I spent my childhood growing up on a farm overlooking the valley of the Pyrenees in the southwest of France at an altitude of 3937 feet. My parents have about a hundred sheep and their principal income is the meat. I lived with the seasons and believed my future to be lived out as a shepherdess. That however, was not meant to be my destiny. Nevertheless, years later I went back to begin my project, taking portraits of the last remaining farmers of the Pyrenees, farmers I grew up with, and many that still live their lives in an antiquated style.
I want to commemorate the disappearing way of life of farmers in highland towns of the Pyrenees, France. This particular agrarian lifestyle fascinates us partly for the connection it suggests with the rhythms of nature, partly for the sense it gives of the continuity of life, partly for its implication that we consider cherishing simplicity in an increasingly complex world, and partly for what it tells us about not only where we come from but also where we are heading.
The high-top farms of France are among the last strongholds of a generational tension that has already played itself out in most other Western communities: a tension between the hardscrabble farming life and the siren song of industrialized urban centers; a tension between ancient techniques and modern technologies. Are the fathers—the farmers—merely dinosaurs; anachronistic vestiges clinging naively to the ways of times long gone? Or are they our potential boon-bringers; reminders of all that the new generations—both youngsters and oldsters living in the modern world—have forgotten but ought to revive?
For my project I used many different lights but I only used my old Yashica Mat camera.
Every region has it’s own special culture and atmosphere, just waiting to be experienced. The Southern California beach towns are no exception! It’s been one year since I moved to San Diego, and I’ve been captivated by the beach towns that lie along the Pacific Coastline. As a photographer, I’ve made it a point to explore and document these towns, in hopes that I’ll eventually be able to share something greater than individual photos.
What I’m sharing today isn’t a finished product — it’s still in the making. The video above and the slideshow below are just a sample of what I hope to achieve some day. I’m lucky to be able to live in such a great place, and I don’t know how long I’ll have that ability. Prior to living here, I lived in New Jersey and I got to experience the East Coast culture and New York City culture. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in full swing with my photography and I missed a great opportunity to document an amazing region. I don’t plan on making that mistake again.
And to help me finish this project, I’d like to get your help. For the next year of my existence in Southern California, I’ll be photographing with this project in mind. Based on what you’ve seen here, give me some feedback. What’s working? What’s not? What’s missing? What’s overdone? What places or things can I photograph to better capture the culture? When you think of Southern California beach towns, what comes to mind? I’d love to get some feedback from all of you.
My buddy Bryan Villarin got in touch with me about putting together a San Diego Photowalk. After talking over a few ideas, we decided on a date, time, and general plan of attack. Here’s what we came up with:
Show up a little early if you want some extra time to browse through the famous Joseph Bellows Gallery and get your fill of photographic inspiration.
Why not? Photowalks are a great way to meet other local photographers, get inspired, and take home some great photos. So if you live in the Southern California area (especially you San Diegans), come hang out with us in scenic La Jolla. Here’s my write-up for the Upcoming.org event:
Meet us at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in La Jolla to start off a great afternoon of photowalking. We’ll use the gallery as a gathering place so we can browse the photographic art as we wait for everyone to arrive.
From there, we’ll walk down Girard Avenue for some street photography. At the end of Girard, there’s another gallery that we can optionally visit called Images of Nature by Thomas D. Mangelsen. We’ll then turn our attention to the busy sidewalks of Prospect Street as we make our way down toward the beach. Once near the water, we’ll explore La Jolla’s scenic shoreline and maybe even visit the tide pools if the tides are in our favor.
Seriously, if you live in Southern California and you don’t show up I’m going to be very disappointed. Besides, here’s what you’ll be missing if you don’t show up:
The images shown above are licensed under the Creative Commons.
Our move from New Jersey to San Diego is nearly complete — my wife and I are here anyways. We left Jersey on Monday afternoon and arrived in San Diego on Saturday afternoon, making lots of little stops along the way. It was an enjoyable drive, and it’s a great experience to see the changing landscapes as you go from east coast to west coast. I probably could’ve taken a lot more photos than I did, but I had to put the camera down every once in a while to spend some time with my wife. I did manage to get about 500 photos along the way, but most of them are concentrated at a few key stops. The photos in this post are straight out of the camera, but I’ll definitely be hitting Photoshop as soon as my desktop computer arrives at our new home.
The first major stop was at the St. Louis Gateway Arch — a really amazing structure. We didn’t go up inside of it due to time constraints, but I got some pretty neat shots from the ground with my wide angle lens. After the arch, we headed off to Independence, Missouri to visit my grandfather. We stayed the night and had a good time catching up and talking about photography and blogging. The next morning, his brother came over in one of his “project” cars — let’s just say that they’re one-of-a-kind. After that, we made a stop in Texas at the western hemisphere’s largest cross.
