Tag Archives: France

APRIL 30, 2015

Walking Stick

We had packed the house for a May 1 departure back to Tuscany. We were nearly done with the last details when Maggie walked out the door with this little walking stick I had bought a few weeks before. Why I bought it I had no real idea, just that the stick itself seemed to have a kind of ‘character’ that I felt might make its way into a still life; slender, with a small, knobby head, and a lovely flexibility that made me want to do a little dance when I picked it up.

It’s the kind of stick that as soon as one takes it in hand a transformation occurs; turning one into a Chaplin, or Chevalier, or a dandy, a fencer, a hoofer… and Maggie was no different as she strutted out the door and did her little jig and spin for me. At moments like this one can see their intimates in a new light because the playfulness and theatrics are revealing in sudden and fresh ways. Although with Maggie I am fortunate to have a partner who is always ready to play, and so I see different characters quite often. Still, if there is no camera in hand the transformations are lost to time.

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04-30 Maggie struts

APRIL 29, 2015

The Doll and the Grape Vine

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The doll and the Grape Vine hung out on the set for a few hours. I hoped to make a flip book-like video to show you the way the figure moved, but couldn’t seem to get it to work today, so a contact sheet of sorts will have to do. I feel it’s important to share the process with you as I am feeling my way around while making these teatrino still lives. I am amazed and amused by the animated energy that comes from this eloquent little figure, and I can see that patience, and really concentrating on gesture, will be something that helps me to understand just what is going on within the still life form.

Doll-Tree

APRIL 28, 2015

Zing

No matter how many times I passed this field the ‘call’ from the space zinged me. And yet there is nothing there that has any remarkable element that defines the space as special. It’s just a low lying field with a scraggly border of mixed trees. No eloquent stand of poplars bending in the breeze, no spreading oaks or cypresses marking the space, no ‘features’ that gave me reason to look again. But I always did.

Perhaps it is this innocent quality that we need to be attentive to in the world at large. The minor note that resonates deep within us and calls us to attention for reasons that remain somewhat undefined or illusive. That way the call is purely from something native within each of us, which is vulnerable to being awakened by simplicity rather than by more formal or intellectual values.

From these lessons a secret may be learned about what it is that constitutes our inner voice when we hear it call out to us from unexpected external sources.

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APRIL 26, 2015

Local Color

Near Bonnieux there is a town called Rousillion, famed for the red clay cliffs left there millions of years ago when the seas retreated. We decided to show our Italian friends a little local color, which, even on a grey day, is surprisingly intense. The place has a scale to it that always thrills me and makes me pay attention to the little things, could be just the small gesture of the woman reading the text and the way she carries her weight.

Perhaps it is the mass and the color that forms itself into a background for everyone appearing on the stage in front of it that projects the gesture so forcefully, even when so ordinary. I have seen it every time I visit there, whether it’s families, or school groups, or individuals, something always presents itself in this clear way.

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The friend that accompanied Gianni and Giorgio didn’t hesitate to dig right in to the clay itself, and within a few minutes she was rubbing it into her hands and then all over her face. Like a native American Indian she felt the magical quality of being in the space and let it all work on her.

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APRIL 25, 2015

Gasp Reflex

A gloomy, early in the morning walk to the bakery, gave me one of many goodbye images of Bonnieux. I loved the little slivers of warm light pulsing out into the misty matin. Sometimes color is so barely there, yet it exerts all its slender force in the visualizing of the moment. It’s the thing that makes me gasp, and the gasp is what wakes me up. I say to myself, “isn’t that beautiful?” Or I stop, and dwell in the realization that so small a note can make me come to a halt and breathe it in and take something small but special away with me.

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Later in the day our friends Gianni and Giorgio, and a strange friend of Giorgio’s, who you’ll meet in another post I am sure, arrived to pack a truck full of our studio stuff, and our belongings. Their great good humor was as uplifting as the Tuscan spirit always is, and on a day that started so moodily, it was like beams of sunlight. They came for a few days to see our part of what was once Roman territory, a place that bears some special kind of harmony with our beloved part of Tuscany.

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APRIL 23, 2015

Fetish

A friend brought this hand made old doll for me to see. It had tremendous power for such a small and innocent thing. Its oversize head and the tail between its legs lent it a kind of  talismanic, or fetish-like presence, but one with no ill will attached to it. It seemed to me, with its bowed head, to express some kind of shame.

I put it on the background I was working with that day, an old, cowhide, butchers, or perhaps metalworker’s apron, which, when I put it on the table I was using, offered a powerful sense of landscape scale. I moved the doll around to see what it could say within its small range of movement. If you click on the link below the photo you can see a video of the sequence of images I made as I was trying to understand what it could do.

I can’t say I solved anything with this first attempt, and to be perfectly honest I always felt that the doll photographs that were so popular back in the 80’s were really dumb, and I couldn’t see the reason for people to play with them when the world outside was so much more compelling and challenging. Yet here I am making still lives at this time in my life, and someone comes along with this gentle soul and I find myself interested. If it is nothing more than that – interest – in seeing what this might ‘say’, then that is good enough for me now. I will just have to wait it out and see if it continues to stay interesting.

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http://youtu.be/-lGs3juG154

APRIL 22, 2015

Waiting

Inside a waiting room where Maggie had to go for an emergency eye exam we found ourselves in this crazy environment, wondering, ‘who designs these places?’ Who makes the choices for furniture, potted plants, chairs and tables? And does this place reflect some French “Eye” clinic sense of humor?

But what it really makes me think about is the untold zaniness of interiors everywhere, all just waiting to be photographed to reveal what 21st century style might be seen as in some future time. I guess as a photographer I am always looking for new opportunities to slice away at the time we live in because one never knows when some slight ‘aside’ can transform itself into a body of work of some merit. This kind of playful thinking has served me well over 50 years of shooting, and now, after having seen the fruits of that kind of work, I find myself still attracted to the surprising thought when it comes. The question I have now, at this late day in the game, is; do I follow it?

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