Sunday, April 6, 2014

Remembering . . . a Barcelona moment



















Do you scroll through files of travel photos, trying to remember where you were, what you were doing that day, why you wanted to capture an image? Especially when so many of our memories have been digitized, at least their photographic representations, I find this to be the case. Happily, I also keep a travel journal (even, the last couple of years, an illustrated one), so that I can generally look back for reminders. . . .

Even without consultation, though, I know that this snap was taken in Barcelona one morning, somewhere in the older core. I remember being arrested by that woman's pose on her balcony, the colour of her housecoat picking up and intensifying that of the nearby brick rectangles, the Catalan flags gesturing just across the calle. I was intrigued by the reserve she conveyed even in her obvious exposure on the balcony; she claimed that space as intimate, private, impossible though that might seem. So very different from my space on my deck, surveying the ocean, my only witnesses a seal, raccoon, perhaps an occasional neighbour taking her coffee to the beach. Never a crowd of tourists looking for coffee and a churro.

I think I snapped the photo because she was emblematic of how little I could know of the city itself, of most cities. I loved the public spaces, but all those potentially rich interiors, those closed doors, the life just beyond the balconies. . . . perhaps I loved that hint of all the untold stories even more. . . . .

What's interesting is that as I go through the file almost a year later, it's almost impossible to tell if the photo captures any of this. I suspect it may simply read as a too-crowded image of architectural shapes without enough tonal contrast. . . .

Besides looking back to last June, I look back over this past week and see that after last Monday's post on
Remembering my mother through the garden, I posted on Spring Shopping on Wednesday and then did some layering with my new White Jeans as a base for Friday's post.  It's an energizing time of year, at least on the West Coast where all is exploding into a madness of birdsong and tender green leaves and pink and yellow blossoms spilling fragrance deliciously and promiscuously . . . .And I begin thinking forward to this year's travels. On which more news soon.

Meanwhile, though, I'm curious to know how often you revisit travel photos (or any photos, for that matter). And how long after the photos have been taken do you first want to look at them again? Do you print (m)any? View them again on screen? Back them up on CD or trust to your own hard drive and/or "the cloud"? How well do you remember why, when, and where you took them? And how else do you hang on to those memories? Y'know, just a few little questions . . . ;-)





31 comments:

  1. I love your picture. It captures what I always feel when I visit any city: I ask myself what it would be like to live there. If I lived in this street, or that, where would I buy my bread, where would I wait for the bus, who would be my neighbours and how would I get along with them? I've played that game in Barcelona, Paris, London, Glasgow, Istanbul, Rome, but also in places nearer home like Berlin or Hamburg.
    These last years I have kept travel journals, which means nothing more than taking along an empty exercise book (preferably with a spiral binding) and some glue. All the tickets, leaflets, postcards etc. which I collect over the day are stuck in at the end of the day, with some comments on the margin. In between I leave space for the fotographs I will add later. Not all of these projects have really been completely finished, but I like my journals about Scotland, Costa Rica and Istanbul.
    The rest of the fotographs lie on my hard disk, but those I like most have been converted in desktop backgrounds or screensaver slide shows, so they pop up in the middle of work to remind me of wonderful moments.

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    1. I like the simplicity of your approach to travel journalling -- I'm evolving towards that. Used to just use a little Moleskine with my written observations and daily remembrance, sometimes leafing a ticket stub between the pages. I do bring along a gluestick now and add some of that paper memorabilia right onto the page -- and now I complement the Moleskine with a separate journal that can handle the occasional watercolour. I like the idea of a screensaver slide show -- used to do that myself, and it's time, now that you remind me, to get that going again. As you suggest, it brings the vacation back when you might most need the reminder!

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  2. I enjoy the photos on my computer and have made calendars for my friends who have shared my adventures. My mum had 31 photo albums to "get rid of" and I don't want to go through that. I love Cataluña and would especially like to visit again. Did you ever read Homage a Catalonia by George Orwell. In 1984, I belonged to a book club that focussed on Orwell.

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    1. What a great idea, making calendars for friends who have been lucky enough to travel with you. I have to admit my thinking about my photos has something to do with going through all of my mom's things as well, although mine didn't have 31 albums! (she and my dad had divvied up many of the photos for us years ago). I haven't yet read Orwell's Catalonia book but will before we ever get back there, should we be so lucky.

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  3. I don't often re-look at photos. I'm not actually a "photo person". If my husband didn't document everything, I'd have little to show for my vacations. But, on the subject of this photo - it's very evocative in just the way you feel it was when you snapped it, at least IMO. And it's particularly resonant for me because, re: secret summer travels, Barcelona is our final destination...

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    1. Quite honestly, I'd say that the blog has made me more inclined to take photographs than I ever was before, and I'm not always sure that's a good thing. And may I use an expression I rarely do? And say OMG! that's a glorious secret to be sitting on! Can't wait 'til it's fully revealed and thank you for the sneak peak. (I'm feeling a little chuffed that you're choosing my blog to pull back the curtain a bit . . . ;-)

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    2. Something tells me my husband won't stumble upon this secret here :-) Nonetheless, I cannot get cocky!

