Heading for New Zealand ... and Home

I will be in New Zealand for the month of March (landing in Auckland Feb 22), running photography workshops for women. 

Photography workshops that take you on a hands-on journey through the basics of photography. 

I will be popping up all over the country, so check in and ask if I will be teaching near you.

The workshops run for 4-6 hours per day, and I'll leave it to you to decide whether you just need one day, or more. 

Also included in the fee is my pdf workbook. This takes you through everything I teach, and more, so don't worry that you need to retain everything on the day. You can go back over lessons in your own time, and I will be available, via social media, afterwards.

These workshops are also about encouraging you to understand how YOU see and capture the world. I believe each person has their own unique way of seeing, a way that needs to be understood and respected. 

I am happy to answer any questions you might have about my life lived abroad, these last 15 years, in cities as diverse as Istanbul, Antwerp, Berlin, London, and the city I love best in the world ... Genoa, Italy. I'm happy to share ideas on how you might do the same.

Contact me using the contact form on my website, via the link below.
If you don't hear from me, I didn't get your message. Don't hesitate to try again:-)

You can read more about my workshops here, and I'll be adding to the information here in the days ahead.


That Desire to Talk to People, When Traveling

Alain De Botton wrote the following post, over on Facebook, and I had to share it here. 

Share it because it touches on my goal, to offer travelers a behind-the-scenes experience, while attending one of the photography workshops  I organise, here in Italy.  

My goal ... is all about opening doors and introducing people to one another.  Closing the distance between the tourist and the locals.

I fell in love with Genova back in 2008.  I've been returning ever since, and finally moved here in the summer of 2016.  No regrets, just an ever-deepening passion for the city.  

And I have this ever-growing list of favourite bars, restaurants, and secret places that are off the tracks beaten by tourists.

But here's Alain ... 


The tourist industry has been spectacularly successful at opening up foreign countries and introducing us to their most important and worthwhile attractions.
Except for one extraordinary omission: the people. By some unseen, undiscussed but all-powerful rule, tourism tends to separate us from the inhabitants of the countries we’ve come to visit. They remain shadowy, occasional figures: the guy by the pool, the taxi-driver from the airport, the nice lady who took us on the trip through the forest. But the real focus is always elsewhere, on the culture and the monuments, the natural spectacles and the food.
This is a source of serious sadness. Most of the places we want to travel to are associated with a distinctive way of being: an implicit personality. In New York, it might be confidence and modernity; in Amsterdam, the dignity of daily life; in Melbourne, a welcome directness and warmth. It’s a range of human virtues that draw us to places, but we’re normally only permitted to encounter these via their external, cultural expressions. We don’t really want to shop or see pictures; we want to talk.
Yet we remain - painfully - outsiders. We pass a big family celebration at a long table on a cafe terrace. Someone is singing a song everyone knows the words to. We scan the properties for sale in the windows of estate agents. We observe people after work catching trains and buses home to areas we know nothing of. We’re continually noticing interesting faces, styles of clothing, the gestures friends use when they greet one another. In the evening, we hear the sounds of a party filtering down from a brightly-lit third floor flat. We may have explored every painting this country made in the eighteenth century and become experts at the late medieval style of its temples, but we’re only scratching the surface of its being. The genius loci - the spirit of the place - is eluding us. We want to know what it would be like - if only for a few days - to join in and belong; and to try out for ourselves the nicest aspects of the attitudes and point of view of the people who live here. 
In the travel industry of the future, we’ll regard booking a local friend as no different from booking a hotel room or a flight: just another essential, normal part of organising a successful trip. 
Until then, we must develop our skills at courageously going up to strangers and sharing a thought on the weather or the state of local politics. Or else we must remain in our shy lonely cocoon, but can at least grow able to interpret our melancholy feelings as symptoms of an industry-wide failure, not a personal curse.

From theWomen I Know and Admire Series - Diny Naus

This beautiful series of images popped up on my Facebook wall this morning and I wrote to the photographer, asking if I might share them.  To put them together in this small montage, some cropping was involved.  Apologies to Diny but the story is more about her than about them.  I want it to be about her way of seeing and being, out there in the world ...

Diny and I met when she attended a photography workshop of mine.  She flew in from Hong Kong.  I arrived from Belgium.  Two New Zealanders, together in Genova.  We wandered and became friends.  It turned out there was so very much to admire about her.

Seeing her series from Beijing this morning made me realise, again, just how lucky I am to have women like her come into my life.  The photographs reminded me of the extraordinary privilege in meeting curious courageous wandering women like her.  There have been so many now.  With their permission, I would like to start sharing their stories, and photographs. 

But Diny ... Introducing her series, she wrote, 'Yesterday snapped this guy who'd managed to find his little piece of peace and quiet in this city of 20 million. I showed him the photo and he insisted I get in the hammock so he could shoot me. I love these interactions. Beijing people are very friendly!

