French for "from scratch"
en panne

Shutterbug in French

Field of wheat and poppies (c) Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
All photos in today's post are by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith. 

I once believed the French had a charming word for everything. Today's term is an exception--for there is no equivalent for "shutterbug" in the language of love! Instead, let's feature the English word and then we'll get our French fix in today's definition. (We'll also have a little fun with the pronunciation guide, just below :-)

shutterbug (shoo-tair-boog)

    : un passionné de photographie

Audio File: I was counting on Jean-Marc to pronounce this English term as a Frenchmen would. But his English is too good! So we practiced a few times (imagine coaching a Frenchman in French phonetics--when you've got a thick American accent!) We ended up with a mixed result. Enjoy it, and this example sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

    Un shutterbug c'est un passionné de photographie.
    A shutterbug is someone who is passionate about photography.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc must have told me three times, "I'm so happy you are getting together with Cynthia!

Yes, I was looking forward to seeing my new friend, too. It would get this casanière out of the house--and might even make my husband feel less guilty for his golf getaway today.

But Jean-Marc need not worry about golf envy on my part. I'm a shutterbug. Or was... It's been years since I've felt those photographic endorphins course through my veins. Oh I've had a few photo sprees, in the year or two since moving, but nothing like those lazy and free photo journeys through Sarrians, Buis and Rochegude to name a few.

This would be my second photo sortie with Cynthia, who studied photography in California, photographed for various NGOs in several parts of Africa, and freelanced in US and Europe. Cynthia also worked in the photography department and photographed for the National Geographic Society. Here in France, she was director of photography for Blue Coast Magazine in Nice, and in 1994 launched French Foto Tours Inc. in Provence to lead workshops in France, Italy, Spain, and Mexico.

How's that for a cool new friend?

Mon amie sympathique arrived at 7:30, an hour and a half after sunrise. "I can't believe how early the sun is coming up!" Cynthia said, as I fastened the passenger seat belt and we sped toward Cuges-les-Pins, before the prized morning light turned dull. 

As for photo opportunities, Cynthia had mentioned a barn door not far from the stables where she keeps Zahra, her jument. We could start with that rustic subject--la porte de grange--and work our way through fields of wheat and poppies, to the town center for coffee.

Arriving in Cuges, it was now clear why they put the OK Corral here. I've driven my daughter to the wild west theme park a few times, but never having ventured off the beaten track I had not noticed this was a horse town! Looking out the window I saw fields of equine grazers, barns, and trailers scattered everywhere. 

Meantime the shadows were scattering, too--creeping right across the bright barn door we'd hoped to capture! 

"Not all shadows are bad," Cynthia assured, and I'd soon understand how fallen ombres could enhance a photo. But not this time (the barn door's shadows weren't so interesting), so we trekked through the tall grass laced with wildflowers--to the cemetery and vineyards beyond--in search of other unsuspecting subjects. I leave you with those now, along with the helpful notes Cynthia added to her pictures. I'll be keeping the tips in mind for the next time Jean-Marc plays golf... and I follow him out the door for some practice. Some shutter practice :-)


Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

 Flat light for people can work well

French cemetery (c) Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Long shadows make this work

field of wheat and poppies (c) Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
Lots of depth of field so everything is sharp (or acceptably sharp)

wine farmer (c) Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
Converging lines enhance this one

Kristin Espinasse and converging lines (c) Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
Converging lines and high camera angle add to this one.

French Vocabulary

la casanière (le casanier) = homebody
une sortie = outing
mon amie = friend
sympathique = easygoing, pleasant
la jument = mare, or female horse
la porte de grange = barn door
l'ombre (f) = shade

First-French-Essais-book-coverPictures Galore! Even the photo captions in this book will grow your French Vocab!

See my pictures of Provence in the book First French Essais, "the book that takes you to France." The photo descriptions include useful and fun words that will quickly and easily build your vocabulary. Order your copy here.




Kristi and cynthia

Self portrait. This last photo is just for fun. In keeping with Cynthia's helpful notes, I'll ad this one: "French window shutters and shutterbugs, help to distract from unsightly electric cords (right). 