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  4. I take quite a few photo when we are on holiday but if I spend too much time behind the lens I feel that I miss out on the moment. It is rather curious that as time goes by I seldom revisit the snapshots. Several of our friends are off to Barcelona this May so I hope they will treat us to a slide show....one of them is a serious shutter bug and lives to travel.
    Enjoy your Sunday, looks like sunshine for your run today.

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    1. I know that feeling of missing the moment in favour of recording it and I try to find a balance. I notice over the last months, perhaps a year even, I've been far less inclined to photograph our granddaughters, wanting just to be with them (and also conscious of how much children now visualize themselves as photographed).
      Yes, Sunday sunshine, let's embrace it while we can!

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  5. It's a very evocative photo. It invites the viewer to imagine the backstory...the lives of the woman seen and the people unseen. I've been going back through my favorite Paris photos recently. It's amazing how much I remember from our trips with these visual cues.

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    1. That's how the photo seems to me and I'm pleased to hear that you can get that from it as well. My eye is far from objective.
      I'm always amazed at how tangible my travel memories can be, even the ones that I don't have photographs of -- I used to think, as many still do, that the expense of travel yielded only the return of a limited period, washed away after the trip -- and consequently, that those dollars were better spent on something more lasting, at least in a material sense. But travel dollars I spent decades ago are still yielding returns for me, and when I least expect them to. . . .I have hopes they'll continue to light up my old age, even after I can no longer travel physically . . .

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  6. Five years ago I went to Tuscany and Majorca, took a lot of photos (also photos from other situations) that I loaded on to my computer, deleted them from my camera and then I broke my computer. I was so sad that I would never see those photos again. It was like grief. Then I forgot about it. When I was doing some spring cleaning last month I found the computer and I thought maybe I can get the photos out? And I could. So now I have them - the photos that I hadn't seen for five years. I have looked at them a lot lately, mainly because life has changed a lot since then. A lot of changes took place during that year so it is like looking in on a different life. I used to print a lot of photos and put them in albums. I haven't done that for a long time. But due to the above mentioned experience I have realised how important my photos actually are to me and why I keep taking photos. It is these moments that the photographs brings back to me.

    Beautiful photo from Barcelona, by the way. I went there myself last year, and I just love watching people, trying to capture moments like that in photography, imagining what peoples lives are like in a foreign place. When I look back at my old photos I can often remember a feeling or circumstance that is in the picture for me, like in your Barcelona photo.

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    1. So glad you were able to recover those photos! I had a similar experience, but ultimately a slightly different response. I did feel the loss, but by the time we finally got around to recovering some of the photos and having them put on CDs, I found I'd let them go, somehow. I think the loss might have been softened by having parked some of them on Flickr. It got brought up again when we got the CDs back from the fellow who did the retrieval -- the ones I'd wanted most seem to be gone for good. But the whole process had me thinking about other ways to pull back those memories and wondering why it was so important to have some kind of visual proof. . . And also resolving to print some of the most important ones so there is a physical version I can hold!

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  7. I love that photo - the facades, but then just a peek at what is behind them all ...

    I'm so old-fashioned that I still put photos in hard copy albums :) Sometimes we just pull them out for the fun of remembering ... I also make photo books - for instance, when we went to NYC, we both kept blogs, and I made a photo book which included photos and our text. They are horribly time-consuming to create, but such a joy to look through. I made one for my mother of the kids from when Kid 1 was born until Kid 2 turned 5 (8 years' worth) and had been compiling a second instalment, but since its intended audience is no longer available, I've set it aside ...

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    1. I have that kind of photo book from when we took our four to France -- and from the early 80s, when we took two of them to England. Of course, at the time there was no digital option. . . .They were fun to make and a good way to spend family time together remembering.
      I'm sorry about that second instalment of your album for your mother. I'd imagine it's too painful to put together at the moment, but I'd say that at some point they would have been coming back to Kids 1 and 2 and perhaps you may want to finish the project with that in mind. We've spent quite a bit of the last year sorting through photos my mom had amassed, over 35 years' worth of her grandchildren . . .

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  8. Great photo. Travel photography always so much more interesting than our day to day photo ops. It makes me wonder what I'm missing that is right in front of me. Perhaps we are in a more open, observant and reflective state of mind on our travels. I keep a journal of my trips. I also make photo books. I use Aperture for photo books even though I use Lightroom for organizing and editing. I often look at my pictures. But does the photo replace the memory? Some of my most memorable, vivid travel experiences were unphotographed.

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    1. Good point! I know that I'm much more observant -- even creative? -- when I'm travelling. That removal from the quotidian responsibilities leaves mental energy for looking.
      I keep thinking that I'll make up photo books (and I like Tiffany's idea, above, of making blogposts into books). Somehow never find the time, but maybe one day. And I agree that some of the most memorable experiences happen beyond the camera's eye.

