photography by Madelene Farin
Communion | 2015
“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!”
― Francis Pharcellus Church
Madelene Farin is a food and still life photographer, with a background in painting and design. Both her personal and client work blend the best of these disciplines, playing with natural light, colour, form, and texture. Based in San Francisco, she’s inspired by mixed media and multimedia, the evolution of food and tech culture in the Bay, and Karl the Fog.
1/ How do you carry through your practices of 'slowness' from your work and transfer them to life at large?
This is a wonderful question. I’ve always been a very mindful person, but after I had eye surgery two weeks ago and spent most of the first five days with my eyes closed, I’ve had even more time to think about my work and the type of photographer I am.
During recovery, I started listening to the audio version of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. She talks about the powerful character traits and habits of introverts. As a natural introvert, I think the “slowness” of my practice actually transfers from the “slowness” of my life. I cherish quality over quantity, ideas more than things, and intimate and introspective conversations versus small talk. So, when I work I often find myself ruminating over creative ideas in my head for some time before the act of creating. There is definitely room left for experimentation, though, as all art needs a bit of spontaneity.
With that said, the practice of “slowness” is ever present in my life, and especially so during the holidays. It’s the time of year when people start slowing down, when they reflect, meditate, share, and prepare for the upcoming year.
2/ What kind of preparations do you participate in for the holiday season? Do you have any rituals or traditions for this time of year? If so, what are they?
For my husband Alex and I, the holiday doesn’t truly start until we are on a plane to one of our family’s homes. But before then, there is a lot of baking and catching up with friends over coffee or tea.
3/ Has your perspective on the holidays changed over your life? How?
As an adult, I’m much more appreciative of the togetherness that happens over the holidays. It’s a time when we’re all reminded about the people and places that are important to us. Over the past few years, my family has extended across the world and has intertwined with many other family trees, so the celebrations and traditions have changed. Because Alex and I don’t have the opportunity to spend time with everyone during the holidays, we cherish the moments we have together through the year even more.
My approach to gifting is...usually very simple: small handmade gifts, edible treats, or tea tins for friends, and experiences like cooking dinner or traveling somewhere for my family.
My ideal morning over the holidays... waking up to the smell of coffee brewing and waffles cooking at my parents’ house in Los Angeles. Because I don’t yet decorate my own home for the season, this is the only place it feels like the holidays for me.
Materials and fabrics perfect for the holiday season are...clean, soft linens and papers, and anything white and gold. There’s something so classic about these materials and colours, and to me, they represent very clearly, the arrival of fresh snow, the purity and honesty of the season, and the coming of a new year, a blank slate.
The holidays mean...slowing down and spending time with the people close to you, and taking the moment to reflect on the many things to be thankful for. When I was younger, I remember the older generations gathered around the table shelling and eating pistachios, just talking and laughing away. Today, as an adult, I no w find pleasure in the same things.
My Christmas menu must-haves... vary widely. Dinner with my family in Los Angeles must involve a delicious roast and a traditional Philippine noodle dish, called pancit, among many other things. With my husband Alex’s family in France, we will have oysters and foie gras. Because Alex & I live away from our families in San Francisco, we have yet to host a large Christmas dinner. When we do, we will for sure blend both traditions from our Filipino-American and French cultures.