There is no end to the American-in-France dream and there never will be as long as audacious individuals continue to leave behind one lifestyle for an entirely different one as documented in books like “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway, films like “Midnight in Paris, and — with the narrative abilities of photography — Instagrammers.
Jamie Beck, photographer and co-creator and namer of cinemagraph, took a leap of faith uprooting her comfy New York life for the foreign countryside of Provence that quickly changed her entire work portfolio and relationship to life.
It’s easy to know you want more from life. To dream, to make a plan. The hard (and most important) part is actually doing it. Beck, a successful New York photographer felt the urge to live in France despite speaking virtually no French and knowing little to nothing about countryside. A proud Texan, however, she knew she could do it.
Throughout this life change, she journaled her experience on her blog Ann Street Studio and on her Instagram (180K followers). For those who knew Beck when she was in tailored black suits and stilettos, loose kaftan dresses and dirty hair came as a surprise…
In her new sleepy village of Luberon, learning French stemmed from communication with the cheese monger or local baker. More problematic, not knowing many people in town, Beck didn’t have any models to shoot. While landscapes were the immediate go-to — and she portrays them beautifully — Beck prefers the detail, precision, and elegance in creating a shot with a model.
Flowers, taxidermy, everyday objects, and, of course, she herself became the everyday inspiration. As she carved herself a routine, little by little she discovered beauty in it. There is a sort of softness and sensuality in shopping, cooking, or taking a walk in the countryside that Beck captures in sepia tints.
The nature of Provence grew around Beck and ultimately it grew on her. Originally, some photos were a bit forced, maybe even too good to be true. But as time passed, Beck would take the eggs she would use for a dinner and photograph them. She would take the cheeses, the flowers, the leaves and random things that crossed her path and arrange them. And so came about #myprovenceeverydayobjects.
But Beck needed humanity in her images too and so she wrapped cloth around her body, positioned her camera on a tripod, used her iPad to see herself from the vantage of the camera, and began producing self-portraits: #provenceselfportraitseries.
Life with less, both in terms of people and objects, forced her to focus. “I learned to live a life with less noise. My days in Provence are filled mostly with cooking, cleaning, and making photographs and those are the days when I am most happy,” she writes.
While Beck still has plenty of swanky partnerships, her life isn’t work-focused but instead creatively-focused. Her latest obsession with Provence-style dresses led Beck to partner with Luxe Provence to create the perfect dress. She has even teased on her stories about house-hunting in Provence. And so Beck continues her story, her creations, and enriching her Provence routine.