Enchanting encounter

One morning while in Beaumettes, I left the b&b to explore the tiny town and take some photos. I got about 2 buildings away when I saw this car through an open gate:
My camera was acting funny and I accidentally made a double exposure - turned out to be a much more interesting photo than the single shot.

As I was composing the image, a man came out in what looked to be a lab coat and started speaking to me in French. I speak very little French so I really had no idea what he was saying to me, but I held up my camera and asked "Ok?"... he not only nodded his head, but motioned for me to come inside.

I've told this story to my friends, and most think I'm nuts for going into a strange mans house alone, especially while in a foreign country.  But you know what? I think my instincts are pretty dead on when I have a camera.  When I was working on Kane County, you can bet your bottom dollar I said, "Oh, I think I'm at the wrong house" more than once while knocking on the doors of potential subjects.

Anyway, I got only good vibes from this place, and as soon as I walked in, I was enchanted.  The man lead me into a room painted powder blue, with an array of antiques, books, furniture, statues....so many objects I couldn't even begin to do justice to listing them all.  At first I thought it was some kind of antique mall, or he was a dealer at a flea market or something. He lead me into another set of rooms, painted bright red, where I feasted my eyes on scenes like this:

I literally didn't know what to do with myself, there was so much to look at.  In the span of 5 minutes, he led me through his many collections and probably 4-6 different rooms, each worthy of at least a day to admire and soak in all the treasures they had to offer.  We had as much of a conversation as we could, and he said I could stay and photograph what I wanted.  It was a dream come true!! If only I had brought my tripod.

(I know, you can't believe I didn't.  But, it is SO incredibly heavy, and I vowed that I wouldn't turn this into a photo trip.  Otherwise, we would never get anywhere and Greg would end up standing around waiting for me during most of his time in Europe.  Case in point - I didn't return to the B&B for an hour and I had only made it 2 doors down.)

Since I was sans tripod, I set my camera on whatever table I could find, used the bulb setting and prayed for the best. It was a good experience for me, because I typically can't stand artificial light and wouldn't be drawn to photograph in places like this because of that.  It interesting basing my compositions on where I could set the camera down.

I'm most excited about this portrait of the man, who turned out to be a very talented French painter Herve Thibault, and a boy who I believe is his grandson.  The boy seemed to be apprenticing with him, and he even had other people there, helping him prepare materials to paint! It was so cool; I've never met a painter with assistants before. I wish I could have spoken to him about his work...

From what I gathered, this place is his home and studio, and all the objects I saw were pieces for inspiration, models to paint from, and just collections of things he loves.  It was such a unique experience, and definitely one of the highlights of my trip.  I can't wait to go back someday!


Anonymous said…
great images. so rich and lush. i will not forget that home.
6ftnperfect said…
what luck you did not have your tripod, esp. on that close up of the chair.
mabel said…
that really was an enchanting encounter .. beautiful images

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