Thursday, December 15, 2016

Current (useless) Ponderings

I wanted to stop in for a quick hello and offer you my
 Current Ponderings:
It's so cold my toes might freeze
I am in need of a thicker winter coat (not the kind of coat from eating too much good cheese)
Is it possible to drink too much tea? 
The "Save" feature on Instagram is creepy (you can save pictures and no one can see what you save) YIKES.
Chocolate, I never liked it until I came to France
My French is getting better ...slowly but surely
Sometimes when I speak French I need someone to translate what I said (haha)
I am obsessed with zucchini noodles
Training for an Ultra Beast (if you don't know what it is look it up)
Dry Shampoo, Coffee, and Red Lipstick are magic
I am currently wearing a lightning bolt pin, it makes me feel like a superhero
Favorite Holiday Song that I try to Sing: Baby it's Cold Outside 
(and I do not sound like Zooey Deschanel at all)
I want to shoot an entire wedding with a pinhole camera
4pm in France is "baguette hour" 
Current Favorite Instagram account: Shut the Kale Up
Book I am reading: Uninvited
Duty Free Purchases after a couple of glasses of wine are:

Favorite Quote at the moment: The woman at Macy's asked, "Would you be interested in full-time elf or evening elf?" I said, "Full time elf." I am a 33 year old man applying for a job as an elf. 
-David Sedaris

Starting a business in another country is: surreal, challenging, and exciting
When starting anything new put blinders on and don't compare yourself to anyone

 That's it from my neck of the woods,

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Le Chicken ... Frenchy Annecy, France

Le Chicken: A chicken burger to write home about ... yup that's what you will find at Frenchy in Annecy. I thankfully was given a tip from a fellow American and friend, that if I was ever homesick I should try the Le Chicken (a chicken burger) at Frenchy. This advice was too good on several levels. First, I met someone who I could speak English with :) then she recommends a chicken sandwich to cure my homesick woes ... amazing.

So, time went by and I forgot about the advice I had received from my friend. Then one day after a long class in French history (a mandatory class for expats) I remembered the chicken sandwich tip off
Le Chicken!

I had BIG expectations for this chicken burger and almost unrealistic expectations. How would a burger cure homesickness and compare to a burger from the good ole US of A? Well my food loving friends ... it did. It was breaded in cornflakes for pure perfection!! Cornflakes! And if you live in Annecy and want to taste an authentic chicken burger that tastes like America and with the right amount of French twist go to Frenchy, seriously, do it. PS the fries, the fries, are simply put ... delicious.

PPS ... Excited to give you an ongoing list of places to go, restaurants to try, and things to see from Annecy, Paris, and places in between. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 9, 2016

What's in my bag ... camera bag

"What's in your bag ... your camera bag?" This is a question I get asked a lot. I mean, A LOT. In the beginning I thought: hey no it's my bag. But, you know when you find something you really love and then you want to tell the whole world. Well, those are my feelings and I want to tell you what is in my camera bag. What camera I use and other photography info.

PS this is not a sponsored post. 
 Canon, ONA bags, Moo cards, if you feel inclined feel free to sponsor me :)

I remember looking at the photo works of Henri Cartier Bresson and Richard Avedon in my first photography class in college, and was immediately moved. I started looking into the lenses and cameras that they used and became "fixed" on emulating film photography but shooting digitally
 (yes I have photographed film but it's currently a hobby.) So, for me I mainly shoot with a 35mm f/1.4 an 85mm f/1.2 and a 50mm f/1.4... these are all fixed lenses. These lenses have helped me develop my personal photography style. I do not zoom to get closer to my subject. I move. And moving allows me to capture photos that are more personal, more tangible.

This my friends, is important. I second shot for one of my favorite photographers Edyta Photography and she gave me some the best advice when it came to camera gear, "Caroline do not get caught up in what other photographers are using" this gem of advice has helped me when I have had the urge to buy a snazzy new lens, a break your bank new camera because another photographer has said oh you need to.
Instead, I trust my gut and use my tried and true gear.

