On Loneliness, Laughter and this Passion for Living ... a photographer writes

One of the more challenging aspects of my chosen career is getting up every morning and finding the drive to keep pushing forward ... alone. It’s the ‘alone’ that I struggle with at times. I often work 14 hour days or longer, as I tidy up loose ends while driving 3 new projects forward. I miss the office chat and the lunchbreaks, the structure of 9 to 5 and the stability of a weekly income ... those things that reassure a soul about their usefulness in society.

But I don’t think this is anything new. It is a feeling that artists and all those operating on the fringes, between art and business, struggle with. And then I have my remarkable friends, and while it’s feast or famine, in that I can’t see them everyday - I have to confess, the feast-times are grand.

I had Amsterdam on 40euro and hours and hours with Shannon and her lovely friends last weekend. Today it was Jurjana, my delicious Croatian friend, who knows Antwerpen like the back of her hand and entertains me with conversations about everything as we try to out-do each other, with the best places we know here in the city. Friday and I get to spend the day with Lut, my treasured Belgian friend. She has plans for an adventure that I shall bring news and photographs of on my return.

I realised that I know remarkable people and perhaps I’m meant to share them. You see, I’ve been grappling with ‘content’ on my blog. The whole question of ‘what it should be’? And slowly but surely, other friends that I love and respect, like Paola and Simon, have made me realise the blog needs to be about me ... that while the other stuff I post is interesting, the stories that go with the photographs is what they want. Those stories of being served 10am whiskey by a charming 85 year old bugler ... that is what is interesting.

I wanted to be professional and take ‘the me’ out of my blog but it’s not working. So I might not always, if ever, seem highly professional on the blog but I shall write more of the magical things that happen here in my world.

Next week I fly to Genova, in Italy, on a shoestring budget and so perhaps I will tell stories of my days there with more detail than usual. I’m not sure I tell you the ‘less successful, less professional’ aspects of my wandering. There is the fact that I always lose weight when I wander because food is a secondary need and I walk everywhere and I am always, but always, financially challenged. I fly home from Italy with just enough money for the bus from the airport back to Antwerpen usually. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I ran into the same kind of problem I hit on my way back to Istanbul from New Zealand. 23 hours in the air - 36 hours in transit, racing a snowstorm with $30nz in my pocket and no credit card. Mmmm, Singapore would have loved me but I made it which was good, as Istanbul was shut down for days.

But this is how I travel. Always. Even in New Zealand where I was taken on the big helicopter trip up and down two glaciers, landing under Mount Tasman, paying just $50nz instead the $250+ just because ... That was the last of my money on that month-long journey. My husband and daughter picked me up from Franz Joseph ... penniless but having had the most remarkable time interviewing climbers and mountaineers, staying with friends along the way, being spoilt by people I loved back home.

In Berlin, last year, I lost 5kgs on my first 2 weeks there. A combination of tight budget and an inability to read German produce names on the supermarket shelves. I laugh writing that. Yes, there are ways to ensure you can read what is on the supermarket shelves but I’m not always the most practical of people. But it’s fun. It amuses me, as I wander the world, oftentimes without language or the cushion of cash. Well it’s miserable too but mostly it’s just really excellent.

So, these may be the stories you read from now on. True stories, the good, the bad and the ugly ... or maybe the downright embarassing. And there are other stories too, the more important stories perhaps ... of the people met along the way.

In Italy, I will spend time with Stefano and Lorenzo and all kinds of other good people, discussing and organising my travel/documentary photography tours in Genova. The same tour I have been busy setting up here in Antwerp ... the same model I’m establishing in Istanbul.

Did you ever think about coming traveling with me and my camera? Amateur photographers/travelers/wanderers/curious folk are welcome. The journeys will be about slipping in through the backdoors of these cities I love with all of my soul.

And the people ... you will love the people I know. I’m sure of it.

Anyway, concrete details of those journeys to follow.  In the meantime, tot straks from this kiwi photographer and wanderer living in Belgium.

People become stories and stories become understanding: http://www.dimackey.com

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