Image of the week...making up for it

A double whammy for my epic failure to post last week...

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I could feel the cobbles through my plimsolls and each corner offered a potential new scene but resulted in disappointment. We had been walking for a few hours and my role of the pied piper began to make me anxious. I felt pressurized to deliver some excitement.

The concoction of noise pollution rolled into a vibrant din and the constant threat of a speeding moped kept me on my toes. Napoli was so much more beautiful than I had imagined. The windy narrow streets in the old town were perfect for us to explore.

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However, forcing an image is like thinking of what to draw on a blank canvas. It is mind - numbingly frustrating and for one of my students, it definitely felt like torture. I asked her to sit down. We practiced some shots; playing with shadows and light and as I took her picture she said her pose reflected her feeling of defeat.

After some incredible pasta and meatballs, we wandered further up the hill and stumbled across a wedding. It was the boost she needed. Plenty of characters filled with wine and enthusiasm. It' s funny how one moment or person can simply transform the feeling of failure or misfortune into a high of clarity and excitement.

Image of the week...before the storm

The sun was harsh, I walked passed two strip bars and crossed the road. The hood of an old truck was up. A dazzling red bomber jacket and a cowboy hat clung to a skinny frame peering in.

I stopped and asked the time.

His scarecrow limbs swung around and a toothy grin asked my name. We chatted for a while. He asked me in for a beer. I politely declined. He insisted and I said maybe later. It was then that he gave me the tip off of the best bar in town. "Where?" I asked with genuine curiosity.

"That one right over there!" he said pointing to a boarded up strip bar.

"That's the best one. Karaoke at 9 tonight. See you there later?"

Unfortunately, we were too early for the Karaoke but we sat for a good hour people watching the locals as they necked back shots with ease. It was a weekday early evening but these folks needed no excuse to celebrate. They were giggling and enjoying the sanctuary of this very local bar.

We wandered out into the darkening sky and made our way back to the motel sorry to have missed him.

Wishing love and support to all those in Texas xx

 

OAO x

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image of the week...stumbling

One from my All fo Nuthin archive as I ponder over some recent shots I’m not yet ready to share. This soft hotel mattress has swallowed me up and I am full of Rooibos tea and ready to sleep so Ill write whilst I am still half lucid.

Trawling around Texas brought so many memorable random encounters. I was a constant nosey wanderer and often peeked into cafes, shops or buildings exploring with wide eyes in my full tourist uniform of shorts, backpack and camera. Nearly everyone I encountered demanded a conversation and greeted me with warmth and curiosity. All except the owners of this cafe. After attempting a conversation with the women stood firmly behind the food counter I was met with coldness and impatience. I took my hint but couldn't resist a last scope around the memorabilia lined walls and random nik nak furniture. 

A bell rang as an elderly gentleman entered through the beaten wooden panel door. He looked at me dismissively. Before I left I attempted one last conversation. The gent was a little friendlier. He recited a tale about the alligator hunters of the area and showed me a few pictures. Just as I felt the atmosphere relaxing I realized the time, I was, as ever, late. I made my excuses but asked for a quick snap, he coyly declined so I took this instead to remind myself of this surreal cafe.

 

OAO x

 

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Image of the week...trial and error

I need little persuasion to hit the seaside when the sun is shining and I have a few hours to kill. With a camera as light as a match box I was eager to see what images may emerge so I went to Margate to find out.

After a mere five minutes of strolling towards Dreamland a couple seated on the pavement caught my eye. I asked for their time and they were patient and eager with a dash of shyness.

It was tricky to see through the tiny dust ridden viewfinder so when I got the film back I was surprised to discover the horizon was straight . The crop was just enough to leave some mystery to a hint of their relationship.

The next one is from later in the day when we stumbled across a chatty and down to earth 11 year old. Zana was bright and instantly friendly. She answered my questions with no hesitation and a beautiful confidence that was determined and innocent.

For those of you who religiously follow this blog (Hi mum) you'll notice I missed a post last week. I'll blame business and technology as ever and vow to post an epic story hopefully one day soon. Night y'all oao xxx

 

Image of the week...summer times

I've just sobbed to the end of 'The Karate Kid' so I should really take that as a sign to go to bed. A quick post to remind me that summer should still be here. I have faith that soon any piece of grass in London will be a blanket of boozy faced smiles. An image from one of the hottest days of the year. It's from the same day that I shot the paddling pools in East Tilbury and we took refuge in a post office for the air conditioning.

