The Flowers of Provence: An Interview with Jamie Beck

It began, as most fascinating tales do, with some main life adjustments and a Transatlantic aircraft experience. Jamie Beck was already a longtime skilled photographer together with her personal studio in Decrease Manhattan. However she felt it in her intestine that she wished to stay in France.

Beck made the massive transfer from busy New York to the cobblestoned quaintness of Provence in 2016. Although she supposed it to be a one-year-sabbatical, it was not going to be any bizarre sojourn in France. It was the start of a transformative journey. One which might see the area and its cultural and pure world develop into an enormous a part of Beck’s inspiration. At present, she nonetheless continues to stay in her beloved Provence.

The trail she set off on, would see Beck deal with the challenges of being in a brand new nation, whereas absorbing all that’s great about Provençal life. All this, whereas creating artwork and documenting her life and inventive course of by way of Instagram. Her hanging pictures, writing, impeccable vogue sense, and persona have received her a legion of followers.

As if that’s not sufficient, she wrote a New York Occasions bestselling e-book, her debut, An American in Provence, revealed in 2022. 

Now Beck revealed her second e-book, The Flowers of Provence. If you happen to occur to be in LA this weekend, you’ll be able to catch her public e-book signing occasion at Wyeth, on Saturday, October 28, 11 AM-4PM. 

In a world that’s more and more transferring in direction of over-consumption and over-scheduling, Beck’s books come as a scrumptious interlude. It’s an invite to cease and take a stroll together with her, exploring the fields and gardens of Provence. Come alongside as we speak to Beck about her newest e-book, her inspirations, and life in France. 

Left: Jamie Beck's book cover for Flowers of Provence, Right: Jamie Beck appears in her studio surrounded by flowers
Excerpted from The Flowers of Provence. Copyright © 2022, Jamie Beck. Reproduced by permission of Simon Ingredient, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

The Flowers of Provence frames flowers not simply as lovely objects, however as an entry level for understanding Provence. Inform us about your connection to the place, and why it’s a compelling setting for this e-book?

Provence is my muse. She is breath and life; cycles of progress, relaxation and re-emergence. She modified my life endlessly. As such, I attempt to share her magnificence and bounty with everybody to honor her. That appreciation for the each day life issues which might be throughout us however my biggest pleasure of Provence is the flowers. Not just for their magnificence, scent and ornament however how they’re a part of the ecosystem. Mandatory for making honey, for pollination of fruit timber, and to inform farmers indicators of illness earlier than it assaults their crops. Flowers are edible, lovely, used as dried herbs for cooking, medicinal, how fragrance originated, important oils and a lot extra. I dig deeper into the historical past and makes use of of flowers on this area, together with over 200 floral images, in my new e-book, The Flowers of Provence.

Jamie Beck's self portraits. Left: She poses with a big bunch of flowers. Right: she lays on a field of lavender in Provence
Jamie Beck

The wedding of phrases and pictures makes your e-book a sensorial expertise. How did you arrive at this type of story-telling? What’s your writing course of like?

Writing isn’t one thing I’m terribly comfy with as a result of the method for me is so vastly totally different than once I {photograph}. Once I create {a photograph} it’s as if I’ve an ideal dance accomplice in pictures. We will transfer by way of an area, an thought, and dance by way of the sunshine effortlessly collectively. Once I write, nonetheless, it appears like being drowned in a river. Preventing for air, greedy at phrases you’ll be able to maintain on to, not fairly certain what’s across the riverbed. Once I’m constructing {a photograph} I do know the place it’s going, I’m constructing what’s in my thoughts’s eye. As an artist what pursuits me most is utilizing phrases for example what I used to be so accustomed to doing by way of images. Writing provides me a chance to clarify what these photos imply to me personally, and the way and why they got here to be.

Left: Jamie Beck's self-portrait photgraph with yellow flowers and roses, Right: yellow mimosas places on a wooden table
Jamie Beck

Every picture is sort of a poem: each element, petal, curve of a hand, consists with intention. What’s on the root of your consideration to the smallest particulars?

My time and expertise in Provence has reawakened me to view life by way of the lens of childlike surprise. As if I’m seeing all the pieces anew for the primary time and it’s … magical! I really feel like this implies being current and delighted by the small issues resembling a hidden snail nonetheless laying dormant within the bouquet of flowers I bought on the market or the best way the sunshine dances throughout the Luberon as if it have been fingers trickling throughout a piano. I additionally draw inspiration from outdated world work like these of the Dutch masters the place the extra you look throughout the picture, the extra belongings you discover. These points of on a regular basis life which might be at all times current; you simply should decelerate and be current to noice.

