A French farmers market
I’m back with more of my photographs from Aran Goyoaga’s food photography and styling workshop in the Dordogne region of France. One of the really wonderful things our group did was visit a farmers market in nearby Sarlat, where the streets were packed with vendors selling cheeses, meats, baked goods, fresh produce, hot food and lots and lots of foie gras (the region’s specialty). Sarlat has been a market town since the Middle Ages, so despite a steady drizzle of rain, the winding, cobblestone streets were crowded with shoppers. We bought lunch (mine included some amazing potatoes fried in duck fat), as well as fresh produce to make a “market-to-table” lunch that we would photograph later that afternoon.
I speak very little French, but I really wanted to communicate a bit with vendors at the market. I was lucky enough to share a suite with two women who both speak fluent French; Juliana, from Switzerland, and Cecilie, from Norway. So, before we arrived at the market, with Juliana’s guidance, I learned to say, “Je peux vous photographier?” And while my pronunciation was far from perfect, it was fun to interact with the people I met and ask “Can I take your photograph?” in French.
Photographing a “market-to-table” lunch
Using our colorful farmers market produce as the inspiration for our photography that afternoon, we worked alone and in small groups with Aran to practice styling and photographing raw ingredients, salads and gazpacho. Meanwhile, Nadia styled more beautiful food vignettes in the Manoir’s barn, making use of the worn, wooden surfaces and old furniture to create a simple, rustic scene with our radishes, beans, strawberries, fresh herbs, quail eggs, cheeses and baguettes.
Aran’s advice to us all was to become familiar with our ingredients, to cook and bake the foods we photograph and to incorporate this knowledge into our work. It adds emotion and depth.
I once heard an organic farmer remind his customers that plants are a special combination of air, soil, water and sunshine. They are magic. Food tastes like a place, he said. The story of that taste and that place is what I want my food photographs to tell.
Our workshop “home” at the Manoir
Finally, I want to show you a few photographs from Manoir de la Malartrie, a quiet bed and breakfast nestled between limestone cliffs and the Dordogne River only a short walk from tiny La Roque-Gageac. The rooms were filled with light and color and freshly picked flowers. Mine overlooked an inviting heated swimming pool. On our last night together, our kind hosts, Ouaffa and Daniel, treated us to an unforgettable Moroccan meal with perfect wine pairings and the best foie gras I have ever eaten. I shared a room with another cold-climate dweller, Cecilie from Norway, so we slept with our windows open, listening to the trees rustle and the owls hoot as we fell asleep, happily exhausted.
I will share one more post about the workshop later this week. I’ll introduce you to the friends I made at the workshop and show you some of the Dordogne River valley sights. If you missed my first blog post about the workshop, click here to see it.