This coy beauty let me take her portrait before the group erupted into a display of gymnastics (including 2 gym mats being dragged out onto the street within seconds.) I recall feeling keen to practice my headstand before Rhiannon played my warden and thankfully dissuaded me. Hopefully this weekend will be a surprise scorcher and we can head back to Essex!

oao x

image of the week...chasing boys chasing fish

A brief little snippet of a post as I'm in the nest and about to crash.

I stood on the bridge watching the lush water swirl around the rocks. All of a sudden two figures began darting in and amongst the bushes along the stream. They elegantly meandered the creek; occasionally pausing to swing their rods into the water, catch a fish and then rush to their next base. I followed them three paces behind and kept my distance so as not to intrude. This was at a brief pause when one of the boys looked up at me in silence. We both froze, I shot, he smiled, I waved and like a salmon he raced back downstream...oao x

image of the week...park life

With sleepy eyes and no brain function left Ill keep it short. A lovely summer stroll in London with my dad brought another opportunity to test my patience at 5x4. Loosing track of the slides I shoot is something I've done every time now for far too long. I need a system I can actually remember. With empty pockets and no film Im glad I still carry my Hassy as back up to record the day. Longer and better stories next week..oao xx

Image of the week... saving a radiator

I was lucky enough to spend the tiny amount of time I did have in Istanbul exploring some of the quieter less touristy spots. After hopping off the bus we meandered the cobbled streets in search of some coffee. We wanted an authentic spot and soon stumbled across an area that was both traditional with a hint of contemporary coolness. As we pondered over the idea of searching further we passed this man fixing a radiator. His eyes glistened from the dark garage entrance and the mask covering his mouth made him look like an anteater. As I shot we talked with the guys working there and to our surprise one spoke impeccable English and Italian having lived in both countries. He described at length his life's work and how Istanbul had stolen his heart. He pointed to a cafe at the bottom of the hill explaining he owned it. Out of nowhere appeared two tourists sporting shiny SLR's stuck to their faces. They walked past us, stopped and starting shooting next to me. Without engaging with anyone they moved on. It was odd. A while later the radiator was finished and we were still in need of caffeine. We thanked them and headed down to his cafe to sit in the sun and drink strong Turkish coffee. Oao x     OAO x

I was lucky enough to spend the tiny amount of time I did have in Istanbul exploring some of the quieter less touristy spots. After hopping off the bus we meandered the cobbled streets in search of some coffee. We wanted an authentic spot and soon stumbled across an area that was both traditional with a hint of contemporary coolness. As we pondered over the idea of searching further we passed this man fixing a radiator. His eyes glistened from the dark garage entrance and the mask covering his mouth made him look like an anteater. As I shot we talked with the guys working there and to our surprise one spoke impeccable English and Italian having lived in both countries. He described at length his life's work and how Istanbul had stolen his heart. He pointed to a cafe at the bottom of the hill explaining he owned it. Out of nowhere appeared two tourists sporting shiny SLR's stuck to their faces. They walked past us, stopped and starting shooting next to me. Without engaging with anyone they moved on. It was odd.

A while later the radiator was finished and we were still in need of caffeine. We thanked them and headed down to his cafe to sit in the sun and drink strong Turkish coffee. Oao x

 

 

OAO x

Image of the week...30...2...

Deciding where to fly on my birthday predictably became an obsessive game of pros and cons. After narrowing it down to Iceland and Istanbul I begun the research. Both offered equally opposing possibilities. Exploring a lively, character filled city ridden with history and culture. Istanbul offered a more social option and getting out of the city to hike and explore Cappadocia. Alternatively renting a wagon for myself and spending some much needed time alone to think, breathe, reflect and slow down in Iceland felt like a dream. Settling on Istanbul for the most practical of reasons (time and money) I knew either way it would be an escape which despite all the travelling I’ve been doing felt appealing.

A pleasant 4-hour flight later trying to contemplate how the hell I’ve lived 32 years left me feeling a little numb and anxious.

