Maggie found this old, beautifully formed and crafted horse, and simply fell for the ‘presence’ it emanated. The life it had lived for some child, or maybe a number of children down the years. She bought it so it could continue living.
Anita came to visit us with her dad, our old assistant and friend from the Tuscany Workshop days back in the 90’s. She’s a trilingual little kid with a lovely sense of herself and a graceful young ballerina’s movement. I was outside doing something when I turned around to find her dreaming in the doorway, watching her father and Maggie. A sweet little unposed moment where her luminous inner quality shone through.
There is nothing the Italians enjoy more than eating. And when they can gather at some long communal table and be eating outside on a summery evening, they love it! It’s a way to meet new people, or be with old friends, or simply take a chance on whatever life throws their way. It’s a custom that goes way back and small towns all over Tuscany, and I’m sure all over Italy, continue the tradition.
I always find something to shoot when I’m there, portraits of my table companions, the behavior of the young kids who are doing the serving, the musicians who stroll on through, the dancing later on, and sometimes fireworks.
I went to visit with my friend, the photographer Paolo Ventura, in his studio on the far side of Tuscany. At some point he took a seat on his own hand painted set where he usually has characters from the 40’s and 50’s playing out his stories and dreams. In fact he usually plays some of the characters. But here he was just himself, and to me he looked like he belonged there in that barren, spindly, woodland, almost like a lost traveller in a dreamscape, or a contemporary version of the sage sitting alongside the road, which one finds in those School of Siena paintings of the 1500’s. Slightly wild-eyed or mad, or possessed, which he is.
Libera, a 70 year old contadina (farm woman of the old school variety from the time of serfs and padrones) is still working the land by hand. We stop by every few days to pick up tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, and whatever else is ready at that moment, not to mention oil and wine when necessary. It is a great pleasure to see her smiling face and experience her generosity, both so easily given.
Here, I was driving past on my way home and stopped to chat for a moment, and just the simplicity of her presence, her earthy stance, the old wall behind her, the ordinariness of it all made me reach for the camera. These simple moments are precious, no attitude, no becoming something she is not. She’s just there, rooted to the earth, part of the spirit of the place.
Father and son out for a 30K bike ride stopped by for a glass of water and a hello. It’s Gianni, our closest friend for 20 years and his son Giovanni, who we know since he was 5. I make photographs of Gianni because he is always so expressive in a purely Italian way. And funny too!
Every gesture, which is such a complex part of Italian expression, is is rich with undertones and expletives, world views and commentary, and every conversation circles around to the state of being of contemporary life, mainly in Tuscany, but also in the larger world. Physical gestures are the matrix of photographs, and even when you know someone well it pays to keep reading their animated expressive side for clues to their persona.
Maggie’s closest friend here, Luana, stopped by for a chat, and when I stood with them for a moment listening to their back and forth, I saw how even in an unglamorous setting, one with harsh lighting, plus the awkward frame of the doorway, a ‘moment’ could still be found where something interesting, in this case a gesture, could be read as strange, or at least visually intriguing. And then Maggie’s hand shooting into the edge of the frame suddenly gave me the impulse to shoot.
Of course Luana is something to see all on her own, a combination of a real, earthy, country woman, with an Italian movie star. So even if she is telling Maggie,”….I have this pain here…” it still provides an interesting, open ended moment.
A documentary was being filmed by Ralph Goertz, the head of IKS – Institut für Kunstdokumentation – in Dusseldorf. We had been working on this for several years and he came down to Tuscany to film me working with the view camera along the coast. He’s made over 70 documentaries about artists, but mostly about photographers. He’s an amazing, easy going, and balletic filmmaker. Last year, at my Retro show in Dusseldorf, the film premiered at NRW Forum where he was also the curator for the show.
It’s always fun to turn the tables on someone who is filming you and do it back to them. If nothing else it becomes a record of the moment, and that has value too.
We went to a friend’s restaurant knowing we’d have great food and a good time, and it was even better and funnier than we expected. Celebrations are great moments for making pictures for all the usual reasons; the special moment, the memories, the friends who one day won’t be around but are captured in their liveliest expressions and stay that way for us. Here are four women from 16 to 66 who span the generations yet look so comfortable and beautiful together
Often the camera does things that can only show up as visible in a photograph; that’s the magic of the medium. Maggie ‘s cake came out with a sparkler blazing away, and when I made the shot the sparkler had a fraction of a moment of less sparkle before exploding again, and in that space the shutter – at 1/ 30th of a second – was open long enough to make 2 recordings of everything.
Then someone put on a Berlusconi mask and just as in his real life the women flocked to him. And here again an accidental ‘catch’ occurred, someone else’s flash went off just as I opened my shutter and it produced this ‘bronzy,’ garish color and hard light.