There are not many things that all photographers have in common but, I suspect, one of them is mornings. More specifically…dawn.
When we’re working, we’re either at a location or on our way to one most dawns.
It’s my favourite time of the day and a time I’ve grown to love.
As the sun come up it’s personal. It’s magical and, most importantly, it’s MINE. Most other people are still slumbering away. Me? I’m out there.
I’ve just completed a shoot for my lovely Argentinian clients The Faena Group at one of their new hotels in Miami, the Casa Claridge. A beautiful, Spanish style hotel built in the 20s two minutes from the ocean.
Every morning I would wake early and have a walk. Across Collins Avenue, along the boardwalk and down onto the beach.
At 6.30 it’s already hot. The beach is largely deserted except for a few joggers, a couple of people doing yoga and David, the hunky deck-chair guy from the adjacent Palms Hotel who’s already setting out his loungers. (“Why so early?’ I asked. “The heat, man”)
The gaudily painted lifeguard stations are locked up and empty as are the ice cream stalls that will later be thronged with ludicrously tanned and pneumatic bodies.
Seagulls flock around scouring the beach for any scraps (There aren’t any. They were already cleaned up by the gangs on tractors who pass by much earlier whilst it’s still dark) and cormorants, and the occasional pelican dive lazily for fish.
By 8.30, lost in thought and happy, I wander back to the hotel to find the spell broken. Collins Avenue hums with traffic. Construction workers chat over coffees and people stand in line at bus stops.
What was mine for that brief moment I now have to share…and, for that matter, get to work!
David, the loungers and yoga with a seagull…
what have you been doing?
THE END OF THE PIER SHOW
I grew up on the South Coast of England.
Born in the mid-fifties to a Navy family just outside Portsmouth. As a family we, like many service families of that time, moved often. My father was stationed in Pompey, Cornwall, Scotland and Devon. Moving was the norm.
When my father left the Navy to become a vicar life settled down a bit and we moved to Shoreham-by-sea in Sussex. I went to school in Brighton, then Hove, and to Art school in Worthing.
Growing up, the Great British pier played an important part in my life. From the age of twelve, I was usually to be found fishing from one of the ‘Harbour Arms’ in Shoreham, and a day out with my parents usually involved me badgering them to visit one of the piers local to us. Worthing Pier, the West Pier & the Palace Pier in Brighton, Eastbourne Pier and later, when my parents moved there, Hastings Pier.
I don’t think I realised it at the time but my love for piers was almost certainly where the first seeds of my rebellious and bloody minded nature came from.
My parents disaproved. They were considered slightly ‘louche’ places. There were girls in bikinis. Lads with their shirts off. Young couples kissing in public and very occasionally signs of (whisper it) public drunkeness as Grandad, having had a pint too many at lunchtime, could be seen tottering along the boards in the afternoon singing, much to the embarrasment of his family ‘There’s an old mill by the stream Nelly DEEEEEEEEEEEEAN’…
But the best thing for me (and the worst thing for my parents) were the slot machines. ‘It’s gambling you know, and the Bible doesn’t approve of gambling’. Yeah’ I know, but pleeeeease let me have a few pennies!
My Mum always gave in. My Dad was less easy.
And now, of the piers I’ve mentioned, the five piers of my childhood, there are only two left. Brighton’s beautiful West Pier closed down in the 70’s and was ravaged by fires in the early 00’s. In 2010 Hastings Pier was all but destroyed by a fire (which many locals still believe to have been a insurance scam), and now, beautiful, sedate Eastbourne’s pier has suffered the same fate.
I know that in the worldwide scheme of things it’s not much…but these piers are a part of my childhood. I did a lot of growing up on them. I had my first kiss on one of them. I saw David Bowie, The Who and the Small Faces on them.
They are just SO quitessentially English. They are obviously a ridiculous concept…I mean ‘lets build a HUGE iron and wood structure, in the salty sea, in a country where the water is almost always bloody freezing and where summers are often non-existant’…yet for everyone English they are part of our DNA and I love them.
The West Pier is now beyond saving, but hopefully, one day Eastbourne & Hastings Piers will be rebuilt and restored to former glory.
I doubt if I’ll ever see David Bowie playing on one again though…
The pictures, by the way, were some I took for an article about iPhoneography for Black + White Photography Magazine’ 18 months ago.
THE VILLAGE KIDS
Are a resourceful lot.
Most days there will be a knock on the door or a cry from the street and it will be one of them.
They never come empty handed, be it a posy of wild flowers or, like today, something a bit more interesting.
This is Mitko, who arrived with his sister this morning clutching a big bag of lime blossom (Lipa in Bulgarian). It is commonly drunk in winter as a tisane and, drying out as it is in our back garden on sheets of newspaper, it smells quite wonderful…
THE VILLAGE KIDS - Cont’d…
This is Adelina, Mitko’s sister and the brains behind the whole operation. She drives a hard bargain and will probably grow up to be a sucssesful, hard nosed businesswoman…
THE VILLAGE KIDS - Cont’d…
And this is Ivan, the naughty kid. He can be a right pain sometimes, but I’m kind of fond of him.
Especially when he turns up with a kilo and a half of amazing cepes/porcini like these…
CHANTERELLES & A NEW CAMERA
My dinner last night. Made into a delicious omelette with wonderful yellow eggs from my neighbour, Slavka.
Everything you see in the picture, half a kilo of chanterelles, parsley and sweet, fresh garlic was bought in the local market and cost a grand total of 4.30 Leva (£1.75…$2.95…€2.20). The chanterelles alone would cost a king’s ransome in central London. I, however, am not complaining, and am loving Bulgaria just a little bit more every day.
Apropos of nothing…this is the first real picture taken with my new camera, the quite wonderful Fuji X-Pro 1. I’m really enjoying it and think it’s going to change the way I shoot. Watch this space…