Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta photographer. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta photographer. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 26 de enero de 2015

Gods & Monsters

-       I tell you what. Fuck you!

 Alfie stood up and left, not waiting to be dismissed. He just wasn’t into doing this anymore, this work, this stupid pretending act that he had begun two years ago. Yeah, he loved being a photographer. But that didn’t meant he had no voice of his own or a clear opinion of the world. Of course, she had a point on thinking he wouldn’t mind doing anything she asked: the other photographer’s were just as simple-minded and shallow as she was. They would ever stand up to their beliefs, if they had any that is. They were just empty heads, filled with glamour and sparkles.

 Yolanda stood up right when she saw Alfie walking her away. She didn’t need a word from him, she knew her friend to well to need any statement. He only smiled at her and she answered by pointing at her phone and saying in a low register “Later”. He nodded, walked to the staircase and, moments after, walked down the street. The good thing was that his contract was about to expire, so he wasn’t really losing anything new. He was just appalled that someone would ask him the same things over and over and would not even look at his proposals.

 As he walked to the bus stop, Alfie went through it all in his head: he had woken up that morning very happy because he knew this was the day one of his proposals was finally going to end up being actually done. Normally, someone else’s idea was chosen but this time, his boss had told him it was going to be one of his ideas that would be chosen as the other photographers had all had a shot at it. And Alfie was not mediocre at all, he was a person that loved detail and accuracy so every proposal was just on the spot, with every single information needed to make a proper photo shoot for the brand that needed their work.

 So he just went crazy with ideas and chose three that he thought were best suited for the product. The first idea was just about the makeup related to the product. He had investigated the colors he wanted and the faces he wanted to portray. The second idea was all about the dresses, explosions of color and imagination that he knew would attract a lot of people to watch the publicity.  The last one, however, was the most daring but the one he loves the most. It involved a group of four people. All stark naked and with different body proportions and personal styles. All the proposals had something in common though: he wanted to work with real people.

 As he took a seat on the bus, he looked around. Those were the people he had wanted to use for every single one of his ideas: real folk. Just everyone and anyone. Old or young, fat or skinny, tall or short, black or white… It didn’t matter. He needed real people.
 But no. He got angry, remembering the meeting he had just come out from. Apparently the company had decided not to accept any of his idea because they were “too radical”. At first, he asked his boss to define that because he didn’t found anything radical about his work. If anything, he thought it was real and true to his ideals. And then came the real argument: the women that was his boss told him that the owners of the product had not asked for ideals but for their product to be well promoted.

 As calmly as he could, Alfie asked if he needed to apply other ideas but she said they had already gone with a shelved proposal by a photographer called Harry. But his name wasn’t Harry. It was Percival. But he had decided to call himself Harry because he told everyone he looked like Prince Harry. Of course he didn’t but no one told him that because he was one of those star photographers. Everyone wanted to work with him, he knew everyone, and he always had ideas that people would qualify as “marvelous” or “genius” but that were rather stupid in Alfie’s eyes.

 Harry, or Percival, would always make the same photo-shoots: a bunch of “perfect” male and female models, all in underwear and disguised as angles or something like that. Or maybe just shirtless and doing that stupid “duck face” Alfie hated so much when taking pictures. His ideas were what the boss said was “what the people wanted”. If people wanted to stare at perfect faces all the time, Alfie thought, they would just watch porn 24/7. And even porn had different types of bodies and faces, for everyone.

 He laughed alone on the bus at the memory of an idea he had had when beginning in the firm: he had made a whole proposal using porn actors to promote condoms. And he had looked for all kinds of actors and actresses who ere actually thrilled with the idea. But his company, and actually all other companies he tried to sell the idea to, were not interested in showing people that were not attractive enough “for the camera”. The good thing was the Association of Adult Films had contacted him and he finally did the shooting, as he wanted. The money was great but the audience wasn’t that big: the pictures were only used in sex bars and discos.

