This fascinating 10 minute video explores the photo, ‘The Young Farmers 1914’ by August Sander.
August Sanders was a German photographer, who aimed to photograph people all over Germany in different professions for his project about people of the twentieth century.
The video poses some ideas about the young men in the photograph, their lives, who they were and what they might have been thinking about their lives ahead, before history intervened.
It’s also about what photography doesn’t tell, and what we can never know by looking at one mere frame of someone’s life.
This video explores the historical context of the photo and of the young men, who in this photo are on their way to a dance, but as the date indicates, are about to get swallowed up into World War 1.
The team at PBS also tracked down what happened to these three men, giving the photo a startling new atmosphere, once you know what lies ahead for them.
The presenter said this and it particularly struck me as a way that we respond to photography:
“Photography can make us feel like we’ve seen things we haven’t really seen. Or know people we’ll never really meet. But a picture is not a life. The Young Farmers is about what the boys don’t know, but also about what we don’t know, and what a picture cannot show us.”
I recently read about an exhibition in Arkansas called Photographing Frida: Portraits of Frida Kahlo/Fotografiando Frida: Retratos de Frida Kahlo, and I was immediately inspired to write this article.
The image of the artist Frida Kahlo is iconic. Her famous self-portraits adorn posters and products, as well a lovely tote bag Anthony recently bought me at Istanbul airport (for which I am happy to say I get many compliments.)
I admire Frida Kahlo greatly. She had tremendous tenacity, having had to cope with lifelong illness and pain after suffering from polio as a child and surviving a life-threatening tram crash at 18.
It can feel hard enough to create when our lives are going well, but to do so confronted by so many obstacles is incredibly inspiring to me.
It helps to remind that the obstacles that I put in my own way – like getting distracted by obsessive worrying or allowing myself to get sucked into the black hole of social media – can actually be put aside.
And how I would be more grateful for an hour spent working my own art, than any of those things I do to fritter away my time.
What interested me most though about this article is how many female photographers had photographed Kahlo over her short life (she died at the age of 47 in 1954).
Here I want to feature two of these photographers:
“She uses her medium, photography,with honesty, no tricks, no evasion: a clean-cut presentation of the thing itself, the life or whatever is seen through her lens, that life within the external form.” Edward Weston, 1923
Imogen Cunningham is perhaps now most famous for her photos of flowers and natural objects, but she also photographed portraits, industrial landscapes and street photography. As a portrait photographer she captured many celebrities of her era.
“So many people dislike themselves so thoroughly that they never see any reproduction of themselves that suits. None of us is born with the right face. It’s a tough job being a portrait photographer.” Imogen Cunningham
Her photographs of Kahlo are intensely intimate, and show both the strength and power of the artist, as well as the tenderness and vulnerability behind the image she projected.
Lola Álvarez Bravo
“I was almost thinking of her painting, The Two Fridas, when I photographed her. With the landscape behind her in the reflection, it seems as though there really is another person behind the mirror.” Frida Kahlo by Lola Álvarez Bravo
Lola Álvarez Bravo started taking photos in 1920’s Mexico. After moving from bustling Mexico City to the rural and poverty stricken area of Oaxaca Mexico, she took up photography.
Combining a desire to capture local people, as well as famous artists like Kahlo and intellectuals, she became one of Mexico’s most famous photographers.
“I don’t have any mayor artistic aspirations, but if my photographs serve any purpose, they’ll be a chronicle of my country, time, people. They’ll tell the story of how Mexico has changed. My images include things you don’t see in Mexico anymore (…)
I was lucky to encounter and capture these images. One day they might serve as testimony of the time that’s gone by and the transformations it’s brought. These are images that hit me on a deeper level, they shocked me into clicking the camera. When doing portraits, one has to really discover the person behind the image, being aware of their manners and attitude. Discover who they are and what they’re like.” Lola Álvarez Bravo from the article –The Photographer Who Captured Frida Kahlo’s Most Painful Moments
Álvarez’s photographs transport us back to a lost era. Her images give us a palpable feeling of location – of standing in the shade away from the hot sun on a quiet afternoon in a dusty square, watching two women talking, for example.
The people in her image burst with life, as she records the traditions of village life and day-to-day activities of living.
“I think Lola was a remarkable photographer, especially given all the challenges she faced. There were women artists, though women were not supposed to be working in the street but in the studio. But the kind of photography done at the time involved a greater public interface, and the fact that she did that showed her incredible strength and desire to photograph the world around her.” Elizabeth Ferrer, author of Lola Álvarez Bravo
Read more about the other female photographers who captured Kahlo on ANother Magazine.
5 Instagrammers who will make you want to travel to Vietnam
Everywhere we travel – from Havana to Venice, Istanbul to deep into the mountains of Morocco – we are witnessing stories.
Stories of the lives of people in places that over hundreds and thousands of years, have created unique cultures, histories, cuisines and ways of living.
As a photographer / writer couple we are grateful to experience so many singular ways of life. Of course the more you see that’s different, the more you see that’s also the same. People are motivated by similar things all over the planet, family, food, love, safety…
But it’s an incredible gift to be able to witness and explore all that is different, glancing at new ways to live.
At the moment Anthony and I are diving deep into our prep for Vietnam. We head there in October to set out everything for our workshop in November. We are connecting with local photographers and artists, reading about the history and culture.
Nothing though creates a feeling of a place more than seeing other people’s images and videos.
Here are some of the photographers we are enjoying right now, that if you take a few moments out of your day, will bring you into new worlds. A wonderful escape/inspiration to plan a new adventure of your own…
Photographer Linh Pham wants to tell stories about contemporary Vietnam that we often don’t see in the clichéd, sun-flared shots.
“It’s not just the kind of postcard landscape you would expect from the guidebook. As a developing country, Vietnam has a lot more stories to offer.”
His photography tells stories of life in Hanoi:
“In Vietnam, life happens on the streets — just walking around provides you with glimpses about how people are and have always been living. It’s heaven for street photography because of the vibrant activities outside.”
The Everyday projects aim to combat stereotypes of places around the world. Encompassing a global group of photographers, they aim to harness their imagery of every day life that confounds our preconceived ideas of countries, places and people unknown to us except through brief glances in the media.
Abstract photography, for example, draws much influence and ideas from abstract painting.
The art movement of ‘Photorealism’ has sparked amazing works of art, where painters have taken the realism of photography and used it to create painstaking, visionary paintings.
(“Photorealism – a style of art and sculpture characterized by the highly detailed depiction of ordinary life with the impersonality of a photograph.”)
“Photorealism disrupted what people thought art should be showing us the often aggressively un-artful stuff of every day life.”
Painters like Don Eddy whose scenes of streets in New York look like beautiful photos, on closer inspection are lush, rich paintings made surreal by their almost-reality.
Or the sculptures of Duane Hanson, who created life sized sculptures of people in every day situations, shopping or pushing prams. The sculptures are compelling in their realness, but slightly unsettling when you realise they are in fact completely devoid of life.
This film also goes through the history of painters who hundreds of years ago were creating realistic scenes of life. Paintings like the emotional scenes of Caravaggio or the evocative scenes of rural life of Pieter Bruegal.
In the book Secret Knowledge the iconic artist David Hockney posits that for several hundred years painters have been using photographic tools, like lenses, mirrors and camera obscuras, to create visually accurate paintings depicting real life.
Photography though, as we know, is not pure realism. It is an opinion, and moment of time taken from the constant flow of life. It is the result of a collection of decisions that the photographer has made, where to stand, the light, the lens and camera to use – and after all that, selecting the image, out of all the ones taken, to be shown to the world. Photography is highly subjective.
“Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.” Gary Winogrand
One thing I never fail to see, at least once, on one of my workshops is someone holding their camera upside down. I quickly, but not always, make the effort to “correct” this person into holding the camera the way it was “meant” to be held.
