease with her from the start. Thank you to Nadia for working so hard to make this a memorable experience. She truly can work magic while styling. Thank you to Stephanie for organizing everything and making everything look and feel special.
Thank you to the 7 other wonderful ladies in the group: Cecilie, Emanuela, Erin, Jennifer, Kathleen, Leen, and Tracey.
Thank you to all who made this possible for me.