No words can expressed my gratitude to Dr Robert Marcus
I left Granada before dawn and travelled by train across Andalusia to Ronda, a hilltop town founded by the Celts. I went there because Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway loved that town and it seemed obvious to me that, if they adored Ronda, then I would certainly find something incredibly special there. Perhaps it was a volcano of creative energy, or an inspirational view, or a chance to meet a spirit with magical powers. Who knew? Whatever it was, I wanted to touch it, embrace it, and experience it to the full.
The morning rain stopped, the sun came out and I walked into the Plaza de Toros at Ronda.
There was not a single person around.
I sat in a booth with a perfect view of the harmonious architecture of the arena and I imagined what went on when a bull of terrifying power, driven mad by the sharp lances of agile and quick picadors, faced his ultimate challenger, the matador de toros.
After a while I went to the very centre of the arena and scooped up a small handful of sand, which moments later I let scatter through my open fingers.
From there it was not far to La Ciudad, the old part of the town, just across a deep canyon, at the bottom of which the River Guadaletin flows. There I found a cafe on the edge of a hundred-metre precipice with a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains. I was served a tiny cup of coffee with a curious African flavour and I tasted this black, hot, dense liquid, but couldn’t find a name for it. The sun was moving towards the west when I went to the Palace of Mondragon, built for the Moorish ruler, Abomelic Abd al-Malik, and washed my hands in pure, cold water that streamed from a fountain.
I adore silent conversations, because so much is expressed in the way we look at each other, so many secrets remain secrets, so many feelings flow gently without interfering with our emotions and an ambience of a moment is created by our hearts beating.
Wordless time can be richer in thoughts than a stream of spoken sounds.
While walking by a fence of the Botanic Garden, in Cambridge, a perfect stranger passed by and without looking at me, took his hat off.
There were no other people around and a Perfect Stranger was moving on, as if nothing happened.
Maybe his gesture had nothing to do with me?
Maybe he takes his hat off as a matter of principle, while passing another human being?
Maybe he actually wasn’t a Perfect Stranger, but a friend I played with in a kindergarten all those years ago?
Maybe temporarily he was a Perfect Stranger, but it was our common destiny to become close in some distant future?
Maybe he will save my life?
Maybe I will save his?
Maybe he thought the same; maybe the Perfect Stranger greeted me as a fellow Perfect Stranger?
The ancient cultures of India evolved to the rhythm of the seasons and daily routines, in a natural progression from birth to death in which each stage of life was – and still is – celebrated by rituals. At the heart of all events sitars, tablas, sarangi, bansuri, sarods are played, creating music based on ragas. These musical compositions are uniquely Indian, in that they are both restraining, even prescribing, and at the same time open, so that players can improvise, feeling free in the company of other musicians.
In that place, where contradictory, almost chaotic events flow into a spiritual and genuine unity of every being, Bem Le Hunte was born and spent her early childhood.
We calculate the passing of our lives using watches, calendars, diaries, but it is our heartbeat, which is a true measure of our beings. The flow of blood in our veins is more rapid, when we experience strong emotions, when we are excited or anxious and it slows when we are gently relaxed.
A ticking clock is of no use here.
When we experience different places, when we encounter different people, we feel alive at a different rhythm of subsequent heartbeats.
Taking a photograph lasts as long as a single heartbeat.
Many years ago I happened to take up the sport of archery. What started as a weekend hobby soon turned into a fundamental cornerstone of my photography, because I realised that learning the correct stance and the use of lower trapezius muscles could teach me how to remain steady and yet flexible while holding a camera. After a few months of releasing arrows from a stretched bow, my hands became more dexterous, which is a crucial skill related to manual focusing and pressing the camera shutter on the gentlest touch.
I also studied the technique of Kyudo, with its eight stages of shooting (hassetsu), and related this to my photographic sessions.
But most of all I was able to understand the essential factor in intuitive shooting, which is to trust my conscious and unconscious - the key to choosing the precise moment when to release the camera shutter.
Therefore I encourage you to become a bowman in order to become a swift, hunter-like, almost silent photographer.
Hands are beautiful, delicate, pregnant with intentions and ready for constructing new events.
