Preserving Italy Workshop:: the slow food experience

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We just wrapped up the Slow Food Experience workshop, and I must say it was a wonderful experience not only for our attendees but for me too. We visited food artisans in the area and sampled local food like panigacci and chestnut fritters, and with the help of my foodie friends, I think we represented the region of the Lunigiana proudly.

There are so many interesting and different local foods here. It’s so different, in fcct, that I am writing my next cookbook about it (keep your eyes peeled for the La Fortezza Cookbook, due out in 2021). It is a region rich in history and food history with many kitchens born out of need and lack of funds; the “poor kitchen,” or as they call it, “cucina povere” was creative and inspired.

We made pasta with Chef Philip using jarred tomato sauce, (passata) from our kitchen garden tomatoes. We made grape jam with my friend and slow food ambassador, Giovanna, and sampled bread from the local bread maker Fabio


We enjoyed chestnut fritters with chestnut honey and dined on all the products from around the area breakfast lunch and dinner, and of course many aperitivos…

This workshop will be available next year. All workshops for 2020 will post in November. We would love for you to join us and sample all the local food products and meet all the lovely people that work so hard to preserve the traditions of this beautiful region.

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Thanks to all the attended and we really loved meeting your eating with all of you. See you next year.x

Some imagery is from our team photographer Kate Blohm

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Style Pin 03 – Styling a kitchen

Let’s talk about styling a kitchen today.
aaf2f096735bde252de6bd23af5bbc96 As most of you know by now I’ve been styling and training stylists for 20 years. One of the easiest lessons in teaching assistants is to have them style a white kitchen. It’s an effective tool to start learning about composition and styling any room (in other words “where to put the props” for the camera). To produce a kitchen shoot, once again, less is more. In the case of a white kitchen, pops of color are key.

This week’s styling lesson: this is a kitchen I styled for Kitchen and Bath Ideas Magazine. I like this photo because with minimal proppage I achieved the desired effect. You notice all the bells and whistles in the kitchen and the living things add life and warmth to the room and just the right pop of color. trinagle Pick a color: 1 or maybe 2. If you’re going with two colors make sure they are complimentary, also make sure one is the dominant color. Like the YELLOW (dominant) and green (secondary) in this example.

Make a color triangle  aka “The Magic Triangle”: When deciding where to place colorful props, use my color triangle rule. Place props in a triangle in the frame of the lens (note: it does not need to be a perfect triangle it just needs to be 3 color focal points that form a triangle of some sort). This is where’s it’s important to look at the capture (definition: capture is an image that you snap. It’s either on the back of the camera or on your computer monitor if you’re tethered to the camera). You should be able to draw a triangle from all the pops of color in the props. Move the props until you see the triangle of color through the lens and on your image. Snap the photograph et voila!

* note the magic triangle is a training tool. eventually you will steer away from this rule, but you will notice in your styling it will show up on it’s own once styling becomes intuitive. just for fun look at some of your favorite interiors photos and see if you can spot the magic triangle.

Don’t over prop: the biggest mistake I see with designers styling their own rooms, is that they forget to edit and place too many props in the room. Over propping creates a photograph with lots of static or what some may call “noise.”  There is no where to rest your eye. Here’s a great example of over propping: 799d2b354bb9e0ecc2166b6131fcd2c8

I feel like one of those hats and half of the items on the bench could go and you’d still have the same overall effect.

Want to see more examples of photos done right? Follow me on pinterest!

Let me know how it goes, I love to here from you! Feel free to ask me styling questions, I will answer them as soon as I can.

Happy Styling! xx

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Style Pin 02- Lessons in Styling

Today’s styling lesson is all about composition.

When I got my first “real job,” before I was a stylist, I worked as a Visual Merchandising manager at a now defunct store – Gimbels. You may remember it from the movie “Elf.” I had a super talented staff, they were all older and more experienced and I cannot tell you how much these people taught me, things that I’ve carried through my styling career to this day.