Once we got to Arizona, we went through the painted desert and the petrified forest. The landscape in this area is absolutely stunning — you must stop in if you’re ever in the area. We probably spent 3 or 4 hours going through the park and snapping pictures of everything. I even got my wife to take a few shots with my camera (it was her first time using it for things other than snapshots). She ended up getting a few good ones, and we even took an almost identical shot of the same scene. Now I know what to get her for Christmas.
The last major stop we made was at the Grand Canyon. I wanted to get there a little earlier in the day, but we ended up arriving just before sunset. It may have worked out for the better though — we got in for free and I got some pretty nice sunset shots. As soon as the sun went down, it was dark. So we didn’t really get to see much of the canyon because we only stopped at one of the lookouts. Next time I suppose…
So now we’re here in Southern California and life should return to normal over the next couple of weeks. Things have been so hectic with moving out and getting packed — we desperately needed this road trip to unwind a little.
I had the awesome opportunity on Friday to get out into Moneterrey and take some photos. I’m not sure exactly where I was in the city, but there was certainly lots to see and do. The Friday morning weather was looking a little risky, but things cleared up in the afternoon — so I didn’t have to worry about the rain. The heat and humidity was enough to make me wish it was raining though!
I decided prior to going out that I would make an effort to focus on people photography. It’s not my strong point, so I thought it would be a good growth opportunity on my part. I still took the tourist photos of the statues, buildings, churches, and such (why not, I’m a tourist). I really started taking more people shots as I made my way into a “walking only” area of town that was filled with little shops and street vendors.
The big photo at top was one that just happened to catch my eye as I walked down the street. This man was sitting on a bus stop bench located across the street from me. The bench was also located under an overpass, so the lighting was nice and soft. I had to wait a few moments for some cars to pass between us and for the other pedestrians to exit the frame. He never did see me standing across the street pointing the camera at him, so the photo turned out much more natural.
This “Salsa Man” photo actually has a bit of a story behind it. This man was set up on a street corner, selling bottles of salsa. As I walked closer, I thought that it would make for a decent photo. I was already too close for a candid shot, so I decided to ask for a photo. This was an interesting conversation since he didn’t speak any English and I don’t speak any Spanish. Amazingly enough, I managed to ask him if I could take his photo and he agreed. After the fact, he grabbed a bottle of salsa and put it in my hand. I figured “why not” and I asked him how much (again without any Spanish). He wouldn’t take my money! He was actually pushing me down the street smiling, laughing, and talking away in Spanish. Eventually I got him to take a few bucks in exchange for the salsa. The whole situation took me by surprise!
So I managed to get some people shots in Monterrey, Mexico. They may not be the best people shots ever taken, but they are a good reminder of my trip into town. For me, they capture a little bit of the culture south of the border. If you ever have the chance to visit Monterrey (or any part of Mexico), do it without hesitation. It’s a very unique place, filled with interesting bits of culture and dynamics. My Mexican experiences have been limited to Juarez and Monterrey, but I hope to see more of the country someday.
What a day yesterday was! A LONG day, that is. At any rate, I made it into Monterrey, Mexico in once piece with all my luggage in tact. I’m here for a business trip, but I managed to lug my camera gear out with me. I was on a short vacation back in North Idaho, so i had my camera stuff with me anyways — I didn’t really have much of a choice but to bring it along. I hope I get to use it while I’m here. I think it’s supposed to rain today, and everything is pretty much covered in clouds.
Today is the only day I really have to get out and take some pics — the rest of the weekend will be spent working. If the weather holds up this afternoon, I think we’re heading out to do a little sight-seeing around town. I’ve been here once before (without a camera), but we never took advantage of our free time. Not sure where we’re going, but I’ll definitely be taking photos. I’ll have to share some with you this weekend.
In the meantime, enjoy a few Monterrey photos from Flickr. All three are mountain shots, but that’s the most noticeable thing around here. The place is surrounded by huge mountain ranges jutting out of the ground. A few of them have some interesting formations at their peaks. With the cloudy weather, I’ll have to focus more on taking photos of the things in-town. I’m hoping to get some people shots that show the culture around here. It’s a big city (and area) — I think it’s the 2nd or 3rd largest city in Mexico with somewhere around 1.1M people. Shouldn’t be too hard to capture a little culture.
Well, I’d better go do something before it starts raining.
Well, the kids and I made it to Idaho in one piece â€“ it was a long day though. 12 hours of travel with a two year old and a four year old isnâ€™t exactly my idea of fun, but the kids were on their best behavior. No pictures from that day (Saturday) because I was a little tied up keeping track of three backpacks and two kids.
