Food & Styling Workshop
January 16-20 2019, Saignon, Provence
“I am so excited to share with you a very special French Muse retreat which will be a wholehearted sensorial celebration of food, photography, visual storytelling, creativity and cooking with our star ingredient the Tuber Mélanosporum, aka the elusive black winter truffle.” Ruth x
What: Five day All Inclusive Retreat, with a focus on visual storytelling, foraging and feasting set in the beautiful medieval village of Saignon in the Luberon region of Provence.
A true insiders experience of Provence, with so many opportunities to shoot and practice your photography.
We will create a very intimate, immersive and transformative experience which celebrates creativity, kinship, community, and collaboration…. and all the while shooting tons of photographs and having LOADS of fun!
Where: Saignon, one of the most beautiful villages in France. 1 hour from Avignon, 1 hr 25 mins from Marseille and only 30 mins from Isle sur la Sorgue.
When: 16-20 January 2019
Price: Double Room (Single Occupancy with your own bathroom: 3,500 euro
/ Twin bedroom (Shared Room with shared bathroom (between 2): 3,000 euro.
We have only 11 places so don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like to reserve your spot.
Founder of The French Muse
Five wonderful teachers from across Europe, Venetian photographers Zaira Zarotti (The Freaky Table) and Valeria Necchio; French filmmaker Nora Jaccaud, Venetian chef Giuseppina Mabilia and French floral stylist Elodie Love will lead this very special visual storytelling retreat.
We will offer a five day all-inclusive retreat with a focus on visual storytelling, foraging and feasting set in the beautiful medieval village of Saignon in the Luberon region of Provence. It will be a true insiders experience of Provence, with so many opportunities to shoot and practice your photography. You will go foraging in the hills of a nearby village for truffles with an eighth-generation truffle hunter; explore a 15th century Hôtel Particulier turned artist atelier; learn to cook clean, simple good meals following ancient recipes of Italy and Provence; experience the energy of one of Frances most important truffle markets; meet unforgettable characters and forge friendships with like-minded creatives.
Meals will be delicious and beautifully styled, tastings and feasts in our chefs private Provençal home, candlelit dinners in the heart of an artists residency with foraged and wild flowers on the table; culminating in a Venetian feast on our last evening.
The goal is to create a very intimate, immersive and transformative experience which celebrates creativity, kinship, community, and collaboration…. and all the while shooting tons of photographs and having LOADS of fun!
Intimate in-depth practical and theoretical photography workshops led by Zaira Zarotti (The Freaky Table) and Valeria Necchio who will teach you how to create, style and shoot deliciously dark and light photography.
Introduction to food photography and storytelling with a discussion about everything from the preparatory process of food styling (including sourcing and choosing props) to sharing the tricks of the trade .
Food writer & photographer Valeria Necchio will lead a discussion on recipe development and cookbook creation and she will be a wonderful teacher to guide you through creating your own cookbook.
Elodie Love aka Madame Love will be working her floral magic at all our workshops and meals and will also host a floral masterclass using foraged florals and foliage to create crowns and wreaths.
Filmmaker Nora Jaccaud will lead a mini-filmmaking workshop inspiring you to make your own ‘Human Postcard’, and exploring the everyday stories of the characters you meet.
During this retreat we will be shooting outdoors on location in natural light at food markets, exploring the architecture of medieval villages; and creating reportage style photography of unforgettable characters while truffle hunting in the hills of Provence. Learn to create coherent beautiful visual travel stories during our excursions to the French ‘marché paysan’ (farmers market) and to the beautiful villages & towns of Provence including Lacoste, Saignon, Isle sur la Sorgue, Goult, and Carpentras.
Our final day will be dedicated to learning how to edit with Adobe Lightroom, during this workshop you will get the opportunity to ask questions as we edit our photographs together.
Two cooking masterclasses with our resident Venetian chef, Guiseppina Mabilia who has a talent for cooking simple, delicious dishes using fresh local, seasonal product and foraged finds. During the retreat her recipes will explore the links between ancient recipes of Provence and Italy. Giuseppina will create a Venetian feast on our last evening, a three course dinner created using one ingredient, the Radicchio de Treviso, sourced especially from Venice for the occasion.
