There is a great magic to seeing a place at sunrise, before the rush of day clouds it. Early in the morning, there is a bliss that relaxes the faces of early risers, as though they are reminded that there is still magic in life, how can there not be? Light colors the sky as stars give way to the great sun, and stillness can still be heard over the water.
As the door closes shut on one year and opens to a brand new one, we get the urge to make changes, to have a clean slate and to resolve ourselves to a set of higher standards. It is as though every time, a new permission is issued to become a better human and to raise ourselves to a finer level of human development. Like the rings inside a tree trunk, every time we make a full cycle around the sun, we get this sense of renewal.
What are your resolutions for 2016? Are they real or forced? Conventional or brand new?
We are a few hours away from the onset of the New Year here in Germany. It has been a testing year, a learning experience and a good platform for what is to come next. I feel a strong sense of hope thinking of 2016 and a renewed feeling of inspiration. Thank you for having been there, my family, my friends, my fellow photographers, my much admired artist community, and everyone who has taken part in this journey here with me. You make my world brighter!
A lot of exciting things planned for 2016 artistically. More soon…
Land has this mysterious way of pulling at your soul, of beckoning you home, and for our young daughter, this land is Germany.
The longer we expatriate in China, the mightier that tug. She dreams of the family, the colors, the fresh air, the sounds and smells of a land she feels a strong belonging to despite the fact that she only lived there the first 2 years of her life. But our planet is strange that way, isn’t it?
Her dream will come true, at least for a few weeks starting tomorrow as we head west and our lungs rejoice!
My daughter asked me after hearing of the sad events caused by terrorism in Beirut and Paris the last 2 days: “why do humans terrorize other humans?” Questions like this always get us into a journey of search for the truth, for reason, for sanity and for an explanation that can offer settlement, even if it was short-lived.
We are given a choice, the moment we were born to be as good or as bad as we want to be. We battle with our own morality throughout our lives here on this planet. We seek out desperately that bit of cool blue logic to give us strength to choose wisely.
I posted several ‘pray for Paris’ tributes on social media today and I was caught by one comment from someone saying that “if prayer helped, then the world would already be a better place”. But do we just give up hope in the face of an uncertain future? What kind of world are our children inheriting?
Candid street photography is perhaps my very favorite style when I am out in the streets. Anywhere I travel, I find myself drawn to the human element in the streets and I search for a human connection to create my photograph and my story.
I am often asked about the process of candid portraits and if I were to offer 7 tips it would be these:
- Take your time. Often and if the time allows, I try not to do any photography on my first day in a new place. Instead I try to feel the place, walk around, look, listen, observe, admire and investigate.
- Slow down. When I walk, I try not to feel any anxiety about having to capture anything. I wait for the inspiration to come to me because I have discovered that it cannot be forced, like all good things in life.
- Be polite. I always try to reverse the roles and see how I would feel if someone came at me with a camera aggressively and tried to photograph me without my permission. I am most certainly going to be closed to that intrusion. Instead I smile, I make eye contact and I show genuine interest in my subjects. I back off if unwelcome.
- Be prepared. The last thing you want to be doing when seeing a moving moment is to be fiddling with your camera settings and getting flustered. I check my camera before going out, I make sure I am ready for the light conditions and the style of photography I am aiming for.
- Be open. Sometimes I might have an expectation as to what I want to photograph on a certain walk, but I am always open to whatever else my inspire me. Patterns, movement, architecture… but being open is much easier said than done and takes a lot of practice.
- Take more than one shot. In the digital age, we have the luxury of having room for experimentation. I remember back in the 90s when I was using film, how careful I was with each single frame knowing that I had a limited number of shots before I had to change film. Nowadays, you can take your shot at different angles and make multiple compositions to get the shot that you really want.
- Have fun. It is such an incredible joy to me being in the streets, around people, doing what I love doing the most. If you are not enjoying it, you might as well find something else to do :)
These are some of my favorite street portraits that I am currently featuring on my instagram feed.
More soon on the street photography process.
She makes jewelry as part of the rehabilitation and education programs that ‘Beyond’, a local Lebanese NGO does with the children in the Syrian refugee camps.
There are now over 1.2 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon in camps waiting for a better home under the care of humanitarian organizations and NGOs. The children carry the hope and strength of their whole nation.
It has been a while after a very eventful summer, and slowly things are settling back into a routine here in Shanghai.