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.

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!!

And so it is ... in Genova

The intensity of these days here in Italy have been quite incredible.  I have been teaching photography workshops in Genova and they have been everything ... a privilege, a challenge, so much fun, exhausting, exhilarating.

They have been about people ... about breakfasts at Douce while sitting outside in Piazza Matteotti, about the occasional aperitivo at Caffè Degli Specchi, and fresh take-away pasta, with sauces and parmesan cheese bought from the kind people at Pasta Fresca Fabio, in Via Di Canneto Il Lungo.

Tomorrow is my first 'day off' since arriving but that busy-ness hasn't been all about workshops and people, it has been about the fact I arrived in the city relaxed and happy to be back only to have that moment of horror when I realised, quite late in the day, that I had forgotten to pack the power cord for my laptop.  But you know that already...

In all my years of traveling with ridiculous amounts of equipment I have Never Ever forgotten my laptop cord.  Nor my phone cord (only discovered when I needed to recharge my phone yesterday).  I believe I may have left them on the same chair when finishing my packing at 4.30am that morning I left.  Mmmhmmm, and those comfortable walking shoes I own ...  don't ask me about how my feet were on Friday but honestly, never before has so much been left behind.

I was quite stressed when I flew.  That much is clear.  I believe I may develop some 'behaviours' as a result of 'the forgetting'.

But that aside, I realised again how much I love working with women on their photography.  I simply love it!   Often they have an instinct... a good eye for composition but a way of doing it all that somehow falls outside of the rules of 'technical'.  And it is this that seems to make it so much more difficult for them to own their way of seeing and capturing the world.

I should know ...

I'm so delighted with the work my clients have produced over these days.  I will publish some in the weeks ahead however tonight I must sleep so as to be up and out early ... for breakfast at Douce.

Ciao from this ancient city I consider the best in all of Italy.

A Taste of Photography Workshopping with Me ...

Made 2 years ago, this short video gives you a sense of how it is on one of my photography workshops for women ... here in Antwerp, Belgium.

I am happy to try and fit in with your travel plans in both Belgium and Italy.

Contact me to know more.

Spring in Antwerpen

Spring is so very definitely happening.  The neighbour's Magnolia has been flowering for a few weeks but Friday was our second 20 celsius day.  I am daring to hope that that long grey winter is over.  It wasn't particularly tough except for the unrelenting greyness of the days.

My pharmacist told me that 80% of Belgians have a Vitamin D deficiency ...

I'm in Genova in a few weeks and truly looking forward to getting back to that exquisite city full of people I really enjoy spending time with.

Until then, it's all about continuing work on the website, about rewriting my photography workbook, and enjoying the sunshine when it appears.

Our Clients Wrote of Our Workshop

What can I write ...

I feel so extraordinarily grateful to the three women Helen and I invited on our A New Way of Seeing workshop, in Genoa, Italy.

Since then Lisa, Leah, and Laura have written of working with us in ways that have filled my wee kiwi soul to overflowing.

Leah, from Help. I Live With My Italian Mother In Law, wrote of her experience with us in an English magazine

Laura, from Ciao Amalfi, wrote up her experience with us over on her blog. 

Today, I'm just in from reading Lisa's account of her time with us over on her blog.  That would be Lisa, from Renovating Italy ... the Lisa who had me laughing so hard that I could barely stay standing out there on Via Porta Soprana.  She has a talent for laughter but the weekend was full of laughter, of stories and photography too.

I borrowed one of Lisa's photographs from her post about it all.  I love this particular image, taken by Silvana, wife of Pino.  Pino is the man nestled in-between Lisa, myself, and Helen ... late on that laughter-filled evening in Genova.

Silvana and Pino own the very best pizzeria in the world and I adore them.  Their pizzas too. And so it seemed entirely appropriate to be photographed together.  Silvana, after a hot and exhausting evening, decided she would be the photographer ... and no begging her to join us would change her mind. 

I have to admit, I'm looking a little rumpled at this point in the day.  We were almost home after that first workshopping day.

I would work with any of these women in a heartbeat.  They were magnificent.  All of them. 

Huge grazie mille's to Laura and Lisa, Leah and Helen. 

It was a most magnificent weekend!