I may tell them once, or more often, if they don’t mind (I always ask if its ok!).
It is a hard things to unlearn. Like forgetting how to ride a bike. Good luck!
What I didn’t realise was that 90% of the people I was correcting were women. I may be a really good observer but sometimes I am as blind as those mice.
I have always believed viscerally that I knew what I was talking about – until I saw this video from Irene Rudnyk. Check it out. Mind blown!!…at least mine is…
Last week I found myself once again in beautiful Venice having a wonderful time teaching fellow photographers all about the way I do photography.
The weather was good and springy, if not cold, and the light was fantastic.
February is Carnevale time and my workshop coincided with the final weekend. And boy was it busy…but busy in a good way. The city was alive with beauty and the strange. Costumed phantoms and Ladies of the court from begone days strolled the narrow streets, posed by gondolas and let everyone photograph them. And everyone did.
I have never seen so many photographers in my life. Usually, I don’t find the crunch of hundreds of other togs fun, but fun it was! Watching the pros and beginners all having such a good time (some togs were a bit too serious) wandering the city and finding the exotic everywhere to photograph.
Venice is a very special place at any time but during the Carnevale it is outstanding.
Want to join me in Venice next year for my next photo workshop? Email Diana and she’ll let you know as soon as the list opens! Diana@anthonyepes.com
This collection of renowned photographer Steve McCurry’s photographs brings together some of the most iconic photos from his travels around the world.
McCurry has an incredible ability to capture people in intimate moments, giving us little glimpses into his subjects lives.
“Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face.” Steve Mc Curry
McCurry has a wonderful feeling for colour, creating beautiful images that read like stories.
I like too that his compositions are close enough to capture something revealing about his subject, but also far enough away that he can bring in the surroundings to enhance the story and understanding of the location they are in.
In this great interview with McCurry by travel photographer Oden Wagen there were some excellent points that McCurry makes that we can bring into our photography. First:
“A picture of a guy in the street in New Guinea, with a bone through his nose is interesting to look at. But for it to be a really good photograph; it has to communicate something about what it is like to live with a bone through your nose. It is a question of the moment to reveal something interesting and profound about the human condition.”
When Wagen asked McCurry the question of how you can create original work in this heavily photographed world, his answer really struck me –
“In time, you start to develop your own way of seeing and then it’s your own personality coming through the camera. We are all unique individuals; we all have our personalities. We all have our own voice and our own style. If you look at the photographers whose work we admire, they’ve found a particular place or a subject, dug deep into it, and carved out something that’ll become special.”
Ultimately – we shoot what we are. So it doesn’t matter what the subject, we all bring our own unique collection of experiences to bear when we take photos and create.
You can purchase the book directly from Phaidon, the publisher, or through most online and at good bookshops.
For further inspiration – here is Steve McCurry talking about his life and photography, and how he still gets nervous approaching strangers to photograph:
“[Approaching strangers] is a bit hard because I tend to be a bit shy, I have to really force myself to go and explain can I [take your photo], because we all hate rejection. I just have to literally push myself to go up.”
Article: The Mesmerising Qualities Of The Colour Blue In Your Photography
To immerse yourself in colour is to sharpen your awareness and to bring new understanding of how powerful colour is in shaping the feeling and mood of the world around us.
Colour is super-important in your photography (except of course your B&W :)) as it imbues so much meaning into your photos. To learn more about the effects of colour is pleasurable in itself, but it’s also very impactful on your photography.
A short while ago you received the first article in an occasional series about colour. I decided to start bold – and went for the colour purple. This time I want to go to one of my favourite colours to photograph – blue.
Let colour help you see the world.
If photography is all about learning to see what is around you in new, fresh ways so that you can create more interesting compositions, then training your eye is as important as learning how to use your camera.
I have lots of suggestions on how to train your eye so that you can observe the world around you in different ways, by helping your awareness grow. Breaking the world down into elements is one, as is using specific composition techniques like Leading Lines or Natural Framing to help you visualise more of what is around you. Another great technique is to have a mini ‘seeing’ project where you are focusing on just one subject to shoot.
Another way to train and develop your eye and awareness is to focus on colour – and only colour. Perhaps it’s just one colour, or it’s looking at the world as a collection of colours. As Claude Monet suggested to fellow painters:
“Try to forget what objects you have before you – a tree, a house, a field, or whatever. Merely think, ‘Here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow,’ and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact colour and shape until it gives you your own impression of the scene before you.”
This goes for photography too. Let colour guide your eye.
Blue isn’t consciously one of my favourite colours. It just seems to appear in so many of my photos.
Given the opportunity to explore and critique myself and my creative journey, I love to look at my photos and try to discover what is subconsciously inspiring me. To know:
What is drawing my attention when I am not really thinking?
The colour blue seems to answer that question. It struck me that perhaps more was going on with my relationship with the colour blue than I realised when I read that the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky wrote about the feelings that different colours, and shades of colour, evoke.
He felt that blue could be:
“…peaceful, supernatural, deep, “typical heavenly colour”. The lighter it is, the more calming it is. When in the end it becomes white, it reaches absolute calmness.” From Ekaterina Mirnova
This could not be more relevant to me! I am fascinated by space, science, sci-fi and the supernatural. I love contemplating the tiny-ness of our place in the galaxy and the eternalness of time.
It might not be something that I’m consciously putting out there as a subject in my photography – but it comes through because these ideas are within my thoughts.
With blue, I feel that it lacks the joy of yellow or orange. It lacks the joyous reminder of life. But a reminder of life it still gives.
I feel that a blue sky or a vast blue sea claims our attention and hypnotises, but it doesn’t reassure. It seems to say to me, get on with life. Get on with being truly alive. Not worried and occupied by small things.
Blue feels like a colour attached not to the frivolous but to the grand ideas of life.
“Blue is the typical heavenly colour. The ultimate feeling it creates is not one of rest….[Footnote: supernatural rest. Not the earthly contentment of green.] Wassily Kandinsky
And perhaps this is why I bring so much blue into my photography – I am interested in life as an eternal concept. Not my life specifically, but in what came before I was here and how it will continue once I am gone.
I’d like to explore now what other artists and writers have said about the colour blue, and show you some of my images to provoke your own ideas and realisations about this magnificent colour.
Colour as an expression of feeling
Colour can act as an indicator of our inner emotional states, and it lends itself to abstract expression.
“Music was important to the birth of abstract art, since music is abstract by nature—it does not try to represent the exterior world, but expresses in an immediate way the inner feelings of the soul.” Wassily Kandinsky
“Each band or level, being a particular manifestation of the spectrum, is what it is only by virtue of the other bands. The colour blue is no less beautiful because it exists alongside the other colours of a rainbow, and “blueness” itself depends upon the existence of the other colours, for if there were no colour but blue, we would never be able to see it.”
“Blue is the only colour which maintains its own character in all its tones… it will always stay blue; whereas yellow is blackened in its shades, and fades away when lightened; red, when darkened, becomes brown, and diluted with white is no longer red, but another colour – pink.”
“Blue represents both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity. ….
“The colour blue has positive effects on the mind and the body. As the colour of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming and exude feelings of tranquillity. …
“However not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic, an engaging colour that expresses exhilaration…..
Also, some shades of blue or the use of too much blue may come across as cold or uncaring, and can dampen spirits.” Bourn Creative
“As yellow is always accompanied with light, so it may be said that blue still brings a principle of darkness with it.
This color has a peculiar and almost indescribable effect on the eye. As a hue it is powerful — but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation. Its appearance, then, is a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose.
“As the upper sky and distant mountains appear blue, so a blue surface seems to retire from us….
“But as we readily follow an agreeable object that flies from us, so we love to contemplate blue — not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it…..
