Misplaced~

the art of urban camouflage

In Hongkou, part of the old city of Shanghai, was a set of grey narrow alleys that were a maze of tiny streets containing 2 or 3 story homes stacked side by side in a most claustrophobic manner. Hundreds of tangled electric wires dangled between walls that were decorated with phone numbers advertising services for those who needed them. Water flowed down the streets and bikes and colorful laundry colored the otherwise shabby surroundings. In those sad alleys I met some very happy people. Their smiles instantly appeared when we met and stories were told that I only understood partly because of my poor grasp of Shanghainese but laughter was the largest part of the conversation. I just loved that place and I kept going back again and again to photograph until one day the residents announced that their neighborhood is condemned to demolition like so many other old Shanghai alleys. The last time I visited there were metal foundations of giant about to rise from the stories of these lovely people. I had to fight back tears seeing the ghosts of what used to be there and is no longer…

Day 67 of 365~ 

Image taken in the old alleys of Hongkou, 2014

In Street Photography Expect the Unexpected~ Yunnan

 

the wagon ride

the wagon ride

After about a 4 hour flight from Shanghai to Kunming in Yunnan and sorting out the small inevitable complications like changing cars, drivers, lunch and settling everyone to a journey of unexpected events, we set off to our first stop on the workshop, the town of Shiping.

After a first night not short of adventure and discovery in the streets of the old town, we set off in the morning with the freedom one gets after leaving a questionable hotel without having to look back.

girl in wagon~ Yunnan

girl in wagon

All packed, cameras charged, armed with snacks and water bottles we set off only to discover that our bus (that we grew to love) had a flat tire. We were informed that the repairs will take longer than expected. When asked why, the answer was “people in these parts are just not efficient enough”. I swallowed the answered and decided to make the best of a bad situation.

I invited everyone to use the 2 hours to explore and we found ourselves in an unforgettable market! Photo opportunities everywhere, people, children, faces, color, it was wonderful.

on a scale of old to new

on a scale of old to new

During the time there, I was utterly charmed by a group of children who followed me around jumping, giggling, acting silly, jumping into every frame I tried to create. It then dawned in me that the best thing to do would be to just stop trying and instead of capture life, just live it. I played with them and my students photographed them and the whole affair was effervescent and a special gift to start the journey with.

how they stole the show and my heart

how they stole the show and my heart

Saima and Petra with the children

Saima and Petra with the children

Photo of me taken by Saima with the children at the market.

Photo of me taken by Saima with the children at the market.

It is wonderful to be reliving the adventure in Honghe through the stories and images as I busily plan the next one in Dali this coming June.

 

 

a process inside a process~ why do I edit my photos?

love is like oxygen

love is like oxygen

another year about to fly by

another year about to fly by

smiling at her future

smiling at her future

the big church

the big church

stepping into a story

stepping into a story

stretching the truth

stretching the truth

When I edit my photos, I set in motion a whole new process that allows me to see beyond the actual image. I begin to feel emotions and to imagine worlds that the image open doors to. So my initial photograph becomes a key, a starter and a catalyst to a brand new process. I leave myself open to what the moment suggests, what level of contrast it wants, what degree of clarity or blur, saturation or absence of color, and what lines to highlight, and inside of all this (which sometimes takes not longer than a few minutes), a new image is born, one that is layered with sketches of imagination and brush strokes of feeling. I attempt through that to marry the past with the now in anticipation of the art that might wish to join my future.

 

Wishing all my readers and subscribers a wonderful and inspired new year.

All above images were taken with an iPhone during my recent trip to New Zealand and edited with phone apps.

Let me spin you a tale

with every puff of smoke, a story flows

with every puff of smoke, a story flows

I was walking in an old street in Shanghai with my camera taking in all the sights, smells and noises of the crowded narrow lanes when an unusual sight drew me in. I looked inside a smoky large room packed with  rickety tables, chairs, tea pots, and men in hats, so many men in hats. I walked in and after I stopped being looked at as the stranger in the village, I began to be approached by the curious of the gathered men. Each wanted to tell me stories, because this is what we humans do, we carry our his-story with us, in our minds, our hearts, etched on our faces and we long to tell them and to pass them on before we leave, so that parts of us can stay behind and make an indelible mark. I listened and tried my best to comprehend, but the best story this man can tell is written all over his face and I present it to you here in this frozen moment…

Day 30~ November 30th~ New York

those days

the new york city of then

With the last  New York post from this month, I am realizing how much of it is still in me. It has been one of the most personal months in my blog so far, so I will end it with a photo from then, from the time I was 21 and celebrating every single second I had in the city that never sleeps. We explored New York with so much openness, with inspiration, with joy, with boundless energy and that does something to you. I love photography because it captures moments that take you back, to feel, to remember to relive.

~ I am the one with the blond wig 🙂

Day 26~ November 26th~ New York

New York City Metro

Ask anyone who rides the subway for more than one hour a day and they will be sure to have some strange stories to tell you. I have a few. I realize that with this month’s postings a lot of memories and stories keep floating by, and that is because I left them there. On the subway at the age of 20 I met the first and hopefully last flasher. It was evening and I was engrossed in my Herman Hesse book ( Narcissus and Goldmund) not realizing that I was alone in the subway car after everyone filtered out, when I felt a shadow looming in front of me. I Looked up and there was the classic open raincoat with an extraordinarily large man standing in front of me exhibiting his pride. Funny how react in expected situations, and me being totally caught off-guard, I cried. Then I ran to pull the emergency brakes which caused the train to stop, the doors to open, the giant man to run away and I was directed to another car with people in it. I was then hugged by a big bosomed African American lady who giggled and said: “relax darlin’, that was entertainment for free!”

And there were the other stories, but one is enough…

Day 19~ November 19th~ New York

pearl necklaces

Some experiences remain etched in our minds not because of their importance, but sometimes because of their simplicity. I was riding the roosevelt island tram one evening (you know this strange red cable car that crosses over at 60th street to the island), and next to me sat a beautiful old lady in her 70’s. She said hello and then she said “pearl necklaces”. On seeing my puzzled face she went on to say: “the bridges, they are so beautiful at night, don’t they look like pearl necklaces?”. Since that evening, I can only think of pearl necklaces when I see a bridge lit up at night as the Queensborough bridge was on that evening. That lady had the gift of seeing beauty and art in everything and she left me so inspired.

Day 12~ August 12th~ Boracay

Dusk on the island shore

A very strange phenomenon I have encountered repeatedly is with the fear islanders have of the sea or it might be a great awe of the mysterious waters. I keep finding out that locals that live near the sea or ocean never really go into it with the exception of fishermen and sailors. Even in Lebanon, my grandmother who lived all her life 15 minutes away from the shore of the mediterranean, had never set foot in its waters before she passed away. It is also said that the fishermen of the Isle of Aran near the Irish coast, never learn how to swim as they claim it would be much better to die faster by drowning in case they ever fall from their boats.

photo taken: local fishermen on the shores of Boracay~ Philippines

Day 2~ July 2nd~ Vietnam

eyes

While I was living in New York City a few years back, I heard a story from a friend about eyes that stayed with me since. She said that a native American man came to the city once and realized how hard and unnatural the streets are on the human eyes. He explained that people are meant to gaze at far away horizons at least once a day and knowing that, he wondered how people can live in a big city where all impressions bounce back into their eyes at such close distances. In the metropolis our eyes work overtime on our behalf when we cross the street, walk on the pavement, dodge passersby and even at home in front of our fast-moving screens of impressions.

Photo taken: a woman on a pavement in Hanoi~ Vietnam