As I was re-organizing my prop room this weekend after what looked like a tornado hit it, I couldn’t help but to wonder, “Was I a hoarder or a collector?” Though I always manage to organize my precious junk in color coordinated shelves and boxes, it would be hard for me to explain my well managed junk room to an outsider, or anyone who doesn’t understand prop and food styling. A few non-food photography, non-client folks have wandered in our studio on rare occasions and they often wonder what that “room” is with all mis-matched kitchen stuff, linens and old wood. Rather than delve into the topic of food styling and food photography, I’ve always called it my “expensive junk room”.
With that comment, they probably assume that I’m a hoarder. But when I think deeply into the subject, I consider my self a collector, a curator of many things outside of what’s in my prop room.
I discussed this idea as part of our little talk at our White Party with Thermador last week to the beautiful attendees who trekked through Southern California traffic to come join. And yes, they all did come dressed (all 60 bloggers!) in white to join in our sisterhood and brotherhood of online community and camaraderie. Todd and I shared a little about how we manage to work, live, struggle and succeed together as a couple in this online world.
One of the topics that I brought up was how I stay focused and inspired. Of course, Todd is one of those factors that keeps me motivated to love life and work hard. But another way in which I stay focused is collecting.
When I talk about collecting, I just don’t mean dishes, props or wood surfaces. These material things are always part of work that makes work more fun. Really, how can I turn down a gig that gives me a great budget for new props?
For me, collecting meaningful things are what I cherish the most: special moments, ideas, wisdom and good people. These are what I curate. And these are what I love gathering in a truly special place.
Everywhere we travel to for work or for pleasure, I’m collecting inspiring things I see on a daily basis. Got a good idea? Oh I have ideas running through my head all the time, but only a few actually make sense and the rest are way too random to even discuss. Most of these ideas are silly things that will probably never come to fruition, but I collect them in my head because they keep me laughing, focused and inspired.
Good peeps and long talks. From awesome people we meet to our hour-long conversations together, I save these memories on my inspiration board. Really good people can often be hard to come by and when I’m lucky enough to have a few moments of their time, I collect every bit of wisdom, humor and insight that they toss my way. Yes, I’m a total hoarder of nice folks. Once I find them, I never want to let them go.
It’s all these non-material elements that make me want to collect and hoard, or what ever you want to call it. My list grows longer as the years go by and even beyond the collecting, it’s the sharing of what I’ve been able to curate over the years that makes it more enjoyable.
And last but not least, if I did have to admit to actually being a voracious collector of material things, I would confess to curating a substantial amount of vintage dishes. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy touching, seeing and feeling old dishes. Each one tells a unique story, a special place and time at the dinner table. I sense a moment of unique gathering, sharing and feeding on each plate. When I come across a dish, plate or platter with time-worn scuffed-beauty, I feel like just won the lottery. The same goes for all the awesome people, ideas and moments that come across my way. Because of all this, I’ll never stop collecting and curating. And if it goes as far as calling myself a “hoarder”, then so be it.
Part of my life collection, through my iphone:
My most memorable meal with my best friends: Todd, Sara, Shawn and Clinton in Havana, Cuba. 2011
Welcome embrace to Americans. I’ll never forget the warm welcome of these Cuban school boys. Havana, Cuba. 2011
Little Virgina’s happy moment in the sand. Orlando, Florida. 2012
Our Stone Stew Dinners, where everyone shares a story and a meal together.
And finally, some of my favorite vintage pieces! So, am I a hoarder?