Falling in Love with the Light ...

Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home - not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colours.  How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you.  How you can fall in love with the light.

Ellen Melloy, Writer

Note, the photograph was taken on one of the Princes' Islands out in the Marmara Sea, Istanbul.

Here I am ...

Curled up on my borrowed bed in this magnificent Genovese apartment, top floor, listening to my small music playlist of absolute favourite songs ... the ones that I always play.  I should post that list one day, so you can throw your hands up in horror perhaps, but these are the ones that I listen to, over and over, making sharing an office space with me all but impossible.

Or  so I've been told.

I have lived more quietly today.  The result of one of my allergy/anxiety attacks last night - 4am before I slept.  It seems that I am one of those creatures who 'feel the fear and do it anyway'.  It's always been like that.  The desire to go versus my chicken-hearted fears.

Most amusing, probably, was flying to Istanbul when flying wasn't my favourite thing.  Moving to Istanbul alone wasn't the best thing for a chicken-hearted soul to do either, actually.  But there are many things I have done that left me wondering what I was thinking?!

Cairo was both so beautiful and so terrifying for this girl from small-town New Zealand.

Anyway ... it seems, despite being as much in denial as is possible, I have some allergy/food intolerance issues.  Some things affect my mouth, others my throat, a few my stomach and etc.  I'm thinking, after last night, that I might finally get tested because the allergies are definitely increasing and I have say, they're just not fun at 1, 2 and 3am, in a country not your own when you're alone.

And today ... I'm laughing as I write this blog post, it didn't go well at the pharmacies.  They didn't really have English, and I'm famous for not being good at other languages.  Ohdeargod ... so, I have some antihistamine drops (I think), and I'm meant to take 20 drops once a day, (I think) and some asprin too (which I'm pretty sure I don't like). Not really what I was looking for but they're in the building. 

I'm someone who thinks if the medicine is in the building it's enough.  It makes Gert crazy.

But this isn't what I meant to write of ... really.  I had a nice invitation today, to supply photographs of Genova to a Ligurian magazine here.  I love Liguria, there's no hiding that, and so I said sure

The bonus was getting a copy of their latest and it contained an interview (and an A4 photograph) of my first football hero.  Well, technically he's my second but as Milito left, I don't talk of him anymore. 

Oh the fickle world of Series A football.  I don't recall New Zealand rugby players doing these things, these transfers, however ... he has promised he will stay with my team next year.

How many readers will I lose for revealing the truth about who I follow in football ...

Last night, after eating pizza at my favourite pizzeria, I was wandering along Via XX Settembre and found the image that follows this post.  I had to move quickly because there were others around and I'm not sure they all saw what I saw.

But this visit to Genova, I have to  say, there has been just so much ... so many good people, so much divine food, and superb wine.  Great music.  Brilliant conversations. 

Genova has been like that ... and so much more.

Those Stairs, That Light, Genova

Sometimes I see the light, try to capture it, and a kind of alchemy happens so that I end up with an unexpected result.

I was on the stairs between Righi and the city, heading for the Sanctuary of Madonnetta, up there on the side of one of those steep Genovese hills when I saw the light.  And it seemed beautiful.

My day had begun at 10am.  I had the pleasure of spending two hours working with the lovely Beatrice.  I watched as she used my camera, understanding my instructions so very quickly.  I was impressed.  Her English was good but even better she could understand my New Zealand English.  It might be news to some but NZ English isn't always the simplest English to follow.

I had lunch down at Porto Antico with Barbara and we talked,  as we do, until it was time to meet up with Alessandra, Federico and Davide.  And they took us wandering, with Davide gifting me a portion of this ancient city's history as we went.  The Davide who looks so remarkably like John Lennon.

We walked along Via Garibaldi, catching the Righi Funicular to the top of one of the hills that surround Genova, and then we walked some more. 

I found the photograph when we were on the way down, using the ancient pathway to reach the Sanctuary of Madonnetta.

The Light ...

Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts

Walker Evans

The light is everything in photography.  I can walk past the same scene one thousand times or more and not see what is there when a particular light shines on it.

Today Via Dante was lit up in a particular way.

And now ...

Chance encounters change lives.  Close friends, passing acquaintances and even characters who emerge from old books often leave footprints across my heart.  By opening mysterious doors, the influence of others has inadvertently altered the direction of my life.

Colin Monteath, extracted from Under A Sheltering Sky.

And now ... I am beginning work on a long-talked about book.  Years of ideas have reached a point where I must begin working with them.

When I walk on beaches, I pick up shells ... I'm a sometimes collector.  Stones too, when I wander along the edges of rivers and lakes.  Since I was small.

My photography, I think, emerges out of that same desire to collect, to handle, to pore over later.  But to collect, without ever stopping to enjoy, that seems somehow sad.

So here I am, commiting to this book, for months ... at least a year I think.  That is something I haven't excelled in.  I have so many ideas, so many passions, project ideas.  And I try to follow them all. 

These last two months have been months of insanely beautiful chaos and whimsical impulses ... of action.  People. Places.

