These past two weeks we were in Spain and Portugal experiencing a wide range of history, culture, art and experiences. Initially, I committed to not taking photographs as I wanted to disconnect, have some focused quiet time with my wife, and immerse myself in the moment. While walking through the streets I could not help but notice that the walls were steeped in colors, textures and history. Stories began to appear in front of me about how the threads of time brought these elements to where we are in the present moment. One photograph, became two, which moved to three and soon a portfolio began to appear. Saying ‘Yes’ to the opportunity in front of me was easy and my best friend encouraged me as she saw the happiness spread across my face and being. Adapting into this new experience and leaving my normal photography equipment, elements and tools behind was fascinating.
It forced new questions: How would I capture this one? What was I looking to show in the image? Which walls mattered? Would changing an angle make an impact? Where would I stand to avoid OR enhance the effect of shadows? So many new questions pressed into view. The number of choices and options became almost as bewildering as the complexity of the Iberian peninsula street layouts. As the day moved from low lying sun to midday brightness to westerly setting evening sunsets the walls’ colors, textures and shadows all shifted with the spin of the planet.
So it began, luckily we never had to change our adventure plans nor our destinations. Simply stop, pause, consider and capture. Finding myself caught between the object, the camera and imaging what this will look like in print is a place of great comfort and satisfaction for me. The road of photographic content, curation and storyline began to unfurl itself…
Colors became clearer. Patterns and textures solidified. Unfit images declared themselves quickly. Successful images became evident and a repeatable process unveiled itself. The same four colors, textures and defining lines could be shifted and a set of images could find themselves calling attention to how they could fit together in post production.
As you walked by, it was difficult to not think about the person, couple, family that lived inside the homes and what thoughts would have fed into the above palette of coloration. How had the passage of time, ownership and the forces that shaped the peninsula’s history changed these walls? How had those forces added to, wore away or were torn down? For so many that walk by, the walls are static uninteresting boundaries that define ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’. A necessary construct, but automatically limiting. As they say good fences make good neighbors, and so by extension good walls define a home.
A tilt of the camera to 45 degrees one way or the other added a whole new set of creative options. A story of time, age and history could be represented by the new bright colors in direct proximate contrast to the city grime that bespoke the evidence of weather, people, cars and trucks passing through on a hourly, daily, yearly basis. Alternatively, age could be found in the natural story of materials used and color.
Bright colors likely meant new layers of paint and therefore a more recent history while marble would likely be from a older architectural and design esthetic. History was also apparent in the texture of deterioration. Time, water, sun and other erosive elements took more of a toll on some building materials than others.
These rough pictures represent a sample of a larger collection.
My goal in this thread was to share how breaking our own boundaries can lead us into new directions, new opportunities and often a new place.
Let’s pivot a bit.
As events unfold around us, we can often feel as though we have lost control. We can feel unsecure. We can slip into a perspective where we rely on others for our sense of
direction, our sense of satisfaction and in doing so we turn over our authority and agency over to others. For this reason, my wife and I have never been fans of regimented tours. We choose our destinations and embarked ahead. Turns out we get to personally discover things most tours pass by. Their agenda is to saturate you with being harried and end the day with you having a sense of catching a brief glimpse of many things. Bus here, bus there, do not wander, do not be late, follow the flag, listen to the rules, stay tuned to the earphone…
What would happen if you took that power of self-determination back, took a risk and simply walked off in your own direction? Turns out you can slow down, discover, immerse and embrace. It has always played out in our favor. We did try two walking tours at destinations we chose to see after driving ourselves to those cities. At one of them, no one else showed up. The guide was thrilled to give us an intimate personal walk though the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba. Another walking tour at Alambra and Alcazaba was in a language we do not speak. We registered to get us into the location. We learned together, found two immersion students who were thrilled to answer our questions and drifted along at our pace and filled our curiosities. Our adventure never missed a beat. We led our own tour on our terms.
And so as I challenged myself to leave my equipment and comfort zone behind. I encourage you to make calculated bets on your own destination. Invest in your experiences, double down on your instincts. Your internal compass can be a powerful determinant of how you navigate through uncertainty, how you empower yourself to build out your personal roadmap into the future and can ground you in the
most of uncertain times. Some in my communities are facing some challenging moments and circumstances. You know who your are. The map in front of you is complex. Slow down, be deliberate, thoughtful and choose your moves. Anything and everything challenging you can be overcome. Until the next post. Stay well, stay safe, be adventurous and know you can decide your next moves. Rely on yourself – you will not let yourself down. Others may let you down as they need to manage to their agenda and destiny which may not be yours. I learned long ago that power is a function of dependency. Always keep that dependence within your possession. Never turn it over to someone or something else.
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