Monthly Archives: October 2016

An elopement in France (Champagne area)

Gissa and Edwin’s elopement in France is one of these moments, one of these days that will stay in my memories as  the sweetest and best event of my year 2016.

Referencing my website in this wild wild internet world is still kind of a mystery for me although I’m trying to work on it more precisely. And sometimes, life and fate brings into my life people and event I’ve never thought I would have the chance to live one day. I feel very fortunate to be able to meet some precious people and witness lovely moments.

Why ?

Because at first, that day should never had happened in the first place, but fate decided it differently, although it hasn’t been made of good news all the way through.

Gissa and Edwin lives in Florida, where Edwin is a Sales consultant for all the Champagne houses.

These 2 planned to travel to France and visit some vineyards while there.

Edwin had secretly planned to propose to Gissa once in France, but didn’t planned to get married there !


And although Edwin worked very seriously on keeping his plan secret, the jewlery company (Gordon’s Jewelers) made a mistake and sent the ring’s bill to their house in the mail, and Gissa was the one who get the mail.

Thing is : Gissa didn’t really understood what it was about, but Edwin, when understanding where the bill was sent, really thought he would come back home that night and have his secret discovered.

So when he came back home from work that evening, he woke up a sleepy Gissa and proposed in their bedroom.


From there, they decided to transform an unlucky situation into a beautiful chance to celebrate différently :

Instead of having a huge wedding in a few month, with hundreds of people, lots of stress (and money) to organise, they’ll celebrate it, just the 2 of them, while traveling in France ! 🙂

They only had a few weeks then to organise their wedding celebration in France, but it’s ok because there will be just a very few people attending it : G + E, 2 of their friends traveling in Europe at that time, who made it in France for the day, a celebrant from  Celebrants in France, and me !

Yes, a wedding with only 6 people in total ! And I was among the lucky ones to spend that day with them 🙂

That was their first trip to France and quite awesome for me because I get to share with them my experience with cultural differences (I’ve lived 2 years in US and worked for cultural exchange programms in the past too).

I’ve been able to see, through their eyes, how surprising, beautiful, and different France could be, and that was also a chance for me to spend the day speaking english.


Since we were only 6 and I was the only other woman to spend the entire day with the bride, my mission there was various : driver, helping her to put her dress, translating menus, helping to find their way… All these little extra help that makes my job being a special one : I’m not only here to stay behind my camera and be a total stranger.

On that day, we were TOGETHER, to celebrate their love, and I have to say : that was a tasty sharing !


Tasty because the day was planned to be made of Champagne winery visits and tasting, with a wedding celebration after lunch.

A wedding on a Monday, starting with the very private visit of Abbaye St Pierre, owned by Dom Pérignon, with a champagne tasting.

(being among those who get drunk after a glass of champagne, I’m surprised to admit that these ones were easy and sweet to taste).




Back in Reims, to get ready for the wedding celebration

A special gift from the bride to the groom (a photo book made after a boudoir photo session)


Can you see the groom’s shiny eyes on this photo ? 🙂


Gorgeous dress from Galina Dress

Shoes from : Jessica Simpson (very pretty and apparently comfortable too, despite the very high heels)

Make up and Hair : the bride did it herseulf 🙂


Grandma’s ring on the bouquet 🙂

ge-in-reims-small-63ge-in-reims-small-66ge-in-reims-small-81ge-in-reims-small-73Elopement in France

and then, on our way to the little park behind Reim’s cathedral, to meet the groom and the 2 best men, where the wedding celebration was hel, surrounded by other people in the park. We were on a Monday and it was lunch break time, so plenty of people enjoyed the sun in the park on that day 🙂

elopement in Francege-in-reims-small-94ge-in-reims-small-99ge-in-reims-small-108

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We took a walk in the neighbourhod to make some photos of the couple…

(I have to confess that we tried to get inside the cathedral for some photos but our attempt lasted 10 seconds only : off we were thrown : no bride, no photographers are allowed inside. Although I can understand why, regarding the amount of tourist doing selfies there, part of me kind of regrets that wearing a beautiful wedding dress doesn’t allow you to take photos).

But, it’s not like the historical downtown in Reims is ugly… It’s actually really really pretty, especially when you’re a foreigner visiting France for the first time (and I’m glad I still can have my eyes to see things from another culture point of view) 🙂

Old building, paved streets, very charming and perfect for some photos.

Very typical visions for an elopement in France



And who says WEDDING, thinks : WEDDING CAKE !

Back to the park, we had a piece of a yummy chocolate cake bought in a local pâtisserie.



And then we left for a very private visit of  crayères de la maison Ruinart, (cave of Ruinart, digged in chalk stone), with of course, later on, another Champagne tasting.

