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A NEW WAY OF SEEING - A PHOTOGRAPHY RETREAT FOR WOMEN, IN GENOA, ITALY, 2014

Not only has Di changed my perception of the city I have called home for the past six years, she has also taken me beyond my own limits as a photographer. She has inspired me to stop living my entire life on the default settings I have grown so comfortable with. By pushing a camera to its limits and learning how to manipulate the manual settings, I, for the first time in my life, realized how much potential I was wasting by always deferring to my default auto setting.

Leah Armstrong, from Help! I live with my Italian mother-in-law, and her article about the workshop over at Holiday Mag.

Come join me on a journey of discovery in an exquisitely ancient Italian city.

 

'Visit' Genova via Stefano's RIGHICAM.

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Rome from xx to xx December 2099

Wednesday
Sep172014

Those Landscapes ...

When I went home, back in 2012, one of the places I had to revisit was the river in the photograph below.

It was the scene of much childhood joy.  It was my river.  I loved the smell of it as it flowed out of the valley and onto the plains.   I loved the scent the stones would throw up from under our wet and wriggly bodies as we baked ourselves on top of them, teeth chattering, after being ordered out of the river to warm ourselves a while.  I loved picnics there ... warm Greggs cordial in big glass beer bottles, and egg sandwiches and cakes Mum had baked.   And I loved the way my hair would smell, full of river water, on the way home.

Later, when body consciousness forced me out of the river and those idyllic childhood days, I returned with my dog.  She seemed to share my passion for the river.  I would skim stones for her from the shore.

Fast-forward decades and everyone warned me, when I went home ... things will have changed.  You will have idealised it.  So I was cautious with my expectations, knowing that the landscapes I had loved might seem different, now I was older, more traveled.

But no ... those old landscapes, they rose up in front of me and kissed me full on the mouth.  A bear hug, or more, and this deep feeling of joy over simple things like bird song and the scent of bush in the rain at Tautuku. 

Nothing had changed.   All of the big passionate love I had felt was still there.   Those 'scapes allowed me to slip back in and love them like always.  No recriminations about leaving. 

Well, maybe .... just a few sly questions like, have you found anywhere better?  Name one place where the air smells like this ...  

Did you miss us?

Monday
Sep152014

There Are People I Miss In My Everyday Life ...

I rolled up my sleeves and waded into my photo-archives, wanting to begin the selection process I need to do for my exhibition opening at the end of October.

I popped back to the surface of life when reminded of an 11am appointment, at 11.15am.  I'd forgotten in spite of having my appointments book open in front of me.  An appointment with a friend but still, I forgot.

Photographs were taken, the last in a series.  She made me a coffee, we shared our stories since last meeting, then I returned to my desk ... after lunch and a little more laundry.

Then came a conversation about 9/11, a link shared that pulled me into the world of the 2,200+ engineers and architects who want the event properly examined.  Using real science.  And I read the discussion that followed amongst friends and bommpft, I fell off the edge of my creative world ... again.

I have 8,000 photographs in the archives of my 2010 visit back home to New Zealand.  I have photographic archives that I have never fully reviewed ... folders where I have skimmed off the best and most obvious at the time, meaning to get back to the rest but life has raced on, like a galloping horse sometimes.

Slightly destroyed, I wandered across to my bed.  Note: having an office in a large bedroom means that the space isn't big enough to stop the bed-walk from occurring when sadness kicks in.  I flopped there for a few minutes before the Belgian bloke phoned from his first day back after his long summer holiday.

Guilt.  Caught being so lazy. 

So here I am, back at the computer, exploring all these archived images of mine.  I love what I'm finding, in terms of memories of home and people I adore but I'm  fighting the sensation of overwhelm as hundreds upon hundreds of moments I never want to forget appear here in front of me.

Meet Fiona, my friend Fiona.  She has been described in this way since I first left the place where we grew up.  My friend Fiona ... my very best friend since I was 13 and still, so many years on, much-adored ... much-missed because we live about 20,000kms apart.  I wish we lived closer. 

Missing you today, Fiona.

Love,  Di

Monday
Sep152014

As Soon As ... 

Saturday
Sep132014

That Creative Place ...

I used to ride horses when I was a teenager.  Quite often they were slightly insane horses that the owners had tired of.  There was Mickey who used to paw the ground when we crossed streams ... indicating she was about to roll and you could only stay on if you imagined you could stop her.  There was Nutmeg who made a vet turn away in horror when he health-checked her for her owner. 

I was that horse-mad kid for a while.  The vet had spotted multiple 'issues' with that big, slightly crazy, ungainly chestnut called Nutmeg.  And then there was her paddock-mate, Cinnamon, the ex-racehorse who occasionally raced off with whoever was riding him.  He was a geriatric.

I survived. 

But there were days, few and far between but enough to keep me going, of sublime happiness.  When, just occasionally, everything would come together. The sky would be blue, the air warm, and the horse would be having a best-behaviour kind of day.  Those days were the days where being out with the horse was like floating along on my own private cloud of joy.

Writing is like that for me.  Just sometimes it all comes together.

Photography I can do anywhere.  I enter that state of non-thinking ... that creative space, easily and work almost unconsciously, losing my self in the process.  But writing, that's something else entirely.

Writing, for me, comes from another place.  It's a space more consciously created.  I feed it like I might feed a fire.  Building the flame from a spark up into, if I'm fortunate, a roaring fire.  And I'm finally learning that sustaining that space or that mood, is the trickiest thing.