*    *    *

Next up: MOM! Please wish Jules bon voyage. She will soon arrive in Amsterdam for a 5-hour layover before arriving in Marseilles--this after 24 hours of travel time from her home in Mexico!

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Bon Voyage, Jules! Enjoy your visit!

Kristin, those photos are stunning, as are yours! I miss looking at the beautiful photos you used to take. It sounds like your outing with Cynthia was very inspiring.

Suzanne Codi

Have a safe trip Jules, and enjoy every minute with your French family!
I hope to meet you if ever our trip to France coincides with yours!

Nice pix Kristi,must be fun to have another good eye on a photo outing! I was a little surprised to see you wearing long sleeves, is it still that chilly now?

Bises, Suzanne


Enjoyed today's post, as always... and Kristin, your photos are as gorgeous as are Cynthia's. J-M was excited for you to get out, I think, because he suspected you have been missing photo-journaling as you much as you used to do.

Bon voyage, dear Jules! Be safe! Nothing at all lifts the spirits, and even improves health, as spending time with loving family. I know yours is very much looking forward to the good times about to happen! :)


Kristin I have always enjoyed your photography and looking forward to seeing more!
Chère Jules, je souhaite que le ciel sera bleu, les oiseaux chanteront et tout ira bien. Bon voyage.


I have a question about the word 'sortie'. When I was in Paris a few weeks ago (my first trip to Europe), I noticed on the Metro, the exits were marked 'Sortie'. Is this translated 'Out' or 'Exit'? I guessed pretty quickly it was the way out, lol, when I got off the first Metro train and followed the crowd up the stairs to my destination.


Loving it!!!! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. I'll be there when I win the lottery.

Debbie Ambrous

Kristin, now you are talking my language. I wish that I had the knowledge and expertise of your friend! I love photography, especially in France. I've taken so many pictures since we have been here since mid-April, but I am more selective. Isn't it wonderful when unexpected things happen at the right moment? Enjoy!! I wish the best for your Mom's trip to France, and I know she is anxious to see you.

gwyn ganjeau

bon voyage, jules!!! when you go to see krisint and family, i somehow feel i'm getting company too! i just love the images i conjure up of you all on your daily adventures. have a ball!!

Chris Allin

It must have been so inspiring for you, Kristin, to spend the day with a kindred spirit ~ and lucky for us to see such gorgeous photos and to understand a little about their composition. Safe travels to Jules...looks like life at Mas des Brun is about to take on a new energy!

Ed Klinenberg

Bonjour Kristin,

Your photographic eye seems well developed to me--a guy who has been shooting huge numbers of photos for dozens of years. You seem to have a natural feel for what makes an interesting picture that tells a little story in the click of an oeil. You also use the colors of Provence quite well. It's a great idea to go out making photos with another person who has had formal training in it and who has made her living doing photography etc because it focuses you on the essential elements that form the foundation of good photography (which of course was invited par les Francais!).
Recently I made my first visit to Provence and vowed not to shoot cutesy photos of doors and walls and flower pots on window sills...but I found so many "charming" scenes that I couldn't help myself so I shot them despite my self-vow not to do it! After many trips to Paris including my one-year as a student at La Sorbonne, I finally made it to Provence and loved the area. I had wanted to try to communicate with you while there and possibly to invite you and your husband for drinks...but we did not have enough time to make it to your area. La prochaine fois j'espere que je puisse faire tel un rencontre!
-Ed Klinenberg, Menlo Park, CA

Ed Klinenberg

Whoops--I meant to write, "which of course was invented (not invited) by les Francais!"

Gail Lentz

Had fun pronouncing today's word with a French accent!! Also, loved the photos and tips.
Praying Jules will have a safe voyage and a marvelous reunion with her beloved family!!
Gaelle in AZ

edie schmidt


Love the photos and the helpful hints. I am a "shutterbug" and do my own printing. I've got an archival printer that does a great job. I've done a fair amount of photography in France when visiting our daughter-in-law's family. Every now and then I get that thrill when I capture a subject and am really happy with the result. You know that feeling!
Enjoy your visit with votre mere,

Edie from Savannah

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

I loved the photos and the post ----- Maybe you will get back into photography? You have a great eye -- and a fabulous region to go wild!

