Blognotes from a photographer life...

Jan 29, 2010


3 new stories are now on-line in the website. Modern dance in Phnom Penh and Koh Kong, the Thai Hong Kong of the future, on the documetary side. And Malacca & Penang in the travel section. These are works from November 2009.
Also, the 2010 Calendar download will still be available for some time.

Jan 15, 2010


This crisis has put the most of us travel professionals in a state of complete confusion, if not real depression. Let me make my point.
The job of travel-journalist (I'll talk of the travel photographer in a future post) was in dire waters well before the economy crashed: uncertainty on subjects and contents, the reality of the Internet real time information, the few space for publications left, the miserable compensations, had everybody complaining. But the financial crash came like a storm, pulling down the dead branches to which many of us were still hanging, barely... Travel magazines are now folding in scores, and news publications are equally reducing the space dedicated to travel.
If you look at this from a detached point of view, it's a good thing. What we were doing was of scarce interest to the multitude, good only to fill pages between and advert and the other. If we pride what we do we could only be frustrated by this reality.
But here we are, with a lot of ruins under our feet, and with the difficult task to rebuild a profession that must be new, different, interesting to the public. Easily say then done. Especially for the large number of under-talented professionals that were parasites to the system and produced more sponsored works then real information.

The way I see it (as I said in previous posts, and I know that to many I'll say something very obvious) is that being a pure travel-journalist (telling and showing how a place is) is real nonsense today. Same nonsense is jumping disorderly from a travel story to a documentary one, and back. The task is to identify reasons to travel, reasons that are in fact "stories", and tell them in a modern way with the advantage (not the conservative rejection) of the new technologies. This, in fact, is much harder then what it may appear: the hidden obvious is transparent to experienced eyes, and to imagine what the larger public may be attracted to, is everybody guess. And note that I say the "larger public": to produce something for an passionate few is easy, but "evolutionary" useless. We need to target a large scale audience!
Because the real problem, my friends, are the media! Talented journalists may develop interesting ideas and present them in a modern, even interactive way, but they are left in a confusing vacuum if there is no a counterpart to discuss and then publish them making sure that they reach this large audience. And publishers will be the real obstacle to the revival of our profession if they don't show the guts and the will to invest in talent and ideas like the big names did in the past. It's money at the base of everything, of course we know, but is only investing in quality and ideas that projects become economically remunerative.

So, on the optimist side, wishing and hoping for a market that will recover, publishers that will invest and (the toughest part) a public that will be interested, we should start on our paths of evolution, or revolution, and be ready for the coming "new". Because is us that must create this "new"!

Jan 7, 2010


Bertrand Russell is the philosopher I love the most, probably the thinker that most influenced my whole way of life. The title of this post is also the title of one of his best essay. It came to me while I was thinking on how to describe Vientiane state of mind. Maybe it suffice to express the whole of nothingness..
Laos is renown for this quietness that dominates life in all of it's aspects, so a capital city that incarnates this dimension is no surprise. But contradictions abound all around.
This is a Socialist country with a deep Buddhist soul. Language and culture are close to the Thai one, but the dynamism of evolution is left stranded right across the Mekong. French culture is still evident in every aspect, with baguettes, official international language, cafè on the corners, but is China that is really overtaking Vietnam as the new political wing on the country. And people are mild and gentle, yes, but capable of not forgiving the Hmong minorities 50 years after the war against America is finished. In fact still persecuting them now that are repatriated by the Thais.
But the overwhelming impression is this silent tranquillity in which life seems to happen somewhere else, hardly touching you. So strange in the heart of South East Asia, the place where everything seems to be evolving fast, everybody being on the run. Is not like the reflexive state of meditation foreseen by Russell: is more a condition of disillusioned acceptance of a condition in which your say has no relevance. More renounce then peace.
How will Laos enter our photo-journalistic project on the Mekong basin? Hard to say.. What they'll do about this fundamental component of their culture and economy will be decided by somebody else somewhere else.. So disarming..

Jan 1, 2010


Last night I headed to Siam, the heart of the "glamorous" Bangkok, to participate the New Year celebration. Bottle and glasses on hand and all the classic paraphernalia ready. Thai dinner at the Paragon, walk down Sukhumvit road (only for pedestrians last night!) and almost at the epicentre of Central World.. Then the sound of a Buddhist prayer came out of Wat Pathum Wanaram Ratchaworawam, the temple surrounded today by gigantic shopping mall. What can I say, must be what remains of years shooting religious subjects, or an hidden vocation for the spiritual side, but I walked in to find a rare ceremony to celebrate not only the new year but rather the coincidence of the (bright, over standing) full moon.. The atmosphere was fantastic, the other side of some (rather subdued) pagan celebrations out on the road..
Well I made it back on Sukhumvit one minute before midnight, right on time to open the bottle and find myself wet with champagne and holy water from the monk's benediction.. And definitely happy for such a beginning!