That part of the day was very confidential and I cannot show you that much about it, because it’s private (and I’m not allowed to), but also because no matter what : flash of a camera would alter the wine, and so is not allowed.

But here are some photo souvenir I took from the Ruinart champagne tasting, with an improvisatin of a first dance in there, on some salsa music.


How more happy, lucky, and grateful can I be for that moment ?



Writing on this blog today reminded me how fantastic in many ways that day has been.

I had such a luck to share these moment with G & E, and it was so great to be able to be there for them.

From the attention they gave me, inviting me to these visits and wine tasting (I wasn’t invited as a photographer there, but just to share time with them – although I took photos, it wasn’t required from me).

I’m grateful for all the things I’ve learnt about Champagne and abut Reims too on that day

And I’m even more grateful for these moments, ô so special, that I’ve spent with you Gissa and Edwin.

Being able to share with foreigners, and help them to make this day a special one  is what I love best beside wedding photography, and it made so much sense with you guys !

I’ve been a lucky girl to be at Gissa and Edwin’t very intimate wedding in Champagne !

Thanks again for that


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NOPE, shearing a sheep is not violent

For a long time now, knitting and fibers in general have taken a big part of my life… A form of art thanks to yarnbombing and a way to create in general.

Thinking about it, I came to realise that I’ve been knitting for far longer than I’ve been taking photos, and “working” with yarn (wool, alpaca, camel, silk, yak, or vegetal fibers) has been for me a kind of therapy, but also, a precious thing to collect, when traveling or meeting new fiber artist. Often, people asks me what’s the link between photography and my love for yarn and fibers, here it is : colors and texture 🙂

To work with fiber is also a form of art and ancestral craft, precious and that needs to be protected.

For 2 years nows, I have a double identity. Here, Sandrine, wedding photographer and traveler, and there Woola Oops, knitter and fiber artist, spinning yarn, and, for a year already, selling my hand-dyed yarn.

Meeting new people and traveling, these past months I have been several times, challenged by some people, often vegans and “anti-yarn”, who, in the name of defending animals rights and wellbeing, proclaim that wool, and so shearing, was “going against the animal’s true nature, preventing it to live truly and naturally” (and I think my English here may not be as good as I want to express in French – hope you get it)


What if I tell you than one of these personn, a convinced vegan, was wearing a “Pirat of the caribean” T-Shirt, probably made in China, by little kids, non paid of course…

I could easily go and talk about it, BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT OF THIS BLOG POST…

I have seen, many times on Facebook and social medias, videos from PETA, calling to boycott the wool industry, claiming this is violence against animals.

Don’t count on me to share these videos here, if there is one thing I hate, is those who spread violent content, in order to make this world… less violent.

Seriously people, I don’t need to watch these videos and see them spread all around social media, to acknowledge that we live in a violent and fucked up world, where assholes treat others poorly. I KNOW IT.

Ok, calm down Sandrine…

Actually, what bothers me about this, is that they call to boycott WOOL.


To be honest, I didn’t know anything about shearing, but for the past year and half, I now live in Auvergne, a beautiful rural region in central France, and I have the chance to be able to developp my knowledge (and contacts), and so to discover and learn about these things.

Because yarn, and fiber fascinates me, but also because to me, it’s a way to come back to these ancestral knowledges, when men and animals lived together on the same earth.

And since I thought that PETA and others were messing around with their agressive and extremist propaganda, guess what ? I’VE CHECKED BY MYSELF  and made inquiries !

(something I recommend to anyone, in order to build your own point of view on things, instead of believing  or give credit to anything you’ll see on the internet).

Christelle, alias Seraphita, a wool dealer I spin yarn with, here in Auvergne, and member of the  l’association “la fibre textile”, (textil fiber association), just like me, organised a shearing workshop in Brioude, in Auvergne in the end of September.


A 3 day workshop, open to everyboday, hosted by Thomas, a professional shearer, and member of the French shearing association – l’Association des Tondeurs de Moutons

This summer, I’ve been able to see someone shear a sheep at a small village festival, and I talked a little bit to the shearer, but not enough. So this chance was too good not to jump on it : I contacted Christelle and asked her if I could spend time with them during the workshop, in order to watch them, take photos, talk and learn about shearing.

Like mentionned previously, this workshop was opened to anyone, so participants were new to shearing, some of them have tried in the past but weren’t experts, just beginners.

So I talked to everybody, and learn a lot of things that day !

(that’s the great thing when you don’t know ANYTHING about things : I can talk for hours about knitting, but when it’s about sheep, I am blank. I barely start to recognize breeds, and it makes me very happy to start to learn about this).

