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!

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety