15 October, 2013

Come fly with me

For many years I was trying to get back to drawing. While I was with it I was pretty good. Sometimes you just know you are good at something, and even though it fills your soul and heart with content somehow you just go astray and off the beaten track, and find yourself miles away from the secret path. It takes all the wisdom and the will of the universe to get you back. All that packed in just one sentence.

I have spent a few years without drawing a single line. Tried it several times but the blank paper was always stronger. It wasn't a paper any more, it was a white steel barrier. Deep down I knew drawing was a part of me, and it will resurface sooner or later. The other day I was going thru some long forgotten sketches and found few drawings that could be scanned and uploaded to one or two social networks I use. I thought it would be fun to surprise my friends with my analogue art. It was done in pencil and I decided it was time to ink it. Then I scanned another one. And then I finally decided to actually draw something new from the scratch, and I remembered that funny self-portrait I have done with my camera ages ago. Somewhere else I have found a picture of a bird and I realized I could combine both subjects into one painting, like superimpose the bird over my face as if she was talking to me. The beginning was shaky and reluctant, but I kept going on, and when it came to making more defined lines that would give the final shape, I was very unwilling and lacking faith. Then suddenly, this sentence just appeared in my mind and I started repeating it over and over again. Here it is:

When you are playing, you are unable to make a mistake.

That was it! I immediately understood the glorious idea conveyed in that message. If I was exploring like a curious kid, then I could do no harm. I remembered when I was a kid, I used to draw continuously, never bothered with the consequences. If I was enjoying the play, the dance, there was no danger of drawing a “wrong” line. If it was coming from the soul then I couldn't do wrong. If I wasn't thinking of the impact the picture may create, or the awards it may win, or the comments I would get, then the only important thing would be to enjoy the play, like a kid who is only concentrated on his “work”. I can draw! I am drawing! I do it because of love. I do it because of love.

And then a big splash.

Suddenly I was submerged. It was late night and the fireflies were flying above the waves. As I moved underwater, my movements produced tiny and irregular light bursts. My every single movement produced a glow and the fish were leaving glowing trails as well. I saw the silhouette of a bird above the water and I resurfaced. She flew very close to my face.

25 September, 2013

I am inspiration

I am your friend. Don’t be afraid of me. I am a blank piece of paper. I will give you so much, as long as you start opening yourself to me. I am ready to tell you amazing tales of near and far places, of people big and small, of the loved and the unloved. When you tell me everything, later you will realize I am talking back to you, on another level.

I am a burning cigarette in your hand. You hold me close, and you feel my fire. I am not eternal, I may even harm you for that short time. Most people say I am bad for you. I am bad except when I am in the company of another burning soul.

I am an unmade photograph. I exist somewhere in your mind when you feel brave enough to think that the world is your studio. When you see each person as a model. When you are not blinded by the fear and the prejudice. There are no ugly ones in your world. Even my scars and stitches look beautiful.

I am an idea that is alive and is burning in your mind and soul, burning a big hole and You’re not doing enough to stop the fire. I am the only thing you can think about when you’re not lying to the world and to yourself.

I am a melody that will come to you in a most unexpected place, you will see me as a kid who runs along your car, will make you slow down and stare, I’m the one with the biggest grin. You will want to know where my family comes from, because it’s obvious we’re not local. You’ll remember being a kid. The future was a happy promise.

I am a baked bread. I live in flats and houses, suburbs and traffic jams. I feed your soul, your barefoot soul that begs for change in the deafening hum of the boiling promenade.

I am the star, the comet and the satellite.

I wait for you.

Come here.

19 August, 2013

Rules schmules

1: Give. You got your talent for free. Nobody buys it, steals it, or copies it. It can only be developed from that little seed (as unique as it's DNA) you nurtured since when you fell in love with what you love doing. Help them (the people who appreciate you work and who ask your advice) by showing them your short cuts. You will get it back somewhere along the way. Give advice. And give support, especially if you have some sort of authority over them.

