Why am I posting this picture? Sometimes, even I cannot answer my own questions. Its a beautiful landscape that I shot about 5 years ago on the Island of Capri in Italy. That day was for the most part a disappointment because it was just too touristy—even for me. It was 5 hours of constant hustling and being assaulted continuously by people trying to sell me everything from trinkets to ice cream. I really was not into taking any good pictures, or at least I was not consciously into taking any good pictures. When I become bored or tense, my creative juices just disappear— I just go flat. I suppose it is hard to stay up for everything, all the time. I am sure even the greatest of photographers have their bad days from time to time. I am no different and when these events occur, I just turn off, look for a good bar and wait for it to pass. It always does. In this case, Instead of taking pictures, I just got into being a tourist, enjoying the views, and having a good lunch. It prevented me from being bummed out all day and certainly made me better company for my wife.
For the most part I am a documentary photographer and most of the time, I have no interest in landscape photography, either as a viewer or photographer. The reason is that most of this stuff is just pretty—and that is not enough to peak my interest. This is not always the case. There are of course great landscape photographs, taken by great photographers, but for the most part, these type of images are just pretty, and nothing more. I look at them—briefly and then quickly move on. They never register with me in any emotional way. So on this day, in this place, being uninterested in shooting my types of images, I shoot landscapes to pass the time. Are they good photographs—not really, they are just pretty, that’s all. However I am sure there are people out there who would think that it is brilliant. Photography is funny that way. Everybody sees their own picture and there is enough of it for everybody.
A family Holiday in Rome turns into a photo excursion. We had planned a holiday in Rome with my two daughters, their men, and a grandchild months ago and I was really looking forward to it. I had rented a large apartment close to the Piazza di Popolo for us to stay in. It had rooms, terrace, and lots of Roman charm. It was perfect! I did not think I would be taking many photos and that I would be occupied with my family most of the time but it did not turn out that way. Since none of them had ever been there, they had a huge list of what they wanted to see so that left most of the days free for Sharon and I do do what we always did in Rome (and anywhere else we went for that matter) and just hang out.
We would meet up every evening somewhere, either at our apartment or some bar for an “apertivo” and then go out somewhere for dinner. Since our afternoons were free, I took my camera, Sharon and wandered the city. Our only break during the day was the customary 2-hour lunch with lots of wine. The afternoons somehow turned out better for photographs than the mornings—I wonder why.
I had read something from another photographer about keeping your head clear, your mind open and to be receptive to what was around you and I tried to follow that principle. There were good days and bad days and all in all, creatively it worked out. You can check out the images yourself by clicking here.
A few years ago, we were in Bologna Italy. We actually went there to sample their signature dish—Fettucini Bolognese. We found the right spot , had a wonderful lunch, and then went to check out the city. At some point, we needed a break and stopped in this bar for a coffee. So much for the dime-bag travelogue. What I really wanted to talk about was Black and White.
Every time I go to Italy (or anywhere else for that matter) I end up working on my images in color. I have been doing this since I first bought a digital camera in 2005. I suppose it might be laziness on my part that I did it this way because that is what comes out of the camera when you take a picture. The automatic tendency is to shoot in color. In the days of film you had a choice because you could choose what film you put in the camera. Now its global—you can make it anything you want after the fact. So that is how I evolved into a color photographer. It was very passive.
Lately however I have been consciously thinking in Black and White and this time when we leave for Italy I will still be doing so. It’s not really so big a deal though because I can always change my mind after the fact. I guess that is what is really interesting about this new century. You never really have to commit to anything and I do not know whether that is a good thing or not.
I guess I will post some of tem on my blog when i get back. You can check out more of my B&W at: www.dsaxe.com
It was a long day in Milan and we were returning by train to our hotel in Brescia which was about and hour or two away. Clickety clack and I fell asleep. That is what trains do to me. Clickety clack and I fall asleep. Usually these are very pleasant sleeps. It is the rhythm of the trains that just puts me in a stupor.
Half way home, I awoke and noticed this nun sitting across from me. I subtly aimed my camera in her direction and snapped just one shot before I drifted off again. I always liked this image. I liked it for what it said to me and also for technological reasons. A year or two later, I became curious about enlarging digital images beyond what they were supposed to be. I had bought some software that enabled me to blow them up and I was eager to try so I used this image. I enlarged it to 24×36 sent it out to a lab and it was returned to me. It was great. I pinned it up to my wall in my studio and it is still there today. After that, I never had any doubts about digital film. In my mind, It was equal in every way to film.