Learn to forage in the Provençal countryside for truffles with an 8th generation truffle hunter and his boisterous truffle loving dogs.
Visit and soak up the atmosphere at one of the most important truffle markets in France – a perfect place to photograph great characters.
An unmissable visit to Ruth’s favourite best-kept-secret flea market which is a fantastic source for props and where you will find antique linens, paper, pottery, antique cutlery and serve-ware, paintings and everything in between. Ruth will be on hand to help translate and negotiate the best deals and will introduce you to all of her favourite dealers.
*Full schedule is below
Who Should Attend?
This retreat is designed for beginners to intermediate photographers, anyone who is interested in creating lifestyle and food photography but also suitable for creatives with an interest in cooking and travel.
It will be five days of eating well, connecting, learning and collaborating in an intimate, joyful setting.
On our first afternoon together we will take the time to ensure every one is comfortable with using their camera on manual mode. Our two teachers, Zaira and Valeria will lead the class to teach you about camera settings, how to approach lighting so that you can capture beautiful photos. As part of this initiating workshop, we will talk about the effects of internal camera settings such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO on your images.
I’ve been such a huge fan of Zaira’s deeply sensual and intimate visual storytelling style for such a long time. When I started to dream up a retreat to celebrate the raw beauty of Provence and its winter truffle harvest, I immediately thought of Zairas work and I’m incredibly honoured that she accepted to come to Provence to share her knowledge and passion with us.
Zaira will lead us through her beautiful technique of “mise-en-scene” photography. Creating, styling and shooting deliciously dark and sensual food photography.
“I have learnt that the search for who we are and how we express ourselves, comes from doing what makes us feel good in accordance to our deeper nature. During any act of pure creativity, like photography, painting or cooking, something extraordinary happens which is like a sort of meditation, it’s solitary and intimate. I find this space when I do something that I really love doing and I apply myself with devotion. I understood I had become devoted to photography after accepting the fact that I would never have been able to compare myself as a painter with my parents. Through photography I’ve found my path.” Zaira Zarotti.
I am so thrilled to have Valeria as one of our key photography teachers as she has such a pure, emotional and raw style and is gifted at travel and lifestyle photography as well as culinary stories.
Valeria is an Italian writer, photographer and author with roots in the Venetian countryside. She studied at the acclaimed University of Gastronomic Sciences and todayValeria works with brands and publications on compelling campaigns and stories spanning from food to travel, from culture to lifestyle. Aside from maintaining her much loved personal food blog, Life Love Food, her work has appeared in national and international publications including Monocle, The Guardian, Suitcase, The Art of Eating, Traveller and she is a food columnist for Italy's largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera. She is the author of VENETO, a recipe book on the food of her origins, published by Faber & Faber.
Valeria will lead a discussion on recipe development and cookbook creation and she will be a wonderful teacher to guide you through creating coherent visual travel stories.
Elodie Love aka Madame Love
I am giddy with excitement that Elodie will be our Floral stylist for our retreat. Her florals are sensual, wild and feminine, they feel effortless even when we know they are not. She will be dressing all of our workshops with foraged winter flowers and foliage to make every moment even more beautiful and photogenic! Elodie will also host a floral masterclass as part of our retreat.
Elodie is a flower blogger and has been writing her charming and wildly popular flower blog, madame love, since 2012. She is both a gifted floral stylist and floral photographer and will able to share all her tips for creating florals for your food & lifestyle photography, and how to best shoot your floral work.
Elodie is also a contributor to well-known blogs such as the TULIPINA or STYLED CANVAS and has worked for many magazines including SISTERMAG. Her work has been published in two books, BEST OF INTERIOR BLOGS and FLOWER LADIES.
Chef: Giuseppina Mabilia
Venetian born, Giuseppina Mabilia first visited Provence in 2004, and now she calls the Luberon village of Goult home. Giuseppina is a well established private chef with her own cookery school, Venise en Provence. She has a talent for cooking simple, delicious dishes using fresh local, seasonal product and foraged finds.
