Website Update: CITY

I just updated my (brand new) website with a few new pictures that I'd like give a short explanation about.

Oh! And this is the first blog post on my new Blog!

"85"

I took this picture in Los Angeles a few years ago. I have been thinking of going through the pictures I took on trip I took on the (my) rise of digital photography.

Torres Blancas

I once stayed in a hotel, in Madrid, one block away from this building. As an apartment building, it has become an icon of a certain period of spanish architecture. And turns out it is located on the crossroad of the first traffic light you'll find as you enter Madrid from the airport. So everybody sees it, but few people look at it! During my stay in that hotel, I took a little walk around so I could observe all of it façades: no need to say the building offers more than "best points of views".

 

Hong Kong side street

Hong Kong offers a really big number of different facets. One street is the most nice, neat, hype. You turn around the corner and it's a whole new world. And, in certain areas of town, nobody seems to buy façade paint whereas on other nearby areas, people seem to go crazy about it!!!

 

A Window and Milan

Milan is not a place in which you enjoy being out on the street, mainly because of the weather. On the other hand, turns out that it has many many interesting interior spaces and places, that are usually occupied and open to the public during the some of the numerous events that take place in the city (like fashion shows and furniture fairs).

On the technical side, the three first pictures are digital shots, while the last one is B&W film.

On the personal side, I have no problem with mixing film and digital. And that is probably because I am getting comfortable enough with my new ultra-simplistic post-processing workflow. Happy!

P

 

Photo: BARCELONA IS BLACK AND WHITE

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.

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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.

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Barcelona is definitely in BLACK and WHITE.

Or is it BLUE?

P.

Photo: MAVI JEANS' BACKSTAGE

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.

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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.

P.

Photo: 5 PEOPLE IN A LONDON TAXI

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:

Albert A.

Albert A.

Sam

Sam

Albert R.

Albert R.

Hideki

Hideki

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?)

P.

Photo: LONELINESS

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.

Loneliness

Loneliness

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!!!

The Best? Mmmm... Lemme think...

P.