When Arlington-born photographer Jamie Beck moved to France in 2016, she planned to stay for a short sabbatical from her career in photography. Fast forward six years, and she’s still there – with a body of work to show for it. Her new book, An American in Provenceis a collection of photographs and essays about her life and journey as an artist abroad.
The Martin High School graduate left behind life in New York City, where she struggled to make time for passion projects while working in commercial photography. In France, her passion for photography was rekindled, or as she says, rekindled. “Everything woke up, and I woke up,” Beck says.
Beck studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in the early 2000s and also worked as a commercial photographer. Beck stayed in New York City for a decade after graduation, and her work included shooting for famous brands such as Google, Nike and Chanel.
In August 2016, Beck was on a flight from Copenhagen back to New York City, during which she thought the plane was going to crash, and she had an epiphany that she was going to France before she died. It should be done.
“I promised myself that if the plane landed, I would go to France,” he says.
About a month later, with her visa secured, she left for Provence. She arrived in the fall and planned to stay for a year.
Beck said one of the things she noticed after arriving was the way people in her newly adopted home “live with the seasons.” It took her a few months to get out of her previous life and come back. It wasn’t “until the following spring when nature started to bloom,” she says, that she began to feel more creative.
Beck maintained some client accounts while he was living in France, traveling back to the United States or working on location for commercial clients. Because the cost of living in France was much lower than in New York City, Beck says, she was able to work with fewer clients and free up more time to explore the area and work on her art.
The seasons play an important role in her story and in her book, which is divided into four parts: autumn, winter, spring and summer. Her photos feature expansive French landscapes, seasonal cuisine, beautiful homes and cities, and self-portraits that often tell a story. It also includes personal essays, seasonal recipes and photography lessons.
At the end of her first year in France, in the fall of 2017, Beck decided to stay in Provence. Beck still lives there, with her husband and their daughter, Eloise, who was born in France.
“The year is over, and I’m not done,” Beck says. “I felt like I was just getting started.”
An American in Provence Posted by Jamie Beck on November 8th. Beck also sells her work, including prints and other products, and hosts gallery shows. You can also find Beck on Instagram.