We are so excited to announce the launch of a new monthly series of interviews with creatives and people who share our love for simple, sustainable living and beautiful interiors! A Simple Path is intended to be a place of inspiration, inquiry and insight into the lives and lifestyles of people who are doing more, with less. From photographers to stylists, B&B owners to apothecaries, we will bring you a smorgasbord of loveliness and fascinating ideas on how we can live life better.
Our first guest, Camilla Jorvad from the stunning Danish island of Aeroe, is special not just because she is the first in the series, but also due to her incredibly thoughtful answers and inspiring outlook on life. We sent Camilla some questions, and here’s what she replied. You are going to love her story (and her images). We are already packing our bags for a trip to Sigridsminde now…
Can you tell us what you do, and how you came to be doing it?
I am a photographer and owner and manager of Sigridsminde (www.sigridsminde.com), a Danish farmhouse and private venue for intimate down-to-earth weddings and elopements and soon to be country B&B. I also host creative workshops here. I am a creative being through and through. Spent most of my childhood and youth drawing and painting, mostly portraits, and then got very interested in my dad’s old Pentax camera. When I was 20 my then boyfriend now husband bought me a camera of my own, and later my first digital camera.
After studying English at the University for 5 years, I photographed a friend’s wedding in 2008, and found it very stimulating. So when we also moved to the Danish island Aeroe where my husband is from and I discovered that a local wedding planner did not have a photographer to collaborate with, I offered my assistance and we have been working together ever since. The elopements I documented for her couples slowly turned into destination wedding photography and I have been lucky enough to shoot in some wonderful places around the world.
It has been a beautiful adventure, but also one that left me feeling very stressed and cut in half – split between my wanderlust, my need for freedom and a desire to succeed on my own terms, and on the other side my obligations as a mother to two small kids and as a partner to my husband. Over the next few years I am slowly phasing out the wedding part of my photography business, focusing more and more on lifestyle photography and the many interesting collaborations and creative projects involving Sigridsminde. At this time in my life I feel that I have spent enough time alone on the road. Now it is time for home in every sense of the word.
If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
I firmly believe our journey is our journey, and that I have been who I was supposed to be at any given time during my journey so far. But I have been through some dark times at a young age, and I would be happy to give my 17 or 21 year old self a bit of comfort and tell her that things will turn out alright and that she is worthy of love and allowed to feel joyful.
What is it about the simple life that you find appealing?
That it is exactly that: simple. When you are in the midst of stress and busy’ness it seems impossible to cut down, it seems like there is nothing you can do without, and nothing you can say no to. I felt trapped and deeply unhappy. I was always exhausted but never tired and always had trouble sleeping at night. The simple life can be hard work, physically, but it is uncomplicated somehow. It feels more natural to me, than many aspects of modern society does, and I feel more and more the need to get away from it and submerge myself in physical labour and fresh air and just ‘be’. It is not at all about returning to some 1890’s kind of country living, because I seriously doubt they practiced meditation or had a yoga routine back then, nor did they eat sushi, shop online or enjoy slow mornings. It all has to be balanced out and realistic but at the same time considered and intentional.
I think my daily life is slower than the majority of people, but in the end it is not so much about slow or simple as it is about intentional. That instead of just following along we have stopped and really thought hard and felt deeply what it is we want to add to our lives, and what it is we want to pull out of it. The more you say ‘no thanks’ to, the more you cut away, and I mean that both physically in terms of ‘stuff’ and mentally in terms of things you feel you need to do, the easier it gets. I have lived in a big city, but I grew up in the country, and have always known that I wanted the same kind of life for my own kids if I ever had any. Many hours spent outdoors, being around animals, having time and space to play and be physically active without being a bother to anyone and also helping out with the tasks at hand so they feel that they are a part of it all, that they matter. Our kids always prefer playing outside now, and I have to drag them inside at night for dinner no matter the weather, and I love that
The simple life to me very much involves the food we prepare and eat too. The whole industrial food system is far too complicated, inhuman and toxic for me to grasp. Food-wise I am very passionate about meat especially, I will never be a vegetarian, so it is extremely important to me that the animals we eat in our home have had the absolute best, happiest, most natural, and peaceful life possible. Our chickens all have names and are basically treated as pets, but we do collect their eggs with joy every morning, and we do eat the birds themselves as well. My husband hunts and goes fishing. We make our own apple juice that lasts all through winter in the freezer and this year will be the first year that my vegetable garden will be used 100% all summer long because I won’t be travelling very much and I am so looking forward to that.