“Blue gives us an impression of cold, and thus, again, reminds us of shade. We have before spoken of its affinity with black.
Rooms which are hung with pure blue, appear in some degree larger, but at the same time empty and cold….
“The appearance of objects seen through a blue glass is gloomy and melancholy. When blue partakes in some degree of the plus side, the effect is not disagreeable….
I hope you enjoyed that little meditation on the colour blue. Now ….
Next steps – if this idea of colour affecting emotion inspires you, why not set a personal challenge for yourself?
Pick a colour. It can be blue but doesn’t have to be – whatever you feel naturally pulled towards. Then go out and shoot that colour, and while doing it I want you to observe and notice the emotion inherent in that colour, in the different shades, and how the colour affects the feeling of the subject.
Have a fantastic day, we are all off to spend the day at an olive farm. We’ll be learning how to pick olives, have a picnic on the beautiful little farm in the hills and of course, I’ll take some photos!
Stunning video of freediver Guillaume Néry who explores the ocean with only his breath to rely on. What amazed us what as how deep light penetrates the ocean.
There are sublime scenes of Néry exploring the ocean floor, of rock formations and giant seaweed forests, amongst shafts of golden light. Take a little break to relish the mesmerising beauty of the ocean.
Video: Photographer Jacob Aue Sobol “Arrivals & Departures”
I don’t like to have complicated goals in my life. But I do like to have a vision for my life that I follow each year.
Last year I was focused on expanding my skills, starting a brand new photo project and getting more feedback on my artwork. Did I achieve that? I did mostly, but not in the way that I thought I would.
I like the unexpected elements of life, and when new opportunities for creative growth appear, I have learnt to embrace them.
My favourite selfie of the year!
I also learnt some tremendous new skills – not the ones I actually intended to learn, but ones that will massively help my journey as an artist.
Normally around New Year I like to pick out my favourite images of the year and show these. But 2018 was such an unusual year for us, with projects dominating my focus rather than singular images, that I am choosing the things, rather than the photos, that have made the biggest impact to me photographically.
Three things I am most proud of creating in 2018:
New Photo Project: Sea Meditations
I have never lived by the sea before. Something pretty profound seems to shift in me being so close to water all the time. We fall asleep at night hearing the waves – which sound sometimes gentle and calming, and at other times roaring with energy.
Full moon at night
I have loved witnessing the daily change in the sea, its changing colours, feeling, textures and energy. Of course, everything I love I want to photograph. So over the year I have been photographing the sea for a new project.
This is such a different project to ones I’ve worked on in the past couple of decades. It also reflects where I am at in my life. I am in a more reflective, meditative state of mind right now. I love connecting my energy to the natural world all around me here – and this project truly reflects that.
New Photo course: The Art of The Image
I’m not going to lie – creating this course kicked my butt! It was a steep learning journey that took me two years to work up the courage to attempt. And, of course, I wanted The Art of The Image to be magnificent.
I knew I wanted to create something that would be creatively unique – and would take people on a deeper artistic journey with their photography. I knew that it would take all of my attention, my passion and my skills.
And you know what – I think I have done a good job. Well, that’s what I am being told by the students on the course (Phew!)
I have to say I am extremely proud of this course. I rose to the challenge – even when it felt like an impossible task. And I created something that people have benefited from. Pretty grateful for that experience.
3. New home: Southern Spain
Di and I never intended to come to Spain. It wasn’t on our list of must-go-to places. But life – and our children – had other plans for us, and it involved this gorgeous little area of Spain.
This place has opened up so many avenues of inspiration for me photographically. Of course, it’s beautiful to be by the sea, and it’s super relaxing. But the area is intensely rich for photographic opportunities.
From little mountain villages that make you feel like you are back in the 1950’s, to the gorgeous seascapes, to the buzzy city and hip street art of Malaga, to the pine-scented walks through the forests and vast landscapes to capture, to the beauty of the Moorish architecture of Granada made more mesmerizing by the rich orange sunsets.
There are so many opportunities for compelling photographs, and every time I am out exploring I am blown away by the possibilities – which will lead me later into telling you about the new workshop we have created in Andalucia.
But first, a question for you:
What did you create in 2018 that you are proud of?
It could be one thing, or three like me. Or more.
It could be one solo photo or a project or something you’ve learnt or mastered.
It doesn’t matter what it is. What is important is the time to reflect on what we have done with our time (not always thinking about what we haven’t done).
Now let’s move onto this year ahead: What will you create in 2019?
This has to be my favourite photo of my daughter this year
We now have a fresh clear run where we can create whatever we want. Yes, whatever we want.
We can dream and imagine and create anything. So:
Who will you photograph?
What will you photograph?
Where will you go?
What will you learn? Perhaps you’ll start shooting on manual? Or learn more about HDR? Or work to improve your composition.
Maybe it’s time to take a class at your local college, join a photo club, buy a book, watch videos.
What will be the outcomes for your photography? Perhaps you’ll make a book of your images? You’ll start a project? You’ll take portraits of your family, or print your work for your wall. Maybe you’ll start a blog?
This is such a good time to ruminate on what your photographic vision can be for 2019.
Even if it’s just saying – once a month I’ll take an afternoon to go explore my area and take photos. Or I’ll photograph the everyday life of my dog.
Here are the things I want to create in 2019:
Finish my Sea Meditation project and have it exhibited
Last year I met two people who have become part of my art team. They are challenging my vision of my work, bringing new ideas flooding into my photography and helping me take it to exciting new places.
This year is the year then that I will bring my new work into the world. With the help of my new team I have some exciting plans – and I will commit time and energy into making it happen.
I haven’t had an exhibition in a couple of years now and I have to say I miss it. (It’s so exhilarating to see your work out there in the world, being looked at and experienced by strangers.)
Create a library of inspiring courses for people
Creating my first online recorded course, which is where most of my personal learning came in, has been thrilling. It is now my intention to focus on building a fantastic library of online courses – so that you can access my teachings easily and affordably wherever you are in the world.
Aside from getting good reviews (aren’t we all a little susceptible to praise?) one of the most joyful things for me about creating The Art of The Image is seeing the progress people are making. As the lessons go on and people post their images, I can see that they are making brilliant leaps in their photography.
That is so inspiring to see. To know that I created something that is helping people (again, love the praise!) but also for people to see the possibility of making such significant progress with their photography when they make a commitment to learn and practice.
And it’s not just me saying: take my course. You should choose the way to work that works best for you – for example, if you prefer to learn through books. (My favourite photo website for technical advice has just updated their book Understanding your Camera, which I thoroughly recommend.)
Support Di’s launch of her book – The Everyday Art of Living a Creative Life
The person I turn to when I am in need of inspiration is Di. She is like a fountain of inspiring energy – and in our circle, she is the person many people turn to seek clarity and new ideas on their work and projects. So I am going to create the environment for her to book to excel.
So much of our work – my work – is driven by or inspired by Di’s ideas. So I want to make sure that this book comes into the world and she can share her ideas on a wider scale. Because she is my wife, I can be shameless and say you’ll definitely love her book.
So again with the questions – what are you going to create in 2019?
Where will your photography take you?
I would love to know – let us below.
Now for some exciting news – Di and I have developed a brand new workshop focused around our new home.
This workshop is going to take in the best of the area of Andalusia where we live (sea, mountains, whitewashed villages, Granada, street photography in Malaga…) but it also is going to be a creative retreat where I teach you many of the advanced composition and technical skills I use every day in my photography.
We’ll be shooting lots of different locations, using many genres of photography. Every day I’ll be teaching you new skills to make the best of each location.
Some of the subjects will be quiet and meditative and beautiful (shooting the sea, walking through forests, exploring the dappled light, capturing the landscapes and mountains).
