People do the craziest things! And I’m glad of it! Where would photography be without the daily dose of little lunacies? Running mothers, in marathon training, pushing baby strollers in front, with dogs trailing behind, people slurping enormous ice-cream cones, or carrying far too many things while reaching for their car keys, or the many multitasking visual moments that are indescribable until you actually see it happening. All minor events, yet with great visual potential. Like this guy hitching a soon to be uphill ride beside a little 3 wheeled Api in Tuscany.
Only the camera can tear a thousandth of a second out of the flow of reality.
The small, ordinary moments that life continually presents, in which I hope to find just a little moment of concentrated observation that would keep the idea of daily imagery going. These are the tough lessons of a project like this one; how to keep interest alive while many other things: books, shows, presentations, all crowd in and eat up precious time. So, as I have said before, “I’ll make the most of what I have.”
To stand in the shadows, looking out into the light, is like a child’s game of thinking that the treasure is down there, just past the sunlight, around that bend. But the treasure is to be standing still, in the quiet cool at the end of a June day, and drinking in the sweetness of it, the silence, the timelessness that it suggests. And then raising the camera to affirm the sensation of contentment that overcame me.
Some moments are rich with meaning and yet so simple as to be ordinary. Gianni was walking down the road with his son Giovanni, a 24 year old who, like many young adults, has been in revolt against all the values of his parents. It’s normal. And Giovanni has a tough act to follow with his father, who is rooted to the Tuscan earth like few people I have ever met. Often they are capable of a give and take that is complicated.
But this year something has changed, and as I watched them go down the road, in the glow of the last light of evening, I saw what could on the one hand be just a cliché, but in reality is the softening of differences that maturity brings. It was beautiful to me on all counts.
We have had a special friendship with Gianni for 20 years. It was his character and generosity that led us to think about starting our own workshops in Tuscany 20 years ago. At that time he was the director of a large azienda; Castelnuovo Tancredi, on which there was a castle and 7 renovated farmhouses capable of holding 40-50 people. The castle was lived in by the owner, who at 102 is still living there! And who danced at our wedding when she was 87.
So, Gianni is, for us, and I know for many other people too, a special keeper of the flame of old Tuscany. And it is with him that we frequently go off on jaunts around the countryside searching for old treasures that carry the history of the region. And this year we have taken a studio all together to make a kind of museum out of these finds, and also to work on our own projects in. But when I made these images 2 years ago, while doing the picture a day project, we were just finding our way to living here more regularly.
Maggie has learned her Italian by speaking with Gianni who is immensely patient with us, and is a great communicator himself, while not speaking a word of English. I find that I can photograph our lives as if I was out on the street anywhere in the world, and that this trio we make provides countless picture opportunities. It brings up that same lesson again and again; do not treat the intimate space of family as if it was off limits for doing serious work.
There are roads in Provence that can break your heart. This road near the town of St. Remy is one I have traveled almost every time I come to the region, and in fact it is so moving to me that I published two pictures made along its course in our book,”Provence: Lasting Impressions”. In those images the trees are leafed out in the fulness of summer, and again when fall burnished their leaves a rusty gold.
Now, on a wintry day, with flawless sunlight etching every detail into my eye, the white bones of the trees are singing against the blue dome of the sky. I’m not stopping – as I have done before, to dance in the middle of the road and play in the oncoming traffic – but I’m driving straight through and letting the windshield be my frame while the miles of trees fill and empty it as I pass.
I love this road and how I feel whenever I am on it. It always feels new to me, and yet it touches an ancient nerve where the definition of ‘road beauty’ lies in wait to be awakened once again. I remain susceptible to these quirks of mine and never fail to respond even if it seems as if I have had enough of them to last a lifetime. And I may have. But I believe in letting loose the arrows in my quiver whenever the impulse arises. That gesture, that Yes!, is my tipping of the hat to the spirits that have guided me to respond to the world for more than 50 years, and I never say no.