Hopefully I will get off my ass sometime in the near future and update my web page. I had this idea that the body language of men and women was distinctly different from each other and when the are together, it changes again and they seem to be a bit closer to something more in common. Not being a big fan of artists statements, I am sure it will take me some time to write it up in a more intelligent manner but this will do for a start. The idea is that when women are alone , they give off visual clues via their poses and body language and of course men do the same. When they are together, these signals change. This theme has probably been in my brain for years since I have always been photographing women from the rear. I do the same with men but not as often. There are probably a few reasons for this. The first is the shape of the hips, the curves, they are often perfect. The other is because they are unaware of being photographed and thus more natural. I also shoot men (and couples) from the rear for the same reasons. In any case, the photographs in the series are definitely not all shot from behind, I photograph people from all directions.
It was in Tropea, in southern Italy where I stumbled (I stumble on everything) upon her at sunset. Everybody in this town assembles at this small piazza overlooking the sea to watch the sun set. She was with some friends with a glass of wine in-hand and she struck this very relaxed pose. I notices her hip jutting out in the perfect curve and got of two frames before she moved. When I looked at it as I was editing my photographs, I was struck by the simplicity of it—the utter subtle eroticism (at least for me) that this middle-aged women presented and my idea for this series began to take shape. I started looking over images from the past few years of women in their subtle feminine beauty and men in their manly-macho posturing and it seemed to all come together. At the same time, while looking at these photographs, I noticed that when I took photographs of men and women together, things seemed to change again. The men and women were giving off different messages when they were together.This isn’t how it is—it is how I see it. I think these photographs will be more of a personal statement than a message. My updated site is up now and you can check it out at www.dsaxe.com
Its good to be back. Italy is the land of good food. Not only good food but good meals—which means a nice 2-hour lunch, a bottle of wine, and lots of sunlight—not a bad way to eat. I love it!. You are driving along some secondary road, the weather is wonderful, and at noon it is time to eat. Sometimes you will see a “Ristorante or Trattoria” sign along the road. You stop, go inside and you are seated at a table with tablecloths, beautiful decor (they are very proud of their places) and an array of spotless glassware. The meal begins. You eat, you drink, and after an hour or two, you are sent on your way with a slight buzz—not too much but just enough. America is different and in America, Vermont is still more different. It would be nice to drive along a road, enjoying the scenery, spot a restaurant sign and hop in and have a good lunch but that is not the case. Perhaps in some states, but here in Vermont, all you find are these places—little crumby roadside stands with greasy burgers and no services—and I love it!
I must admit that after a week or two of just great food and fine cuisine, I miss a crappy meal at one of these places. Now that it is autumn, they are closing down for the season and soon I will be heading south. Florida will be different—very different. You are rarely driving along country reads—most of the time it is expressways with little signs every few miles at the exits pointing out the local fare—McDonalds, Burger King, Chic-Fila etc. Not too exciting, but hey, its home. What you have to do is find a town and in Florida there are lots of them—just head toward the ocean and there are towns. Most places along the water serve fish and its fresh and there is nothing like a catch-of-the-day and a beer. I suppose it is just what you are used to.
One thing about Italy though is that my long-range plan is to spend a summer in Italy and my lunch routines certainly will change. Then I will be getting into just going into a bar and having a sandwich and a beer and they make great sandwiches!
By the way, this photo is taken in Vermont—not Italy and the “joint” is in between two towns—the names of which I can not remember. Dining in Vermont can be an anonymous experience.
It was a wonderful hotel. It was situated on a cliff, just outside of the medieval town of Tropea in Southern Italy. The season was over and we were the only guests in this small hotel consisting of 6 rooms. It was located at the end of a long 500 meter alley off the main road next to a church and when we arrived, of course a wedding was going on because in Italy, there is always a wedding going on. The guests cars were blocking the entrance to the hotel so we had to wait until everybody had checked out before we could check in.
In any case we were alone in this place. Breakfast was included and we would have it on a terrace overlooking the sea. On the first morning, as I was sipping my coffee, I walked over to the edge of the terrace and peeked over. There was a narrow pool cut into the hill overlooking the sea. In the pool was the owner of the hotel swimming naked and enjoying the morning. I snapped one or two and left him alone after that. In a few moments he walked by in his robe and said “Buongiorno”. That was it.
I just love the angles in this shot