Some will be more intense and busy – capturing the street art and urban life of Malaga, creating interesting photos of the Moorish architecture of Granada, exploring mountain village life and finding portraits.
We’ll do night shooting, dawn shoots, we’ll go out at dusk for the rich, beautiful light of Southern Spain.
Each day we will be doing feedback and sharing sessions so you can see how other people approached the same subject, generating within you new ideas and ways of seeing.
At the end of the workshop, you will have an incredible portfolio of images, five of which I will have professionally printed for you and shipped to your home.
Early bird price – £1,477 (Includes tuition & transport within Andalucia) Regular price – £1,847
The aim of this workshop is to develop your personal artistic vision and style. To delve into your inner artist.
I will provide you with a multitude of subjects that will challenge you to learn and develop new skills, to see that anything can be your subject when approached with the mindset of an artist (the gas stations on the highway, the sunset on the ocean, the church in the warm sunset of Granada.)
I will be giving a very diverse selection of subjects which will challenge you.
We’ll be shooting for several hours a day, with the rest of the time spent learning new techniques, developing your creative vision for your photography and reviewing your images.
We will be photographing:
Street photography, urban architecture and the street art of Malaga
Beautiful seascapes, nature and beauty of the Costa Tropical (where I live!)
The industrial outskirts of Granada – juxtaposing the abandoned theme parks and vast architectural warehouses with the magnificence of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (the area reminds me of Ernst Haas’ New Mexico work)
Grandeur, history, windy streets and the Moorish architecture of Granada at sunset
Exploring the lost village of El Acebuchal
Capturing the pretty Spanish mountain villages around Granada
Creating compelling landscapes around of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada
During the workshop, you’ll be processing your images with me giving you lessons, tips and techniques so you fully get to grips with processing and where it can take you artistically.
You will leave the workshop with at least 5 finished images which I will have printed at my favourite London printer, and shipped to you after the workshop ends (how much fun will that package be to open?)
This intensive workshop will help you dive deep into your creative self and develop a stronger, more unique photographic vision.
From beginners to experienced photographers – you can all benefit from this intensive, fun and challenging workshop where we can all share knowledge, feedback and experiences.
Some of the highlights of this workshop are:
You’ll learn how to tell stories with your images
You’ll learn how to develop a personal creative vision of your photography
I’ll fill in the gaps of your technical knowledge – giving presentations as well as plentiful demonstrations as we are out shooting
We’ll do in-depth processing so you can make your images the very best
We’ll use the multitude of subjects around us to discover new aspects to your photography
You’ll learn professional lessons on creating images in a variety of genres
You will leave with many new skills – plus a new portfolio of images
The workshop will use our village of La Herradura, which is by the sea, as our base (we are an hour east of Malaga) from which we will explore and take many trips.
We’ll be using my beachfront apartment for our teaching sessions, critiquing and processing.
There are a number of places to stay in our beach town – from great little hotels & B&B’s, to airbnb apartments. More details are on our workshop page.
”Art is something important, but the history of humanity is more important, and that is what press photographers record. We are the eyes of the world. We see on behalf of other people.
We collect the visual history of today’s earth. To me, visual history is more important than art. The function of photography is to leave documentation for coming centuries.” Ara Güler
Last night I watched a documentary about the Turkish photographer Ara Güler, called The Eye of Istanbul. He died recently at the age of 90 and I wanted to reflect a little on his life today, as he had much to teach us about photography and living life with passion and purpose.
I truly admire Güler’swork, particularly of Istanbul in the 1950’s and 60’s. He has a particular style of capturing the feeling and atmosphere of a place that I find exciting and compelling.
When I was in Istanbul a few years ago I bought Vanished Colours, a beautiful book of his early colour photography, again all photographed around Istanbul (the documentary is called after his nickname, as he spent so much of his life photographing the city.)
I also love to share the work of people who have lived lives that have followed a deep and meaningful passion. Of people who have chosen a different path in life, and worked hard to make it successful.
As the only child of a pharmacy owner, Ara Güler could have stayed safe and taken over the family business. But he chose to follow an interest for theatre, into film and then finally photography.
He makes me want to work harder and go deeper with my photography. I feel encouraged when I see the range of his work, as he travelled all over the world, photographing everything from ancient ruins, film stars to war zones. But I love that he had this constant subject: the changing city around him.
I admit Istanbul is one of my favourite cities on earth. I find the place endlessly fascinating and could spend many more months of my life exploring it.
As someone who also photographs cities Güler is an obvious person for me to explore, although his approach is very different to mine, as his interest is people within the city, and the city is the backdrop. So much so that he said:
“A picture of a landscape is not a photograph. A photograph is not the capturing of a beautiful sunset or the like. When I look at a photograph I should be able to see what it is telling me. Does it have a story? That’s it. A photograph starts from there.”
His interest is the human condition, the lives that people are living. You can sense the ease with which he was able to be with people, make them feel comfortable, his patience and ability to engage people so he captures authentic emotion.
Professor of Photography, Mehmet Bayhan, describe Güler as:
“Looking for social layers and traces as much as any sociologist.”
I like that he uses the city in his photograph as part of the story. He is photographing people, but within the context of their location, to tell us more about who these people are and their experiences of life.
A famous quote of Güler’s is:
“When I’m taking a picture of Aya Sofia, what counts is the person passing by who stands for life.”
The fishermen in their tiny boat contrasting against the monumental mosque behind. The grandeur of the mosque, and the epic sunlight are not significant when you have fish to catch.
Gülertalks about when he is standing at a big monument or mosque he will be looking for signs of human life – the person selling the flowers, the man cleaning the steps.
It is how the people are living that is important to him.
Bring sincerity to your photos of people
“Sincerity is perhaps the most basic concept that brings Magnum and Ara Güler together. People-focused, but also entailing sincere emotions when approaching people.” Kimar Firat, Mimar Sinan University
I really like this point – that the incessant curiosity he brought to his photographs of people was coming from a place of sincere interest. Not voyeurism or superiority. But a desire to connect with his subjects and show a moment of truth about their lives.
In a world that feels sometimes so intensely divided, it feels imperative for us photographers to use the power of our medium to connect people – rather than separate them. To tell the unique stories of people’s lives, which are really universal stories for us all. We are not all that different.
“We could say that photography is the only language in the world that everyone can understand. You look at a picture and you get the message. Ara is one of those photographers who connected the whole world to his photographs.” Photographer Bruno Barbey
There is something very beautiful about the look of old colour film
The colours are different to what we see in film now. Combined with the subject of a city that has so dramatically changed, it gives such a wonderful quality of feeling to the images.
“Since we are men of the heart we are looking for something else in life.” Güler
To me I feel to step away from the ‘normal life tasks’, even if it’s only for an evening or a few days, is to release yourself from the things that seem to propel us into living life on autopilot.
I have been thinking about this recently. I had a conversation with a friend who told me that weeks of his life seem to run endlessly into others, to be so similar that time seems to pass without being noticed.
That made me feel sad. I know that I have had such times in my life, but to succumb completely to routine and habit is to dull the senses so much that you could argue you are barely living.
Moving beyond what feels easy and normal will awaken your mind and spirit, it will put your brain on high alert to the new situations, and that slows down time. When you are really, deeply, truly concentrating on something – life seems to come into sharp focus, so that you are totally present, totally aware of the task or new place you are in.
What brings you deep satisfaction? And how can you do it more?
Güler describes in the documentary an imagined scenario of when he once saw two chairs on the bank of a river, which happened to be facing over the water in opposite directions.
He imagines a story of lost love, of lovers being separated, of ships sailing past taking people away. It was fascinating because the photo is simply of two chairs, not facing each other. But there is another sense, another feeling about this photo that makes it more than just a photo of chairs.