 Alfie, nevertheless, was proud of that work. It had been his only real job, the only one he had done that showed his potential and his urge to do something new with photography. But when he came back to his job, he realized that just wasn’t his real life. Everyday he would shoot pictures of mediocre TV stars and local movie people. Maybe some professional models, who had great stories but not much deepness in their minds and souls. The number of interesting models he had worked with was certainly very low.

 Yolanda, who worked as an assistant, knew very well who Alfie intended to be as a photographer. She had worked there for several years and told him, right away, he should be doing something more with his skills. But Alfie needed the money and decided to sacrifice his ideals for it, because he needed experience first to be considered good. That, for them both, was a stupid thing. Some people have had many jobs but that doesn’t mean they’re good, it just means they’re better at being annoying.

 Alfie stepped down of the bus and walked home. Before he entered his place, he stopped by a bakery and bought something to eat later. When paying, the young man realized he needed to check his financial condition because he needed to pay rent and having quit, he wasn’t going to collect unemployment. The moment he got home, he pulled out his laptop from the backpack he had went with to the meeting and started to check for jobs. But after a few hours, he realized it was a waste of time. Nothing.

 The phone then rang. It was Yolanda.

-       Hey
-       How are you?
-       Guess everyone knows by now, right.
-       Kinda, yeah. She’s not as pissed as I would’ve thought.
-       Good for her.
-       What are you doing now?
-       Looking for a new job.

 Yolanda giggled. That annoyed Alfie but she had her reasons.

-       I need you to call the following number. – Said Yolanda.

 Alfie noted the number and his friend told him he had to ask for Peter Hurt. He was a teacher in a university and he often needed assistants and so on so maybe he would have something, at lest temporary, for Alfie.

 The young man called Peter and they decided to meet that same afternoon. When they did, Alfie realized he was, what he called, a real photographer. He had done everything: fashion, publicity, journalism, art… But he had decided his thing was teaching. He told Alfie it was a miracle he had called because he really needed a replacement right now. To Alfie’s stunned face, Peter explained he had received a great offer abroad to do a series of shoots all over the World for a prestigious magazine. So he needed someone to teach class for a year in his behalf.

 Alfie had apparently lost his ability to speak. Teaching, he thought, was a very good answer to the question “What the fuck I’m I going to do now?” He asked Peter if he needed references and so on and Peter laughed in his face. He explained Yolanda had called earlier and told him all about Alfie, his current situation and talent. Yolanda had even sent a few proposals she had on digital format. Peter showed those to Alfie and he realized Yolanda must’ve taken the files he had left for his boss.

-       The job is yours if you want it. Of course, I can help you with some of these ideas and you could use the university studios for them. I think these ideas would make a killer exhibition.

 Alfie took the job, still a bit surprised. In one day he had lost a job and got another one. And he had Yolanda to thank. But also, he knew he owe it all to his ideals and being true to himself.


 Going back home he realized he would never have to do a stupid shooting anymore. No more gods and monsters of fashion for him. It would only be about real people, the ones that mattered and wanted to recognize themselves in the subtle art of photography.

sábado, 27 de septiembre de 2014

Mount Athos

My name is John Tiberius Johnson. I was born in Exeter (England) and from a young age, I've loved to explore: I had a tree house built by my own hands, I had small canoe in which I explore calm rivers and their banks and I always had the company of Akakios, my labrador.

Thanks to my parents and my persistence, I went on to study anthropology and archaeology. I love ancient civilizations as well as contemporary ones, just watching how people have had different solutions for the same problem and even the same solutions, being separated by thousands of kilometers.

Working for the British Museum, a dream of mine that was fulfilled by a "enlightened" thesis on the customs of the North American peoples, I got to travel a lot, all around the globe.
I saw the Great Wall of China, the pyramids in Egypt, the massive forests of Indonesia, the majestic Machu Picchu and so many more.

But this time I want to tell you about a small part of the world. Many, won't even know it exists. It is called Mount Athos.

