On the way back from Lucca, shooting from the car as I often still do, this earthen berm with a.. …..what is that thing anyway… sticking over the top of the berm like a droopy schnoz, called out to me and made me laugh. The reason I think some photographs have a surreal feeling is that the world is surreal more often than we might think it is. Is this someone’s idea of art? Is it an industrial site with work going on behind the berm and the schnoz lets the gases out? Is it a lost wind sock from a nearby airport come to earth right there? Whatever it was, it made for a moment of visual excitement, a humorous few minutes of speculation, and the feeling that the world is always giving off unexpected pleasures. If you are willing to see it that way.
By the time we got home the day was producing its own set of miracles, besides arriving home safely. The Tuscan skies, almost as often as the skies over Ireland, produce rainbows of long duration which fall to earth in their own pot-o’-gold, wheat field landscapes. Maggie seems to me to be my very own pot-o’-gold, my good fortune at the end of the rainbow.
Gianni had arrived while Maggie was watering her roses. It was a blistering hot day and Maggie, spontaneous as always, turned the hose on him as he was walking away, and Gianni, open as always to whatever the next thing is, responded with such a moment of joyous abandon that I turned around and saw his exaltation and the rainbow all in the same millisecond. It pays to have the camera wherever you are, even around the house.
N.B. The wrong month and day were inserted yesterday
This is where we live. On a real farm in the hills of Tuscany. Those cows are out our door and down the slope maybe 150 yards away. Most of the time I don’t think of cows as subject matter that I’d be interested in, but when this double rainbow fell into their field they suddenly became more important to me just by being in the space. It’s the humility that gets to me. They’re not exciting the way wild animals might be. They just ruminate around, eating, lying down, wandering to the pond for a drink and a cool place to be, what a life. I could learn something from them.
There are evenings when we walked down the road just to be in their presence. They stand and look, and we do the same, and often something happens that is as simple and ancient as old dutch landscape paintings, with hay ricks and wagons, and farmhouses and sometimes a wonderful weather event in the distance. I don’t know what it is about this ordinariness, but it goes in deep, and I continue to try and find my way to making photographs that tell it right.
For a city guy to to be in this kind of country, without the drama of street life, is a lovely problem to take on, especially for a ‘photograph a day’ project. Some days things are very quiet in the country, so making work requires a different kind of openness.
On the walk back to the house Maggie (then the space behind her was bare gravel, and now, 2 years later, it is lush with flowers and clover and trees – a magical transformation made by Maggie) picked up two rose petals which were dazzling in her hands in the low light.
It breaks my heart every time I see a tree cut down in a town. This one was hollow to the core as I learned when I walked around it. But first I stood there for awhile – it was market day and I had bags full of winter greens and root vegetables that I was happy to put down – leaving me free to contemplate the body of the tree and the emotions that came and went.
Then the woman in the beret walked by, and for some reason a figure entering the frame made me think that it would take about 8 people her size to equal to the mass of the trunk of that tree, that is if you stacked them up like cordwood. Not a pleasant thought but one that came to mind momentarily, as these things sometimes do..
Part of the pleasure of photographing is the amount of speculation that races along in my mind when I am out in the world. Carrying a camera is like having a license to see, and also to think about the unexpected ideas that rise up in relation to wherever I find myself. I have always said that photography – even though it is made of images – is really about ideas. Our ideas about who we are, what we feel, what things move each of us to raise the camera and acknowledge any given instant, as if it is only we who can see this. And it is!
I feel that photography, even though the format is exactly the same for billions of people around the world, gives us a chance to say something about what we see in a truly individual way. We just have to figure out who we are so our identity comes through clearly. Photography can help to do that!
I was in the car on the way to Barcelona airport, and as always had my camera at the ready. The day became a day of ‘from the car’ photographs because after I landed in Marseilles I was back in a car on my way to Bonnieux.
That part of the trip was a ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ experience because, as I entered the Luberon valley, the weather, moving fast behind a passing storm, exploded with rainbows, which appeared around every bend in the road. Rainbows are a little like shooting ducks in a barrel since you can hardly ever miss, but at 60 miles per hour the rainbow, and what it is seen in relation to, makes for a challenging set of conditions.
I love shooting from the car because there is a purity to the gesture of reaching for the image. The image is what it is, and I accept it with all its shortcomings, flaws, crazy tilts, fragmentary bits and pieces which fall in wherever they do, and in a way they refresh my seeing and remind me to stay open to the suggestive impulsive side of photography.
By the time I arrived home the sky, darkening then, flared up one last time in pure symphonic crescendo, and then went dark.