I’m a bit more aware of things related to alpacas and llamas, due to my experience in llamatherapy, but shearing a sheep ? BIG MYSTERY !


So how is it in France ? Well, it’s tough, although there could be a huge market to developp !!

Plenty of addicted knitters, (not only spinsters – forget your clichés please), fiber addict, who loves precious and noble fiber and texture, yarn and animal, and love craft and ancestral technics (that’s actually why I’ve learnt how to spin). Yep, there is a lot of fiber fetichist out there, in love with needles, crochet, felting and weaving, who would love to buy French material from passionate farmers.

Except that :

Spinneries are closing 🙁

Washing fiber companies too

  • And often, wool is not used or picked to be valued, mostly because it costs too much to do so, but also because of a lack of knowledge on how create it can be valued. (I’ve learnt that  Farmer’s school are teaching their students to throw wool to waste and burn it…. I could almost cry at that thought !)
  • ok, keep calm Sandrine, animals don’t all have a fur good enough to be knitted, that’s a fact.



to do him a favour and be helpful.

Wool keeps growing non stop, and without shearing it, the animal is hot, can suffocate or stay stucked in bushes or elsewhere, but can also developp disease from moisture between it’s skin and the wool.

Here are more infos (in French) 

Something I’ve heard at this shearing workshop, I’ll let you think about it :

“The sheep breed comes from the mouflon, who was a wild animal. Sheep is a domesticated animal, descended from mixes, and therefor, we, humans, are responsible of them.”

Do you remember that  rasta sheep that has been found in Australia a little while ago ?  after being lost for years ?

(Credit photo “AFP PHOTO / RSPCA”)

This handout photo released on September 3, 2015 from the RSPCA shows a giant woolly sheep before getting shorn in the outskirts of Canberra a day after Australian animal welfare officers put out an urgent appeal for shearers after finding the sheep with wool so overgrown its life was in danger. The heavily overgrown sheep had its massive fleece removed on September 3 by an Australian national champion in a life-saving operation that animal welfare officers said may have also set a new world record for a single shearing. Some 40.45 kilos (89.18 pounds) of wool was taken off in one large piece from the animal by Australian Shearers' Hall of Famer Ian Elkins in a 42-minute process that he said was "certainly a challenge". AFP PHOTO / RSPCA ----EDITORS NOTE ----RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / RSPCA" NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NO ARCHIVES

That sheep has been lucky !  Talking with a shearer, he told me that if they found this one, plenty of others were dead, suffocate by their wool, or exhausted when stuck somewhere (and probably eaten by other animals because they are stuck), when lost in these big lands. I’m not sure this is possible in France because our land is definitely smaller, but I have to admit that I just don’t know.

BUT let’s go back to that shearing workshop, because that’s why I wanted to post on this blog in the first place…

This is a flock of Bizet sheep, a breed that I can now recognise, so cute with their black and white head 🙂



In fact, if they are packed all together, tight like this, it’s to make them sweat a little : shearing will be easier after that, because the shears slides better

(silly parallel, but that’s about the same when your hairdresser asks you to come with dirty hair in their salon I guess)


The idea is also to not feed the animals before shearing because they will be in a position that I’ve called “couch potato”, legs up and bending their back, which could be quite uncomfortable if you have a full stomach (wanna talk about animal well-being ?) 😉

The “couch potato” is also used to prevent the animal from escaping or fighting to escape, and so hurt itself when doing so. If you are stuck calmly on your back with your legs up, like a turtle, you’ll just wait for the time when your feet will touch the ground to try to run away.

So at the beginning of the workshop, students get to experiment failure with managing this position… that led to bruises


Shearing is dealing with a very small workspace, a kind of dance with animals, in order to be as fast as possible, to avoid bothering the animal (but also to shear more of them, of course). The sheep, of course, would rather be elsewhere, running around in the wild than being there, stuck feets in the air… But let’s be honest here too : all sheeps are not luck enough to live in Auvergne, where they have space and wild nature to live in, although we need to shear sheeps each year, no matter their living environment.

And before you start to complain again, here’s something that seems obvious (and mandatory), that I use on a daily basis as a way of living, and that makes even more sense when you work with animals (and kids) :

“you are responsible for the energy you bring in the room”

Have you ever tried to get close to a beaten dog ? Yep, that is tough and quite dangerous.

And it’s the same when shearing: the goal is to be as much zen and calm as possible, because in the end, you save yourself from danger, protect animals because they are calmer and you bother them less, you are more efficient and you don’t hurt yourself or the animals.

But before anything starts, shearing is about shears… sharpened, cleaned ones. I don’t know anything about it, and I didn’t understand that much too let’s be honest (I’ll have to be back !), but it seemed very technic, and sharp !