My camera: I use a Canon 5d Mark III and love it. (I've recently been asked about my thoughts of the Mark IV) honestly I am not one to jump on the band wagon and buy the latest camera in the first year of release. My Mark III feels like a part of me when I shoot with it. I know it like the palm of my hand. Now ... don't confuse this as me being hesitant to invest in gear, I am the person who invests in good gear and really, really, really uses it. (I still use an iphone 6).  I am not the person that believes buying a good camera will make you a photographer. 

No, no, my belief is: do the research, take the classes, embrace your talent, and use a good camera to only enhance the skills that you already have.  
A camera will not make you a photographer, end of story. 

It's funny because I get this sentiment all the time: "well my Uncle or someone I know has a good camera and they can shoot my wedding, take my family pics, etc?" I ask, "is Uncle such and such creative? Would you want him to photograph you through his perspective?" 9 times out of 10 people pause, think,  pause again and say ... no.

You see anyone can buy a camera, call themselves a photographer, but when you hire a photographer you are hiring, paying, and choosing what I like to call a visual storyteller, an artist. No camera will make you an artist. You are hiring someone to see the world in which you live and photograph the people you love dearly.  Last thing, when a chef makes an incredible meal, do you say after, oh hey, just curious ... what wooden spoon did you use? No way, or at least I don't.

 It is the chef, not the spoon.

My bag: I have went through several camera bags and my go to is my ONA bag. It does not look like a camera bag and I love that. I have taken it on multiple trips to Europe, traveled with it, and I use it for day to day use. This little thing (and not really little because it fits all my favorite camera gear) has been with me for the past three years. I can wear it for a shoot outdoors or an evening wedding, I love the versatility of it.

Other things in my bag:
my first train ticket to Paris for an engagement shoot... it reminds me to keep going after my dream (yup I am sentimental)
2 Flashes (just in case one fails)
Extra lenses (I switch between my 85mm, 35mm, 50mm (I will write a post on other lenses too)
Business cards (I love my moo cards they are tiny and easy to take with me on shoots)
Back up Batteries
Back up Chargers
Lens Cleaner
Extra memory cards (huge fear is shooting a shoot without a memory card in my camera)
Lip Gloss (always)
Snacks (just in case I get hungry but make sure they are on the go and won't leak)

All right ... that's that. Now you  know what I put in my camera bag. I would love to know what is in yours? And feel free to email me if you want to geek out over gear or want to talk photography.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Photographing in ... Paris and Annecy, France and of course ... San Francisco

Back when I started this blog I always had a dream to establish my business, Coeur de La Photography in California, then expand worldwide. In my head I would say to myself worldwide, worldwide, worldwide haha like my very own rap song mantra.

Worldwide, Worldwide, Worldwide

Fast forward, and that is what I am doing currently. I am now photographing in Paris and Annecy, France. Now do not think it is all glitter (I actually don't like glitter, it's messy) and croissants (I love croissants, warm fresh out of the over croissants) it has been a challenge. 

Think:  a bit of a language barrier at first (but nothing French lessons can't fix) and feeling like a small fish in a big pond when in the US I had just finished photographing a cookbook. Yup, a cookbook for one of my favorite's Ayesha Curry. The cookbook, "The Seasoned Life"  is a best seller and the photos are an absolute love letter to my craft. The experience taught me so much about myself as a photographer. I learned I was a self starter, can work within small time frames (and that I like small time frames), tight deadlines, and take direction. All things that are necessary for a food photographer. Not to mention ... working with my friend and someone I admire, Ayesha Curry was a blessing.