That is because, I believe, of the feelings that Güler had whilst taking the photo. They are somehow imbued in the photo itself.
Güler said of the photo: “This is my most romantic shot.” And that after imagining this sad, romantic story, that yes, “you can photograph sorrow.”
This all about engaging our imaginations in our photos. It’s not just photographing things at face value. It’s allowing your imagination free reign to create scenarios and ideas so that your photos have other dimensions that are maybe not obvious to the viewer, but create a deep feeling within the photo.
When I talk about my photos I often say things like: It looked to me like a post-apocalyptic world and so I shot it with those ideas in mind or It reminded me of the light I would watch when laying on my parents’ bed as a child.
The resulting photos are then imbued with some of the feelings I had – maybe of wonder, nostalgia, fear – about the stories I had created of what I had seen.
“AraGüler is one of the philosophers of our era. We can see this in his images that have a poetic quality.” Actor, Şener Şen
Photography can be a form of visual poetry. It can take us to magical, faraway places. It can provoke day dreams and ideas, it can take us back in time to the feeling of somewhere we knew well…or not at all.
Photography is an incredible medium, because regardless of if you agree with my or Güler’s ideas about photography – you can always create something of your very own with it.
I have been photographing Istanbul four years. I exhibited some of my work of the city a few years back in London, but I am continuing to build my story of the city. It will soon become a book, and at the moment I am also making a short film about my impressions Istanbul, as I continue to go back year after year to explore and see more of this mesmerising city.
You can read about my experiences over the past few years:
Each year I run a photography workshop for a small group of people in Istanbul, the next one coming up this April. I love to take people to all of my favourite spots to shoot – to explore hidden neighbourhoods, to watch the sunrise over the city, capturing the majestic mosques and views at dawn.
I love to take people wandering through the narrow streets, meeting people as we go and photographing the busy, bustling city that has layer upon layer of history embedded in this magical place.
I love to show people the amazing hospitality and food of the Istanbulites, the friendliness and welcome of the locals. Its a workshop full of long walks through diverse neighbourhoods, a lot of fun, beautiful food and of course incredible photography.
Journeying up the Bosphourous, capturing the sunset on the Asian side of the city and standing in awe at the majesty of the Blue Mosque at dawn. Come join me for an adventure for all the senses.
We will be there during the Tulip Festival in spring when 30 million bulbs are planted all over the city, and the vibrant colours and displays fill Istanbul with incredible colours.
This workshop is now 6 days, so we can see even more. Limited to 6 people. You can find out more and reserve one of the last spots on this workshop here.
From my last workshop – exploring, photographing and critiquing our images.
That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this little sojourn into old Istanbul. Let me know what you think below. It’s always fantastic to hear from you.
Anthony and Diana
You are an artist (even if you don’t think you are)
A lot of people ask me – how do I know if my photos are any good? And will I ever get any better?
Before I started teaching my workshops, I would have said no, probably not.
I honestly wondered whether amateur photographers could get any better.
I was carrying around this idea that the ability to ‘see’ interesting photos was a natural ability, a natural inclination almost, and if you didn’t have it, you couldn’t be taught it.
If you can’t ‘see’ good images, then you’ll never get anywhere.
I talked to my wife about it and she responded:“Can’t you just teach people how to see then? You taught me how to see.”
And that stopped me in my tracks.
You see, Ihadtaught my wife to ‘see’. When we met she was the most intensely dreamy person who lived totally in her head.
But now, after spending time together, she’ll often point out interesting light to me! She notices her surroundings, colours and textures in a really compelling way.
She also edits my work, my books and projects, pulling selections together for press, for this blog and to send to our print buyers.
She has developed an amazing eye, by being inadvertently taught by me.
“You’re right”,I joked.“If you can do it, anyone can!”
After which she threw a pillow at my head.
I realised then that as a teacher my job was not only to show you how to see, but to demonstrate techniques so you can develop these skills of ‘seeing’ great photos – for yourself.
I don’t want to replicate my photo style in hundreds of people.
I want you to find out what is unique and special about you, your passions – to help you develop what is unique and special about your photography.
That is what is exciting to me, revealing the artist that is innately within you, that is within all of us.
And when it comes directly from you, the culmination of your experience, your life and passions, your unique way of seeing the world – that is artistry.
Which is why everything about my workshops is about showing you how you can be the very best photographer you can be.
Not by copying my style – but with us working together and finding the most effective way to express who you are.
Of course I have all the technical knowledge to pass on, to make it as easy as possible for you to feel confident and at ease with your camera.
Because I know you can be great. I know that everyone has inside of them the potential to be an artist, to tell stories, to be able to express themselves confidently with their camera.
And I know a lot of people have doubts about themselves. You might think you have reached the limit of your skill.
You wonder – are you even any good?
But what has drawn you to photography is the fact that you are a visual person.
That you are not prepared to let life drift past, you want to stop it, examine it, see it, capture it.
To find interesting ways to show the world what isfascinating.
We have been in Morocco for over a month now. I have been having an incredible time, I am honored to be staying in this beautiful town and sharing the daily life of the community.
Getting to know the local shopkeepers, going out each morning to buy Moroccan pancakes and churros from a couple who make them in their tiny home shop.
Seeing the wonder and awe in my city-raised-kids’ faces when we encounter goats eating fig leaves on the streets, or wandering sheep on our walks in the hills surrounding the town.
Seeing how the local women help my wife when she’s buying food at the market, the kids on our street who have embraced my kids and the men that I talk to in bad Spanish as I wander around looking at the beautiful light falling on flower pots, clotheslines or on the wonderfully textured buildings.
This is why I love to stay in places for weeks at a time. Tofeela place, toknowit. So that I can translate that into my photos.
Exploring the backstreets of Chefchaouen at night, where the old lamplights create beautiful shadows on the blue and greenwashed walls of the old buildings, smelling the scent of woodsmoke in the fresh mountain air.
Morocco has been a mesmerising adventure.
Anthony and Diana
This was me out at dawn a few days ago. That’s the little street we are staying on. It’s so pretty.
Article:The power of colour in your photography – Let’s explore the colour Purple
“Color is joy. One does not think joy. One is carried by it.”Ernst Haas
Today I want to focus on how we can use colour in our composition, and I am going to focus on the colour purple to tell some stories and share some ideas with you that you can use straight away in your photography.
I am such a lover of colour in my photography – I have not done much black and white photography because colour speaks to me so powerfully, like it did for Georgia O’Keefe:
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
Colour can be used as a major element in our compositions – it doesn’t have to be an afterthought or just one of the many layers in an image.
Colour and shape can also be the whole composition. As it was also for the painter Wassily Kandinsky:
“For Kandinsky, art was a spiritual and emotional experience. He wanted his paintings to transcend recognized forms and express feelings through colors and shapes. To him, copying from nature stifled artistic expression.” Anne Butler on Study.com
I like, too, how colour is a sensory experience, but also a cultural one. How we perceived colour throughout history still echoes in our subliminal feelings about it.
The subject of this photo of is…purple! The contrasting yellow-green grass is simply framing it for impact. There is also the texture of the plant, which is pretty.
Colour brings feeling into your images
When we are looking at colour – any colour – as we look out into the world, it’s good to get quiet and think – how is this making me feel?
I think you need to be a little quiet so that you aren’t analysing how you feel, but you are allowing the feeling to arise naturally.
“I would never choose a subject for what it means to me. I choose a subject and then what I feel about it, what it means, begins to unfold.” – Diane Arbus
As photographers we can use colour as a compositional tool
“Everything that you can see in the world around you presents itself to your eyes only as an arrangement of patches of different colors.” John Ruskin
I like to suggest simple ideas for composition, to help to break down what can feel like an overwhelmingly large amount of things to learn.
And by focusing on colour – any colour – we can help break the world down into subjects and elements to make it easier to find compelling subjects.