Hands create our lives.
We stroke the hands of those who need us.
We hold hands with the people we love.
We write letters, typing or holding a pen with our hands.
We make morning coffee and raise a glass of deep red wine in the evening with our hands.
We wash the hands of children with our hands.
We wipe the tears from our eyes with our hands.
We support ourselves with our hands when we decide to stand upside-down.
We play on instruments with agile hands, creating memorable sounds.
We touch the world around with our hands to acknowledge its presence.
Feet are the basis upon which we move forward or stand firm in life.
The shoes, slippers, sandals, boots that we put on our feet provide not only protection from rough or cold or wet surfaces but also an indication of our tastes, our personalities, even our social status.
When standing with bare feet on a sandy beach or on a wooden floor we touch the world without any protection or barrier.
For this reason, I always pay close attention to feet, because they inform me about the character and culture of a person I have just met.
Nigel Osborne, … too amazing, too creative, too generous, too thoughtful, too imaginative, too instant in his wisdom to be described in words, which are folded into proper sentences.
That is why this photograph was taken
Routines of doing things sustain our wellbeing on daily basis … in a repetitive manner.
Patterns in our lives are like stencils, which we employ to correctly progress from birthday to birthday, from New Year to New Year … hoping for some fun along the way.
Reflections of our faces, which we can see in a shimmering water of a deep, deep lake, in a lustrous shop window, in a glass door at an entrance to some soulless office, tell us what we are now … in a mirrored image.
Yet, our minds, our bodies, our desires ebb and flow; in a disregard of what is sensible and expected.
Turn away from that echo, that mirage to see yourself.
Tintern, a small village in Wye Valley, Wales is a home to an extraordinary photographer, David Hurn, a member of famous Magnum Group, who was in the heart of what was happening in sixties and seventies on both sides of Atlantic.
David’s stories brought to my mind warm, gentle, sincere images, which had enlightened me (and countless others at that time) to was happening in culture on another side of the Iron Curtain.
These photographs allowed us, living in the Communist East, to immerse in a dream, which was a reality in the West.
An American photographer, Irving Penn, once said that what people hide behind their masks during a photographic session is usually more interesting than they themselves believe. So Irving Penn worked with his models slowly and kindly, patiently coaxing out their inner qualities and complexities and creating amazing portraits in the process.
But I do not have the same luxury of time, so I rush my models to open up as soon as I look at them through my lens.
Open spaces are extremely rich in diversity and we must accept it, because it is all beyond our control. Yet we need to be careful, because a landscape may overwhelm us with its seductive potential, thereby disabling our imagination. That is why open spaces are so tremendously challenging, therefore inspirational.
People live all over the Earth. Hundreds of millions in far away places get up with sunrise, while we go to sleep after a busy day, they eat dinner when we eat breakfast or enjoy the warmth of budding Spring, while we admire the rich colours of autumn leaves.
If you want to satisfy your curiosity about all those distant worlds, you can either travel constantly to every corner of our globe or turn to media for stories, which are told by professional journalists.
Portraits have been created since the dawn of human society. Many thousands of years ago people painted them in caves, ancient sculptors curved marble statues to dominate town squares, and rulers decorated even ordinary coins with their profiles. In modern times photographic portraits are seen everywhere: on posters, on magazine covers, newspapers and books. We use family photos as screensavers and when going on a journey we keep portraits of our loved ones next to a passport with our own portrait inside it.
On these portraits faces are beautiful, serious, sad, funny, comic, tired, playful, tragic, thoughtful, disinterested in things around them or a picture of subconscious dreams, spontaneous feelings, inner thoughts and desires. We hold onto these portraits forever, immersing ourselves in these past impressions of another person.
It is so, because these images are not illusions; they are a true remainder of real life and a treasure chest of feelings. However fleeting and elusive our emotions might have been, they stay for ever within images, because these photographs were cast by loving relation flowing straight from the heart.
Sometimes I am being asked by my model "Will you catch my soul?".
I feel that this question is born out of a desire for a poignant, true image of oneself, but also because of an apprehension that a sudden loss will take place, that I will snatch away the most elusive part of someone's psyche.
My answer is always the same: "That is the intention".