Jules, have a wonderful visit with your family. I love hearing about your French adventures --- please keep us posted!

Enjoy your mom Kristin! And post some photos of her ok?

Be well.

GwenEllyn Anderson (amie de Michel Weddle qui a travaillé avec Jane)

I run into this difficulty every once in a while - like when I wanted to tell someone that I loved 'picking his brain'. "Really liking your ideas" does not convey the same concept. :)

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Such fun we had yesterday, Kristi, and as your readers point out, we are surrounded by a wealth of photo opportunities in Provence. You make beautiful photographs AND you put your subjects at ease more quickly and skillfully than anyone I know. Can hardly wait to get back out there, but even EARLIER next time. Man, the sun comes up early! Enjoy every minute of your mom's visit, ma belle amie.

Diane Young

Bon voyage, Jules! We are all waiting ,"with breath that is bated" to see your beloved Kriti's mom as captured by Mme Photographie.
Kristi, you have a wonderful talent with the camera as well as the pen.


Thank you for the photographic tips!

Always enjoy seeing your photos...


Lee Isbell

Hi Kristin, I loved your little photo lesson. I mostly shoot and shoot and find a few good ones in there. I've done some good ones at Domain Rouge-Bleu. I'll soon be off to your part of the country . . . can hardly wait. Maybe I can be more "conscious" of how I'm shooting.

Bon voyage to Jules. Twenty-four hours is a long stretch!


Our dear Kristi,
Wow!You certainly have NOT lost your gift as a photographer!These pictures are all beautiful(!)but the ones of the church with shadows and that glorious field of flowers have absolutely run away with my imagination!
And(!) Bon voyage,dear Jules!You are certainly an inspiration for such a long trip!Your visit with your family will be better than wonderful!
Natalia XO

judi dunn

... Kristin... I understand the passion for photography, as I have had it since a child. I am a Professional Photographer, and have traveled back to la France many times over the last 20 years... enjoying each trip and taking zillions of fotos! We will leave for France, the Dordogne region this time, on August 6th and stay a month, then on to the Cotswolds! I have a new Nikon and cannot wait to live ' my passion'. May your mother travel safely to you and your family... Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.

Karen from Phoenix

Safe, safe trip Jules. So happy for you both to spend some time together. Hope you post some photo's together. BIG HUGS to you both.


J Newsom

Hello from Alabama
So enjoy your posts.
Just a comment that I stopped getting my emails from you for several weeks. My husband was still getting his emails during this time. Tried to sign up again & was informed I was already signed up.
Went ahead & signed up in my other account & am getting them now. Thought I would let you know in case anyone else is reporting this happening.
Blessings to you,

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
What a fun day with Cynthia. I love photography too but haven't taken any classes yet. I just wing it. It was really funny listening to JM pronounce shutterbug! :-)

Bon Voyage Jules! Enjoy your time with you mom Kristin!


So pleased for your Mom to be making another visit ...I know she will be exhausted after that long journey (much the same distance I have to travel from New Zealand to France) But worth it to be with her family once more. Have a wonderful visit you two...and "share " with us some of the "memories" you will be making.


Mon amie sympathique... sounds a little strange, could it be: Ma symphatique amie etc?
As usual, great photos... Sigh. Maybe you could invite Cynthia to write a guest post on how to cull photos to arrive at the result above!

Audrey Wilson

I wish Jules a good journey . Ugly having a 5 hour lay over ! I had that before in Minniapolis en route for Alaska . What can one do for 5 hours in an Airport !!! Shops don't last for long.You can't keep eating & most benches are not all that comfy . I really feel for her.
I too enjoy photography & belong to Flickr from where I have learned much -some fabulous photographers therein
Jacq --a good editing programme on your computer helps a lot.
Have a great time with your Mom.I'm sure you will.

Jo Statham

Having been away, I’ve come back to your delightful shutterbug photos and post.
Just a thought: in France, do people 'dancer le jitterbug'(shee-tair-boog)too?

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