What you will now find after reading this is that you see purple everywhere. It will suddenly start to pop out at you in all kinds of interesting ways.
Early morning in Paris. I love the lines in this photo. The surreal colours create a slight otherworldliness.
And that is part of the reason I want to draw your attention to how significant your focus is.
So you can use this a seeing exercise (how much purple can I see today? Or yellow? Doesn’t matter what colour you pick.)
And you can use this as a way to create a little see-ing project.
We can also ask:
What does colour mean to you?
How do you use colour in your photography?
What can I see today?
Purple is a rare colour
“Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red.” Bourn Creative
I like that it’s not a common colour; it’s rarer than, say, blue or yellow. I feel it a colour of great power, majesty and distinction.
What does it make you think of?
I recently read a literary exploration on Two Hundred Years of Blue (and I will do a photo exploration on the colour blue, as well as some others).
I found it fascinating to read about how single colours can create such a proud impact on our psyches.
It is has been suggested that until modern times we couldn’t see the colour blue (so what else can’t we see?)
And that is why Homer wrote about the ‘wine dark sea’ rather than a blue sea. In this amazing article they build a pretty strong case for how people didn’t see blue, until someone created a word for it in modern times.
I find this a fascinating idea. If people couldn’t see it then what are we not seeing now?
Or what can I see that you don’t, and vice versa? Totally trippy.
For me, it obviously chimes in with my teaching that generally, we notice very little – and it is by developing our ability to see more that we develop our photography.
It is also that our vision develops and changes as we expand our understanding of the world.
When we are taking photos, it’s important to lose as much of our thinking-baggage about the world is like this – and instead bring an attitude of: I would like to see things as they are. That way you open yourself up to so many more interesting experiences and ways to see things.
Purple works well with other strong colours.
Purple was made a in totally strange way
As a brilliant piece of history about the colour purple (it has a pretty extraordinary history), my favourite thing I’ve learnt about purple is this:
“Purple is a paradox, a contradiction of a colour. Associated since antiquity with regality, luxuriance, and the loftiness of intellectual and spiritual ideals, purple was, for many millennia, chiefly distilled from a dehydrated mucous gland of molluscs that lies just behind the rectum: the bottom of the bottom-feeders.” BBC Culture
Purple is not a real colour…
“There is no purple light in a rainbow. When white light splits through a prism or refracts as it passes through a raindrop, expanding in to bands of multicolored light, nothing purple comes out the other end.” Smithsonian Magazine
Purple is a composite, as though our brains can’t work out what it is and so have figured out purple. It is more on the ultraviolet end of the spectrum of light.
Mixed with blue, purple is such a calming colour. The desert, late evening
If we are wondering how this can help us – in my courses I often set people the challenge of choosing a colour to photograph. But it’s not just capturing the colour – it’s capturing the feeling of the color that is important.
It’s looking at the colour and feeling its qualities – and using your skills to capture that.
We can also think about all the other shades, colours and tones associated with purple – lilacs, violet, magenta, plum, mauve. We can explore the world through colour in many ways.
From grey to blue to orange to brown – what can we do with the vast array of colours available for us to work with?
I hope you have enjoyed our sojourn through the colour Purple. I’d love to know how you use colour in your photography. Let us know in the comments.
A little purple here. An early morning market in Paris. Again, the purple is showing up along with a strong yellow.
It’s a beautiful day here in Spain. The sun is warm, outside my window I can hear the sea rolling gently. My kids have had a fiesta-filled weekend with their new little community of friends. I am feeling inspired by some cool projects I’m working on with a new colleague. Life is good.
I head back to London soon to sort things out, do some business and run some workshops. I am also packing up and leaving my studio space that I’ve had for the past 15 years in Waterloo.
It feels a little sad to be leaving behind the most permanent space I’ve had in the city. But it also feels liberating. New adventures bring new opportunities, and so I am working to embrace them all.
One thing that has also been inspiring is writing about the technical and creative stories behind my photos. I am loving it! So I have another one for you today.
I hope you are all learning more about how I approach photography, and picking up ideas along the way.
I love nature. I forgot how much I loved it until I stayed in the hills of Tuscany for seven weeks. Living in London for 18 years, and Los Angeles before that, I really lost touch with the feeling you get of being surrounded by constant beauty – it brings me an elevated feeling of bliss.
I am not a “nature” photographer, but I am an artist. Going into the woods and trails around Castello Ristonchi left me feeling that I was out of my element even though my passion for the natural world was reawakened.
As a photographer, I didn’t know what to shoot. It was hard to simplify and isolate subjects in the complexity and deepness of nature.
But as a walked I realized that what I’d come to photograph would be there waiting for me. I didn’t need to be a “nature” photographer. I could just be myself – an artist.
Once that realization came to me I relaxed into the moment and started to really enjoy myself.
The image above is about that enjoyment and relaxed mood.
I came to the top of a hill and spotted this gloriously isolated tree. (I was hunting for something apart from all the complexity of nature). I stared at it for a while, then started to look around for elements I could add to the image I was constructing in my head.
I wanted depth. I wanted to capture the feeling of being on a hilltop. I wanted just a narrow so I was using my 50mm lens. I was not in a landscape frame of mind.
Doing landscapes is part of nature photography and I was out as an artist with vision, trying to be so.
I didn’t want to make an image that another skilled photographer could see and replicate easily. Much of landscape photography is just that. Not point and click, but obvious enough that anyone looking could see it right away and with a bit of skill capture it. Beauty is beauty after all. It’s not hard to miss.
I always seek to capture something a little different in my photos.
The top of the hill was fairly clear of clutter (i.e potential elements!) and it was refreshing coming out of the deep woods into a brightly lit meadow. I became pumped up; using all my senses. My eyes were searching for elements to build relationships with, my skin feeling the brisk air, my ears listening to the quiet, nose catching the smell of a coming storm.
Life was beautiful and the translation into my photos of those feelings was peaking.
I saw some small low branches with dried leaves of rich earth tones – the colours were captivating. I walked around them still thinking of my isolated tree. The light was truly inspiring.
I started shooting and thinking of the composition choices I was making. I was very close to the low branches and depth of field became an obstacle.
For some reason I was shooting very wide – f/2.0. I remember feeling that with the 50mm and a wide aperture I could decrease most complexity, making sharp lines into blurry gradations of tone.
I shot varying compositions but didn’t change my position much since it felt so right. It was mostly just orientation of the camera and change in focus – sometimes focused on the tree, sometimes on the branches.
I left with the feeling I got something I liked, but was not sure which image it would be. It was only a few days later after much editing and toing and froing that I decided on the image above. It had the right balance of tree and leaves and I liked the focus point.
I didn’t get encouraging feedback from Di. She didn’t like it at all…at first. I asked her yesterday if I should write a post about this image and she says “YES, I love that image!” She didn’t love it for a long time.
It makes me wonder about personal taste, and how things develop over time.
Me, l like it. But that is me, as the one who stood there on that glorious day experiencing it firsthand. We can be very partial to certain images because of emotional attachments to them.
Tread carefully and always ask others what they think.
I’d love to know what you think of this! Let me know below. What do you think of the composition?
Have a fantastic day everyone.
As always, if there is something I can help you with photo-wise let me know. Just hit reply. I love hearing from you.
Have a great day,
Anthony and Diana
Part two: How I Created This Shot – Dissecting The Image
I hope you are all doing well on this fine day. I am feeling very energised after spending a long day at the beach on Thursday. We had some family staying for a few days, and even though I don’t hold normal 9-5 hours, it felt funny to spend a weekday lying in the sunshine and snorkeling with the kids.
But you know what – I should do it more often because I’ve woken up feeling insanely energised. It’s amazing what a lazy, fine day can do for your energy.