How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
I think it is impossible to be in the moment all the time. At least I have learnt to forgive myself for not being able to do that. As a creative I cannot stop creating, it is in my DNA, and of course I love to share what is in my heart and to connect with others who share my values and creative impulses. But social media and content sharing is very addictive, especiallly if you are a perfectionist, and at first I had to really force myself to put away the phone and step away from my computer. The screen was like my default-mode. But as with everything else, practice makes perfect, and now 2½ years after my stress really got the better of me, I love spending time offline.
I always leave my phone inside when I go out and work in my garden once the kids are home from kindergarden and school. I have all notifications turned off, so that I decide when and where I want to dive into that rabbithole. And I take specific both longer and shorter breaks from posting throughout the year. I also think it is extremely important to choose your platform. Limit it and then do that really well instead of feeling like you have to be everywhere, because that is literally impossible.
Instagram is where I have found most of my kindred spirits online and because I am a photographer and it is a highly visual platform it is the perfect match for me. For others it could be Twitter or Facebook. But choose the one(s) that feels most natural to your personality, interests and the kind of content you like to share. I also think it is worth pursuing turning online relationships into real life ones. That happens alot if you are open to it, thus bringing a more physical, real and present element into it instead of it just taking place on a screen.
Who inspires you?
Oh this is a hard one. There are SO many people that inspire me for so many different reasons…
Within “my” field and in the Instagram community I am very much inspired by artist @jonnajinton who lives alone in Northern Sweden in the most stunning natural surroundings. By Danish standards we already live quite far from anywhere, but we don’t really have any wild nature around here, and I miss that, and her photos always make me want to go live even further away from civilization.
Within the realm of business I love Marie Forleo and Creative Live. I have learned SO much through both sources.
Writer Elizabeth Gilbert is just amazing!
Luckily for me I have many inspiring independent creative women in my life and one of them is my friend and in many ways business partner Louise Moloney who is the wedding planner I started working with 8 years ago (www.danishislandweddings.com)
. Aside from being a wonderful business woman, entrepreneur and philanthropist, she is also the most kind, fun, energetic, positive, caring, loyal woman I know, and I feel so lucky to know her.
Whenever I feel stuck creatively, I usually watch for Chef’s Table on Netflix, River Cottage, Jamie Oliver, Gardener’s World or the Danish tv-series Bonderøven, because all are areas I have a passionate interest in and are areas of creative and highly visual expression, but they are also very far from photography so there is no direct correlation and thus it sparks all the right things in me without the possible negative impact of comparrison and feeling of insecurity.
What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
Hmm… I am glad to say that there are fewer and fewer things I couldn’t live without.
– The number one thing, though, would be my camera. It is like an extension of my eyes and my heart
– My camera backpack from ONA ;
– My linen apron (similar here)
– Wooly socks and a wool dress or poncho is indespensible around here during autumn, winter and most of spring, and our fireplace which is just the best thing to have in an old house
– My roasting tray from De Buyer is probably the most used item in my kitchen. I prefer to cook things slowly so I can leave them for hours in the oven or on the stove and do other things while they tend to themselves and just get better and better
– A few of my favourite books: Grown & Gathered, Virginia Woolf’s Garden, Jamie at Home, Big Magic – Creative Living Without Fear, The New Homesteader, A Kitchen in France, The River Cottage Cook Book
– My gloves from Crud Sweden that I use in the garden and for physical work around the farm and garden;
– And my Akubra hat from Australia which is just great for outdoor work in high summer;
– My Rose and Lavender hand cream from local maker Harmoni.
Most other things in our home are flea market or vintage finds.
What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
Ten years from now my kids will be grown and close to moving out, and I suspect my daily routine will be drastically different than it is now (life with small kids never goes according to plan). But this year I am laying the seeds for what will hopefully be my life in 10 years time: a daily work life full of creativity (I suspect the camera will always play a role in my life but I think I will also return more to my drawing and painting), lots of time spent outdoors, I would like to be almost fully self-sufficient at that point through our animals, vegetable garden, and hunting and fishing. Sigridsminde will hopefully be a blooming location for our B&B, intimate weddings, workshops, open garden, and so much more.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
The wildest thing I’ve ever done was believe enough in myself and my abilities and creativity that I dared to start my own business from scratch and dared to keep it going despite many years of ups and downs.
Thanks so much Camilla for all your time, energy and such a wonderful glimpse into your life. Best of luck with all your creative endeavours!
All images copyright Camilla Jorvad. If you love Camilla’s pictures follow her on Instagram @sigridsminde for more.