Blognotes from a photographer life...

Apr 25, 2010


Bangkok confrontation is continuing.. More deaths, more trouble, endless uncertainty.. What seems obvious to our Western thinking must be very far from the Thai way of doing things. New images are now on the Web Site page: I wished this was not becoming a work in progress, but well, it did.. And the progress is completely confused!
I came back from Bali to follow the events, even if they had been quite for a while. Government supporters had gathered to confront the Red Shirts, in fact provoking them with slogans and offenses. The Reds were now barricaded in the business district, and the loudspeakers exchanged "greetings".. sometimes words were replaced by stones and bottles. Suddenly some loud explosion happened not far from where I was: it seems the Reds had turned to launching grenades instead of stones (of course they deny this) that exploded on the Sky Train station and then among the opposition supporters. The situation grow confused, the Army searching for snipers, the people running away from Silom street, Pat Pong night market deserted with the incredible scene of soldiers and prostitutes left to see the disaster.. 3 more deaths, many more wounded, and the image of "gentle smiling people" fading forever.. I'll keep following the destruction of my temporary homeland, I hope for a short time to come, but..

Apr 20, 2010

(I'm not against) BLACK & WHITE

This is a subject that has recurred in many of my workshops and talks on photography: "Why I don't create B&W images? Do I dislike them?"
First of all I love B&W photography (when it makes sense), and I don't exclude that I'll use this visual language in future works (if I consider it appropriate) as I have sometimes used in the past. Some clarification is needed.
Now that nonsense like "B&W is the photography closer to reality" (yes, in a world of color-blinded people!) or that "B&W is the only real photography" are subsiding to the evidence of times and evolution, and now that B&W is to be considered just another potential elaboration out of a color-digitally-shoot file, choosing to go this way is only a matter of interpretation. B&W has the power of giving force to "the situation" depicted avoiding the "distraction" of the environment's atmosphere. Sometimes B&W is used to make weak images look more powerful, but this trick is not resisting when the reading goes beyond the first impression. On the contrary: it can only outline the weaknesses of the composition.
I think the photographer should have only one thing in mind: the final image as he had (or should had) envisioned from the moment before he shoot to the final step of the creation (print or else). When you "see" an image you already know if this will be a strong photo, and what you "see" in that first moment is the finished picture. Adding or subtracting effects will only weaken your vision. If you see in B&W (not because you are color-blind) then go for it.. The freedom and vastness creativity has obtained in recent times by digital technology is amazing: abusing it would be counterproductive.

Apr 12, 2010


Three new stories are now visible on the website, in the Stories/Reportages section. I consider them important works. The Sak Yant-Magical Tattoo is a large photo research lasted three months between Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. Although there are many pictures on the site they are only part of the whole body of work. Jakarta was shoot only last week, and shows how changing the city is just before Obama goes back where he was a child. Last, but more sensible to me, being the city where I spend most of my time these days, a short gallery of faces shoot on the Black Saturday in Bangkok. 21 deaths til now: I hope I don't have to call this a work in progress!!!

Apr 11, 2010


Yesterday I followed the confrontation between Red Shirts and the Army in Bangkok all day long. I was shooting for a story on the faces of this "revolution". The situation was tense. A large number of soldier had been arriving in the city. The Red Shirts leaders felt the pressure rising. But shooting on both sides I lived again the feeling I had in the seventies, when I was part of it: on both sides young faces pushed to the fight by leaders that will certainly end sitting together and sharing power in a near future. There is no right and wrong here: if the government is non-elected and represents the wealthy part of the nation, the Red Shirts (don't be mislead by the color, no communist reference) are asking for the sacred right to have their vote counted, but are inspired and controlled by a leader that is closer to Berlusconi then to Lenin.
And after a long day the worst happened: the Reds, probably reacting to the pressure, pushed and the military shoot. The Reds shoot too. Until now over 19 deaths and over 800 wounded are counted. In the square where this happened the situation was tragic: I was running and leaning down with the crowd to dodge the rubber bullets, but the people in the front fell on both sides. A young Cambodian girls was terrified: she found herself in the middle of the fight just below her home. The military decided to retreat to avoid more casualties, leaving empty tanks that were dismantled by the crowd. On the ground the blood of the dead was honored. But it's too late.. This is still another setback for the idea of "the land of smiles".. And it's not over yet..

Apr 9, 2010


The confrontation goes on in Bangkok (although an outcome should be near..). The Red Shirts are not giving up, the government has declared the Emergency Status. Everything is possible. I tend to think they'll find a solution, although Asian history is full of smiles turned bloody. I hope this is not the case now!
But the mood of the Thai people is well represented by what I sow today. After a short, almost violent confrontation between Red Shirts and Police they created a short space among themselves. Then the Reds allowed a group of Monks on the front line, asking for calm and peace. The police responded deploying five lines of female policewomen. Because causing the Monks to get in touch with women would have been a terrible sin the physical fight was impossible. And everybody retired calmly, but only after the few minutes of silent attention dedicate to the National Anthem. This is still Asia, after all...

Apr 4, 2010


Jakarta has gone a long way since my first visit here 32 years ago. Here I had my very first encounter with real poverty and desperation: I still remember I cried seeing children searching for food in the rubbish mountains left in the very center of the city; entire families living in cartoon boxes on every sidewalk; people washing dishes and themselves in the very same putrid water of the canals where another desperate was defecating half meter away..
I came several times after that. In the 90s poverty had already moved out of the center: there are over 18 millions people living in the metropolitan area today. God knows how.
Jakarta has become an archipelago: high-rise buildings, compounds of wealth, are floating in a sea of settled humanity. We are here to tell the bright side of this story: very wealthy people driving their suvs in streets that are clogged with traffic that are no conceived for walking. Walking is actually impossible, most of the time. The success of Indonesia is obvious: rich in natural resources and with a huge population spread on a large area, the country likes to be considered the Brazil of Asia and wants to join the small group of new economical powers. This is quite possible, but comes with the same problem Brazil has to face... Outside the Dragonfly disco, where the powerful pay 300$ for a bottle of Champagne, you can still find desperate faces. And at the feet of the brand new Bakrie Tower (a new landmark skyscraper erected by the tycoon Mr Bakrie) people are still sleeping on the sidewalk.
Real progress is reducing differences: if you don't accept this and work for it you are bound for trouble. We are bound for trouble...