The Duomo in Milan is one of the largest churches in the world, and like so many cathedrals of this scale it took a long time to be completed, close to 800 years. The sculptures on the facade came last, probably sometime in the early 1800’s.
When I was there I saw an amazing pair of figures, which although I have seen the building before I had never noticed the detail in the drapery covering – or not – the figure on the right. It is an astonishing image for the front of a church.
This road is one we have walked on almost every day for the last few years. The land rolls and dips and changes color with the seasons and the light. Some days it has a piercing blue sky and on others it is rain soaked and leaden, or rain bowed and glorious, and it never fails to lift my spirits. I salute it by raising the camera in acknowledgement, and saying thank you.
The stuff that people advertise themselves with! Why this crazy bird? Why so big? Why hang it over a balcony?
I glimpsed it at 50 mph as I slowed down while passing through a seaside town and by reflex I shot it, as I usually do for things that jump out at me this way. Frankly, if it wasn’t the only thing of interest that I saw on that 15th of August, during my ‘picture a day’ work, I’d probably never bother with it. But because something from every day must be acknowledged this is the one that said to me, ‘…have gratitude for small and strange things.”
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.
Yesterday I mentioned that sitting around and talking could often produce spontaneous portrait studies, and that like street photography, if one was observant some rich gestural images might come from it. The next day our friend Gianni stopped by, as he does almost every day, to hang out and play with us as we have been doing for 20 years now.
The positions we were sitting in gave me this chance to really watch the Italian in him in action, with every nuance of his story needing an expressive gesture to move the opera along. What the story was about I can no longer remember, or as the Italians say, “chi se ne frega,” who gives a damn, anyway.
And then, when he was done, he gave me the sweetest, most sheepish look, which endeared him to me even more.
In the middle of the shoot a whole class of kids walked right through the shot. Not a problem though as it’s always been my way to accept whatever happens rather than trying to control everything. It didn’t turn out to add anything to the work though, just a pause. The day went well in spite of rain, then sun, and then grey, the works; and in fact it added variety to the feeling of the season the client was hoping for.
I worked through more than 20 setups, which is a lot for a one day shoot, but I managed, even though I hadn’t done a commercial job in more than 20 years, and I surprised myself by holding up and running around after all these young actors for 10 hours. I thought to myself at one point, ‘why are they complaining about working after being in one or two setups, I was in all 20!’ In fact, for me the best part was seeing that I could still do it.
Below is a cast and crew shot at the end of the day.