This last Summer I was going through one of those days that you just wish to forget and start all over again the day after. It’s interesting how sometimes when we are down and possibly not feeling our best for whatever reason, Universe sends us a message that everything is going to be all right in the end. That happened to me quite a few times already and it happened again on that very hot and not the easiest to handle Summer day. This time it was the email I received that just turned my mood instantly from ‘down’ to ‘ecstatic’ and gave me a feeling of pure joy and happiness, oh and a lot of excitement too! 😀 The email in which one of my two biggest food photography inspirations ever, Eva Kosmas Flores from Adventures in Cooking blog (the other, if you are wondering, would be Linda Lomelino from Call me Cupcake blog) was inviting me to join her and her team at the Food photography & styling workshop in beautiful Croatian region of Istria! Well, if that doesn’t lift you spirits…! 🙂
I’ve been admiring Eva’s work ever since I started doing food photography about 3.5 years ago, first as a hobby and now professionally. From the first moment I saw her food & travel photos, I was under their spell and just loved so much how she captures and creates the most magical mood in her photos, whether it’s a photo of a steaming bowl of soup, sweet red cherries in the garden, hidden moody corner from one of her travels or the most beautifully styled table for a dinner outdoors in the middle of the lush forest! Her work has been so inspiring and always gave me that ‘I want to be this good one day’ motivation to work hard, practice and simply give my all…
I got to meet Eva last year in Zagreb for a quick coffee and cakes and it was enough to see and feel what a sweet and positive person she is! Since I’ve been a huge fan of Eva’s work, of course I knew all about her amazing workshops all over the world and that for the last two years she has had her workshops in Croatia too, more specifically, in a beautiful hilltop villa overlooking lush and green Istrian valley. And I knew that she is having her third workshop there this October. So I think you can understand my excitement and how much it meant to me to be given the opportunity to not only join the workshop but also to help out in preparations and learn from Eva, to get to know her and her wonderful team that came to Croatia from US and to be able to do for a week what I LOVE to do the most!
Eva was joined by lovely Trisha Hughes of Eat your beets blog and I honestly cannot describe in words what an amazing woman she is! Trisha is talented photographer and blogger, beautiful inside and out, passionate about what she does, hard working, hilariously funny (I literally had my tears coming down my face from laughing with her on quite a few occasions, thank God for waterproof mascara!) and also a mum to four (4!) beautiful children. I have nothing but respect for her and was so lucky to be able to meet her and have her as a friend from now on!
I’m sure you noticed the beautiful ceramics in the photos. All the ceramics we used at the workshop is work of an incredibly talented Slovenian artist Ana Haberman behind her brand Tri Lukne and all of us were in love with all those gorgeous plates, bowls, cups and more… I wished I could take everything back home with me (and than get a bigger storage space so I can have everything nice and organised, a girl can dream, right!?)! All the attendees and all of us enjoyed a styling session where we got to see Eva work her magic and how she effortlessly creates beautiful set up for food photography. All the attendees also got a chance to pick up any props they wanted to and choose a space, among so many wonderful corners around the house and the garden, where they created a little scene to photograph while Eva and Trisha were there to answer any questions they might have.
I tried my best to see and learn and be present at lessons and sessions as much as I could but at the same time I was also pretty busy helping sweet Danielle Firle of Tendue, Eva’s partner in My Secret Supper project that is all about people, food and community, in setting up tables, styling, choosing props, picking up greens and flowers around the property and of course all that ‘not so glamorous but needs to be done’ work when you have 14 people (8 attendees and 6 of us in the team) in the villa. I’ll admit that it was quite intense and there was a lot to be done so after this experience I have even more admiration for Eva for organizing and teaching all these workshops in so many different countries. Definitely not easy to organize but she does it so well that it seems like it’s easy! It’s so rewarding, motivating and inspiring and wonderful experience to be part of this workshop and I couldn’t recommend it enough!
Let’s talk about food for a moment. We were spoiled by the most delicious food prepared from the fresh seasonal ingredients by our lovely couple of Chefs, Mona and Jaret of Tournant. They are so passionate about food, coking, using local seasonal ingredients and their passion translates into their delicious dishes so we really couldn’t ask for better Chefs at this workshop. We had delicious pumpkin filled with cheese and veggies and cream and than roasted over the open fire, varieties of eggplants, sweet peppers, zucchini and tomatoes dishes, the most creamy yummy polenta, roasted cauliflowers, different pasta dishes, rich soups, fancy frittatas, fresh salads and so much more… Besides being so talented they are just the sweetest, kindest people and I was really happy to be around them chatting with them and watching them work. And of course to photograph them doing their magic, it doesn’t hurt that both of them are crazy photogenic too so when your Chefs also make great models than you can just imagine how excited we would all get when they would bring out a dish ready to be served. We were something like paparazzi, capturing their every move haha and they were so patient about it! 🙂
I really hope you don’t mind the overload of photos but believe me when I say that I spent a lot of time editing and narrowing down the selection of photos for this blog post. And it was so hard to choose which ones to share so I decided to share a bit more than it’s maybe usual to share in just one blog post. I wanted to give you a picture of the whole experience and it can possibly motivate you to attend one of the workshops yourself one day. So I’m hoping you can read this post when you have a bit of free time by yourself, take a cup of tea or coffee and join us, even just through photos and words, on our Croatian adventure!
Besides obviously all the food photography and styling, my favourite part of the workshop was meeting all the talented ladies (and Jaret as the only guy!) and sharing our stories and love for photography, being creative, good food and wine, travelling and new experiences. When you feel so passionate about something and than you get to spend time in a little group of people who feel the same, a certain kind of magic happen and you connect quite intensely over the short period of time. I think everybody takes home something new they learnt but also a motivation and that much needed confirmation that hard work does pay off in the end. Eva is so good at talking with people, listening and pointing you in the right direction, giving the encouragement that we all need.
One of my favourite (it’s hard to choose, there were so many favourites!) things were the evenings. We would set the table, Mona and Jaret would prepare something delicious, wine bottles were opened and we would relax and spend hours chatting, sharing and laughing over candle lights. It doesn’t get much better than that! All of us came from different places, cultures, backgrounds, different life situations but we all felt really connected and close and it feels healing and good for one’s soul…
As this blog post is coming to an end of course I have another favourite haha! 😀 Besides visiting charming little hilltop town Motovun that you can see on the photos, visiting a winery where we got to taste some amazing Croatian wines, we also went truffle hunting in a nearby forest and had a real truffle feast. Obviously I also have to share some of that too as it was so much fun and dogs were the cutest!
I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos, would love to hear from you in the comments so let me know what you think! I believe you got an idea how much I enjoyed and appreciated this whole experience so all I can say at the end is: ‘THANK YOU, EVA!’ 🙂