And I thought yes, the people are friendly but you have that sparkle, that curiousity, that courage too!  And her eye ... in a city of 20 million she found this oasis of peace :-)

My client base seems to be made up of women living in countries not their own - but not always, I remember that small group of beautiful Genovese women I once spent the day working with in their city.

Women who are over 40 - but sometimes they're not.  They all have this delightful spark though.  Wise women, old souls who share deeply in the atmosphere that forms when women work together.

Women who are single, or have no dependent children, or women whose children are grown - but then again, sometimes none of this is true either.

My clients are women who are quite fearless and full of curiousity.   They are usually intelligent, wise, and laughter is usually a feature of our time spent together.  As is confusion, frustration and delight.

But sometimes it's all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway ... because they don't want to be fearful anymore.  Fearful of traveling alone, fearful of photographing strangers, of asking permission to photograph those strangers, and most of all, fearful of the techno-speak that has confused so many of us when kind men explain things very very technically.

I have to confess that t took me years to break through and learn the simple equation that is how your camera works.  That's what I share during these workshops, the simple equation via a series of exercises.

And so you can see, the workshops always end up being about more than photography.  With Diny, and so many others, I also get to experience the benefits of their wisdom, knowledge and courage. I meet new heroes and role models. 

I came away from my time with her, admiring so much about her and being able to keep up with her stories of life out here in the world ... it's simply inspirational. 

I have this idea that we need more women like her to write of their lives, share the magic while being honest about the struggles too.  Diny does that for me ... and sometimes, on a sunny Monday she gives me permission to share something of the beauty she found in a Chinese city of 20 million.

Grazie mille, Diny.  For both the use of your photographs, and for your friendship.

Home ...

Me by Gaby, in Genova.jpg

I suspect this is the face I most regularly wear in these days.  I believe it might be a problem-solving kind of expression I'm wearing there.

I made pumpkin soup for lunch today but realised I was missing my small vegetable knife.  I have a brand I particularly like.  I missed my cupboard full of known ingredients.  My kitchen too.  And later I missed my bread and my place at that old oak table I used to adore.

There are hours like this out here in my new life.  Not days or weeks ... just hours.  I really am okay with missing things, mostly.  I began moving house when I was 20, and haven't stopped anywhere longer than that big old Belgian house just left, after something like 6 years.  The previous record ... maybe the airforce house back in New Zealand.  4 years, non-stop, in the same place.

But it's not a desire of mine, to constantly move.  It's just my life. 

My sister has lived differently and I love visiting her when I go back to New Zealand.  She has lived in her home for years now.  I'm not sure how many but if I 'go home' to anyplace, then it's her place.  I love the familiarity I find there - I love her pantry, the smell of the house, but mostly, I love the people that live there.  It's as close as I get to my childhood spaces ... 50 Green Street, the home I grew up in, or Nana's place, at 101 Islington Street.

But mostly, over all these years and moves,  I've learned to make the unfamiliar familiar, as quickly as possible.  The walk to the supermarket is a daily one now.  Starbucks has become 'the place' where I buy my espresso.  The walk there and back has become that time for deep thinking while I exercise.  And I can feel myself getting stronger each day. 

The first day I walked there I thought I was dying.  The second day, I went out again, just to test it, and wondered if it wasn't some kind of anxiety attack.  On the third day I began to feel better.  Mmmhmmm, I might have been completely unfit.  It's much easier now.  Increasing the distance seems like a good idea.  Let's see it.

But mostly I'm spending these days preparing myself for whatever is next. And the photograph ... taken by my lovely Australian client, Gabrielle, at Genova's Douce cafe,  on one of those lovely photography workshop days last summer.

They were beautiful days.  I'm glad that I had them.

The Problem With Teaching Photography ...

Gabrielle Fotos from Genova.jpg

The problem ... sometimes your lovely clients decide they might enjoy working through your  photo-phobia and take more than a few photographs of you.

But we had so much fun and I think Gabrielle captured that in her series. 

And one of our lovely waiters at Douce, suffering from the same kind of phobia as I, was also captured, there in the centre.

Thank you to Gabrielle.  I had to share.  She's good.

A Photography Workshop With Gabrielle in Italy

I can write, without exaggeration, that every single photography client I've worked with has made me feel so very privileged to know them.

Gabrielle was no different to all those who came before her. And perhaps it's the fact that the workshops are all about photography &  travel.  Or that they happen in Italy or Antwerp or that they attract women who are ready to wander or already wandering.  Like-minded souls out there in the world.

I end up feeling like I'm working with old friends.  People I would choose to spend time with.  People who somehow manage to pack so much life into the hours we have to work together.

Gabrielle and I walked all over Genova, ate some divine food, met at Douce every morning for breakfast (and returned there whenever we could think of a reason).  We dined at Il Genovese and enjoyed it intensely, we explored Castelletto and Boccadasse, found exquisite gelato and took a million photographs too.

It was a special few days.  Grazie mille, Gabrielle!!