“The beach. End the sea.
It could be a perfection – an image for divine eyes – a world that happens, that is all, the mute existence of land and water, a work perfectly accomplished, truth – truth – but once again it is the redeeming grain of a man that jams the mechanism of that paradise, a trifle capable on its own of suspending all that great apparatus of inexorable truth, a mere nothing, but one planted in the sand, an imperceptible tear in the surface of the sacred icon, a minuscule exception come to rest on the perfection of that boundless beach. From afar he would be no more than a black dot: amid nothingness, the nothing of a man and a painter’s easel.”
Giovinazzo (South Italy) – 2010
(available as print)
It is so nice to stay on the beach until the twilight. The crowd disperses, the silence is rocked by the sound of the waves, the heat finally warms up, it does not burn anymore. And the light gives away its beautiful colors.
If also the clouds dance tango in the sky, without weeping their tears over silhouettes of human figures, busy with echoless chats or savoring the view of the sea for the last minutes: how do you resist the temptation of freezing everything into a still image?
Yet, I am not rapt by all this, I mean, I am mostly, but I hold on hard. As a poor fool, I am fooling myself that I still have time left and so I wait. I keep on sipping the image, I do not see the moment coming along. Until the man in the centre of the picture makes an unexpected move: he looks down and and so remains for a time seeming endless to me. It is the detail that ravishes me, maybe wakes me up from a dream, but makes me shoot, with mindful instinct.
Questions arise soon after. In the beginning they are just a few. Then they become a lot and increase with obsession, because they found a terrible ally: the imagination.
What is the man looking at? Why? How? What is he thinking about?
Perhaps, he has just realized he has got his big toe twisted or noticed a foot he does not recognize as belonging to himself anymore, or maybe has never recognized as such. Perhaps, he is looking at both feet and not only at his big toe? But his look seems to me slightly outstretched forward, maybe his feet are too long? Or maybe he has lost a contact lens or a coin? Or perhaps a fish swallowed it and is now making fun of him or agonizing?
No, perhaps he has seen a seashell of the same shape as the one given to his first love, precisely on that beach, many years ago. Maybe he got married to her? Or, who knows how awfully ended up their story. Or perhaps there is no seashell at all, but he is bowing to the sea. Is it a thanksgiving? Or a last goodbye before going back home? Does he do that every evening?
I cannot stop wondering, and I cannot stop shooting pictures.
Again in the title a little help to not miss a detail of this pleasant landscape, taken in Essaouira. If you click on the image, you can see a bigger version and it will be easier to note the man who is jumping.
Even though he was not my main subject, since in the beginning I was much more interested on the general view, I saw him in time and I waited enough to give a tribute to the decisive moment.
A simple, nice and straightforward image means often a good outcome and assures you a widespread success, which is so welcome and necessary for our ego. Anyhow being sated makes you lazy and you end up resting on your laurels, as a wise saying from ancient Greece goes.
That is why sometime I force myself to seek, shoot and post pictures that I would define “difficult”, not because they are hard to understand for their presumed intellectual contents, but rather for their being not straightforward and not receiving the deserved attention, because of the hurried eye of the viewer, rather than his missing or not well-trained sensitivity. The pictures I am talking about might not look much interesting at first sight, since they are slow in catching the viewer’s curiosity (typically fragile and inconstant, or maybe too voracious while browsing the web on a computer screen, instead of looking at the real prints or in a book). But these images can reward you generously with an intellectual pleasure in addition to the aesthetic one, once all the details, combinations and messages are patiently identified.
Moving on to the photo of this post, the question to be answered is very simple and the title comes to our help: what is that Church Entrance sign doing there? No clues, but the weird sign, tell us the presence of a church in the darkness of that road. Probably this urban night view would be enough to render the image interesting, thanks to its pleasant plays of lights, shadows, shapes and geometries, further brought out by the black and white. Yet, it is that unexpected sign that makes the photo mysterious and special. The rebus is completed and becomes even more extraordinary when the viewer’s sight reaches the female figures, which little, if nothing, have to do with the religious world.
This is the magic of the images that I define difficult: difficult because they are a bridge between the emotional and the rational world, to be crossed with marvel in both directions, over and over. Never mind if not all photos can become popular, because having shot them, being their author, is itself a great joy.
The website has a new design and this is a good occasion to publish my last project “From the Train“.
When you travel by train, you are seat comfortable and safe, trying to wasting your time doing something. It can be a happy experience, if you are looking forward to your final destination. In my case, I travelled almost everyday for years on the same line, in the early mornings and in the evenings: a boring journey after a while.
I soon started spending all the time with my face on the window of the train. It was my portal to the outside world and my chance to run far from my annoying thoughts, at least that was what I believed. Despite the landscape was always the same (I learnt it by heart quickly), the Dutch weather and light changed many times during my several travels, with countless effects.
I was astonished by the melancholic beauty of the flat fields, by the soft reflections on the water of the canals, by the burnt or dully grey sky, by the dazzling lights of anonymous cars or cold stations.
I did not care about technical perfection in my pictures, clarity and sharpness were my last worries. When a photographer fights against technical difficulties and overcomes them, the results can be very stimulating. The limits of my compact camera set me free to look for movement, stains of colour, few details and, most of all, visual emotions. I was much more attracted by what my mind saw, rather than what my sight caught.
It is well known that eyes are our camera, but the darkroom is our brain.
Click here to watch the gallery.