I did go out yesterday (Sunday) with my Dad and Brother just to get some photos. We went on a photo safari across the Palouse in search of old barns — my Dad has been working on a barn theme. We did a 200 mile round trip from Rathdrum to Moscow and back again, but on two different roads so we could maximize our barn sightings.
Most of the barns were drive-byâ€™s because they were on peopleâ€™s property or there was no where to stop on the highway. My Dad was taking the drive-by shots while my brother drove and I scoped the next barn. He got quite a few shots for his collection. We did manage to find a few barns that were accessible and abandoned, so we got to get out of the car and take some good shots.
Iâ€™ll try to update the blog at least one more time before I take off to Monterrey on Thursday for a business trip. Thereâ€™s a chance that Iâ€™ll go on another photo outing before leaving, but even if I donâ€™t Iâ€™ll find something to write about. Now back to being on vacationâ€¦
Last time I wrote, we were getting ready to leave for Belgium.Â So we rode the train from Neuchatel to Geneva; flew from Geneva to Brussels; and took a taxi from Brussels to Liege (240 Euros by the way)… Trains, planes, and automobiles.Â We got to Liege after midnight, so not much sightseeing.Â Interesting town, I would have liked to spend a little time there.Â But alas, we worked all morning and hopped on a train after lunch for Brussels.
The train ride was interesting to say the least.Â There was something wrong with our train and it would stop for 1/2 an hour at each stop until it finally died and we had to switch trains.Â We were supposed to be in Brussels by around 4:00 PM — just enough daylight left for taking some photos.Â But we didn’t get in until after 6:00.Â We went to the city center anyways and I took some pictures (see below), ate dinner (I tried some mussels in Brussels), and bought some chocolate.Â Not a bad evening.Â I could really spend some time here in Brussels, what an amazing place!Â Parts of it really remind me of New YorkÂ City, and it had a pretty safe feeling to it.
Now, I’m not trying to start an international incident here, so read the following with a sense of humor.Â Â Here are some of my key learnings from Europe, in no particular order:
Most people speak English, but a few pretend not to.
Those who admit toÂ speaking English are very nice and super helpful.
Things are expensive (especially taxis).
Europeans don’t have alarm clocks.
The switch to the bathroom light is on the outside of the bathroom.
Toilets don’t have a flush handle on the tank, they have a flush paddle-thingy.
A king sized bed is really two doubles pushed together.
Swiss trains are on time, Belgian trains are not.
If you frown while in public and appear worn down, tourists will mistake you for a native and ask you for directions.
Fondue and cigarette smoke combined smell like a fart.
The Swiss don’t care if you enter their country, just one glance at that American passport and you’re in!
Belgium has too many native languages — French, German, Flemish (and English, but they won’t admit it).
Europeans have lots of funny little cars that Americans don’t.
Again, I apologize for the pictures — but no Photoshop available.
So I’m on a business trip in Europe this week — first Switzerland, then Belgium.Â Having never been off the North American Continent, I thought this would be a great opportunity for photos.Â Our trip is pretty busy with business, but I’ve already found the time to get out and shoot.
Yesterday we arrived in Zurich, Switzerland at about 7:00 AM after an overnight flight from Newark, NJ — about a 7 hour flight time.Â Then we hopped a train from Zurich to Neuchatel, which took about 2 hours.Â Straight to work after that — we were all pretty dead tired.Â Quit work at 5:00 PM and went to the hotel.Â I stayed at the Hotel Alpes et Lac right near the train station — not a bad view (see photos below).Â I had about 1 hour to kill, so I went for a hike into Neuchatel while the sun was still up.Â Got some great shots of the graffiti (see photos below) and of the surrounding streets.Â There seems to be a lot of that in Switzerland, but it’s not all bad looking.Â It kind of adds character to the towns.Â Went to dinner at a place called Brasserie le Cardinal and had some steak and fries.Â Back to the hotel by 9:00 PM in time for some much needed rest.
