Category Archives: Family

SEPTEMBER 19, 2015

Apology

I have to admit that the death of my brother has thrown me. Add to that my long return flight to Italy, and jet lag, the arrival of guests tomorrow, and my need to go ‘On Press’ early in the week, and I can see that the time needed to really devote myself to thinking, posting and writing over the next few days, will be tough to find.

So I’d like to put up a suite of days to give me some breathing room.

9-19  Dear friends arrive with baby Chayton.

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9-20  Gianni brought this character to stand guard.

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9-21  Chayton and Pasta form a lasting relationship.

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9-22  An older woman slipped on the moss in the old Roman hot springs. But was OK.

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9-23  Our dear workshop cook, Lisena, made a homey Italian family dinner for all of us.

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SEPTEMBER 6, 2015

Time Ship

A few days ago I wrote about a dead sheep and her unborn lambs, and now the other side of the coin. This old dog, a special breed of Maremmani sheep dog, the kind that can kill a wolf that attacks their fold, had given a litter of 10, and it was to everybody’s surprise because she really is no spring chicken that ol’ sheep dog!

Luana, tended every one of them, nursed them, warmed them, cleaned up after them, all because the old dog didn’t have it in her any more to ‘mother’ them fully. I was witness to the beautiful domestic connection between humans and dogs, an ancient companionship that has truly weathered all the tests of time. I am sure that even in the hard fought life of early man dogs were attracted to their fire, and what they could communicate to each other, and that this bond goes back to prehistoric times.

The humble scene here could have been rendered in black and white and would seem to have been made in the 1950’s, or even earlier, so true to type is it. At moments like this, when I’m in the grip of a reflection on our human history, and because of what I am seeing in the present, I don’t think about dramatizing anything, or pushing the frame around to zap the energy in the image, you know, to make a picture!. I find myself just being there, present to the moment, and then, when something in front of me connects with that time ship that I was traveling on, I find the alignment of my feelings and this special moment. And then an image is made.

It doesn’t even have to be a good picture, by whatever our current standards are, as long as it resonates, to me, something about what this picture is about.

 

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AUGUST 17, 2015

Ciro

August is the time of year, it seems, when friends passing through Tuscany make their way to your door. In popped Ciro, now in our life for 20 years! That in itself is amazing! When we started our Tuscany Photography and Writing Workshops here in 1995 he was our first assistant  along with his buddy, Giorgio, and we have stayed in each others lives all this time. It’s been great to see their work grow, watch them flounder around with girl friends, marriages that come and go, children being born, new work being created and new risks taken, and at the same time watch them grow older, like our own children are doing. It’s real life!

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JULY 25, 2015

Dumpling

At the little beach side hotel we were staying in – a real Italian family kind of place – the husband and wife chefs turned out homey and delicious variations of classic Italian cuisine. We went in to see them at work and were so taken with their honesty and sweetness that I wanted to give something back to them, so I invited them out for a portrait.

I couldn’t ask for a more playful pair of lovebirds. He simply found her irresistible, she was his ‘dumpling,’ and he couldn’t keep from snuggling and hugging her, even dancing around together for a moment. I suddenly felt that their restaurant (sadly they didn’t come back the next year, business being really tough in Italy’s economy, and we really missed them on our next visit) was their little theater, and so I photographed them on their ‘stage’ set. It’s one of a lot of frames I made, but it’s easy affection and real warmth keeps me engaged.

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JULY 22, 2015

Penmanship

On the streets of Cortona with students in the workshop, I saw a few of those balletic moments of no great significance, but which keep the eye sharp and the appetite hungry. When I was a kid we were taught penmanship with a real old fashioned pen that was dipped into an inkwell. We had to make slinky-like spirals and other gestural swirls and swishes so that we would develop a ‘good hand’ and be ready at any instant to create beautiful letters.

Like penmanship, the attuned eye, following the rhythm of life on the streets, keeps one sharp and ready for when the moment arrives. These little toe pointings, and head tiltings are nuanced gestures that lead to a more watchful readiness and also to enjoying the rich, unexpected incidents that can happen when you pay attention.

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This image of 2 sisters, one already filled out and worldly, and for a moment taking charge of her younger sibling, filled me with the sense of what sexual development, or the lack of it, may offer in the way of power between people. Who knows what the hidden text of this picture really is? For all I know she was saying, ‘gosh, that’s hot, don’t you have a lighter top?’ But it also could be about the difference between being a teenager and not.

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JUNE 26, 2015

All is Being Lost

In a roadside restaurant in the Maremma region of Tuscany I watched this man feed his Alzheimer’s-ish mother. Having cared for my own Alzheimer father I recognized the tenderness and patience he brought to the   task. The roles are reversed at this stage of life; the parent is the 3 or 4 year old, and the child assumes the parent role, and often, in this situation, the deepening absence of the parent doesn’t bring the joy one gets with the awakening of the child to the world around them.

All is being lost and yet there is nothing to do but love and care for them while watching the decline. But every once in a while there is the briefest moment of return to lucidity and the present, and like photography, if we are present, we get the gift of their awakening, and then it’s gone.

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JUNE 6, 2015

Softening

Some moments are rich with meaning and yet so simple as to be ordinary. Gianni was walking down the road with his son Giovanni, a 24 year old who, like many young adults, has been in revolt against all the values of his parents. It’s normal. And Giovanni has a tough act to follow with his father, who is rooted to the Tuscan earth like few people I have ever met. Often they are capable of a give and take that is complicated.

But this year something has changed, and as I watched them go down the road, in the glow of the last light of evening, I saw what could on the one hand be just a cliché, but in reality is the softening of differences that maturity brings. It was beautiful to me on all counts.

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