The mother-daughter duo of Carolyn and Katie have a passion for all things French. And this lifelong passion is on proud display at their boutique in Franklin, TN, Belle Maison. Belle Maison carries a variety of home goods, furnishings, decor, scents, and even French food and drinks. Just stepping into their store takes you away with a feeling of continental elegance.
Where it all began
How did these two decide to bring a French flair to the heart of Middle Tennessee? Carolyn says her passion began early after she spent several weeks in France in an overseas study program that allowed her to expand her horizons abroad. Years later, with her young daughter Katie at her side, her love for French culture and design grew and as Katie grew up, her passion was instilled as well.
Now these two enterprising women enjoy joie de vie every day, traveling overseas, collecting unique items from Provence to Paris, and adding new pieces to their inventory year round. I met Carolyn and Katie when I originally shot this editorial branding session for a story that appeared in Franklin Lifestyle magazine earlier this year. At the time, they were busy setting up and decorating their recently expanded retail space at 443 Cool Spring Blvd. In the midst of their reorganization, they cheerfully welcomed me in so I could take it all in and capture some amazing editorial photos.
A homey experience
When you step into Belle Maison, the first thing you notice is that you feel like you’re at home. Albeit, it’s a beautifully decorated and stylish home, but one that you could still relax and enjoy life in, nonetheless. Carolyn and Katie have taken great pains to create room after room of stylish inspiration, so that shoppers can easily imagine bringing a flair of French into their own homes. From lighting to formal place settings (down to the macarons!), comfy pillows, and more, the shop’s interior feels less like a retail space and more like a place to enjoy an espresso, settle in, and relax.
Photography tech notes
To accomplish the clean look of these photos and to capture the elegance of the details throughout the shop, I came prepared with a small portable softbox, a small, easy-to-move-around light stand, and an off-camera flash unit.
Photographing indoors can be tricky. Not only because of limited space for gear setup, but because there is often mixed lighting as well. The shop had fluorescent lighting in the ceiling and tungsten lighting in table lamps sprinkled throughout. In addition, natural daylight streamed through the windows. So my job was to find a way to blend all these sources and keep color shifts to a minimum. I used some of the available light to keep the store looking as natural as possible. But adding off-camera flash allowed me to balance and enhance natural product colors as well as skin tones.
Camera: Canon R5
Lens: Canon 50 mm 1.4 and Sigma 35mm 1.4
Light: Canon 600EXII Speedlight and trigger
Modifier: Westcott Rapidbox 24” Octabox
Lightstand: Cheetah stand