Today in Genova ...

Today began with pastries and espresso from a bar along Via San Lorenzo, and then the chance meeting with Amedeo the artist ... and another espresso, this one with that friend I thought I had lost.

There was a walk through the city and the interesting conversation in the Loving Genova office.  The delightful post-lunch drinks with Simon and Paola, as they passed through the city on their way back to Brussels. 

Then a long catch-up with the artists on Via San Lorenzo, with Amedeo, with Karla, with Franco and the rest too. 

Dinner ended being a buffet selection at a bar just off Piazza de Ferrari, with a drink down in Piazza delle Erbe on the way home.

This visit has been about more than a few chance meetings too.   I met Anna, from Beautiful Liguria, out there in the caruggi.  And tonight it was Roberto, a kind friend who has introduced me to new places in Genova ... he walked into the bar with his friend. 

It's good to be back ... as always.  And there is this, the painting I might have bought from Amedeo today.  Just absolutely celebrating the fact that he made it off life-support and is painting again.

A Most Beautiful Day ...

I don't know if I have the words to capture half of the beauty that happened todayon our Beautiful Truth Retreat.

I am learning that something extraordinary happens whenever women come together in a small group to talk and learn.  Something so powerfully beautiful that it feels a privilege just to be a part of it.

Yesterday some of us met for the first time.  Today, dare I claim it ... we're friends.  It has been an intense day.  It's only 9.42pm as I write this but I could easily sleep now. 

This morning we gathered for breakfast ... a divine breakfast of fresh fruits, Italian coffee, tea, muesli, and pastries. Freshly-squeezed orange juice too.

Then there was a photography workshop with me ... out by the pool.  It was made up of more than a little laughter and many photographs were taken out there in the blue-sky summer's day that was today.

But then a most extraordinary thing ... we jumped in the car and headed off to Carla's restaurant.  We spent the next few hours learning how to make pasta and bruschetta the old-fashioned way ... no machines.  Carla made us all smile as she opened a bottle of some divine Piedmont white wine and we began with a toast. 

Of course, as the hours unfolded, there was more laughter and so many courses of beautiful food that we almost had to be rolled away from the table.

There was bruschetta, a pesto cream sauce for our handmade pasta. There was this turkey, pot-roasted, in sauce made from its juices, some cream, dried mushrooms and other secret ingredients.  Some of us could have attempted that as the soup course.  The gravy was divine.

And we ended with a bowl of plain gelato ... no flavour, not even vanilla just gelato and I had never tasted anything so good.  And understand, I could have stopped with the bruschetta, I definitely could have stopped after the pasta.  But I ate it all, well most of it, like everyone else.

And like everyone else, I left having absolutely fallen for Carla.  She hugged and kissed us all when we left and, I think I speak for everyone, when I write that we left feeling like the sun had been shining on us ... just us, for those hours spent in her company learning those everyday things that meant so very much to us.

Dinner tonight and we gathered in the kitchen, a selection of beautiful Italian meats and vegetables there in front of us, some red wine ... all of talking, and laughing.  I needed this laughter.  Life so serious so often and to gather with these women who simply astound me ... it is good.

Perhaps the photograph that follows captures a little of fun of it all.  Then again, I said quite a lot ... didn't I, writes this bemused woman, hoping she will be forgiven for raving, again.

There is more, there was the visit the ancient home of an artist, his lovely architect wife, and his film-making son.  But I don't dare try to add that on here.  That story is a whole other post.

The photograph below ... Diana and Carla, serving up the pasta we made. 


A Remarkable Woman

Whether we know it, or not, we are all remarkable souls.  Individuals with stories, tapestries of individual beauty. 

Over the years I've realised that each individual carries so many stories inside.

I started moving house when I was 21 and newly married.  Over the years of the first marriage we moved at least 12 times.  And I remember watching and wondering, as we drove by old homes on the road between wherever we were living and 'home', about the people who might have been forever inhabitants in those houses ... wondering what their stories felt like.

I see people as beautiful stories, like books with their own individual covers, and I enjoy the privilege of 'reading' a little when we work on a portrait shoot or simply spend time together.  Some try to tell me that their lives are so ordinary but lives are never ordinary.  It's as fascinating to listen to someone who has lived their entire life in one place as it is to listen to a person who has traveled.

Like wine, we all have our own flavour, our own ageing-process ... depth, maturity, character are all words that can be applied as much to humans as to wine.

Back in Genova, I spent two days with Diny and it was an incredible pleasure.  The tapestry of her life was beautifully woven.  I can imagine her laughing as she reads this but it's less about perfection and more about the deep beauty of being real and present. Of being honest.  Of embracing life in a way that left me admiring her intensely.

And she gave me permission to post one of the photographs I took of her while we worked. 



Eduardo Galeano, Writer

Scientists say that human beings are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are also made of stories. And so, each one has something to tell that deserves to be heard.
Eduardo Galeano, extract from an interview about his new book Children of the Days.

I so very much believe this ... that everyone is a story, everyone is full of stories.  His interview is fascinating and made me think I should look for this book of his.


John Szarkowski, a quote

In the past decade a new generation of photographers has directed the documentary approach toward more personal ends. Their aim has been not to reform life, but to know it.

John Szarkowski, photographer, curator, historian, and critic.

To know life.  I thought, 'Yes!  That describes how I approach photography.  To know life, to attempt to capture slices of it, with my camera.

To slip into the midst of it, to disappear, and to come away with images where my presence was forgotten.

People Become Stories and Stories Become Understanding

I've spent the last few days researching, photographing, and writing up Monday's blogpost for Fans of Flanders.

I'm working on a series of interviews that are absolutely related to this blog's reason for being ... the whole people become stories and stories become understanding thing. 

With that in mind, I'll be talking to more than a few Flemish people I know over the next few months, taking some photographs and writing up stories because they're interesting people and because I love hearing people tell their stories.

Here's one of the images for Monday's blogpost.  I'll cross-post here once it's published.  Any ideas of what it might be ...?