I had the honor to photograph and style 100 of Ayesha's recipes. So, think of how odd it is having worked on a cookbook, then coming here (France) and having people have little to no idea of what I worked on, and or the cookbook's title. Yup, that will surely knock anyone down from their pedal stole or pop the air out of your balloon quickly, but hey, that's ok. I am all for a little humble pie. I constantly remind myself: it's a new place, new country, new experience, and there is no offense taken.

SO, what I've learned is: dreams and the road to your dreams, you know the dream of me saying WORLDWIDE WORLDWIDE is and will be daunting, challenging, and there are new roadblocks to deal with. But, I am a firm believer things always workout how they should (professionally and personally). "That there is beauty in "the mess".

I think back to when I started this blog, people would say: what is a blog? Believe it, there were no Pinterest articles giving you step by step instructions on how to create a blog, how to make money for it, or how to gain followers. My fellow renegade bloggers, Lauren Hartmann, Alicia Lund, Mara Fereira all did it for community, not to make it big, get paid, etc.

I remember when I first started my food blog (because that's how it started, as a food blog) I only hoped be a simple, stand alone portfolio that I could show others saying: hey look I photograph my food, write about it, and love it. A portfolio of sorts. At the time believe it or not, people thought I was crazy. That I was wasting my time, that hey, "why don't you do something that is worthwhile". A lot of the same sentiments I get now with photography (yup people still say this), and especially with my dream of going WORLDWIDE and establishing Coeur de La Photography in France.

So, why did I do it, it being, come to France and photograph? I have always loved challenging myself and if I am being honest, there is nothing like photographing a couple in Paris ... truly it takes my breathe away every time (hopeless romantic no matter how hard I try not to be). And photographing food in France, come on it's the top of the top for cuisine, I mean it's FRANCE! 

I am sure by now you are thinking come on Caroline, get on with it, what's the meaning of this post? The meaning of this post: haha there is one. This post is my little reminder to keep going, brush off nay sayers, remember why I photograph, and encourage others to go after what they want. Maybe this post will inspire you to do something that has been nagging at your heart strings: starting a business, trying a new hobby, booking that trip, etc.

  It's also my way to say to people who are getting married in France, visiting France, or living in France that: I am here now and taking clients!! This American, moi, also speaks French and I promise to make you laugh when we work together. I can also tell you where to get the best macarons and coffee after I photograph you :) win win. 

 there you have it I'm here in France, booking clients and weddings in Annecy and Paris  for 2017. 
I am also booking worldwide, and California peeps I love you, and would never forget you, 
I'm booking in San Francisco too!

 That's it for now! Bon Courage fellow entrepreneurs. It's a tough road out there, a road filled with ups and downs, but there is validation when working for yourself, because at the end of the day you are a success and success depends on: you. 

PS ... I'm planning a photography workshop in Paris for my fellow photography, food loving, wanderlust loving friends ... more information to come.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What I've learned so far ... in France

There are a plethora of things one can learn while traveling. I like to think of it as a continual out of body experience. For example, when learning an entirely new language its best if you take on a new persona as comparing yourself to your "former" self will only do you a disservice. Here I continually speak a language comparable to a two year old. And, sometimes I think I've learned the correct pronunciation of a word and I am kindly reminded that what I am saying is entirely incorrect. And by the time I figure out the right thing to say I am to exhausted to speak. If you know me, the idea of me being too exhausted to speak is impossible ...  learn a new language you will discover new things about yourself all the time. Sometimes it's just easiest not to speak. But here is the silver lining ... I have improved my listening skills something that I know everyone at some point can improve on. It's pretty refreshing not to speak, a little lonely at times, but again,  I've learned the oh so important skill of listening. :)

So, I can go on and on about how difficult is to speak French but here is what I've learned so far in France (an ongoing list):

Crosswalks are spots reserved for people to enter at their own risk. Drivers will speed up upon seeing "you" in the crosswalk.

When walking on cobblestone streets there is not a man playing the accordion or lovers continually kissing and saying: j'adore, j'adore, j'adoreeeeee.