Thomas, shearer and teacher of the day, giving some explanations :


Preparing their gear :


And let’s go !

(I really love this photo ! I’m not really objective here because just the sight of a sheep can make me happy for an entire day, but this one is specially extra cute 🙂


But of course, when taking photos of shearing, you have to take photos of butts 🙂


The “potato couch” sheep 🙂


A huge bag of yarn, that could make any knitter loose their mind 🙂


Yes, it’s a real body to body moment when shearing a sheep, and I cannot see how violence could solve or help in anything, especially in this work. I can easily see how it can worsen the situation actually.

As for me, when I look at that photo, the only thing I think of is that if I were the sheared, I would have kiss that sheep (except that I don’t think it would have enjoyed it)




And these animals are far from being stupid, they are actually quite smart (especially when it comes about finding things to eat !). Once they were all “naked”, they were held in the background , and some of them understood that there was, just there, a huge stock of hay. All they had to do grab it up there…

So the background of the sheepfold had a bit of a “open bar” mood that day.

(and that was funny to watch!) 🙂





tonte-de-moutons-small-117  tonte-de-moutons-small-105


And then, talking with one of the students, who was a farmer, he told me that his flock of sheep just had a baby.

All proud, he showed me a photo on his cellphone (because yes, you can be a farmer and love your animals !)



I’ve heard about tail being cut, and animal abuse and violence… as you can see here, they still have their tail and it’s being sheared too !


As you can see on these photos, there is no blood, no violence, although it’s a beginner’s workshop.

I know that it’s not a big firm and farm, far from being a world company in wool industry (and maybe that’s why? That’s just a question)

Although I do understand why you want to fight for better conditions and treatment for animals in general, and I understand how sensitive we should be about animal wellbeing, I think it s  a SHAME (and there are plenty of other words starting with a “S”), to call and boycott WOOL in the name of animal wellbeing.

Why punish  those who work correctly, with love, passion and patience, when it will be just as easy to use that energy to promote their work and right way to do things, in respect with animals.

It’s all about searching for the right people, and consumming better.

Sheeps will have to be shear no matter what, so what about knitting their wool ?


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Love at first sight, and a wedding in the Beaujolais region (France)

If there is one thing I love about being a wedding photographer, it’s witnessing beautiful love stories, and life brings you to meet people who makes you happy and become friends, or love, ways to go beyond difficulties and sometimes, find love too.

When Franck met Estelle (thanks to their  mutual friends an personnal interest), it was love at first sight. Estelle, single who didn’t really believe she could find love anymore, quickly calmed him down when she noticed that Franck’s son was goin at the highschool she was working at.

There was no way for Estelle that she could date a guy who’s son was knowing her from a different perspective, and so their first date cooled down, like a soufflé.

But Franck was deeply crushed and fond of Estelle, so he kept hope and when his son graduated from highschool, few months later, he asked Estelle out for another drink.

The rest of the storie is easy to guess : Love, strong, deep and passionate love, they mooved together within weeks, and were engaged few months later.

And that’s less than a year after their first date that we were gathered to celebrate Estelle & Franck’s wedding.

In French, we have a saying that goes “older wedding, happier wedding”, and believe me, it makes perfect sense when you look at these 2 ! LOVE is in the air, and it feels good to witness this 🙂


It also gives a big dose of hope for all the single people out there : in less than a year, your love life can drastically change in a positive way, while watching Estelle and Franck together, you cannot help but believe more in love.

Celebration was held in the beautiful Beaujolais area, near Lyon, at the Domaine des vignes d’hôte in Bagnols (69) with very few guests, not knowing really each other because this was so “recent”. 🙂

No big families that day but a family from the heart.

Estelle is president of  Info Sarcomes, an association help patients with cancer, and she is very  invest in this cause, and so that’s surrounded by her oncologist that she arrived, and surrounded by friends, doctors and people helping her with this mission.

Strong bonds, intense and deep love… precious… just like I love it

So here are, in photos, some souvenirs of this pretty day in the Beaujolais

Celebration and cocktail took place in : Domaine des vignes d’hôtes, in Bagnols

City Hall : gorgeous little town (in golden stones)of Bagnols 🙂

Hair Stylist : Gregory Mastrostefano

MUA : Clementine An

Flowers : Marie Petale

DJ : Lucky Animations

Cattering: Nicod Traiteur

Décoration : Les Pti Thèmes

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And to finish with one more smile, I have to keep that lesson in mind :

There is no need to try to convince a girl to join the rest of the ladies who wants to catch the bouquet, unless I really want to laugh.

Thanks for making me laugh so bad with your (lack of) motivation, I just love it 🙂



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