2: If you hear “You speak good Spanish from the native Spanish speakers, it means you have to work on it. If the established musician tells you “You are a good guitar player” it means you are a beginner. If they say “You look good” you are probably in the hospital bed and they have just arrived to see you first time after your operation. God knows what have they expected. When was the last time you did something so well they thought you were a natural and there was no surprise? When did you speak foreign language last time and nobody even thought you were not a native speaker? When did you play guitar so well nobody thought about mentioning the guitar but just had a grateful grin on their faces because they just had an out of body sort of experience? When was the last time you were so good at something that everybody took for granted that it was just your speciality and they appreciated it as a standard performance delivered by you? When they take it for granted that you can deliver it means that you have set your standard very high.

3: Ask. It is the biggest compliment you can give: you admit that there is no logical explanation to somebody's skill. But still the answer will most likely be much less of a mystery: practice, practice and much more practice. They will also tell you about the short cuts.

4: Need to criticise? There is much more in + than in -. Use criticism only to reroute their effort into the right place, when you know EXACTLY how it should sound or look and can show it to them - there and then. Otherwise they won't like your input.

5: The best ones? They are just humans with MANY hours of practise behind them. And most of the time they didn't think of winning the competition, they were just enjoying the dance.

6: The dance? That is when you are carried away by the music, and even if you don’t do the all the right steps, they seem to be right because of the honest fulfilment that is oozing from the inside of you. When you are GOOD and you don't dance by the book, you seem to be creating new rules as you dance. Did the skill just became part of you or you just incorporated a part of yourself into it?

7: Think it’s too late? Just think that if you start today, you would be really, REALLY good in 5 years time. Whatever that means: graduating from the university, becoming dedicated and faithful to the talent, mastering the surf / guitar / foreign language, etc. You are 38 and you think it’s too late. Wouldn't you prefer to be a 43 year old with something BIG accomplished, or a 43 year old who thinks it’s WAY too late? 

18 August, 2013

The pictures I didn't take

There was a big misunderstanding that night about the accommodation  about the transport, about anything that was mentioned. It seemed to me that the city didn't want to let me go. It wanted me to stay, it wanted me to see the burning again.
I was trying to say no, but it wouldn't listen. Sometimes you just can't find the way out.
It was all clear to me later. After all the friends have gone, after I have missed the last connection to go back home. I thought I have seen the burning plenty of times. But there is always something good on the way when you are where you have to be.

I have managed to see the burning of four fallas (out of 300), the big monuments made to be burnt in Valencia. I have enjoyed it so much and I was quite pleased with the photos I have taken, so much that it wasn't a problem to stay awake for the rest of the night and wait for the first morning train. I walked the rainy wet streets with the holes in my shoes, talked to complete strangers, listened to other complete strangers talking to complete strangers, slept in the underground for an hour. Then the train station opened its doors around 4:45 am and big bunch of people walked in. There was a snack bar at the end of the long corridor. Already full of young backpackers queuing up for the first coffee of the day, there was a feeling of unity, smell of freshness of a new day and the aroma of bread and coffee, witty waiters flying around cracking jokes with customers who were too sleepy to answer back, and a young Japanese girl paying her coffee with the 100 euro bill. Another waiter was using the megaphone, repeating some client's orders just for the hell of it. Everybody laughed and the waitress handed me the plate: the croissant tasted so soft, warm and buttery that I just had to ask for another one.

Those were the pictures I didn't take.

Where is the spark?

Let us stand by the fire for a moment and just stare at it: let the smoke get into your eyes, your hair, your clothes and skin. We've been chasing each others for hours, laid down in between the humid grass blades and a funny thing happened: it seemed as if we looked at the skies from the above as we laid on our backs. The clouds were deep down, and we just wondered how we didn't fall off the Earth. That idea made us feel dizzy and excited. The clouds had shapes that were too obvious and we all agreed when somebody pointed out a familiar shape. We jumped out from the bushes with our knees scratched, chased the cats and dogs and stood so close to them fires in the fields, we kissed and we got kissed, friends were our second skin and we were so dirty and so present in those moments. Did we know about the distances in the world, about the vast differences between us that we were gonna grow into and help them grow? Is there a sat-nav that will navigate us to those burning fields? Can you smell the smoke or scratch your knees in any of those social networks? I'm taking the old ash covered path, looking for the spark that will burst this night into flames. There is a fire for everyone, out in the field and savannah, where the workmen burn the dead twigs and branches and they never get to notice us, you and me we stand too close to the fire and just stare at it; at the sundown when we let the sun go.