Resting on one of the "fingers" of the Chakidiki peninsula, Mount Athos is a strange place. First of all, it's an autonomous region from the rest of Greece. They have a different way of doing things there.

Second, the place is filled with monasteries, all around the peninsula. Beautiful forests unite the sites.

Third, one must get a special permit to enter Mount Athos. It is called a diamonētērion. And, most curious, only men are allowed there.

Preparing for my journey, I travelled to Thessaloniki and applied for my permit, which would allow me to stay and the Megisti Lavra monastery for as a week.

I decided to walk all around the city, waiting for the permit. On one of those outings, around an open market, a strange gypsy woman almost threw herself and me and asked to read my hand. I refused but she insisted and I was bored so I complied. After paying her 5 euros, she grabbed my hand and told me I should avoid facing God soon, as death was near.

A bit annoyed, I went on with my walking. Coincidence or not, a old man looked at me with crazy eyes and spoke fast and loud in greek. Being rusty in the language I could only understand two words: "avoid" and "danger".

Looking to forget all about these weird encounters I went to my hotel and had a nice calm dinner.

After a week of my request, they called me to say the permit had been approved. So I went to pick up the strange sheet. There, I was told to travel to Ierissos, where I would board a ferry to Mount Athos.

I have to say the boat ride was even better than I imagined: the view was not to be missed. Mount Athos, the actual mountain, looked massive but calm and peaceful from the boat. I was traveling with two others: Alex, a photographer for National Geographic and Cedric, a french travel journalist.

When we got to the dock, a small wooden structure on a rocky beach, we were received by a lonely young monk who told us to follow him. It was short walk to Megisti Lavra, as the place rests just above a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea.

We were shown our bedrooms and the bathroom we would share and told us we could only remain on the monastery or inside its boundaries. Alex then intervened, saying he had been authorized to go hiking, in order to take pictures from the mount. The young monk asked him for his permit, read it for himself in whole and then gave it back. He bowed and then left them in their rooms.

Day one, I went to the main temple and asked to see the manuscripts. They were held in a small library, feeling a bit uneasy as a monk was asked to guard my stay in the room.
I was baffled by the writings, and then by codices. They were a treasure I had wanted to see for long. I took notes for work as well as some photographies, although my guard didn't seem to like that.

Then, a scream. A truly awful, heartbreaking scream. I carefully put away the codex that I was making notes about and went out the main courtyard with my guard. He then indicated me to go to the monasteries main entrance. The place was beautiful, adorned with olive trees and small hedges.

Then, we saw: Alex was running towards the gate. The monks let him in and he fainted in front of me.
Hours later he woke up and told us he had seeing a body laying in the road to the mountain. A group of monks left to check it out. When they left he told me that the man he saw did not have a face, crushed by rocks or something. He was trembling so I accompanied him until Cedric came back from the a stroll down the shore.

Then the leader of the congregation came and asked us to remain in our chambers for the day as something had occurred. Then Alex asked for the body and the man told us that it appeared to be an assassination. They had even found a big rock tainted with blood.

During the next few days, I had to accompany Alex, with two monk guards, to take his pictures. We ascended part of Mount Athos and, although astonished by the beauty of the place, my mind was still wondering about the killing.

So it was a surprise when we came back to the monastery and they told us we were going to stay under lock and something had, once again, occurred. 

They had arranged a large room with three beds for all of us and the leader of the monks came again. It had happened they had found another body, this time on the water, just floating by the monastery. They had voted to enclose us for our safety and because we were considered suspects.

 - We were on the Mount!
 - Mr. Cedric wasn't...
 - I was walking with one of your guards!

But then the monk pulled out something from his pocket. Kept in a white cloth, he showed us an object and I recognized the knife immediately: it had been a gift by the director of a museum I had been to in China. A dagger made in times of the Tang dinasty. The only difference was that this dagger was tainted in blood.

And blood was the thing that drained out from my face, as I realized I was trapped here, no way to get out.