A New Experience

Most of what we do as humans – at least most of what’s of significance – is done in silence and far from the limelight. This applies to photography too. Although photography is meant to be shared, published, exposed, almost everything that leads up to the point where we have something to publish is solitary work. It’s about being face to face with your subject (whether it’s a person, a landscape, or anything else). It’s about being face to face with ourselves.

Sometimes, it may happen that what we do receives some exposure and recognition. For me, this happened in the context of the photo project on autism I’ve been developing since January. Having my photos exposed in two exhibitions opening on the same day is not something that happens every day.

It’s difficult to write about this without somehow giving the impression of boasting or showing off. But what I’m actually trying to do is reflect on what this experience meant to me and how it reflects on my work.

First of all, there are all sorts of internal voices that are kind of trying to ruin the show. There’s the imposter syndrome voice telling me… well, telling me that this is an imposture and that I managed to fool people into taking an interest and making time to visit the exhibitions.

There’s also the internal critic (always hyperactive!) telling me that it’s too much exposure too soon. Telling me that what I did so far does not deserve this.

Luckily, these voices are not that strong and there’s a reason for it. I know that I will continue working on the project irrespective of how much recognition and exposure it will continue to enjoy. I know that, whether it deserves or not the recognition it has already received, most of what follows is still good old-fashioned work without any bells and whistles.

The attention and kind words I’ve received from so many people, including many people I did not know, is humbling. I feel grateful in a way that does not have anything forced or pretentious – it’s just a natural reaction to what happens to me and around me.

At the same time, this does not change anything about the way I see my photo project or the way I relate to my own work. I think some of the photos are pretty good but that does not prevent me from realizing, again and again, how far this “pretty good” is from what I would consider good photography.

This may sound like a cliché but it’s been a small moment of realization for me: there is no replacement for the personal involvement and energy we put into what we do. A project lives because we breath life into it. If we’re lucky, at some point that life will be strong enough so that the project takes off and lives a life of its own.

We can fake interest, fake enthusiasm, fake kindness, but in the longer term it’s very difficult to fake putting your soul into something. If you do it, it will eventually show. If you don’t, that will also show.

Part of the exhibition that opened on 28 March at the European Parliament, Brussels. The exhibition is open until Friday and features several photographers from all over Europe. These are some the participants in my photo project.
Hiking in the Belgian Ardennes. One of the featured photos.

This is my contribution to this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge kindly hosted by AnneNew Experiences.

If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info. 

Cultivating Attention

Photography cultivates a certain awareness and attention to detail. You walk on the street, all senses awake. There’s this detail here and that situation over there. You can see things developing into something that could be a good photo. You anticipate. You position yourself in the right place and wait for the right moment.

Sometimes (in fact, many times) that place was far from being the right one. And the right moment passed before you could react. Or never arrived. But the experience is still yours to enjoy. It wasn’t pointless.

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A Year In 12 Photos

This is my last post for 2022. December is often a month of reckoning, revisiting, and trying to make sense of what happened.

I need to accept how things are in order to go ahead and be prepared for how they could be.

I need to make peace with how things are in order to be able to turn them into what they could be.

Aren’t we all?

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Playing With Texture

Textures speak to that deeper part of us that reacts and wakes up to sounds, touch, color, light and shadow. No words needed. Words can describe, explain, interpret, justify, but the emotional connection is already there.

Running my hand across the bark of tree trunks as I find my way into the forest, my eyes closed.

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I started out, as most of us do, being overly preoccupied with sharpness and focus. Of course, there’s a place for sharpness and focus and some compositions require them more than others. But there is also lots of scope for playing with them and sometimes leaving them behind. This is true even for documentary photography, where selective focus and graininess can produce amazing results.

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Sofia dares us to show how we play with exposure in order to create mood, movement, and emotion. I have selected a few photos shot a few days back, in Brussels, at a procession organized for Dia de Muertos. I remember following the same procession three years ago, before the Covid pandemic.

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The Call of the Mountains

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, hosted by Amy, is all about mountains.

In the mountains, I’ve felt at peace, exhilarated, grateful, exhausted, scared, lost. I walked endless trails that took me way out of my comfort zone. I found myself up on the mountain, in the wild, as it was getting dark, wondering how will I make it back down. I found myself in danger (just because I’ve put myself in danger) and felt my life hanging on a thread. I found myself so incredibly at peace with everything out there, me included. I felt that I belong.

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All that sunshine

Photography has taught me to pay attention.

Pay attention to details but also to how these details combine to form a meaningful scene.

Pay attention to the quality of light and the juxtaposition of colors and textures.

Pay attention to what happens out there not just in my head.

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