Tag Archives: evening

SEPTEMBER 7, 2015

Tradition

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.

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AUGUST 6, 2015

Stop Time

Some friends came down for Maggie’s birthday a couple of years ago and brought their teenage daughter with them. We have known her since she was a few weeks old and have seen her through all her phases so far and hope to watch her for as long as we can. These yearly or sometimes twice a year sightings are a little like watching a stop motion movie where we see the spurts and leaps as if it was a continuous sequence.

She’s about 16 here and looking leggy and beautiful. I feel fortunate to have witnessed her through all the years and seeing this image, simple as it is (we were walking in the medieval part of our town in the evening) made me feel that I should collect them all and make a little book for her at some point in her life when it would be important for her to look back.

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AUGUST 1, 2015

Slow Down

Living on a farm in Tuscany offers in its solitude few distractions from the basic simplicity of daily life. Not like living in a city where just stepping out the door onto Broadway, or any lively street in a city, throws marvelous and unexpected chaos at one non stop. I find living on the farm is more of a slowed down and mediative experience, so that something even as ordinary as putting food on a plate and bringing it to the table can offer a moment to be startled by its  humble beauty.

By accepting this I found myself responding the simple language of poetry, in which an accounting of what is in front of me serves to bring me to consciousness. That perception, more than making a great image, is preparation for what may appear next. And since photography is always dealing with the momentary – in which we never can imagine what is coming next – these small moments of attentiveness are really all we have.

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JULY 31, 2015

Full Time

Being read a story in the late hours of a warm summer day is a little like being a kid again and  submitting to the pleasures of the tale and dreaming while listening. Those evening readings were pure joy and often, while Maggie was reading, I would photograph her, or sometimes make a  video so I could hold on to the sweetness of the memory of that time in our lives. That was the year we decided to come back to live full time in Italy.

The halo of light around her head in the darkening of the day, and her physical concentration and intensity, like an actress preparing for a role and searching for the ‘voice’ of the character, kept me glued to her every nuance of gesture and tone. Little observations like that, even with someone you know well, can give an ordinary moment meaning.

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JULY 21, 2015

Jewel Box

I was asked to give a talk at the Cortona, On The Move Festival, and then teach a workshop the next day. I arrived at the jewel box of an opera house and was amazed to see this small but grand old theater which was full of students and visitors by the time I was ready to speak.

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Out on the street afterwards I was attracted to this couple, mainly the electric blue of her dress and the great pair of legs, and there was certainly a charge they both gave off.

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Later in the day, after walking around the whole town for hours, I made my way out to the piazza which offered a grand view of the valley, and there I saw the couple again, she wedged into him so close that it justified my response in the morning. It’s always a delicate situation to get close to people who are in an intimate and private moment. It requires a kind of determined boldness, but also delicate footwork, and body feints and deceptions, something I have learned how to do by being on the streets for so many years. It’s exciting too, to see just how close I can come and still not be considered breeching the space they need for their own sense of freedom.

Whenever I see this kind of intimacy in public, the way she has fit herself into him and the way it looks! I find it tells me, or at least suggests to me, something of their, hidden from the public life, and that kind of eros, it projects makes me pay close attention.

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Later I met up with the whole staff of the festival for dinner. We were twice as many as in this frame, but at some point I looked at that Renoir poster on the wall and felt that life continues as always and only the costumes change. Youth and energy, yearnings and life’s mysteries, spin us all through time so one day we can remember these moments of joy and freedom.

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Leaving the restaurant I saw this old woman out in the night, and immediately felt the sense of time as so fleeting; that from youth and love and wonder, we come to age, and it seems but a blink.

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JULY 11, 2015

Seeds and Sunshine

Silvia, the farmer on whose property we live, has been coming by with whatever is in season in her orta ever since we started living here. On that day in this photograph she brought zucchini and melanzana, and as I often do I make a portrait of her and the gift, which seems an appropriate way of thanking her while keeping a record of what a farmer’s wife can look like in the 21st century. Silvia is gentle and sweet, yet strong enough to handle big animals, carry heavy equipment, and bear up under the stresses of gardening, raising  sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, and children, and weathering all the unexpected events that nature hurls at farmers everywhere.

Those zucchini wound up in this omelet about 30 minutes later. So it is in life on the farm; garden to table in no time, with informal still lives and portraits as memories. Then, when the evening cooled and the call to walk in it came, we took to the road that is always suggestive of adventure even when it is just along our familiar old road heading into town. It never ceases to please us and tell us exactly what time of the season it is.

On this date the Queen Anne’s Lace is lacily trimming the borders of the roadsides. In some way these offhand photographic notes on the seasons show me the constancy of time, the year after year perfection of seeds and sunshine, which results in a measurable and quantifiable experience of time’s passing.

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07-11 Omelet L1031347

07-11 Maggie flowers L1031368.

JULY 3, 2015

Consumed

Some friends had invited us over for a summer ritual they perform every year, followed by a yoga breathing workshop and dinner. Since I like breathing – who doesn’t? – and they are good cooks, and any ritual always offers some form of crazy behavior, we happily went to it.

They started off with a bonfire, around which we all went chanting and shaking bells and other noise makers. But the fire was what got to me. Who doesn’t stop to watch fire? It’s one of those transforming, elemental forces that touches something primitive in all of us, and this one, by starting off with a sacrificial chair, made it more mysterious to me. Hard to explain what it was, but it was different than seeing logs and kindling go up. Perhaps because it signals an end to something that once had a life, and with that comes the knowledge that we, too, will be consumed.

07-3 L1031077 Burning chair

07-3 L1031090 ceremony

JUNE 24, 2015

In Our Own Backyard

Sometimes there are natural forms that approach perfection. The shape of this tree has spoken to me for the four years we’ve been coming to this place, and I realize now that I have been photographing it casually and repeatedly in all lights and seasons.

While I was doing the photo a day series I probably added this tree to it many times on days when I was working in the studio and didn’t get out to do anything special. It could be said that it was a ‘fall back position’ image, but not merely that, since it made me look carefully at what was right in my own backyard. A good working principle for all of us.

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JUNE 20, 2015

Simple Things

Summertime means simple meals. We were lucky that summer to be eating out of the farmer’s garden nearly every day. A broth of vegetables and lentils, some steamed zucchini, fresh tomatoes, edible flowers to embellish the tops of anything we wished, some locally baked crackers. This kind of eating makes me want to photograph every meal, and sometimes I do. More of a record than art, but simplicity is what it demands.

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