Fran Smith, Richmond, VA

I’ve always enjoyed food and developed an appreciation through my paternal grandmother — a southern caterer. I attribute those formative experiences in her kitchen to my love of all types of foods and dining experiences. She had a knack for blending foods, spices and temperatures to just the right measure. The dishes that she made always brought a smile to someone’s face, a conversation between two people sharing a meal at the church night suppers, or a soothing effect to someone needing comfort. She always seemed to know just how to “heat up the kitchen” with warmth from both the stove and the cooking to fill the house with warmth and comfort.  Family mealtimes were an opportunity to devour wonderful foods and saunter afterwards to discuss the day’s events. I suppose all of these experiences provided the natural comfort and joy I often find when creating in the kitchen. My interests in food have also been a lifelong quest. Being raised in a home with this southern caterer gave one many opportunities to tempt the palate.

I also love photography and the opportunity a great image provides in deepening understand about a location, a person, or a situation. My father instilled this love early in my development as he always seemed to have either a Polaroid or Kodak camera in arms reach. His vast collection of black and white photos were a testament to his love of capturing pictures of people.

I was first introduced to using a 35mm Minolta camera and explored the realm of using paper, chemicals, darkrooms, etc. In 1999 I began using the evolution of some early digital cameras that were the point and shoot varieties from Sony and others. Many seem so archaic today with the finesse offered within the digital SLR realm of options. So, in 2007 I bought my first Nikon D60/ 6.1 megapixels  and have been thrilled with the results. I’m no master but am an avid amateur student and find that the more I shoot the better the results.

Finally, I’m an educator and I like to share stories to illustrate points and expand meaning. Food, culture and traditions (from all walks of life) add richness to our understandings about people. I hope that this growing collection will enlighten others to the ways and means of locations and cultures by the foods prepared and eaten and the traditions shared around those experiences. Perhaps along the way we’ll gain a deeper awareness and appreciation to this diversity.