Switzerland is a pretty neat place.Â It’s foreign, but not too foreign.Â I think Mexico felt more foreign to me than this place.Â If I spoke some French, I would actually feel pretty comfortable here.Â There are all types of people living here, and they’re all pretty friendly.Â The really nice part is that most people speak enough English to help you get by.Â It’s too bad that I couldn’t spend more time here exploring the town.Â We’re leaving tonight forÂ Brussels, Belgium.Â If I get a chance to take some shots in Brussels, I’ll post them here.Â (You’ll have to excuse the photos below for not being in the best of shape — I don’t have Photoshop on my work computer)
February 5 –Up at 6:00 AM to be ready for breakfast at 7:00 and then depart by boat to local jetty to get a jeep for over-land journey. Boat ride was just 10 minutes down river. Got in a 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser full of mud — good indication of what was to come. The road started out like a dirt road back home (dry and dusty), but not for long. Lots of mud and very narrow. Had to go to 4WD a few times not bad; reminded me of racing off road back in California. Our driver was in a hurry (I liked it — faster is better on rough roads). Spent about 1.5 hours driving to a cave. Arrived at the cave and had to pay 30 Ringgits for the use of my camera (about 8 bucks US). No choice, I had to take pics. That’s why I’m here. The cave was huge, with an opening at least 200 feet high. About 1-2 million bats live in the cave, and lots of birds. The birds’ nests are harvested 3 times a year and are edible — worth big money. They harvest the nest from the ceiling (200-400 ft off the ground) and have been doing so since about the 1600s — that they know of. The cave was also home to centipedes, cockroaches, crabs, and smells quite nice inside. The roof has an opening and made for some good pics. On the way out to the cave we saw many monkeys and I needed to change lenses a couple times. Anyway the cave was well worth going to. On the way back to the Land Cruiser a monkey blocked our way for about 10 minutes. He just sat on the trail and watched us. They can be very aggressive so we waited and I took some more pics. Back in the car and down the road to a paved road (made Dad happy as it’s a lot easier to sleep on paved roads). Two more hours and we got to Lahad Datu for lunch, changed cars, and left our tour guide from the last 3.5 days. His name was Saat and a real good guide (took good care of Dad and made sure all was good). New car was a newer Toyota Land Cruiser. We left town on a nice highway for a 2.5 hour drive to Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The nice hwy only lasted for 10 minutes and then back on bumpy dirt with lots of mud — only this time we had logging truck to look out for. Saw a pygmy elephant on the way. After what seemed like forever we arrived at our lodge. Nice place in the middle of nowhere. Got our room and took it easy until dinner. After dinner we went out on a night drive with a spot light looking for wildlife with a group of about 7 others in a large truck like my dump truck with seats in the back. I thought I was at work for awhile. Saw nothing, came back and called it a night. More trekking tomorrow.
February 6 –Bad night. Made the mistake of drinking water from the pitcher in the room. Won’t do that again. After breakfast we did a 3.5 km hike along a river looking for birds. The leaches weren’t too bad — only had a few get on our boots. Took pics of mostly plants. Got back about 11:00 AM from hike and went back to the room for a nap. It started raining and after lunch it continued. We chose not to hike in the afternoon — good thing, it flat out poured. Mostly laid round the room until dinner. After dinner they had a night walk but it was still pouring. We went to bed early instead.
February 7 –Up at 6:00 AM and to breakfast at 7:00, then met Palin (our guide) at 7:30. You need a guide to go anywhere on the trails here so you don’t get lost or come across any bad plants or animals. Took a road hike to the canopy walkway. It’s suspended about 30 meters off the ground. Gave a great view from above. Still not much wildlife to see — just a few birds. Then we went up the Hornbill Trail — steep and muddy. We heard lots of birds but only saw a few — mostly small ones. At one point we were getting rained on by branches and fruit from above, a long-tailed monkey was about 100 meters above us throwing stuff at us. Nice to see some wildlife. We did about 3.5 km in all and returned to the lodge about 10:30 and went for a short nap. The next walk was set for 3:00 and Dad decided not to go out for this one so I went without him. I had the guide to myself and told him I wanted to go to the waterfalls. This is the trail that we were going to do before the big rain. Well the trail was almost 5 km all up or down — nothing flat. A lot of ropes and ladders. Turned out to be 3 waterfalls in all — all very nice. At one point the trail was blocked by a huge tree that had fallen during the night and we had to go down a cliff and under it while hanging about 75 ft above the river. Great fun. I had at least 39 leaches on me during this hike as it was thick jungle and very wet. The trail came to a look out of the whole area and was well worth the steep hike. I took lots of pics and video to prove it. Dad was bummed out that he didn’t go. Back to the lodge for a much needed shower. Had cocktails with Dad on the veranda and went to dinner and then met with our guide to say goodbye. We then visited the gift shop to leave some cash for the local people and off to bed. We travel tomorrow to the beach resort for much needed rest after all the jungle trekking. Looking forward to lying on the beach and sipping on beer.
February 8 –Slept in till 7:30 (first time in a while). We checked out at 9:30 and had to take jeeps out because of the mud. The first leg in four wheel drive was about 1.5 hours and we then met a mini bus to transfer to for the next leg. We went to Lahad Datu for lunch and drop off other people. After lunch we changed some money and went in search of more scotch and rum for our next stop. None to be found. From there we took the mini bus to Semporna jetty about 130 km away — long drive on a busy road. We transferred to a boat to Mabul Island — a diving resort. What a great place — white sand, very clean, just like the pictures you see. Met our guide and got briefed on the program here. 3 dives a day are scheduled but you can choose what you want to do. The boats take you out to different areas to dive or snorkel. You can also dive from the beach any time. Went to bed early, tired from long day of travel.