Monday 30 April 2007

Bruce Partleton, 2002

Bruce is a great guy who makes films about the comedy and absurdity of life and about the absence of love, and just about everything else that comes to his mind. He is not always in character, as this portrait bears witness.
Currently teaching film-making workshops at Sandwich High School, he is still waiting for the big break in the form of a script, a subject, a message from the heavens. Coming soon to a screen near you.

News vendor, Cuenca, Ecuador - August 2000

I wonder sometimes where do they all go after our paths cross and the picture has been taken.
It is easier for those who don't know what'll happen to their image, but for me it's always a source of wonderment.
It is quite possible that this man is standing today in the middle of the Plaza Principal de Cuenca, Ecuador, selling El Comercio, as he stood seven years ago, when this shot was taken, but then again, he might not be, who knows.

Sunday 29 April 2007

Sombras, Deal, Kent

Este blog bien pudiera llamarse Manual Para la Fotografía Aficionada, a juzgar por algunas imágenes que logran colarse a mostrarse en la ventana.

Escalinata, Louvre

Es como si se estuviera en un templo, lleno de oficiantes, casi todos vestidos de guardias de seguridad. El volumen de las conversaciones de los parroquianos es a sotto voce, no vaya a ser que perturbemos la pesada calma de los mármoles.
Se respira en el ambiente un aire de antigüedad, con aromas de algo sacro, y la reverencia hacia todo aquello que lo habita llega espontánea.
Así que, de repente, al entrar en una galería como si flotaras de un mundo a otro, descubres destellos luminosos de la raza humana que te dejan con la boca abierta.

London Blues

December 2000 was my first Christmas in England and the sound of Salsa still reverberated inside my gourd. The recurrent images were those of my friends drinking aguardiente and staying up until tomorrow; and the dancing and the charanga-pachanga just kept on nagging me, and the memories made a racket at the back of my head. No wonder I saw London like this.

Friday 27 April 2007

The Beach

Two pears had the day off and went to the beach for a bit of fun and rest.
One sits and stares into the horizon, perhaps looking for a ship that could capture her imagination and prompt dreams of forsaken trips; the other one simply lies there, trying unsuccessfully to doze off while the sitting pear chatters away...

Darkness at noon

No one can deny that it is possible to see darkness at noon. More to the point, it seems to me that it all connects to-who else but- Álvarez Bravo, in terms of how to exploit the interplay between highlights and shadows. I would venture to say that his eye pervades the mind and unleashes the instinct to scan the ground glass, trying to fish out the image that lies therein and beyond.

The Hand

There is darkness at noon, and the hand reaches out from under, to reconnect the visual with the memory.
One follows one's masters unwittingly and without hesitation. Who was behind this image? It is impossible to say, but there were at least two or more that influenced the eye, the mind, the moment.

Tropical Studio

Somehow the environment paints all things with a distinctive tint and everything we do is a response to the touch of the land, the breathing of the air, the gaze we lay upon the landscape and its people. This is a good example. I could have never taken this shot in North America or Europe and, if I did attempt it, it would come out looking like a fake tableau. In Colombia, it was the real thing, the light, the cheesy pose, the tight working space, those things...

Old Bridge, Bath, England

Ancient water flowing under ancient stone in an ageless land. Old world still exerting its influence. Old dreams current as are the waters running under bridge.

Magic Cascade

Some of the glass plates in the series found at a boot sale have been hand-painted blue or soft brown to add colour tones to the positive images.

Glass plate series

This church which looks suspiciously like Notre Dame was found by a friend of mine in a rubbish dump in an old house. I was lucky enough to rescue it along with a few more. They are positive plates on glass and some look just glorious.

Glass plate series One

This must have been taken in an American city, sometime in the thirties, by the looks of it. The wide avenues, the open streets, that is something American cities have in comparison to English ones, and they always evoke a feeling of a lost home in my heart- don't know why, really.

Thursday 26 April 2007

Peasant couple, Colombia

Travelling through the beautiful highlands of Colombia. This was taken in the town of Monguí, Boyacá, 1975

After the fall

Once I fell from grace I went into exile in a neighbouring town. All I had was this window, overlooking a garden, it must be said, where I had to wedge a small mirror to look at my sorrows in all their splendour...

Shadows in paradise


This interesting looking lady belongs to the Whistable belly dance club and represents the amalgamation of humanity of which I referred to in another window.

Lustrabotas, Riobamba, Ecuador

They are in evidence everywhere in the big cities in Ecuador. They are easily recognizable for their dirty hands and stained outfits. They are not as pauper as one might think, it´s just the job they do, shoe shining the patrons in parks and open squares, and many of them attend school half day. They look nonetheless like exemplars of a poor society.

Dance Instructor, Whitstable

This formidable looking maîtresse is the dance instructor of the belly dance club of Whitstable, Kent; an amalgamation of humanity that meets every Tuesday night to explore the secrets of such an ancient art.

Monday 23 April 2007

There is always hope

This is what I do when the chips are down, when the shit hits the fan, when I am down and out.
It might sound irrelevant to many, and it may just be that way in the world of digital photography.
But to this humble servant of silver this is where it's at.

