La Sposa Solitaria (Venezia 205)

For many (and doubtless more after Mr Clooney’s example) Venice is the perfect city in which to marry.  Luxurious hotels, historic palaces, secret gardens, and photogenic backdrops abound.  My shot of the bride being gently rowed to her wedding was marred when one of her family seated in the same gondola moved into frame and blocked the lady of the hour.

In Ravello, I witnessed four weddings in a single day (no funeral!) but I didn’t expect to get another chance here, because the brides are likely to be spread throughout the city.

So imagine my surprise when I got a shot of a bride in one of the world’s busiest holiday destinations without others filling the scene.  There was a solitary waiter in the original, but I felt the image had more power without him so I resorted to removing him from shot.

No tourists.

No pigeons.

No bridegroom.

A moment of emptiness.



Two Beautiful.

A rough count of the people who have been good enough to be photographed for this project so far revealed a degree of sexual discrimination.  Not through any policy on my part of course, but nevertheless there have been more men than women featured.

Strange really, since you would think I would favour shooting beauty rather than the beast, yet I seem to find more of the latter.  Having reflected on the reasons for this I’ve concluded that it is a consequence of attitudes to being photographed.

Unless I have a particular topic in mind for the day I never go out looking to capture images of one sex over another, and I will generally approach anyone who I think will make a good picture.  The fact that more women than men have declined my offer may well play a part, but how much of that has conditioned me to expect a masculine “yes” and a feminine “no”?  If that is the case perhaps I’m giving off some air of negativity to women that exacerbates the situation.

This week though I have been fortunate in photographing some beautiful women who can help to redress the balance, and even then there has been a spectrum of responses.  Men who I approach tend to say “go for it” or words to the equivalent and stand upright ready for the shot.  When I photographed Jo on Monday, surprised as she was that I had asked to photograph her at a bus stop, she was prepared to move and pose to suit me.  By contrast when I shot Sita on Wednesday, although she knew me well and was keen to pose as requested, her nervousness made her a far less compliant subject.

Today I experienced two different attitudes.  Hayley is a photographer’s dream.  She’s slim, attractive, wanted to be photographed and was comfortable enough in front of the camera to take direction easily.  How could I fail to capture her beauty?  (Actually with more time, and the option to try some different locations to counter the bright sunlight I might have got more, but that’s not really how this project works).

I met Hayley at the school where Gill my wife works as she was there for some practical experience and I was running a short session on photography for some of the pupils.  I don’t know her well, but I can’t wait to photograph her wedding next year based on working with her today.  She’ll be stunning and a dream client.

I was a little early arriving at the school so waited a few minutes in the school office where I photographed one of the school administrators as she was answering the phone.  She was too busy to pose, but had no fear of the camera.  Unlike Hayley her attitude was one of tolerance rather than enthusiasm.  Still got a nice picture of the old “Trouble & Strife” though.  Guess which is which?  😉

Oh happy day…

Two nights of parties and several hundred miles of driving make for a pretty jaded blogger this evening, but what a great weekend celebrating the wedding of Gemma and Tom.

Gemma as expected looked absolutely stunning; could a bride ever look happier?

Of course with such a beautiful wife, Tom looked pretty chuffed too!

Icons of design

I don’t know for certain how long I’ve had a Swiss Army Knife.  I do know that the one pictured here has been part of my life for the last 22 years, it’s predecessor having taken on the role of impromptu camera support for a self-portrait of Gill and I taken before the fountains of the Grande Arche at La Défense in Paris.  One the timer had finished beeping and the shutter clicked I retrieved the camera, but foolishly left behind the small red solution to getting the angle right.

Over the years I’ve been bicycle repair-man, photocopier paper-clearer, wine bottle-opener and the hero who saves the day whenever the cry goes up “anyone got a pair of scissors”.  An occasional sharpen and a drop of oil every so often is all it needs and it still functions as well as when I took it from its box 22 years ago.  Once upon a time I could honestly have said that I never go anywhere without it, but nowadays it would be frowned upon to be carrying an offensive weapon, particularly when working in the field of education, and of course it must travel in the hold when I take flight.

For well over a century, the Swiss Army has issued these handy items to their soldiers, the dimensions of the knives issued being precisely set to facilitate the reassembly of their rifles after cleaning.  It remains an essential part of their equipment.

I love mine; its size, weight, feel and look are all spot on, and for years it has answered the question of “What is that little pocket for in your 501’s?”.  It’s a design classic.

Another icon of European design (and one that is still manufactured today in Brazil) is the VW camper van, which although it has been with us only half as long as the Swiss Army Knife has still endured well beyond its original designer’s wildest dreams.  Loved by surfers they are a staple of any Cornish holiday scene, and have recently become very popular for transporting brides to and from their weddings.

The couple I met today had a Type 2 (the camper being VW’s second design after the “beetle”) and were in the supermarket car park.  They’d borrowed the van, and were having problems getting the rear hatch unlocked to put their shopping away.  This gave me the perfect chance to shoot Julie while her other half continued to struggle with the lock. 

Bet I could have got in with my Swiss Army Knife!