Market Monday: Nérac (Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine)

Normally when I go to visit a market, I am snapping away at every. little. thing. Because, you know, especially in France, everything is so beautiful at the markets.  On my recent trip to The Kitchen at Camont for the Natural Light Natural Food Photography workshop, I was encouraged to slow down. Think about a story. Think about the story I wanted my pictures to tell. I almost never take photos of people either and was encouraged to think about how they can add to a story.

I nervously set out to the market at Nérac with Kate, Tim and Monica, hoping I could take some halfway decent pictures that might convey the feeling that morning in the market. I mean, yeah, everything was gorgeous but honestly, how many beautiful pictures do I (or you, dear reader) need to see of local market produce? So here’s my “story”. Fuelled by a lil bit too much fun the evening before at the fête du village in Vianne, my head was muddled. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to catch the imperfect amongst the perfect…

Mélange déclassé: standing proud amongst the perfect peaches all around
Not perfect but so much more beautiful

or just, you know, seek the beauty and focus on that…

And then, you know there was the whole thing about trying to get some “people shots”. I nervously looked on from afar…

And ran away to focus instead on the gorgeous bread…

But soon, I went back in for a closer look….

And retreated again shyly. After all, there were artichokes to look at…

And more peachy perfection…

But wait, there were rough, sun-kissed hands proffering golden apricots…

After an hour or so, I got into the swing of the market. Less shyly approached the people who make the market come alive…

And I stood for ages. Watching as market-goers waited patiently for their turn. Watching as old ladies took over 30 minutes to choose 6 tomatoes…

And I learned the power of patience. And restraint. Normally in a market like Nérac, I would shoot something like 300 pictures. This time, less than half that. And 20 something I was thrilled with. Pictures that tell story about the market that morning. My story. Learning that less is more. That living in the moment is of the utmost importance. And that those who are patient will be rewarded. With perfect produce. Or with that one shot that says it all. For me, it’s the lady choosing the tomatoes. I am sure her patience was rewarded with 6 perfect tomatoes.  Next time I am tempted to just shoot any old picture, I’ll remember tomato lady. Because her approach to picking produce is definitely something that can help my photography. Slow down. Stop. Think.  Words of wisdom for everyday life too, non?

Disclosure: I was a guest of Kate Hill and Tim Clinch at Camont for their Natural Light Natural Food Photography workshop. I was not required to post about this workshop and am not being compensated for doing so. All opinions (and photos, believe it or not!!!) are 100% my own.

Follow my French travels on Flickr this summer with my Summer 2012 set of photos.

26 thoughts on “Market Monday: Nérac (Lot-et-Garonne, Aquitaine)”

  1. I do the same thing. Snap away without thinking and avoiding the people because I’m shy and hate feeling like a “tourist.”
    Next time I head to the market I will follow your advice and slow down. And try to lose the shyness.

    You have captured such gorgeous shots here!

  2. Great pics! and beautifully put together…love the way you describe the ‘tomato lady’…and thats exactly how to take market pictures…it would be so easy to buy everything there and get home and waste most if it! But I bet that lady’s tomato salad was the best in Nerac that day, because she’d chosen so carefully…just like your pictures. Chapeau!!!

  3. This is one of my favourite posts of yours. Firstly the pics are lovely – I especially like the pair with the yellow background. I’m definitely guilty of being seduced by markets and snapping aimlessly so it’s great advice too.

  4. I love a good ol’fashioned farmer’s market….bread in a basket, fresh fruit samples, then you run home to turn your treasures into new dishes.

  5. I also loved the pair with the yellow background — that mustache! I wonder what the tomato lady made with her half dozen? I very much appreciate the life lesson contained herein, but know that if I were shopping with the 5 minutes per tomato lady, I would have been out of my mind. Terrific post and lovely striking shots.


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