Take a picture of that memory and make it personal. Can you take a picture of something we all remember? I'm sure it would be a great photograph. You know there are many things that can start the fire, the sparks are around us. Where is your spark?

24 June, 2012

When no change IS a change

waiting for the tram

I haven't changed yet. I don't really want to change. I am very good at being myself, I'm really unprepared for being anybody else. Maybe that's the trouble with me. But that's my biggest blessing, too.

I haven't walked these streets for four years. Four winters, four summers, four springtime jazz fevers. Red and yellow leaves times four. My friends are still around. I keep them close and keep telling them the city has changed beyond recognition  They haven't seen the change that I am talking about. They say that the change is within me. I say no, I can see that there are more shops, more refurbished buildings  more young people, more happy people, more relaxed and content people in general. Also more rushing people, more traffic, more nervousness, more fluid. Much more than before.

I think we always cried for change, and when we finally accepted the way we were, the change arrived. Individually we're all the same. The change was born within a group, in the society. The evolution, the step forward, learning to say yes or no. Maybe it was a part of my growing up as well. Maybe I'm biased because it's my city.

The walls that speak the language I understand. The writings on the tram stations. The ink that has spilled over the city pages. I feel like walking the pages of a living book. The walls keep telling me things I understand clearly. Some people only see the book cover, I have browsed or read the most of the pages. It's impossible to describe something big without describing one tiny part of it first, one tiny detail. Tiny waves that keep pushing me through the city, the waves of the analogue reality and the etchings on the tram seats. I remember how to use my antennas, how to tune them in. Unchanged, I walk on and read.

The chains hold the unchanged city together. It wakes up early, yawns behind the steel and steam, behind the sleepy soft curves of the foggy dusk. The dirt is in his nostrils and in his ears, if it could kiss you it would leave a greasy and dirty mark on your face. I mean if it wanted to kiss you. The old world is still very alive: posh and grumpy old lady and a dirty gypsy kid walk the same side of the street with the biggest grin make a perfect couple - this is the old fashioned at its best. The pavement is hot, the sweat is oozing through the sprayed crumbling walls. The young and the mellow ones are scattered everywhere, the heat is in the swaying blossom of the linden trees, and the melody will find its way. Until then I read on.

22 April, 2012

The beauty

If I could only have stopped Your hand, oh Lord. If I could have only stopped Your hand, God, and put the label “DO NOT PAINT” on each one of us. You have overestimated us. We've got passports and flags, we the stupid people. We see flags and skin, but we see no heart behind the eyes. We think we know, but we have no idea.

Sometimes I wish that everybody could just for a moment see the world with the eyes of the deprived. The colours, the light, the hearts. If you want to be a photographer you have to see first. We have the responsibility, you know. We can suggest things to the audience. We can lead them think this way or that way. We can fool them and they will be happy. You can tell a story and leave the interpretation to the audience, or you can show them your interpretation. Take a look at this tree, pictured on the left. I could have taken the picture of this tree against the stone wall that was on the opposite side, and it would lose all its glory. It's like a soldier with amputated limbs who is still full of desire to live on, it is even transmitting its will to live to the ivy. The clouds above represent the dreams, the goals. On the left you can see two more trunks that seem to have given up the fight for life. The fight for the survival. Dead tree, some might say. But at this specific moment I was there, the light was perfect and the composition was great. There was a story with a beautiful idea.

What always excites me is when I see the heart behind the idea. When I see somebody can see. When I realise someone can see deeper than skin, deeper than age, deeper than race. If you can see the beauty behind the dead tree, wrinkled skin, smile of the homeless person, if you can see people in every city and every nation, then the world is your home, your playground and your office. Take a photo of the beauty, but not the beauty as defined by the media, not the beauty that sells, not the beauty that has the expiry date.

What is beautiful to you might be of no relevance to the others. Make it seen, in the best light, with the best background. Make them see what you see. Be colour blind, age blind, flag blind, religion blind, look through and beyond.