Let’s start with a look at the technical, shall we?
I love this shot – for the surprise and the success of execution.
Surprise because I had never been to East India station in London before and I wasn’t aware of this view. And I was thrilled with the images I was getting.
The execution because my setup and exposure were well timed and exposed. Slow shutter for effect. Sweet aperture (for that lens) and an ISO that gave me all the contrast and colour my camera is capable of.
I was concerned that the train movement was going to mess with my sharpness, but the platform was really solid and had no vibrations.
This is something to consider when shooting long exposures – you can be stable with your tripod, but what about the place you are shooting?
The f/11 gave me good depth of field from 3 feet to infinity. I focused about a third up from the bottom of the frame to make sure the close distance would be sharp.
I had a window of about 12 minutes where there was a perfect balance of both ambient and artificial light. I made about 10 shots and adjusted the shutter speed from 15 seconds to 8 seconds as the light increased. It was still too dark for a daylight white balance (5400K) so I settled for around 3200-4000K, which I why the sky is so blue.
In Lightroom I boosted the contrast quite a bit to enhance the lines and separate the colours, which I then further controlled with HSL. I put the vibrance and clarity up high to give it added punch,.
It is a high energy image; the lines taking the eye around the image and back again, bouncing off the buildings and looping around. The streaks created by the long exposure just enhance this feeling of speed and energy.
What do you think?
Now let’s look at the story that I think about this for this image
I live an odd life, I know that. One day I might be out at 4am wandering the streets of a city, then home by 11am and napping. I can also be found working past midnight processing images, writing, sending emails. I might be teaching at midday, having a meeting with a gallery or meeting my printers.
I’m not in London at the moment, but even when I was my life has never had much of a schedule or fixed routine.
And therefore my personal story of London is not really of someone who takes part in the daily rhythm of going to work in the morning and returning home in the evening.
I feel like I am mostly an observer to this life that so many people lead. I see it, but I’m not in it.
When I am out shooting in the morning, I am out way before most people are even awake. I watch the sky changing, the light appearing, feel the beautiful calm. Then a trickle of people starts to appear. One or two at first, and then speeding up.
Before long the trickle turns to a mad rush of people walking, cars, buses, trains, boats even. Everything and anything that can be used to get people to work and school – and quickly.
The energy rushing through the city is intense and feels sometimes like it wells up from nowhere. A tap has been turned on full, a button has been pushed and released.
I like this image because it shows how intense metropolitan life is. It feels both hectic and crazy busy – but ordered and organised too.
You have the rush of people, but they are lines, following the path, using the city efficiently to get to their destinations on time.
Because this shot taken when it was still early you can see those who rise first, and I feel their energy to start the day and get moving are represented in the streaks of light. These people are active and in the chase.
There is also the glow of lights from the office buildings – people who are at work already? Or who never left? Perhaps they are the people who come to clean and care for the building, coming and leaving unnoticed, like whispers in the night.
So many stories could be told from the people you know are in this image, but you can’t see.
To me, this image talks about the energy you need in the pursuit of survival. The city is big and unwieldy and hard. But with desire and focus, you can command the city to your will.
What do you think? I would love to know what you think of the photo and my analysis. Let me know below.
I was really interested to read people’s ideas and philosophies on how they choose to shoot and why.
I, of course, have my passionate opinion, that manual is a essential to gain full creative control – but I also think you should shoot the exact way you feel comfortable and happy with. It doesn’t matter what and how you do it – as long as you do it!
As that was a popular post, I thought I’d share the latest two articles we’ve written for Digital Photography School:
Di and I are also going to share a couple of other things we have been enjoying this week, all fuel for our photography and creative practices, but not necessarily related to photography:
1. Iranian photographer Abbas died recently. Famous for photographing the Iranian revolution, he was a Magnum photographer, who spent much of his career documenting conflicts between religion and politics around the world. Gallery of his photos.
4. Meditative photos and videos from free diver Ocean Ramsey who dives with sharks.
5. The Defiant Ones: I love music and being a musician was something I was considering before I took the road into photography. I loved the recent Netflix series The Defiant Ones, documenting the careers of musician/producer Dr Dre and producer/record label owned Jimmy Iovine. Really fascinating to get into the minds of people who have achieved remarkable things with their creativity.
That’s it for today. Have a stupendous day.
And remember to take that camera out – don’t let it gather dust! It needs you to bring interesting ideas into the world.
Anthony and Diana
That’s me shooting in Venice a few years ago.
All the shots in today’s article are from my Venice at Dawn photo project. I love this city! I run a photo workshop there most years, check out my workshop pages for details.
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. – Gustave Flaubert
I am in beautiful southern Spain with our children, in a house by the sea, quelling arguments, writing and enjoying long walks into the hills that surround us.
I thought it would be interesting to share some of the crazy & exciting things I’ve learnt from the nomadic, travelling life we’ve been living for this past year.
The photos I have used are some of my favourite moments we’ve captured on our phones. Usually Anthony, but sometimes me.
Waiting at the bus station in Morocco – not everyone’s favourite activity
One day last year in London it occurred to me that I didn’t need to live the life I had been living always and forever. Something was bringing me towards: The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have. – Anna Quindlen
So we packed up our house, said our goodbyes and set out into the world.
Today I am going to talk about the hard bits of this journey – because that to me is where the interesting parts of life really happen.
And to be honest I find the sun-filtered travel blogs that cover only the good bits so boring and unrealistic. Life is messy, so is travelling.
It’s easy to have a magical, happy time on a warm beach when everyone is a good mood, has slept and ate well and is getting along, but the idyll of travel doesn’t occur every day.
We have had incredible experiences – but to get to those you sometimes have to move through deep, sticky swamps of fear that you find hard to shake.
When you climb a hill to watch a beautiful sunset on your last night in your favourite town and your kids are totally disinterested
Travel for us has included being chased by super-aggressive dogs when we accidentally walked onto someone’s farm in Morocco, and Anthony performing minor surgery on me when a big splinter got embedded under my nail in a castle in Tuscany. I am not ashamed to say I was both hyper-ventilating and screaming when he removed half of my nail.
Or when we turned up with no cash at Fes airport, only to find no shops took cards and our kids were screaming on the floor begging for breakfast.
Everything about travelling is more intense than the day-to-day life of home. The good bits are incredible and the hard bits, crazy hard!
But this is what I wanted from travelling – I wanted us to grow as a family, and to challenge ourselves. To be out in the world, seeing fantastic places and ready to experience more than what our little bubble of life in West London was showing us.
This is worldschooling! We are teaching on the go, delving into subjects the kids ask us about, as well as using the places we are in to lead the learning. History, language, culture, food – so much! When Tessie asked Anthony to tell her the history of the planet, starting at the beginning, this poster came in handy.
Travel been helping us see what inner resources we have, what we can face and overcome.
And there have been so many challenges.
When you are playing with some local kids, and they cover you in mud – it’s hard
Here are some of things I’ve learned
You can be scared and still have courage
If I listened to the levels of fear I have then I wouldn’t go anywhere. I’ve had so many moments, days sometimes, on this trip where I have feel deeply freaked out. Have I done the wrong thing? Am I ruining the kids lives? Am I ruining our futures?
But then we carry on – and we see our kids (and ourselves) growing in so many beautiful ways, meeting people they would never meet at home and learning about the world ‘first hand’.
I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. – Maya Angelou
Our daughter has become an expert tree climber
I feel, too, that what we are teaching our children, more than anything, is that they can find a place wherever they are. We are essentially all the same, us humans, once you see past the different clothes and customs. For most people life revolves around exactly the same thing – friends and family.
There are times when we’ve all felt vulnerable – being so far away from the people who surround us and support us at home. Friends, grandparents, family. People we can call when the kids are sick and we can get support.
