This past October was my fourth year going to a small town in the Istrian valley of Croatia to host my styling and food photography workshop, and the lush and fruitful Istrian countryside was just as I remembered it. The rich wine, delicious Croatian food, beautiful misty mornings, sweet kitties running around outside, and the warmest people you’ll ever meet. Co-hosting with me was Bea Lubas of Bea’s Cookbook, who is a very dear friend of mine and an incredible food photographer. She’s an amazing teacher, very warm and bubbly, and it was so incredible to be able to share this experience with our attendees alongside her. The workshop wouldn’t have been quite so special without the delicious food-fire meals prepared over the large open hearth in the kitchen by the *insanely* talented (and not to mention photogenic) duo that is Tournant. Mona and Jaret are the folks behind Tournant, their woodfire catering company, and have also been a part of Secret Supper for several years, and they were kind enough to gifts us with the most beautifully prepared + flavorful food you can imagine. Also lending a hand were Lili of Travelling Oven and Danielle of Secret Supper and Tendue. Lili is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and she has a way of capturing moments and moods through her photography that can’t be described as anything short of magical. A native Croatian through and through, she helps translate when needed and adds a touch of her beautiful styling to all the table settings. Danielle is one of my closest friends and, as the co-owner and manager of Secret Supper, she has event-planning down stat. She brought beauty to every single tabletop at every meal, and also hosted a delicious wine tasting with local Croatian wines (did I mention she’s a sommelier??)
Our food photography workshop adventure began (as it always does) at Dolac market in Zagreb, the capitol of Croatia. It’s an insanely huge farmer’s market with tables upon tables of fresh seasonal produce, homemade cheeses, and cured local Istrian ham. It’s basically a seasonal foodie’s heaven. We got all our grocery shopping done there for the workshop, picked up the gorgeous + locally handmade ceramics from Ceramic and Nature by Lidia Boševski, and then headed on to the 3 hour drive to the workshop location. The next day we stopped in the seaside town of Novigrad to stock up on tasty wine, and had a little seafood lunch of our own sitting at a table near the port with sailing boats gently plunking against each other in the small waves. The following day was spent setting everything up for the attendees, and they arrived on Monday evening with gusto. What an incredible group of women we had this past year—over the next few days I fell in love with each one of them through laughter, tears (sometimes from the laughter), many delicious meals, and so many beautiful moments spent teaching + shooting together. When they walked into their rooms, they were greeted with a lovely bundle of welcome gifts from my favorite makers all over the world. Like Fat and the Moon, purveyor of all-natural beauty and skincare products handmade here in the USA, Non-Perishable Goods, who make the most beautiful natural linens + ceramic kitchen wares, Hu Chocolate, whose almond butter and vanilla bean-filled chocolate is hands-down my favorite chocolate bar, and local tea company Smith Teamaker, who made custom tea boxes just for the food photography workshop.
The rest of the workshop was a beautiful blur of shooting, styling, talking shop, and eating. Bea had prepared the most beautiful little galettes for us to shoot, which we did the first day of the workshop (and then snacked on them). We also spent an afternoon in the medieval hilltop town of Motovun, which winds around the top of a hill until it reaches the walled main old city center at the top with a church and a few buildings. The roads are all cobblestone, and there is a viewpoint ledge that wraps around half of the top of the hill. Standing at that ledge and looking out at the view of the lush green Istrian valley is one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve stood there with so many different friends over the years, and it’s just full of warm and beautiful memories. Later in the workshop we also went on a truffle foraging excursion with the lovely folks at Karlic Tartufi and their fur family of incredibly sweet + happy truffle-hunting dogs. While Lola remains the team favorite (she has the prettiest floppiest hound-ears!) the curly cousins are a close second.
The 5 days of the workshop went by far too quickly, (as they always do), and it wouldn’t have been possible without our incredible group of attendees. Val, Youmna, Maia, Richa, Omi, Alisa, Emily, Monika, Natalie, and Nadia, thank you all so SO much for joining us on this wonderful adventure! I loved every moment of teaching + laughing + talking with you <3 And a huge thanks again to Bea, Mona, Jaret, Lili, and Danielle. And a very heartfelt thanks to our amazing sponsors, Fat and the Moon, Ceramic and Nature, Non-Perishable Goods, Hu Chocolate, and Smith Teamaker for sharing their amazing crafts + wares with us! Until next time… 🙂
If you’re interested in joining this year’s Croatia workshop, you can sign up for my mailing list to be notified!