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“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child
Many of you know, and many of you don't know, that food photography is a huge passion of mine. It's not just the food itself, but the community and cultures that humans create around food. When that is tied to my passion for ethereal light, my love of a shallow depth-of-field, capturing moments, and my yearning to eat, experience, and share all the things, the only result is a glorious collision of light hitting film and sensors capturing light as colored pixels.
It's around a kitchen table where some of my best memories were made, where I learned from my family, and was consistently asked, "What did you do for your country today?" by my father as he took a swig of his wine and a bite of his bread...or popped an olive into his mouth, because we never had a meal without a boat of olives. It's around a kitchen table where I learned to make tamales at Christmas time while novelas played in the background, try everything at least 1 time, spend hours protesting carne guisada despite my love for it now, and actually stop to reflect on the day and its happenings from a very young age. I was blessed to know that the kitchen table was a place of solace, a place of camaraderie, and a safe place to talk to my family. The kitchen table is a place of sharing, and there is no better way to enjoy a meal than to share it with the people who make you tick.
While it has taken me some time to figure out where my life is headed in terms of a creative career, I'm confident that I now know where I want to be. I want to be in a place that I can share my adventures and the food that shapes them, and all the stories that come along with them. Food is more than nourishment, it is a gift from God, it is an art form, and it is a precious commodity that I am thankful for everyday. To the farmers, the chefs, the families, the non-profits, and the consumers: you're the ones who feed the world and that's a huge job...I'm here to document every part of that.
Our trip to Bonnieux and the South of France was an opportunity to really delve into more personal work. How could you not with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and all the French cooking? The best food starts with the freshest ingredients, and I'm sure Julia Child and any other chef would agree with me. I believe the best food photography starts with the freshest ingredients and the purest of light. Below are a sample of photos I made that document my trip through my food, some staged, some at markets, some at home, and some at restaurants. I'm thankful that I have a family who understands that all food must be photographed before it is eaten, who knows that me going to the markets is like my brother walking into a music shop, and also who just lets me be me at the kitchen table when I whip out some sort of camera to remember something special from that meal. Here's to the next adventure, a load of supporters, a solid quote from Mrs. Child herself, and a fury of passion..finally.
After gawking over (and naturally, photographing) all the fresh fruits and veggies from the garden at the house where we stayed, we made our way out to Goult which had the most adorable grocery store...smaller than my apartment but still fresher than anything around here. I love how the French, and anywhere in Europe really, opposes the use of preservatives. The food tastes much fresher and I can tell you the body appreciates the organic and local nature of these foods.
We spent a few nights cooking at home, which allowed for all the photos of all the pretty parts of food including family. Everything so fresh. Everything so natural. And everything just delicious.
Those fries, though.
These next few photos are from out and about. Food trucks, restaurants, markets, and patisseries. Just lovely, every bit of it.
And of course, if you've been following along, you have seen that kitchen window. That kitchen window let in the most glorious of light onto a beautiful kitchen farm table. When we arrived, we were gifted with three giant heirloom tomatoes just waiting for a photo shoot before becoming a caprese salad.
For my last food shoot in Bonnieux, I greeted that kitchen table with some pretty macarons from Aix-en-Provence. I mean...when in France, right? I do think, however, I had as much fun shooting them as I did crushing them and then subsequently eating them.
Thank you for traveling along with me! Again, if you'd like to see how we chronicled our trip in instagram posts, search our hashtag, #bonnieuxmonsieur. I'll leave you with this fiery quote from someone who never let anything or anyone stop her:
“Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” ― Julia Child
On Christmas Day, we drove out to our family's cemetery, Santo Niño, in Duval County to wish my grandpa a merry Christmas. The cemetery is now a Texas Historical Landmark and was established in June of 1908. My grandma, who should be a docent, told us stories of our ancestors up to my great great great grandparents. This humble cemetery has so much history in it and is the resting place to veterans, ranchers, and educators to name a few professions. My grandma is an avid genealogist and has traced parts of our family back to the year 608 with names and dates and is currently in the 500s with her tracing of another branch of the family (yes, that far back...1500 years ago!).
She told stories of our family's history, how my great grandma got grazed by a rifle at the ranch, how my grandmother and sisters spent her summers at her family ranch in San Diego, Texas, how her family survived the Texas City explosion in 1947, and how my great grandmother moved her family to Kingsville to run a boarding house so they would have the money and the opportunity to go to school at Texas A & I (now Texas A&M Kingsville). I suggested my grandma start recording all her stories as they are so full of Texas and Mexican American history. Hopefully we can make this a reality in the coming years!
Our family cemetery was recently deemed a Texas Historical Landmark and we are raising money to post the sign and have a dedication ceremony (it's that official, y'all). If you're interested in donating, contact me and I'll pass you along to the right people.
Prospero Año Nuevo!