But I must have been maturing somehow ... like a wine (I hope, avoiding the old and smelly maturation process we call rotting).  I feel ready to attempt to breathe life into a multi-layered story, using the words and images I have been collecting, to create a portrait of a place I love.

In my people portraits the intention is always about capturing a soul ... something of the true essence of a person.  Now to lift that impulse, that desire, and fit it over a city, over a region, and tell how place can capture a heart.

There will be a photography exhibition in December, here at home I am hoping.  A party.  And there are plans for limited edition print runs, postcards ... but woven so very closely into this book project that I think it will all work.  There will be a series of photography workshop beginning in Spring 2014, and I will leave my door open for one-on-one workshops too but mostly, I'll be here at the desk and working on images and ideas collected since 2008.

And so, here I am, announcing it ... the intention.  Now to work.

In These Days ...

I have 3 projects to work on and there's only one me ...

Can you hear the sigh in that sentence?  And I love all of the projects equally, so it's not about the one or two that are a nuisance.  It's about wanting to do all of them beautifully.

And then there's the house, and other events, and a pile of books that I'd love to read.  I caught one of those books as it slid off my desk when I sat down here this morning.  The pile is very precariously stacked.  Interwoven with papers and notes, covered in ideas of things I'd like to remember to do.

But anyway ... I made the 2.5 hour train trip to Ieper (Ypres) on Monday and met a family of 6, with 4 of the most beautifully behaved children I've ever met ... without any exaggeration.  I went allowing for the chaos that can be a family portrait session and came away stunned by those kidlets. 

Rolling across Belgium in a train has to one of my favourite things.  I love the fact I'm in the world but out of it.  If I find the right seat, then it's the perfect place to finish a book and/or nap.  I did both, passing out in the 30 celsius+ heat after the photo-shoot. 

You meet interesting people too.  I met a young guy who was studying journalism and we talked for a while.  I had been lost in my book and he heard me asking the conductor where we might be.  I was quietly worried I had missed my train-changing stop.  So I asked him about his studies and it was interesting to hear the state of journalism today, as told to him by his professors. He talked of the book he is planning.  I love that about trains, well ... and planes too, the conversations you get to have with people you've never met before.

In other news, I'm back in France in a few days.  Photographing a wedding that promises to be exquisite.  Then over to Italy for the 5-day workshop where I get to work with some lovely women in a dreamlike setting

September finds me back in Genova.  Anna, at Beautiful Liguria, is working with me on a project that is so close to my heart.   Perhaps that one will take me right through the winter.

And I have an editor for my book and an exhibition space for my photography and so ... work must be done.  Perhaps if I stop for a moment and simply organise the books and papers piled up on my desk, then my day can go forward in the best kind of way. 


Anyway, I called the image below 'painting with light'.  Sometimes, for me, it's all about the attempt to capture light where I find it ...


Light and Colour, Genova

I can never predict what I might find out in the streets of Genova, Italy.

Never.  It seems that all is possible.  Today the light was strong and it was hot.  Really unbelievably hot but I am adjusting to it.  Loving it even ... after the long Belgian winter that was.

I couldn't resist attempting to capture something of the artworks found in the narrow caruggi (alleyways) here in the ancient heart of Genova.

These Freezing Days in Antwerp ...

Wiinter has finally arrived.  I've been trying to ignore it, despite preferring that the seasons come and go in a natural way, however ... minus 20 celsius is simply rude.

And I wouldn't know about -20 celsius (reached due to a -11 frost the other day and combined with windchill factor) but I sometimes get to do the 2 hour-round-trip that is getting Miss 7 to school this year.  4 trams and some brisk walking.  A trip that involves a leather and sheepskin coat that weighs as much as an adult polar bear (my estimate in terms of weight) and multiple layers, with hiking boots, hat, gloves, and a scarf.

Tomorrow we have to be out the door by 7.30am and this morning, the radio weather people predicted a temp of -20 celsius.  I'm not excited about this.  I arrive home completely drained by the freezing cold bleak cityscape.  As I write this, at 9.31am, I checked in on my old blog and the weather there ... it's still -11.

I phoned Gert.  He works in one of the old guild houses in the city ... the pipes are frozen there.  They

have no water.  He's a bit glum too. 

However,the sun is shining. The heaters at home are working.  I did pick up my camera in an attempt to ward off thinking of the fact I have to race across the city later this afternoon.  I did see some nice light outside.  It's the view out the window behind me, here at my desk. 

Yes that is snow. 

Yes really, many Belgian home owners don't clear snow from the pavements outside their house.

Yes, walking anyplace here at the moment is increasingly treacherous as it freezes and freezes.

Well yes ... Monday is feeling kind of challenging, actually.  I'm here trying to write myself into a better mood.  It's not working, is it :-)

My very first newsletter is due out tomorrow.  If you would like to take a look, leave a comment and I will forward you a copy.  The first is going out to Everyone I know ... just that one time, then you are welcome to subscribe if it seems like something you would like to continue receiving.

And now ... to work.  Tot ziens.