Giuseppina will be our personal chef for the duration of the retreat and she will lead us through her favourite French farmers markets, introducing us to her favourite artisans foodies, cheesemakers, bakers and suppliers.
Through her cookery classes we will learn how to correctly prepare and cook simple, fresh dishes with the Tuber Mélanosporum, aka the black winter truffle and other recipes which explore the links between ancient Venice and Provence.
“What makes my school of cooking different is I create a ‘fusion’ between French and Italian cuisine with a cheeky twist of Venetian flair. My signature is to try and cook with the minimum of ingredients for example - I love to create what I call “the absolute tomato sauce” and it is always a big hit with my clients.” Giuseppina Mabilia
You can find out more about Giuseppina here
“Create your own Mini Film” workshop
Nora is a wonderful French film director and her passion is creating short film portraits for a web series called, ‘Human Postcards’ where she explores how everyone is a story.
Nora will be teaching us her tricks of the trade to create a charming mini movie during the retreat so that you can add videography to your visual storytelling arsenal.
“My passion in life is to learn from others by observing and listening. As a child I would collect stories from people the way kids collect seashells. Nothing could stop my curiosity. Languages became a tool to open more doors.
With time, my need to share stories and create connections led me to become a story teller. Being a part of Human Postcards fuels this passion, by capturing these moments for others to experience.” Nora Jaccaud
To find out more about Nora and her Human Postcards project you can visit her website here and watch her TEDxAvignon talk here. In this talk, Nora shares about what she has learned from interviewing over 100 people from around the world.
Location & Accommodation
Our accommodation and base for the retreat is a beautiful village home in the picturesque 12th Century village of Saignon, in the heart of Provence. The home is an artists retreat known as Chambre Avec Vue and is owned by artist and art director Pierre Jaccaud and galerist Kamila Regent.
There are two options available
A double bed room with bathroom (single occupancy)
Twin room (with its own bathroom) shared option.
All bed linen, towels and toiletries are provided.
The nearest airport is Marseille (1hr 20 mins drive) and the nearest train station is Avignon Central (1hr 15 mins drive). An alternative route is to fly to Paris and then take the TGV train to Marseille (3hrs direct).
As for the connection, we will be organising one group transfer from Avignon train station at 12 noon and a return transfer to arrive at Avignon train station for 18h30. Many of our French Muse guests choose to fly in the night before our retreats and spend a day exploring the vibrant city of Marseille, I have a list of my favourite Marseille spots which I can send to help you get the most of your stay.
Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you’d like help planning your trip as there is so much to see and do in this region.
Double room (single occupancy): 3,500 euro
Shared twin room (shared bathroom between two): 3,000 euro.
You can pay by either bank transfer or paypal*. A non refundable deposit of 1000 euro is required to hold your place. Should you wish to pay in two instalments please don’t hesistate to contact me.
There are only eleven spots available.
What is Included:
Five days (Four nights) stay in the very beautiful Chambre Avec Vue Artists Residence in Saignon
Freshly made breakfast every morning
All of your meals (including refreshments / wine) for the duration of the retreat - with many of the meals featuring the luxury ingredient, Black Winter Truffle.
All of the photography & filmmaking workshops
One floral Masterclass with Elodie Love
Two Cooking Masterclasses with Giuseppina Mabilia.
Transport to and from Avignon Train station. One group transfer is organised.
Your transport to and from excursions and classes.
What is not Included:
Your travel to and from Avignon train station to retreat.
Travel insurance (which we highly recommend you take out).
Wednesday 16 January
13h00 Arrivals. Collections from Avignon Train station
14h30 Arrive at the house in Saignon for a welcome cocktail with nibbles.
Photography Intro with all of our teachers and team.
We will talk about :
Basic Camera Settings to capture beautiful photos, how to approach lighting, ideally getting everyone shooting on manual mode for the retreat. We’ll talk about the effects of internal camera settings such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO on your images.
