We are very lucky to have a garden. It is a small one, but it is right in the middle of the City. C'mon, are you complaining? No, I am not. It is only that it is not such a big garden. An there's our home on one end, and my photo studio on the other (my photo studio cannot be in out basement 'cause our home is actually in our basement!). And my office is only one floor up! Will it be big enough for her? We will still need to take her out, but being busy people as we all are at home, will she be ok? I wish I could skip a few hours of work a day, and go out with her. Wait a minute! I CAN skip a few hours a day; I am self-employed; I have my own office, and my own photo studio; I work as many hours a week as I wish... that's why I AM NOT DOING IT! I end up working as many hours a week as possible... how many hours in a week? I work all of them!!! Wait. Let's do it! I need to get myself out of my home-studio-office for a walk every now and then.
It takes some time. And patience... As soon as I pick my camera from my own lap she says " NO ". I then rise it to my eye, and she insists: " Papa, he dit NO ! " (Dad, I said NO!).
First shot. Hit! But her fan is covering most of her face (except her spying eye).
A few minutes later, second try. She has just folded her fan. In my mind, I view myself being faster at raising my camera and focusing than her opening her fan and covering her face again.
Fast synchronized (trained) movement: Camera - Eye - Focus - Click.
Focus check (playback) on the viewfinder... She raised her other hand....!!! How could she be that fast!?!? And fully synced with the shutter!!!
After a while of playful wrestling...
...she relaxes. The game is over. The weather is too hot here in summer for any unnecessary movement...
New York is the paradigm of The Metropolis. It doesn't matter how much time has passed since you last visited the city. It doesn't matter where you come from, what religion, color or sexual orientation. It doesn't matter what age you are. It doesn't matter if you are there for business or pleasure, or because you were born there. It is even indifferent to what mood you are in.
Either you love the place, or you hate it. Period.
If you hate it, just move along. The world is full of great places.
If (by mistake, by coincidence, by luck) you happen to love it, then you are done. You will wish you were a Newyorkian for the rest of your life.
I belong to the latter group. Period.
Question: What is it? Is it the sound? Is it the smell? Is it the energy? Is it the complexity, the juxtaposition, the contradiction, the contrast? What ON EARTH makes this place so unique and fascinating? What is it???
Answer: I have no clue, but once it gets in you body, it moves in for good, and lives somewhere between your bone-marrow and your eye-sockets and your guts and your imagination. And it stays forever.
SELF as in my / your / him or her / one + self. This is the final conclusion, persistent in my mind, every time I take a walk at the sea front, in Costa Brava on cloudy days.
Relaxing and intense. Very relaxing. Very intense.
These are the ingredients (from above and down):
This is the effect it produces:
Can you, too?
Barcelona is BLACK and WHITE. It happens in Black and White. It was designed in Black and White. People live in Black and White, and many of its inhabitants know it. And they are happy about it, because it relates to its intensity.
Barcelona was founded more than 2.000 years ago. As many other cities that are as old, it works in layers. There is a pre-roman layer and there is a roman layer and a romanic, and there's also a gothic and a baroque. And then, of course, uniquely to our city, there's Gaudí and all the other modernist architects and garden designers and craftsmen and sculptors and painters. And then there's us.
You know the cliche: old towns in Europe are full of contrasts. Barcelona is no exception.
That applies to ancient buildings on narrow streets packed of old people, who have lived there for all their lives, a couple blocks away from new non-residential skyscrapers on really straight avenues.
But it also applies to the shades and shadows created by the the sunlight enhancing the textures of different shapes and materials, often washed away by rain and time.
Barcelona's old town (Ciutat Vella) is divided into three neighborhoods. One of them is El Borne, in which I lived for fifteen years, actually until a year ago. Living there is like living in a village, but more exciting culture-wise and much more aggressive safety-wise. My friends were at the same time amazed that I could live in such area, and astonished that I was happy to be there. Ok. Let me fair: The area is unsafe! Period. But it is so only for foreigners (that includes tourists and barcelonians from other neighborhoods). I used to joke with friends who belong to the latter: dangerous people live in my area and work in yours! Carrying a camera around your neck would attract a few eyes; carrying it hanging from your shoulder would attract even more (it's easier to pull). I use to wander around Ciutat Vella every weekend, and very often I would take a camera with me. For a certain period, I would even go out at night (around 2am or later) with my camera and pocket full of Black and White film, and look for contrasts to take pictures of, the one at the beginning of this post being one of them. I must admit that the camera of choice would usually be my Nikon F4, designed to take pictures, but so robustly built that could also be used to hammer nails on walls or as a nutcracker. Or to defend yourself from a blow and hit back (which, by the way, I never found myself doing).
The following pictures were taken from my home. If you ever happen to be at a rooftop in Ciutat Vella, just look around and you will discover a multitude of worlds.
Barcelona is definitely in BLACK and WHITE.
Or is it BLUE?
