goult + gordes | provence-alpes-côte d’azur, france

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Finally, after months of working, being caught up in life, and editing my heart out, I bring you the first installment of our summer trip to Provence. I have been dying (quite literally, Jerry might think) to publish these photos for your pleasure and to start working them into my own portfolio (more on that in a future blog post if it doesn't kill me first). For the last few years, I've been blessed to travel with my husband's family abroad for a few weeks every summer. Two and a half years ago, they fell in love with Provence (but really, how could you not?) and decided to travel back this year to explore the Luberon region, a bit further East than our last trip. This region is full of rolling mountains, lavender, golden-stoned architecture, and spectacular views through a crystal-clear sky. So clear that you can see the village from one mountaintop all the way across the valley to another mountaintop. We stayed in the lively village of Bonnieux and mainly focused on exploring smaller villages, making friends with locals, and just enjoying life...and food. Always food...and Côtes du Rhône wine. These small communities are full of artisans and antique dealers which made for delightful conversations throughout markets and brocantes. I now understand why artists love this region so much; the sky and light are so pure and the culture so warm, refreshing, and hospitable. It makes sense why Vincent Van Gogh explored this region of Provence in search of the purest of light resulting in his Starry Night. I could spend hours dazing out across the valley watching life happen below and clouds wisp around above me or days noshing on pain au chocolat while drinking an espresso at the patisserie and salon de thé while locals come in for their daily baguettes.

In this first post, I will show you some explorations in Goult and Gordes, two small villages with stunning sites, astounding food, and such a humble unspoken beauty about them. Goult is a very quiet, and arguably one of the least-known towns in the Luberon region. It is a romanesque town with a quaint square, a few shops, and a few cafés for drinking an dining. We didn't venture all the way up to the top to see the town's well-known windmill, however, we found the most peculiar, out of Alice in Wonderland cemetery. One of the prettiest cemeteries I've ever seen and we have a knack for finding beautiful ones (check out this one in Ireland, and this one, this one in Texas). After exploring the shrines and altars of deceased loved ones, we stopped at La Carillon, a restaurant for a delicious du Jour lunch of brandade de cabillaud en tartlette, vinaigrette aux fleurs de jasmin séchées, et mousse line de brocoli de parmesan...basically a delicious and highly photogenic fish and potato tart with creamed broccoli. This was then followed by a tartelette crème citron et mangue fraîche, râpé de citron combava...or a really delectable and tangy citrus cream and mango tart with syrup and lime zest. Oh, I'm drooling just remembering this meal. You can see a preview of these below in my instagram compilation.

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When we landed in Marseille at the beginning of our trip, it was lavender harvesting season (literally, the day the French start harvesting this stunning, and scorpion-friendly flower). We quickly set off to find a field after we got some food in our hungry traveling tummies. Alas, we couldn't find many accessible fields, but we did make our way to Gordes to see the lavender at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque. We greeted Gordes with howling winds, known as LeMistral, and survived taking a poorly focused selfie.These winds and bad selfies, however, did not stop us from exploring the food at the market and the local chapel, St. Eloi, which was a nice sanctuary from Le Mistral.

The next day, I begged Jerry to wake up before dawn and go with me to the Abbaye, which is just outside Gordes in the Vacluse region, down a series of very steep and tightly wound roads (that are so thin and windy you might plummet to your death if you drive like I do). I couldn't resist the morning light that graced the sacred Cistercian abbey and illuminated its lavender fields. The monks who live here farm lavender and raise honeybees as their source of income. While we stood in awe, I came across a lovely Spanish woman who was filming a self-portrait and a painter who also, loved the morning light. It was so quiet and peaceful, until of course, my shutter would click, and virtually echo off the walls of this tranquil hidden ravine. Later that evening, I returned with all of Jerry's family...proof of this in the goofy, and probably looked-down upon group selfie below. I couldn't resist getting some snaps of Mrs. Donna as she was overjoyed with the sight these rolling hills of lavender. We managed to escape the blooms free of scorpion stings or snakebites, however, we did meet a very friendly fox (François, if you fancy his name) who just wanted a piece of baguette and to wish us a safe trip back to Bonnieux.

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Our trip was, of course, chronicled in instagram posts. Below are some from this first leg of our trip. To see them all, and unfortunately see the nsfw spam that made it's way into our beautiful hashtag, search #bonnieuxmonsieur

Stay tuned for my next post on Lacoste and L'Isle Sur La Sorgue! À bientôt!

family portraits | bonnieux, provence-aples-côtes d'azur, france

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This summer marks the 30th anniversary of Jerry's parents. These two have been through so much together, that I don't even know where to start. But besides that, Mr. Jerry and Mrs. Donna have loved each other through every bit of their journey as husband and wife. While getting excited about all that awaited us in France this summer, Mrs. Donna asked if I would take portraits of them, since some of the most recent portraits of them are from their wedding day. So in went the tripod and all the photo gear to prep for a beautiful Provençal sunrise photo shoot of my in-laws and then some of the family together (gotta love a tripod and built-in intervalometer!). I even shot a little bit of film, although, I will admit I do need some more practice with that new-fangled color stuff! It was an experience photographing family in a way I photograph clients, as most family shots are truly just on the fly documentary-style and not posed portraiture. However, these shots are something to cherish. Not only do they serve as a reminder of love and of the beauty that this Earth surrounds us with, but they are also a new family heirloom that can be hung in a special place for future generations to see. It was an honor to photograph this love and an honor to be part of this family, so thank you for letting my camera win the race to be in your face before your daily croissant and espresso, and letting "Screech Owl" make an appearance to make someone wake up, haha!

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