Introduction to the process of visual storytelling through composition, lighting and styling.
Introduction to food photography and storytelling with a discussion about everything from the preparatory process of food styling including sourcing and choosing props to sharing the tricks of the trade and talk to us about what is in their daily ‘kit - led by Zaira Zanotti and Valeria Necchio.
Nora Jaccaud to introduce her Human Postcards project and talk about what you will learn in the ‘Make a Mini-film’ class
19h30 Dinner at Chambre Avec Vue house in Saignon
Thursday 17 January
8h00 Depart for Isle sur la Sorgue
Isle sur la Sorgue is a beautiful town, essentially an island on the River Sorgue. This small town saw its heyday in the fourteenth century when it was used as a retreat for the Papal entourage away from the heat of Avignon.
8h45 Visit the Atelier of Aurelie Alvarez painter which is situated in a 15th century Hotel Particuliere.
10h00 Transfer to ‘Venise en Provence’, the cookery school of Giuseppina Mabilia in the village of Goult. Two hour cookery lesson creating lunch
15h00 Food Photography workshop 1
Exploring ‘light’ food photography through both theoretical and practical techniques led by Zaira Zanotti & Valeria Necchio. We will create two smaller groups so as to give everyone enough space to explore and shoot angles.
Friday 18 January
8h00 Depart for Carpentras Truffle Market.
Carpentras was the capital of the Comtat Venaisson from the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries and today hosts the most important truffle market in France – a perfect place to spot great characters and ‘human postcards’. Many wonderful opportunities to take reportage photographs.
9h00 Arrive Market
10h30 Transfer to ‘Venise en Provence’, the cookery school of Giuseppina Mabilia in the village of Goult. Two hour cookery lesson creating a lunch feast with truffles. Learn how to correctly prepare and cook simple, fresh dishes with the Tuber Mélanosporum, the black winter truffle.
15h00 Transfer to Saignon for afternoon photography workshop.
15h30 Chiaroscuro Food Photography workshop 2 led by led by Zaira Zanotti & Valeria Necchio. In late afternoon.
19h30 Dinner in Saignon with a relaxed discussion on social media and business.
Saturday 19 January
8h00 Early morning breakfast shoot in village (optional)
9h00 Introduction workshop by Nora Jaccaud into her film-making techniques, how she interviews her subjects and how it can be used for your videography projects.
10h30 Visit Lacoste a beautiful medieval perched village followed by truffle hunting with local farmer George who knows every inch of Lacoste by heart, every oak tree that hides a dark delicious secret. Plenty of opportunities to shoot location & reportage photography
14h00 Food Photography workshop led by led by Zaira Zanotti & Valeria Necchio.
tbc , Valeria will lead a short session on recipe development.
tbc, Elodie Love floral workshop for wreaths/crowns
19h00 Venetian Feast Dinner in Saignon. Three-course dinner created using one ingredient the Radicchio de Treviso, sourced especially from Venice for the occasion.
Sunday 20 January
9h00 Depart for my favourite best kept secret brocante (flea market) for prop sourcing.
12h30 Lunch at the award winning restaurant Chez Serge.
14h00 Return to Saignon
15h00 Editing workshop at the Bastide.
Q & A session with teachers
17h00 Return transfers for guests to Avignon train station.
Unfortunately due to the nature of this retreat we are unable to offer refunds should you need to later cancel. If you wish to find a replacement then your place can go to them but we cannot refund any payments made.
We would advise you to bring your DSLR camera and/or Iphone to participate in workshops. If you wish to bring your tripod then great!
Software: We will email with a list of apps / helpful software closer to the date but it would be a good idea if you wish to learn editing to install Adobe Lightroom on your laptop to get the most out of our editing workshop.
What to pack? Normally we have bright blue skies, dry but cold weather. So ensure you bring lots of layers and a woolly hat to keep those ears warm. Wear flat comfortable shoes as our ancient villages are often cobble-stoned and we will be doing lots of exploring.
For any other questions you might have don’t hesistate to drop me a line!