After my photography trips and projects I print photobooks to have something more tangible than hundreds of digital images on my hard drive. It’s a pleasure to remind myself of the experiences and to see how my skills have developed over the years. I use Albelli to print the books, not a top end product but affordable and perfect for my purposes. It’s a way to share my work with friends and family as well, although the screen version of the book isn’t as quite as good as the printed version.
At the recent RPS Travel Group Spring Weekend I gave a short talk about my non-profit work and it was helpful to share books of the projects with the travel group members as my slide show was necessarily short.
Today I realised I had a prepaid photobook with an imminent expiry date and in the absence of a new project to print I went back to 2011. I hadn’t created a book of my photo adventures with Steve McDonald in Tuscany when I was the “gofer” helping him get around the region to photograph for a new Insight Guides Travel book. Here is the link to the book – you may want to try Albelli yourself!
Travels in Tuscany
Fellow photographer Steve McDonald won Insight Guides Travel Photographer of the Year in 2011. His prize was to photograph Tuscany for their new regional guide. Having accompanied him as his “glamorous assistant” (!), I’m wondering whether the word prize is wholly accurate. The trip was a baptism of fire for us both and a whirlwind of rushing round Tuscany with sadly, barely a sniff of delicious pasta or pizza. It was hugely enjoyable though, as the area is stunningly beautiful and the weather was kind, but it was exhausting. It gave me a whole new level of respect for travel photographers who earn their living from their craft.
One of the many highlights, between fighting with Emily our trusty satnav, and stowing ham and cheese rolls from breakfast in my bag, was our visit to the Palio di Siena. I didn’t attend the actual race – it’s extortionately expensive if you want to see the race properly – but I did see the preparation and some of the heats, and spent time in the imposing and historic Piazza del Campo. The event is heart-stopppingly exciting, with Italian passion oozing from every street as the Contradas march through each area with flags and drums. They gather together to eat celebratory meals at benches that fill the piazzas and compete for extravagance and spectacle in the run up to the race.
The Contrada we chose to support was Oca (goose) and we stumbled across the religious blessing bestowed on the horse and rider just before the race. It was very moving and for once all was silent as the priest performed the ceremony.
Our days in Siena were undoubtedly the most exciting of the trip and I cannot recommend the experience highly enough, it was truly spectacular.
Scenes from Palio di Siena – June 2011
I’ve just watched the Australian Open Tennis Final between Murray and Djokovic … it was tense, edge of seat excitement and an adrenaline rush. Far too exhausting for a Sunday morning! What impressed me though, beyond the superb tennis skills both men displayed, was their tenacity. Their ability to come back time and time again … they were absolutely relentless. Something they’ve trained for undoubtedly, but also something integral to their characters I suspect. An inner drive and desire to win that puts them in a different league perhaps.
Someone has to win of course, that’s the nature of sport but it doesn’t mean someone has to lose … does it? To lose, in strict dictionary terms, means to fail. But how can anyone who has truly put their heart and soul into an endeavour, ever be a “loser”, be said to have “failed”?
“That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.” Richard Bach
The Palio, Siena, Tuscany