18 April, 2012

The park people

“I have never seen one as big as that”, I thought to myself as Barry started rolling another joint for himself. The deafening noise was a sweet music to Barry’s ears. To me it was just another expensive car flashing by, showing off. Barry understood the language of the engines, the valves, the transmission. His eyes and his head were glued to the powerful red vehicle that kept on sliding under the stormy sky. The orange sand was swirling around us while the wind was picking up, and the palm trees were shaking their branches making the sound that I am sure some medical expert somewhere in the world would describe as therapeutic, but I'm sure Barry would disagree. Lazy afternoon in the park for me, another very long day for Barry. Being a homeless in Moraira was such an irony. Being homeless in the land of empty and beautiful properties, those white and beige walls, pristine swimming pools, dirty swimming pools, beautiful plants and trees giving shade to nobody. It was a poetic justice when Barry moved into one of them, starting his squatting years.

We go to the park and we smoke and drink. We go to the bar and watch Only fools and horses on the mobile. The park is in Moraira, and Moraira is in Spain. As strange as it may seem Barry belongs here, he is one of the landmarks for many of us.

“If I had a lot of money, I would build a community centre for the kids. I look around the park, groups of youngsters sitting around, it’s gonna be so hard for them. The society makes no effort, while the parents let the society and the street educate their young ones. The street and the park give lessons every day, all day. You can not be late and there is no homework. Everyone can teach but few will learn. The society doesn't try, there is so much potential, these kids are so sharp, razor sharp. There are potential scientists here, potential researchers, potential artists that will change the world, people who will get out of the park and help make this world a better place. Or just people who will get other kids out of the park. To start the migration. Maybe the most important migration in the history of the human kind.

16 March, 2012

Nuni was in the town

Nuni was in the town. A homeless guy from the central part of Spain, from Ciudad Real. Always on the road. Sleeping anywhere. Eating sometimes.
I invited him for a coffee, bought him some rolling tobacco, we talked about many different things.
I have no idea how old is he. I have no idea where is he sleeping tonight. He told me he usually sleeps in the "cajeros", which is the spanish for "cash machine", but they really refer to that front part of the bank where the cash machine is and which stays open all night. I had my camera with me (as I always do), and bravely I decided to ask him for a permission to take a few photos of him. The photo displayed here was the one of the first attempts: with Nuni in the foreground, and his friend (the street) in the background. 
I have honestly tried to capture the moment, the person, the look. It is never easy to ask for the permission to take a photograph, but the reaction is almost every time very positive. Nuni couldn't care less if I was gonna take one or twenty photos, or if I would upload them onto my website or not. He just hoped I would remember him if I become a famous photographer. I wish my photos could make a change in his life, I wish they were that powerful.

From what I have learned so far:

ALWAYS talk friendly to the people, ALWAYS ask for their permission, ALWAYS continue to be friendly even if you were not allowed take a photo. People are precious. Do it because of the love you have for the people. Not because this photo could win you a big competition, or because this story could sell. It is by discovering the unknown from the others that we get to discover roads we never walked. Do it because you love them and you will discover how they open up themselves to you, and when you ask them to take a photograph, at that moment you won't be disappointed if they say "no", and if they say "yes", by then you will know what aspect you want to capture, what story to tell, and you will see this person as a whole new world. It's just that little small talk that makes all the difference. Be human before you press the shutter. First human, then photographer.

I really hope I will see Nuni again.

13 March, 2012

Let's talk about photography!

Welcome to my blog! This will be the place where I will give more details about the photos I take, and more insight on how do I achieve certain things in photography and why do I consider them important. But that's just the general idea. In today's world the cameras are becoming a part of our reality, and we are constantly equipped with at least one camera all the time (the one on the mobile phone). We have a constant urge to "have and keep", that is why we capture the reality and save the moment for later and savour it over and over again. It's good that we all have the inclination to express ourselves individually, but it is the way we do it that makes us differ from each other. Sometimes the photographs can say a lot about the person who is behind the camera, the photographer, thus making him visible as well. I hope this blog will help you find more about what happens before you press the shutter, because the photography is born in the eye of the photographer, and the camera is solely our mechanical extension who is prepared to capture what we tell it to capture. And I hope it will help me learn new things from you through your comments and collaboration.