Left: Jamie Beck holds up a glass of wine and there are grapes strewn on the table, Right: lemons and fruits
Jamie Beck

Your work jogs my memory of Blake: ‘Like seeing eternity within the grain of a sand, and heaven in an hour.’ The enjoyment that you just derive in mundane points of life: a stray butterfly, a moist beetle, the place does that come from? Can one be taught to develop this gaze?

It’s one thing I realized to understand whereas younger and within the backyard with my grandmother. I’ve at all times been eager on particulars and wonder however as soon as I took my first {photograph}, I by no means appeared again. I used to be always chasing that feeling of making and capturing the great thing about a second. Constructing my nonetheless lives, I’m constructing out what I see in my thoughts. It’s rhythmic and pure which generally means trial and error. Anybody can develop this gaze by merely what’s already round us and discovering what’s pleasant. Colors, textures, tones, smells, sounds, shapes, magnificence is an limitless alternative… it’s simply all in the way you select to see.

Left: Jamie Beck self portrait wearing a white dress and holding flowers, Right: Jamie Beck holds up a red rose
Jamie Beck

You utilize a protracted and complicated course of to create your images, even utilizing a number of ‘plates’ to compose a scene. Inform us extra about your strategies, and inspirations?

I got here into the digital world kicking and screaming submit commencement from New York’s Vogue Institute of Know-how the place I labored solely with movie. I used to be on the lookout for a strategy to keep that feeling that I used to be capable of create on movie and in a darkroom. The grain, the depths, the tones, the main points, the distinction of shadows and lightweight… Now, when working digitally I would like my work to really feel like a portray.  Sounds so clichée however my inspiration is life itself right here in Provence. It’s artwork each within the technical sense but in addition within the sense of “l’artwork de la vie”. It’s one of many issues I really like and respect probably the most about France. The way in which each shopkeeper greets you (and expects a hi there in return), it’s the best way life in all its splendour strikes just like the seasons in the course of the 12 months. I slowed all the way down to France’s tempo which we are able to all agree is sort of totally different from New York Metropolis the place I got here from. As I started to reconstruct what a 24-hour day was, my method to pictures modified. Now not hundreds of images speedy hearth a second, however as a substitute, taking the very long time to compose one picture in a complete day. Making the {photograph} doesn’t begin with the digital camera. It’s begins together with your day, your mindset, what is going on in the mean time in life after which my job as a photographer is capturing that story to the upmost element. If you happen to’re flying by way of life, flying by way of frames, simply think about all the attractive little particulars you’re lacking. These particulars are points I’ll “paint” in layer by layer giving every my full consideration in submit manufacturing.

Left: a car full of flowers on a cobblestone street in Provence, Right: Jamie Beck's studio with camera on a tripod ready to capture photos of flowers
Jamie Beck

You could have devoted this e-book to your grand-mother. As I explored the e-book, themes of household and heritage stood out to me. Are you able to focus on the affect of household in your life and work as an artist?

My grandmother was a outstanding determine in my life. I might spend my time together with her in her backyard, planting flowers, and having fun with all that nature needed to supply. Listening to her discuss how she realized to develop greens from her father. Nevertheless,  it was not till the delivery of my daughter Eloise, that I actually understood the deeper which means of household.  As I take a look at her, I consider all that I’m instructing her and can go away behind by way of her or my artwork lengthy after I’ve handed.  One of many hardest issues I did was take {a photograph} every month in the course of the first 12 months of her life. It was difficult as an artist, as a brand new mom looking for her approach… This I couldn’t have accomplished with out my husband and accomplice, Kevin Burg. My household is my life and my life is my inspiration as an artist. I don’t even see a line between the 2 generally because it feels so pure.

Left: Jamie Beck poses in a garden with her daughter Eloise and an umbrella, Right: purple flowers in a vase posed to look like in a classical painting.
Jamie Beck

Your self-portraits are fascinating in the best way it references classical artwork, whereas being an expression of your individual life. What’s the significance of those self-representations inside your physique of labor?