I'm almost bullet-proof as a photographer and yet I am as fragile as a butterfly when I write.  I had spent two hours building that creative space yesterday.  I have a photography exhibition opening on 31 October and the theme is complex.  I want to get it right.  Dreaming it into being involves writing.  Writing involves building the fire.

I was horrified to realise how fragile I was yesterday.  How fragile the creation of that space is.  At the same time I was glad to finally understand the different creative spaces I inhabit when I move between the two things I love doing best.

I knew I couldn't interview someone and photograph them at the same time but I didn't know why.  I think both disciplines ask for a similar depth but they're different.  With photography I'm simply searching for the soul, or for a small glimpse of the true core of a person.  I want to capture something of who they really are ... to show them their own personal beauty.

When I interview someone it's completely different.  I am listening, intently, consciously.  I can't lose myself in that photographer space where I don't really exist, where it's all about slipping under the surface of the person I'm photographing. I have to be present with an interview.  Later, when I'm writing it up ... perhaps then there's that slippage into the soul.  Or, more nicely put, into the shoes of that person.

I was a writer first.  I thought that was what I would be in my spare time, after I found a sensible job that paid ... but I never ever learned to protect the space.  Photography allows me to move in and out of the creative space with ease.  Well ... coming home after a photography shoot is sometimes slightly fraught, as I am empty and exhausted by all I've given but ... I can flick in and out of photography without building a fire slowly.

I love that I will be 50 soon.  I love that I'm finally getting curious about who I am and what I do.  And I love that I have the opportunity to put together this photography exhibition and explore complicated things while knowing I need to keep the line through it simple and clear.  I love that I have to find the poem within the story... the few images that capture multiple layers.

But most of all, I love that yesterday, I finally understood that I need to create and protect the space where I write.  That I begin with a spark and build a fire. 

Mmmhmmm, only took me 49 years to learn this simple thing ...

Listening to Van Morrison's Into the Mystic today.  Working now ...

Friday
Sep122014

Inspiration ...

I found this question over on Terri Windling's beautiful blog, Myth & Moor.

Tuesday
Sep092014

Freedom and Passion ... two remarkable females

Life is so short. The world is rich. There are so many adventures possible. Why do we not gather our strength together and live. It all comes to much the same thing. In youth, most of us are, for various reasons, slaves. And then, when we are able to throw off our chains, we prefer to keep them. Freedom is dangerous, is frightening.

Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand modernist writer.

I loved this story of 6-year-old Australian surfer, Quincy Symonds.  Her story is simply inspiring.  I found her via this useful website I follow on Facebook ... A Mighty Girl.

A small surfer makes big waves from ABC Open on Vimeo.

Sunday
Sep072014

Stavanger Konserthus, Norway

Located in Southwest Norway, Stavanger counts its official founding year as 1125, the year Stavanger cathedral was completed. Stavanger's core is to a large degree 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses that are protected and considered part of the city's cultural heritage. This has caused the town centre and inner city to retain a small-town character with an unusually high ratio of detached houses,and has contributed significantly to spreading the city's population growth to outlying parts of Greater Stavanger.

Stavanger is today considered the center of the oil industry in Norway and is one of Europe's energy capitals and is often called the oil capital. Forus Business Park located on the municipal boundary between Stavanger, Sandnes and Sola and is one of the largest business parks with 2,500 companies and nearly 40,000 jobs.

Source: Wikipedia.

I was walking back to Ren's place when we passed the Stavanger Konserthus.  I couldn't resist attempting to capture a sense of the place ... from the outside.

Sunday
Sep072014

Scenes from a Boat in Norway ...

Ren took me out on the Lysefjor near Stavanger on my last day in town.

I didn't realise just how hungry I was for Nature until I got out there but what surprised me most was how much I wanted to photograph the rock.  The rock and the light.

They were stunning.

Sunday
Sep072014

A Little Bit of Me, Myself and I ... at work in Norway

I have finally had time to sit down and begin working on the photographs taken in Norway.

I was, once again, photographed while working with photographers ...  Ren Powell is responsible for two of the photographs in the montage below.  I couldn't resist taking the third.

I still need to get permission to post photographs of the lovely people I worked with while in Stavanger but ... I permitted myself to post these.

Saturday
Sep062014

'Say Yes to Life' ... Isabel Allende

I was wandering alone for a month, back home in New Zealand, interviewing climbers and mountaineers for a book I wanted to put together.  It was a month off from my first marriage. The synopsis went through two publishing meetings.  They told me they loved it but they didn't feel there was a big enough audience.  They gave me other publishing house names to send it to but my mother was diagnosed and I wandered off to university late.

I still have the manuscript but that was a long time ago.

Anyway ... way back then and I arrived in Wellington, at the home of my truly delightful friend, Michelle Bennie.  I had her absent flatmate's bedroom.  It was a small room in a beautiful old wooden house.  Her flatmate was out of town.  The bedroom was located on flimsy-looking stilts ... located on the side of a steep bush-covered hill there in Brooklyn.  Possums on the roof at night, it offered a beautiful view over Wellington city.

I remember that this was the place where I first 'met' Isabel Allende, via a book on the bookshelf in that bedroom.  I devoured 'Eva Luna' one rainy day, enjoying the strange and exotic taste of her story, curled up on someone else's bed in a city not my own.

I was in town to interview Matt Comesky.  The loveliest high altitude climber I've ever met.  He was  on K2 with Bruce Grant and Alison Hargreaves when they were blown off the mountain.  I so very much wanted to understand the mind of the climber way back then. I still do, and war photographers and journalists have joined the ranks of those who fascinate me.

Anyway ... Wellington, 1998, Isabel Allende was the bonus.