During the summer of , photographer Jamie Beck flew home to New York after a mission in Sweden , encountered some turbulence. Determined that the plane was about to crash, a thought lingered in her mind: “It’s great, now I’ll never know what it’s like to live in France,” recalls Baker. “So I promised myself that if the plane lands, I’ll move there.”
The plane did land, and Baker did deliver on that promise — even if it meant she partially Abandoned her fast-paced life as a photographer in New York City to work for clients such as Chanel, Chopard and Armani. “In New York, I’ve been working and I’ve been thinking, is that so?” Baker said. After another difficult visa application a month later, she moved alone to Apt, a sleepy village in Provence, barely speaking French. (Her husband and collaborator Kevin Berg later joined her.) She rented an apartment in a hotel servants’ quarters with unreliable internet, a small stove for cooking, and an experience Rich Manhattanites might generously describe it as a rustic laundry facility. “I plan to be there for a year, and I think it’s just ticking off the list,” Baker added. “Instead, it completely changed the trajectory of my life.”
That pivotal moment, and the years that followed, are recorded in Baker’s first book,
An American in Provence , arrived from Simon and Schuster this month. It embraces all the whimsical, romantic imagery – think Julia Margaret Cameron meets Renoir, captured through a hazy, high-contrast mist – that makes Baker one of those dream-fulfilling their wildest Wild people’s cult social media star eats, prays, loves fantasizes (she has , 000 Instagram followers and counts). But the book also reveals the other side of Baker, the candid honesty and humble humor—the latter of which underscores all the scum and sunburn she’s involved in adjusting to a bucolic country lifestyle. (As Baker vividly described, Provence without air conditioning in August was very uncomfortable.)
The book also depicts Baker’s journey as a mother: in 2019, she and Berg welcome a Youngest daughter Eloise. “One of the reasons I wanted to write about this experience with her is because healthcare is such a big issue in France and the US,” Baker said. “I don’t want this book to be just about the creative evolution I found in Provence, but my personal evolution.”
Although the book does open a window of escapism— An elusive life of idyllic happiness, Baker insists it’s more than that. “The world doesn’t need a book about my life,” Baker said. “But I really believe that you don’t need to live in Provence and you don’t need to imitate the lifestyle to learn from the lessons I’ve learned here.” In keeping with this idea, the book not only includes Baker’s thoughts on embracing her candid articles from the new community, which also features recipes, photography tutorials, a helpful glossary of French terms, and even a section on how Provence drinks.
The ultimate takeaway, however, is the value of slow living that Baker has learned in Provence—she plans to stay in Provence, although she will return to New York regularly. In her eyes, it’s an emotion that anyone can benefit from, no matter where you are or how you behave. “Maybe you walk instead of driving, or you go to the local market instead of the grocery store, or you make an effort to share a meal a week with your friends and family,” Baker said. “We move so fast; it’s about taking a moment to stop and look around and appreciate how beautiful everything is and how lucky we are to be here.