One of my team members was Rick Krueger. I will never forget him. He had a big mustache and wore plaid shirts. Rick looked like one of the Village People, but of course a lot of people looked like the Village People back then. It was the 80’s after all.

What Rick taught me was how to compose a cosmetic case in the cosmetics department. It seemed simple enough, but what Rick said to me was that the most important thing was the understanding of basic composition and working small was a good way to start. I find that using small boxes and bottles is the best lesson in composition. It was a lesson I would never forget and still use to this day. Good photography and styling are all about great composition.

For this week’s styling lesson I want you to take objects like bottles and small boxes or plates and vases and move them around your set until you find the set up that pleases the eye of the camera the most. Take lots and lost of photos!

Remember when moving small objects on set, move them ever so slightly. A little movement goes a long way.

This weeks style photos: Why I love this styling below? The composition is very simple, balanced and pleasing. There is lots of void space (see style pin #01) and edited propping.

The first shot is a down shot and the second is a cross angle shot. Play with your depth of field (this means one object in focus the others blurred). Again take tons of photos.

The first photo is a down shot – the florals are in focus and the rest of the table is not. Notice the balance of the objects/composition and the scale.


The second photo is a cross angle shot – this is a balanced composition with an off center point of interest against the mirror. Play with where you place the camera. Take lots of photos.


Think simple: One of the hardest things to achieve in styling is simplicity and a pleasing composition. What I suggest is that you pick like items, gather them on a tray and play with a pleasing composition. Sometimes working small is an easy way to play with composition.

What the Camera sees: What the human eye sees and what the camera sees are very different. It took me about a year to see like a camera when I first started styling. It’s not just about great props and great surfaces. Eventually seeing like a camera will become a motor-skill. For me after 20 years plus of styling I no longer think about what looks great for the camera on set I just set everything up instinctually. If you practice long enough you will too. You will start placing props on set with less hesitation and you’ll just put everything in the right place first time out, with a few minor adjustments once the camera is put in place. In this case… the more you practice the better and quicker you’ll get.

Mimic: The best composition exercise and one I give my new assists to do, is to literally copy styling they like. The photographs above are easy to replicate, so try it.

Study composition: If you want to style better and never went to art/design school, pick up a book and read about composition. Knowing the basics will help translate good styling composition to your work. The Art of the Photograph is a great book to start with.

Practice and let me hear how you do. Until next week xx

Don’t forget to follow me on pinterest.

photo: rue magazine styled by me

photo: matchbook magazine 

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Style Pin 01 – Lessons in Styling

I’m adding a new column to the blog this year: Style Pin. Since this is the year I have decided to focus my blog on styling lessons and teaching opportunities like workshops and “how to” posts, it seemed like the perfect combination! I thought sharing some stylist pointers on Fridays would be a great way to share my experience and expertise. I will be pointing out why I pinned a particular photograph, why it’s styled well, and what to look for when you’re shooting for your own purposes. Whether you are shooting or styling for your own blog or a client, I hope a few trade secrets will be helpful.

So many people use pinterest as inspiration, myself included. I am totally obsessed because it’s the most fabulous style resource and visual distraction. I am going to be sharing my tips and views on why I pinned something and why I love the style. Here goes… what makes this space so stylish to me?


Less is More: When styling for the camera, less is always more. Editing it the most important skill a photo stylist can have. One of the most important lessons I have learned over the years is to translate the art of editing to my own home. This space has so much void space. When styling a photograph or styling your own space don’t be afraid of blank spaces. The oranges add a bit of life, not just because of the lovely orange color, but because they are alive.When you add something organic or real to a vignette it completes the space and brings instant personality.

Stylist secret: When we’re on a shoot and a shot is not working sometimes just hauling in a plant, or something alive (this includes a dog or a person blurred in the background as well) helps a shot tremendously. Sometime shots can be static and boring so a little life (literally) can transform a boring shot into a lovely shot.

Follow me on pinterest…more style pin tips next week. I will be announcing 2 prop/food photography workshops in the next few weeks. Make sure you look out for the sign up sheet and sign up spots will be limited.

Pinned from Remodelista Blog

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