 

Other tales will come but the images are from an escape whilst roaming away from Istanbul. This was day two on the motorbike exploring the local towns. I was now used to the speed and joy of zipping along the roads surrounded by beautiful rocks formations and vast landscapes. Realising our initial destination would consume the day we headed elsewhere a little disappointed but enjoying ourselves. We turned onto an alluring woodland path and a dinky elderly man holding a book of weathered tickets asked us for two Liras to pass. Now even more curious we paid and entered what looked like a nature reserve. We soon drove across a dam and saw a few families dotted along a large lake. Steaming bbq’s and children playing lined the ridge of the water. We hopped off to explore. I choose my family. We managed to have a relaxed conversation. They were kind, calm and hospitable. The people I met in general in Istanbul seemed incredibly warm, always eager to help or host.

I asked to shoot a few pictures and focussed mainly on this gent and occasionally turned to capture another family by the waters edge. In between an impromptu game of volleyball with their daughter Nisa, I watched as he tendered the fire with patience. Swamped by the trees and smoke the scene seduced me. After a few frames we sat down to toast the tea he kindly offered us before throwing a bag full of meat onto the bbq and insisting we join.

 

Oao x   

Image of the week..wasting time

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gregory Crewdson this week and he made a comment that evoked a little bit of calm in me. I was asking him if he ever felt he was wasting time. His meticulous attention to detail and long form process made me wonder.

"It's all part of one big thing. I try not to think of it as separate projects; it's all related."

I adore this forgiving and logical notion that actually in one way or another all of my photographic experiences are in some way connected. No image is a failure because it grants a lesson or motivation for the next time I press the shutter.

The disappointment with the last batch of film has sucked me into a pit of frustration but Gregory's words offer some comfort. This Polaroid was from one of the days shooting that felt more positive than others. I had been planning to return to Lucky's grandfathers' house for a while (one year precisely we discovered). He united all of the clocks from his warehouse that he had either fixed or was in the process of repairing. I was lucky to have a subject that so closely aligned with my narrative and with the patience of a saint. It was like he had all the time in the world.OAO xx

Image of the week...predicting colour

It's a common annoyance that towards the end of any trip I am fishing through my bag of films to find a roll of 400, like sifting through muesli for the raisins. These negatives reached new levels of being underexposed but I recall the immense mission of a drive to arrive at this location. Tired beyond words and near the state of a toddler tantrum Andrei propped me up and dragged me from the car. I was glad too, even just to remove myself from the wagon. We shot a few playful frames and looking at them now I cant imagine them in color.

With eyes dropping I’ll also include this one, as I am indebted for my lack of a post last week. This image is an opposite of those above. The colors define it. We decided to revisit the polluted lake; a location that although famous still offers new inspiration. The murky thick orange waters paint the scene and every time I am there I wonder what lies beneath.

Hopefully more awake and coherent next week

Sleepy

OAO x

Image of the week...ghost town

Eerie did not and cannot define this isolated and forgotten town.  We cruised around in last light at a snails pace, curb crawling the empty ghostly shells of buildings. The atmosphere was amplified by not a single soul to be seen. What happened here?

The tease of this place was that capturing the buildings would never do the place justice. It was a filmmakers dream and the setting was a perfect backdrop to the tale. However I did not want to stay here; neither of us did. We were hesitant to even spend then night. I can't explain it but something just felt 'wrong'. It was bizarre, as I have never wanted to leave a place so rich in potential yet so heavy in negative ambience.

One night at least, that s what we agreed. With still no one in sight the next day Andrei and I played frustratingly amongst the incredible scenes.

The first exhibition opened tonight in Paris… the big party is tomorrow…

 

OAO x

come along! x

come along! x

Image of the week… a fail -the boy on the red motorbike

I feel like hotels have become my shell. I have been lucky enough recently to jump from country to country; shooting, working and learning…. so once again a late post …

With such a rationed stock of two cassettes of Polaroid film I was precious. Often when shooting Polaroid it can feel like guessing game as the focal plane never matches up to the viewfinder. The decision to reshoot the same frame based on the inaccuracies of the first are always a decision.

1) Is it worth it? 2) Do I change the exposure?

With such precious extinct film these decisions are laden with guilt, insecurities and often regret.

There was a scene recently in Romania I wish I had re-shot. It nagged me for days. When shooting analogue I always shoot 3 frames to be safe if I feel the scene/subject has potential.