I began taking self portraits once I arrived in France. I knew nobody, spoke no French and had none of my ordinary fashions that my life in New York afford entry to, so I simply used myself to create. In teh starting it was a strategy to see the place I used to be in France however rapidly turned a instrument, as France started to alter me essentially, to check this metamorphosis I used to be experiencing in life visually unfold. I converse so much to this physique of labor and period of my life in France in my 1st e-book, An American in Provence, which was a New York Occasions Bestseller in addition to my technical course of to creating a few of my most iconic self portraits.

Left: a field of red poppies in Provence at sunset, Right: Jamie Beck's book An American in Provence' propped up on a wooden mantle
Jamie Beck

With social media more and more transferring in direction of video content material, what has been your expertise working with movies versus pictures?

It has really given me a better appreciation for pictures and the way we expertise it. By being pushed culturally into video (both by content material creation or simply consumption) it’s serving to me to know that factor through which I’ve at all times cherished, pictures, a lot extra. With that stated, what makes a compelling {photograph}? It’s partly on account of storytelling and the satisfaction of the artist in its creation, expression, and artistic selections. Video is not any totally different in that regard, one other instrument beneath the identical rules of storytelling. This is the reason so many administrators and cinematographers are additionally nice photographers, it’s only a selection on find out how to get the purpose across- in movement or frozen in time.

What do you respect most about residing in France? What do you discover difficult?

I used to be simply telling a winemaker good friend, Natalie Milan from Area Milan in St.Rémy , the opposite day that one of many issues I really like most about life in France is my rituals. That is to say, going to the Saturday market, and shopping for native produce.  Strolling to every vendor and farmer, taking no matter is seasonal and recent earlier than going residence to make lunch for our household.  It feels so natural… I prepare dinner and not using a recipe and simply let the bounty encourage me.  So far as challenges, I might say the language is admittedly robust although, not for my 4 12 months outdated daughter Eloise who likes to appropriate me when I’m saying it flawed… which is more often than not!

Left: a window in Provence with yellow roses growing all over it. Right: Jamie Beck self-portrait, she is seated on a window sill with yellow roses all around her
Jamie Beck

What do you miss probably the most in regards to the US?

So far as lacking probably the most in regards to the US, I might say to start with I actually missed tacos and margaritas and the range in cultural meals I had on the tip of my finger in New York, however actually, I don’t even miss them that a lot anymore. It’s sort of humorous after we return to the states for household visits or work how extremely quick issues can get carried out which is good every now and then. That and Individuals have such an “all the pieces is feasible” perspective which is a enjoyable break from the French one which is very often, “It isn’t doable.” So I get pleasure from that about the US however solely as a result of I don’t expertise on a daily I can respect it.

Any parting phrases for photographers or creatives who wish to draw inspiration from you, to set off on their very own ‘artists’s journey,’ however in all probability haven’t discovered the braveness to?

It’s by no means too late. Do it now, it’s one thing that may change your life endlessly. Go together with your intestine. Make issues for the enjoyable of it, do it for you, therein lies the happiness.

Left: a fountain in Provence, Right: a wall overgrown with leaves and flowers
Jamie Beck

What are your upcoming plans? Anything you want to share with us?

This October my second e-book, The Flowers of Provence, with Simon & Schuster can be revealed.  This e-book is a celebration of one among my favourite topics within the South of France- flowers! A mix of my unique artwork with floral tutorials from Provencal artisans included. After this, I’m trying ahead to exploring new types of storytelling by way of new merchandise we have now been working years on creating to carry to life the look, smells, and ideas of Provence, in addition to launching a brand new group platform for creatives, artists, and naturally, FRANCOPHILES! You may sustain with all my information by following me on instagram at and signing up for my e-newsletter.

Written by Pronoti Baglary. Trying to journey? Try Plum Information and our Market for fabulous trip leases in Paris, France or Italy. Trying to hire lengthy or brief time period, or purchase in France? Ask us! We will join you to our trusted suppliers for superb service and charges or click on right here. Trying to carry France residence to you or to be taught on-line or in particular person? Try our market store and experiences.

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Pronoti Baglary

Pronoti is a contract author and photographer based mostly in Paris. Having had an instructional coaching in Sociology, she is considering all the pieces associated to tradition & society: languages, arts, literature and applied sciences. She writes about meals, way of life, journey, structure, in addition to musings about her life as an expat in Paris. Her work has been revealed on platforms like Urbansider, Bonjour Paris and Fodors.

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