But for all the tough moments – there are been hundreds – thousands – of experiences that have made this journey more than worth it.
A rare moment for just the two of us. Travelling involves a lot of togetherness, so we have started seeking out other families to connect and share experiences with.
Trust that people will help you
One of the fantastic things about travelling has been the amount of people who have come to our ‘rescue’ time and again. It’s a lesson I have loved sharing with my kids – that most people are innately kind and helpful.
Like when the stewardess on our flight from Fes realised we didn’t have cash for the breakfast (again no cards were taken), she brought over a platter filled with food for the kids.
When your kids realise there is money to made by selling rocks at the beach with their friends (they were painted rocks :))
Or the endless times in Spain people have watched me butchering Spanish, and come to my rescue by translating for me.
Or on a complicated train journey in Italy we jumped off a train before it left Rome station, quickly bundling many bags and the tired children off. The doors closed and someone jumped up – Anthony had left his camera bag on the train! Phew!
Everywhere we go we’ve found stray cats – which is causing the kids sadness. We are currently looking after a pregnant stray cat. We move on Sunday, but thankfully have found a friend to take her in.
Your perception of the world colours your experiences
If you expect problems, you’ll see problems. If you expect to things to go well – they usually do. Although my mind seems to be in love with that word worry, I have learnt the more I expect things to go smoothly, the more they do. Of course there have been problems, but the less I anticipate them, the less we seem to have.
Thankfully his tendon isn’t torn! Anthony’s trip to Malaga hospital was speedy and efficient, and filled with good news
Travel won’t make you happy
I truly believe that wherever you go, you bring your problems with you. You can probably get a brief break if you really try – but being away won’t remove them. Travel does give you space though, away from habit and routine, to work things out. And I love that.
What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dinner with our good friend Delphine, who runs the B&B we use for our Arles workshop. We are making friends all over the world.
Travel is not an escape from life
I believe it’s an opportunity to dive deeper into your inner resources than you ever thought possible – if you allow it to. There are people moaning, complaining and staying stuck everywhere you go – even in paradise. If you want to experience more, you have to put yourself out there and really try.
All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. – Blaise Pascal
Meeting a lovely couple from Hong Kong in the street. My daughter wanted to try the snails they were eating, which they let us do. Great chat, less great snails 🙂
It’s the people who make travelling
The times we’ve had that have been unforgettable have usually involved people. It’s been the dinner we had with an artist in the south of France, sitting outside in the twilight of the garden as she discussed in depth with my son his creative pursuits (which are making animated films.)
The group of world schooling families we spent Christmas with in Italy – having the most uncommercial, unstressful and fun Christmas we’ve ever had.
Spending two months in Spain with some lovely travelling families who have inspired us, made us laugh and taught us so much about worlds beyond ours.
And hundreds more.
Winning the Danish Christmas eve pudding game, and getting an almond pig as the prize!
Making mistakes is part of the journey – and that’s totally fine.
Neither Anthony or I are swashbuckling confident people – but one thing we do is we keep trying even when we have made mistakes.
In the on-off 20 years we’ve worked for ourselves we have missed opportunities as often, if not more, than we’ve taken them. We have messed things up. We have run out of money. We have hired the wrong people. All the usual business/freelance craziness.
But we keep going, not searching for perfection, but getting better at what we do every day.
Peace and serenity in Tuscany
What’s the worst that can happen?
I would like to say I entered into travel with a blissful sense of possibility and confidence – but I did not. Not in the slightest. I felt sick with fear. What pushed me to do it, though, was a feeling – an intuitive feeling – that this is what we all needed.
I will often to say to myself –
A) What’s the worst that could happen?
B) Doesn’t bad stuff happen at home/where I’m at?
C) If I don’t do this will I kick myself later?
Tim Ferriss talks about this ‘negative visualisation’, where you flesh out the worst case scenario in advance, and how this helped him become successful, in his Ted Talk Smash Fear, Learn Anything.
Drop the judgement
It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. – Confucius
The most important quality I need to travel well is a lack of judgement, and an attitude of openness. I have noticed about myself I can be deeply judgemental.
Judgemental of different ways of thinking, of being, of doing.
Finding kindred spirits
Sometimes this difference is exciting, but sometimes it makes me frightened, unsure, like I am standing on unstable ground.
We spend so much of our lives defining ourselves, who we are and how we think and what we believe. But often that seems to just separate us from other people.
Judgement comes from a deep place of fear – fear about one’s place in the world, and so I continue to commit to losing the judgement and allowing people and situations to appear in my life – as they are, not as I expect them to be.
Our comfort zones are all different – what matters is you gently, gently pushing your own
It’s not easy moving out of our comfort zone. And everyone has a totally different one. Anthony is very relaxed about wandering around day or night into the countryside, around cities – wherever we are.
Whereas I am not adventurer at all. I am most happy in cities – they are my comfort zone. The countryside, with all its quiet, unsettles me. Exploring the countryside is me pushing my comfort zone, so I try and do it as much as I can.
Probably the most time our kids have spent in nature, ever
Trust your intuition
When we started out we had a big, fixed plan of which countries we would cover and when. Wow – that was nothing like what ended up happening.
We’ve made decisions of what to do based on our intuition, what feels ‘right’ in our gut. And that has led to some of the very best experiences we’ve had.
Waiting for the bulls in France
The more we are together as a family the more harmonious we become
I cannot overstate enough how absolutely beautiful it has been to see Anthony spending more time with our kids. For us to build a rhythm together that has brought so much more calm and peace to our family life (but don’t get me wrong, we can still be utterly utterly crazy.)
Some beautiful experiences we’ve had that have so impressed me:
Watching my son for the first time in his Spanish lesson fill with passion as he tried to communicate how he and his friends had made 73 euros selling painted rocks at beach. He spoke Spanish I didn’t even realise he knew – I don’t think he did either.
Daily chats with my almost teenage son on the beach. It’s a complete privilege to have this time with him. I’m not sure we’ve ever been so happy as a family
Watching my daughter run up and down the beach for hours and hours, deep in serious play, with her friends, being completely free.
Seeing my son run with the bulls in the south of France.
After a brief period of schooling my daughter had started to say she was doing her colouring ‘wrong’. But now she has gained her confidence back, and she sits for hours deeply engaged in her creations.
Both of them overcoming language barriers to create meaningful friendships.
Friends, walks and learning about the local nature in Spain
What do I hope for our future travels?
I feel there is so much more for us to learn. Of course there is a more to see – an endless amount – but what I am most excited about is having more experiences and meeting more people. Hearing more stories and making more friends.
We have more places we want to take the kids – Cuba, Mexico, Vietnam etc. And slowly we will do that. This journey is going to be longer than I thought.
Working wherever we can find a desk. It’s not easy working and worldschooling and travelling. But we are getting better at juggling it all.
I am thankful every day that we took that leap and decided to travel.
I really hope that was interesting and possibly inspiring to you. I hope you saw in this that even really big challenges, although they come with problems and issues, are totally worth it.
If you have a dream brewing – keep going.
I’d love to know what you think – please let me know in the comment below.
Our first morning at the Creators Castle in Tuscany. We signed up for a two week stay where other travelling families had booked for Christmas (were they going to be crazy and weird? We were nervous) but no, they turned out to be wonderfully interesting. We ended up staying 5 weeks, meeting people who dropped in for stays from all over the world.
It’s been great sharing these stories with you. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. If you have any thoughts, questions or ideas – I’d love to hear them.
Have a fantastic week,
Diana (& Anthony says Hi :))
The man who says he can, and the man who says he can’t are both correct. Confucius
A terrible photo I know – but it was the best selfie of the series. This is us on my 40th birthday, having a delicious lamb tagine on the rooftop of our hotel in Fes. Gorgeous city.