I use my camera like I’d use a notebook. I record little details and notes, things I’ve noticed or want to remember for later. I photograph small things that catch my eye, a particular design or pattern which seems unusual. It could be a texture that catches my eye or how the sunlight hits a tree and makes a specific shape. Sometimes I take a photo of something I’ve not noticed before.
Over the past couple of years, as I was going in and out of lockdown into semi lockdown. Moving from red covid zones to yellow, to orange and back again. I was forced to appreciate where I am in small-town Sicily.
If living with Covid has taught me something, it would be to appreciate the small things. To breathe, to be here in the moment. To witness what I have in front of me and experience everything with my five senses.
I’ve often mentioned how I’m often drawn to the little details that escape most people.
Rather than being overwhelmed by a detailed artwork, building or historical site, I will take a step closer and try to break it down to see how it’s been made. I guess it’s the logical part of my mind taking over, wanting to understand things and analyse them.
Honestly, it seems to make more sense to focus on less than trying to take in the whole grand picture. It’s best to break it all down and notice something you can take with you, like a nugget of gold sifted out of the endless grains of sand.
Looking for the details is one of the pleasures of living in Sicily. The island is rich and drenched in history, layered one on top of the other. It’s easy to observe the quirks which spring out at you as exotic or totally out of place.
Often it will be a carving in a stone, a door handle or something as dull as the signage for a store. That randomness attracts my attention, and pulls me towards a curiosity, a question or perhaps leads me towards a story that someone else may not have noticed.
When I was studying journalism in my twenties, one of my professors gave me what I think is the best compliment ever. It echoes in my mind occasionally, which I recalled as I was writing this post. She said that I could find a story even where there doesn’t appear to be one at all. She was talking about a news story, but I have this knack.
I think there is always a story behind everything. People are filled with stories from their personal histories. Family histories and our lives are nothing but a succession of episodes, experiences and tales we constantly tell ourselves and others. And, of course, the objects we use, the homes we live in, and the environment we inhabit are imbibed with stories and connected to our experiences.
I love collecting vintage postcards, prints, photos and letters because they have a unique quality that fills them with a certain magic. It’s as if they contain the spirit of the people who initially used them, wrote them or made them. And with time, they have acquired their character or personality and tell their own spontaneous stories.
I’m reminded of a famous photographer who travelled the world to visit famous landmarks, which he chose to document by taking photographs way up close. I remember reading he took a photo of one of the supporting pylons of the Eiffel Tower.
Honestly, I can’t recall his name, so please enlighten us if anyone knows of him. Either way, even though his approach was a bit extreme, the concept is that the details are always more interesting than the bigger picture.
The story is always in the details.