Smokers' paradise

This is what modern architecture has done to prevent the harmful tobacco fumes from seeping out and contaminating the rest of mortals in Barajas, Madrid. These are beautifully designed glass enclosures, which are doorless though not odorless, and give onto the open space of the corridors, thereby giving the mind the impression we are all being protected from a certain death because of them...

Distractions on the way to bread

Looking for a bakery in the old city, the first morning in Cádiz, I instinctively followed a man and his dog, just because the scene reminded me so much of the passage of Mersault in L'Etranger, when he describes his old neighbor and the mutt he keeps calling "Charogne!" when they are at loggerheads in the street. Anyway, It turned out they were both on the way to croissant heaven and all I had to do was follow them unwittingly.

Sunday 22 April 2007

Manos de Bronce

One of the most unsettling aspects of visiting cathedrals, cemeteries and the like, are the ever-present images and sculptures of the dead. Some are chiseled into marble holding books or rosaries, or roses; others are made into allegories of the deceased. I found this door knocker in a street in Cádiz and it gave me an instant feel of the cold air of death, if anything because it shows the dismembered hands holding an apple. It was visually contradictory but still beautiful.

From outside the window

One of the functions of being a photographer involves, by force of habit or dedication to mischief, spying on your fellow citizens, no matter where you are. The old city in Cadiz was fertile grounds to photograph whilst walking around due to the many opportunities it offered in this respect.

Friday 20 April 2007

She cried

And cried all week. Every store in town was decorated with sacred figurines during Easter and the city showed great fervor day and night, particularly at night when the processions went on and on until early the next morning.

No accident

There has been no accident, it is only a man inside the huge float taking a break. It was Resurrection Sunday and the party the night before was heavy.

I know, I know

I know it looks scary but it has nothing to do with the KKK. He is a penitente in one of the cofradías in Cadiz, the traditional brotherhoods of people in charge of transporting the monolithic monuments around town.

The Town...

The town would come alive at night and the children would be running and crying and playing or sleeping in their prams as their parents, and all the neighborhoods, for that matter, waited for the processions to pass by.

Cadiz, Semana Santa

Cádiz in Semana Santa was a symphony in color, night after day after night for an entire week.
The air was full of incense and myrrh and the sound of drums beating slowly and haunting melodies in horns of different attributes. The ceremonies were intense and beautiful and the people were lovely.

Tuesday 3 April 2007

Asi los amantes...

Cada noche los amantes buscaban justificar su pasión y se felicitaban mutuamente, frente al espejo que los reflejaba, de estar vivos y de haberse hallado el uno al otro. Luego se dejaban ambos envolver por los ruidos sosegados de la noche y el rítmico susurro de un tren lejano, que a veces se confundía con la queja de algún barco en la distancia perdido en el agua mucho más allá del puerto...

Alguien mira...

Only one person is looking at the man with the camera. And she tries to hide her surprise as if to say "Ooops, someone is looking at us", and things remain the same all around her. Everyone is into their own private world swirling among the human tide. There is a celebration going on and the photographer is atop a jeep moving slowly through the streets in the town of Silvia, in Southern Colombia.

Monday 2 April 2007

Dragon Man, Paris

This guy is one of the many acts that have, at one time or another, populated the main plaza of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. He shared space with a Nepalese string quartet, a troupe of break dancers from the suburbs, and a bunch of African storytellers who used the same soap box for standing up while telling tall tales.
He had the most amazing belly I have ever seen.
One of his cohorts threw darts at his midriff and they just dangled there for the enjoyment of tourists and aspiring writers.
Not at the same time, of course.

Los Voladores de Papantla

The title means The Papantla Fliers. It is an ancient ritual, maybe an old craze that became institutionalized in the Mexican town of Papantla.
The fact is that these guys, which I saw in San Francisco more than 20 years ago, tie themselves upside down from the top of a very tall pole and start spinning in high circles of descent until they reach the ground.
They are attached to the mast with ropes at their ankles.
Quite a ride.

Sunday 1 April 2007

Octavio Paz, Mexican Poet, 1974

This is a very old photograph.
I had just started shooting everything that came my way after having bought my first camera in Toronto in 1973.
The great Mexican poet was there to read from his work at the auditorium of the University and we went to see him. I managed to get a couple of shots of him after the reading.
My friend Jorge Lozano insisted that I invite him to come to our house for a drink, which he, needless to say, refused. He had better things to do.
At least we tried.

Gato Barbieri, 1976

It was in Toronto a long time ago, at El Mocambo, on Spadina Avenue (Under the palm Trees, as the radio ads went) and we got to see him three nights in a row with my friend Jorge Lozano. Got all drunk the three nights and after each night ended up drinking some more with Eddie Martínez, his great piano man who was from Pasto, Colombia. Anyway, I had heard his Last Tango in Paris masterpiece and was very excited to make his acquaintance when after the third night I brought him this very portrait. Gato saw me peering from the door into his room upstairs during a break, and turning to his wife he said: "Este chico me ha estado siguiendo durante tres noches". He then asked me to come in to sign his name on the back of his portrait.

By Jack Peilow, ten years had passed since...

This shot was part of a series that young Jack did at the time and was entirely related to beards.  Jack went around town asking men to pose...