Elif from Mavi Jeans is the closest I have had to a sister. She is an angel. Simply put, she spoils me. Her boyfriend and boyfriend's brother are my Turkish brothers. Elif, if you are reading this, seni çoz ozledim. All the time. Why did Bread n' Butter have to cancel their Barcelona events???!!! I am a worse person since I don't get to see you twice a year. I was once invited to the presentation of their new collection. I asked permission to shoot the backstage. It was my first experience on a backstages and catwalks and such. I had no idea what the thing would be like. What camera should I take?
Every other photographer was carrying big cameras and long lenses. Ok, ok, models are used to being shot with big bodies and long lenses... but they relax when you are shooting with a gimmick-looking Leica.
A little while before, I had decided to go the simple way, film-wise: I would shoot 100, 400 and 3200 ISO Kodak Black and White film only (short after, I ditched 100 ISO, since most of the time I was stopping down the 400 ISO film to 200). This simpler range of film would let me concentrate on the image, being the only question / decision: is the place lit (400 iso) or unlit (3200 iso). All pictures below were taken handheld.
Elif was kind enough to include the pictures I took at Tibet at their Bread n' Butter, a few months after the trip. This was really a honor, considering that the list of photographers that have collaborated with Mavi Jeans is overwhelming: Martin Parr, Abbas, Oliviero Toscani, Emir Kusturica (he is not a photographer; but he shot a great TV spot for Mavi Jeans) ...
Elif. You spoil me. I thank you.
My girlfriend (see previous post) travelled with me all the time, for so many years.She is small enough to sneak with me in places, and do her job in an extremely smooth and efficient manner.
Simply put, she is gorgeous!
Leica produces amazing machines: amazing gear construction for one simple purpose: amazing picture quality. And, amazingly, Leica cameras are usually unnoticed. People rarely pay attention to other people carrying Leicas (unless the camera is hanging from someone's shoulder during a photo exhibition opening venue! Then you are noticed, and not in the positive way...!)
I once went on a business trip to London. Funny as it may sound, the purpose of the trip was to visit the finest Japanese and Chinese rsstaurants in town (yes, I insist: business trip). And if you are wondering, yes, there's many many fine Japanese and Chinese restaurants in London. You can usually visit restaurants during lunch and / or dinner time, and sometimes, if the place has a tea-room, bakery or other side business, also in between meals.
I took two cameras with me: a pocket digital compact (I cannot remember which brand / model) and my Leica M6. One for business pics, one for art. The Leica was loaded, as usual, with black and white film only.
Being a party of five people, the fastest, cheapest, most efficient way to move around was in taxis. I decided that, on every ride, i would sit on the front folding seat, facing backwards, so I could take pictures of my friends:
Q: How come "5 People in a London Taxi" consists of only 4 photos? A: I didn't self-portrait.
P.S.: all pictures were taken handheld (passenger space inside London Taxis would be too small to open a tripod) (or would it?)
Some people say there is one phrase that a photographer should never say. And the reason why it should not be said is simple: it kills the challenge of taking pictures. Ok. Here it comes: "This is the best picture I have ever taken! It is definitely MY BEST PICTURE!!!"
Oh! Wait! Let me quickly take it back, just in case.
"This is the best picture I have ever taken! It is definitely MY BEST PICTURE!!!"
Your best picture should be, not the one you just took, or the one you once took, but the next one you are planning to take.
But I am strong. Knowing myself, my goods and bads, my limits, is somet
hing I have had to live with in the last 20 years.
My non-photographic Art has been used (which is something unusual for a piece of Art, except when it is architectonic), criticized (not that unusual), modified (usually by non-understanders), and even altered and destroyed. It lasts really long, often longer than people. Most of the time I have a thick skin about my own art.
But all the time (that is, always) I am my worst Critic. I am the first person to tell myself how good or bad things came out. I end up hating my creations, taking them out of shelves and throwing them in drawers. As the great Architect (with capital A) Enric Miralles once told me, if a book (I apply this to other pieces of art) does not behave itself ("if it's not a good pal"), you should punish it on the shelf with all the other bad books! Period. I apply that it pics, too. Period.
I once took a picture, and I believe it is the strongest / simplest / most intense / most minimal picture that I will ever take. Simply put: THE BEST.
I took it in one of my favourite cities in the world: Istanbul. I was at Ara Cafe, waiting for the great photographer Ara Güler to review my portfolio. The bar is on the ground floor of his home and studio, on a side street of Istiklal Çaddesi. It was an intense moment. Weird. Short in time, long in feeling. Ara Bey was delayed by a previous meeting. I took this picture while waiting.
What you are looking at is, yes, a glass of water. But when you put together the title ("Loneliness") with the general mood of the picture, you get an extra dimension of information. The observer's mind usually interprets the drink as an alcoholic beverage and the narrow depth of field as "sitting alone in a dark bar".
The synergy between the picture and its own name takes the observer to a different dimension, more complex than the two taken separately.
The Best? Mmmm... Lemme think...