June 9th 2017
‘Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it unfold. ‘
At times I feel like my life trickles forward, like a babbling brook. Like a little stream that spills its predictability and security onto my heart and makes me feel safe and soothed. Life like this is comforting, mundane and filled with contentment. But every now and then I get an undeniable urge to do something really specific. To make a certain move, to say a stern yes or no, to choose a particular path. It’s not that I go out looking for it. Opportunities present themselves daily and manifold, yet very little times do I feel the urge to act or let myself be carried by them. Some chances, thoughts or encounters invoke feelings an unquestionable belonging though. It’s like a part of me recognizes that which should unquestionably be experienced and proceed accordingly.
Such a feeling arose earlier this year, when I read about Gillian and Emilies visual storytelling workshop at D’Une Ile, France. The stars aligned and I just knew I had to attend. I had wanted to participate in a photography workshop, focused on lifestyle, editorial and brand photography, as up to that point I was completely self-taught. I craved to expand, collaborate, broaden, deepen, learn. And I wanted to do something for me. I hadn’t taken a solo trip for over four years, far before our daughter Lou was born. I felt ready.
For years visiting D’Une Ile, a small hotel situated in the French countryside, had been on my wishlist. D’Une Ile is not a hotel in the traditional sense of the word. It’s rather a beautiful collection of farmhouses from the seventeenth century, renovated and decorated by a lovely Dutch couple, Sofie and Michel. The couple runs a restaurant on the premises, serving the most delicious seasonal and regional dishes. The rooms are stunning, decorated minimally with all design and brocante pieces. Can you imagine my elated state when I learned that’s where the workshop was going to be held? Naturally, I went. I made it happen.
My stay was as inspired as I had hoped and imagined. Fueled by what I saw, did and felt, I documented the slow pace of our French country life. I did not try to manipulate reality too much, I simply recorded that which unfolded naturally. Fields of wildflowers, market baskets, hand-thrown ceramics filled with fern, draped linens and ancient tiled floors. I captured it all.
I did not have to take care of anyone but myself and most of the time I was cared for by others. It was sheer luxury. It allowed me have time for uninterrupted play.
The first thing everyone asked me when I returned home was ‘did you learn a lot?’ and ‘did you get what you wanted’? I guess it is norm to ask for tangible results, to rate success. But I wasn’t able to do that, I found it difficult to answer.
A few days after my return all of a sudden it dawned on me. What I gained from this workshop was not photo facts and technical knowledge, not the measureable kind of success. This trip away, filled with photography, beauty, lengthy dinners, inspirational folk, craft and sharing ignited in me a fire and gave me clarity about what I wanted for myself, work-wise. It has stirred my heart and set things in motion. It has given me that extra bit of focused vision and energy to enable dreams to become reality. It is outcomes like these that are priceless, of unmeasurable worth.
That’s how it all unfolded. More about this soon.
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