Wearing workout clothes to a restaurant ie yoga pants is only acceptable in SF, the Marina. Here you will look like an under dressed fool.

French runners are f'ing fast. Every time I enter a race I panic and wonder if this will be the race that I finish dead last. HA not really but kind of.

Learning another language is ... DIFFICULT ...but worth it.

Dreams are not easy ... I am often working, scheming, planning, trying, and hustling continually to do my job. I have become a better photographer here.

People love California :)

I know why I love California now too.

Mexican food is next to null.

Bikram yoga in French is my saving grace.

A hike here is not equivalent to a hike in California, pretty much be prepared to climb a mountain.

I will never ever buy a 2 buck chuck again, but will buy a 2 euro bottle of wine.

Reebok's (you know the shoes) are super cool here.

Waving ... yeah people do not wave here.

Taxi drivers in Paris will and happily rip you off as anywhere else.

Paris is .... insert a plethora of things.

The APERO is my favorite.

and in #tartiflettewetrust ... google it.

What you can expect from this blog now?  More writing, photography, recipes, posts about food, fitness and travel tips, and stories so, stay tuned! 


Traveling. Many people love it, some fear it, and others dream for the day they can disconnect from "their real life" pack a suitcase, or if you are me overpack a suitcase, by a ticket, pick a destination on a map and go anywhere. For me, I am and still consider myself the later. However, I would say after a series of life events I am a realistic dreamer (I can see beyond rainbows and butterflies, and cupcakes with cherries on top) … it's about time and thank goodness. So, it's only fitting that I am starting up this blog again (online journal) of sorts with a premier post that sheds light on who I am  … an extroverted introvert, free spirited, generally optimistic, strangers like talking to me, (can I say this now) … traveler,  and French and USA photographer.

A couple of months ago:  I decided today would be the day I would buy a French dictionary. Up until now,  I have been perfectly content telling people that I speak "Franglais" and "hey, I speak better French after a glass of wine" but for some reason today was different.

I grabbed 10 Euros (why I only bothered to grab 10 euros is beyond me) stopped for a cappuccino (now I drink espresso) that I sipped while I amused myself with a French tabloid.  I tried to read it as French smut is easy to understand but got so distracted by the photos I read not one sentence. After finishing my drink I quickly proceeded to the bookshop. There I was hit with absolute and total, shocking reality. True and utter reality that: I need to learn French and I do not know as much as I thought I knew. (After writing this post I signed up for intensive French classes, I have improved)

I went to the 10-12 year old section picked up a novel called "geek girl" (don't quote me) and could understand about 25% of the words if I wanted to give myself a headache. So, I then proceeded to the 3-4 year old section: BAM too advanced for these livres I thought to myself and decided to walk upstairs.

Upstairs I immediately was distracted by books in English and decided not to buy a French book (my brain needed a break from French) and a good ole American book would do. BAH!

Note: the books sold in English are a select few and usually are classics that I was forced to read in college and currently make my stomach hurt, romance or sappy love novels that I want nothing to do with, or terribly sad stories and who wants to read sad stories while they are living out their dream … 
not I not I. 

So, it is at this moment where I have a good ole classic panic attack realizing I know little French (panic attacks happen quite often when learning a new language), I am in a country far far far away from the comforts of "home" and that this scenario is in fact "my dream". As my panic attack gets worse I make my way over to the French English dictionaries. I stand here for 15-20 minutes (honestly maybe longer) going back an forth deciding to buy a big dictionary or a small one. Hey size matters when it comes to books :)

After way too long, I pick up a pocket dictionary (less overwhelming) give the cashier 3 euros and 99 cents (almost all I have left from the 10 euros) and leave the bookstore feeling absolutely … awful,  ok not awful, I am being dramatic for the purpose of writing. I leave feeling so French ….  commes ci commes รงa …

and with a pocket size dictionary in hand, my adventure begins.