It was a fleeting collide but the boy and his father seemed keen to help. The red popped out like a beacon and without hesitation I approached. The scene wasn't perfect but the harsh light and vivid red were a Polaroid match. Those 60 seconds of waiting to peel the film should have been done in front of them; instead I thanked them as we walked to the car, the unpeeled film resting tucked into my pants to keep warm against my belly.

As soon as it was revealed I lamented, the composition just wasn’t right… it didn't work. The beastly unpredictable nature of Polaroid had played me and won, once again.

OAO x

 

Image of the week...cutting glass, living rocks

Two images for my late post.

Both of these are from the Romanian rolls I recently found myself heartbroken to go through. The last trip felt good. A pure release and a chance to play and push myself; but alas with disappointing results. Perhaps the lack of portraits frustrated me but in general a wave of frustration swept over me as I impatiently scrolled through the scans. The next phase is to analyze why and where I failed.

In the mean time I shall remember some sweet memories that already seem so far away. This glass shop reminded me of being stuck inside an old aquarium. I remember my first fish tank had the vivid forest green foam on the bottom to keep it safe and this little shop was lined with the stuff. I found myself hypnotized as the salesman effortlessly glided the blade through the sheets of glass as if they were silk. They moved quickly and spoke very little. The main gent I was targeting unfortunately declined a portrait and seemed rushed off his feet and eager to hide. Disheartened but in the mood to shoot I caught a few frames as they cut our shapes.

Two sets of living rocks were on the agenda; my preferred option lay in a tiny village off road. As we meandered the windy gravel path we passed what appeared to be a father and son chopping down trees and building a fence. We parked up and wandered back down for a chat. They weren’t in fact related but both had interesting faces and the older man introduced himself as Romeo. We decided to wander the streets for a bit and an hour later we passed our friend Romeo again. He eagerly insisted to accompany us to the rocks but seemed a little more ‘merry’ by now. The confusing hike up made me feel incredibly grateful to have stumbled across a local willing guide.  With time not on our side we stopped half way and sucked in the view. As I nestled amongst the UFO shaped stones I shot a few frames of our hero…OAO x

image of the week...in transit

Despite having lots of practice to master to art of traveling I still seem to be epically failing...

I have the complete inability to travel light and every time I prepare a 'to go' bag to grab for my next trip it seems to get raided for emergency shampoo mid week or loaded with 'just in case items' ( exhibit A I just found a spare Nokia 3310 with charger and sim card packed for a 2 night stay in France)

Anyway, somehow myself and my luggage managed to make it here despite arriving at Gatwick an hour and half before take off and realizing Heathrow Terminal 3 was actually on my boarding pass.

So whilst Arles is beautiful I forgot how this old city is the last place on earth to get wifi. My sister has managed to skype me from the depths of South Asia jet picking up a decent wifi signal here is unheard of.

Enough moaning 

I ve been with Actes Suds today finalizing my book . I have to say that I'm slightly gutted as they seem great and I wish I could be happier with the work and feel it is ready as a book. However I see this book as a kind of comma to review the YWA project and look back over my blog. The book celebrates the award and the experience in itself if fascinating as Im learning the process and how it actually takes me far longer to edit than i anticipated. This book has come in a rush so an escape to Romania to focus my mind away and back to the roots of the work felt essential.

With the teeny window of decent wifi I managed to download the latest scans. Here s one from a few weeks back. With tired eyes Ill leave the stories until next week...bonne nuit oao xx

Image of the week...decisions on the road

Which village? Which subject? Shall we move on? Shall we try and make it work? Is it going to rain...

I'm trying to go with the flow but actually somewhat enjoying the pondering questions that revolve around my head with each day of roaming. I vent that I am frustrated by my monkey brain but Andrei argues these questions are important. They infuse maturity in an approach, he comments with certainty. "The ability to make a decision is greater than just trying everything..."

I'm on the fence.

I often lament when leaving a scene to early or arriving too late. I kick myself for a badly composed frame or a badly lit portrait...as Sergi our 4x4 driver comments with a twinkle in his eye: " It is hard being an artist huh?"

I'm loving being on the road and only wish I could do it more. However I'm craving my own bed and being reunited with Pigeon.

Here's a decision I made. After a slight debate we did a U turn so that I could assess the scene. We had whizzed passed an old looking huge wheel of swings in the garden of a restaurant. It immediately felt like a deja vu before I connected that I had dreamt about something very similar a few nights before. Spooked, I walked over and shot a few frames...why not? even just as a reminder...oao x