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  9. I love that photograph, first for the wonderful conjunction of lines and soft colours and then for the delight in spotting the woman on her balcony, dressed - so kind of her - in a robe to complement the colours all around. To me, her pose suggests a moment of quiet morning reflection, a catching of breath before she goes back in to face the challenges of her day. If it were my photograph, I'd have it up somewhere about the house to remind myself to take a minute to pause every now and then.

    As to travel photography, with digital I take far too many (500 in three days in Prague recently...) but more as reminders of things I've been stimulated to think about or small details I want to remember. I'm actually really self conscious about how and what I photograph as I am currently battling my way through writing up my thesis, one aspect of which examines how the picture postcard influences how we see place...

    Re Angela's point about travel photography always being so much more interesting than our day to day photo ops: yes, I know exactly what you mean and I have few photos of my home town other than those when I have consciously gone out to Take Photographs for some project or other. I went to university, back in the day, in a very attractive and historic city but the beauty of the architecture soon faded into the background in the face of the quotidian round. A professor's comment picked us all up on this. - Never forget, he said, that while you are waiting for the bus, there will be others around you in that street who have travelled half way across the world to stand where you are standing.

    Ooh - I'm getting a bit po faced here, I feel. Sorry.

    Loved the white jeans post, btw. Would love to try that look now that I have shed quite a bit of timber but can people really assure me that it is possible to get through the day without wrecking them? Last time I wore white trews, they were light cotton, I had applied fake tan the night before and I spent three hours on a plastic chair in sweltering heat taking a Very Important Exam. Happily I didn't discover quite how bad the resulting situation looked until I got home but frankly I am still traumatised...

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    1. Self tanner and anything white is not a good idea, but white jeans are washable and they always seem to be on sale somewhere, so not a big outlay. A Tide Stick does wonders to keep jeans white.

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    2. Not too serious (po faced!) at all. I love this conversation! Fascinated that this is part of your thesis -- my diss. looked at the visual as well, (how fictional family photographs worked to help a mourner tell a life story and move through grief, esp. the move from visual to verbal), Our ways of seeing are so very conditioned by the frames we look through. . . .I've enjoyed complementing the camera these last two years with my own sketches, crude though they may be. A different (and, obv. more kinaesthetic) way of capturing memory.
      Chuckling at your white jeans experience -- you can laugh about it now too, right? ;-) I don't wear mine on rainy days on the island -- too much potential for mud splats, but otherwise, if I'm reasonably careful, so far so good. And as Duchesse points out, they're a relatively inexpensive way to get a fresh look.

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    3. Family photographs? I'm just working with a family postcard collection - how interesting...

      Thank you and Duchesse for your advice on the white jeans - of course they can be chucked into a hot wash and should come out as good as new. Why didn't I think of that? And yes, time is a great healer when it comes to wardrobe malfunctions, I find.

      Just scored a lovely white jacket at my local charity shop - not the white jeans but I am edging towards them...

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    4. Enjoy that new jacket -- always fun to find a great bargain at the thrift store!

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  10. It's a great photo taken in a great city. I love the woman on the balcony - she adds so much and I love the idea of hidden worlds and hidden lives too.

    One of my ongoing projects at the moment is editing my digital photos and the next stage is choosing some to print out. I used to keep photo albums until it all got digitalised and feel that something has been lost here. Lots of work though

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    1. Thanks, Marianne. I'm making some resolutions about editing my digital photos as well. I did print a very, very few a number of years ago. Interesting, though, that I didn't do much with them after framing the very favourite. . . .

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  11. I keep all my photos on my computer now, but have many albums from long past holidays. They are a great visual reminder, but I find a written journal really helps fill in my memory gaps. I can remember a whole day's activities and relive them if I've written about them. I also take many more photos now that I blog. Wore my white jeans yesterday! Enjoy your week. Spring is in the air. xo

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    1. Yes, and the written journal is also great for finding that little restaurant again! At least, I do try to make a note of address or at least the vicinity we'll need to retrace our steps in. . . . I bet you looked very chic in your white jeans. Temperatures are supposed to hit 17 this coming weekend -- you know how gorgeous it is up here in April at those temps!

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  12. The woman in your photo looks like she's observing a scene, yet not part of one. A story within a story.
    I've kept travel journals filled with words, but I hope to include more sketching and watercolor in the future. Reading through old travel journals and looking at photos stored on my computer is a way to remember, to relive certain moments.

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    1. I'll be curious to see what you think of the experience of keeping an illustrated travel journal -- it's another very satisfying way of remembering, more personal than a photograph in some ways. . .

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  13. We are in the midst of final preparations for our trip to Spain in three weeks! I know it is the end of the marking period and also the final countdown to your marathon, but if you have any quick suggestions about Barcelona which you can pass on, I'd love to hear about them! Thanks, stacy[dot]bolich[at]gmail.com

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    1. Exciting! I have to say that our time in Barcelona was marred a bit by the distraction of troubles back home, and some of our plans were abandoned. That said, we did some great wandering, and for me, that's always the best way to learn a city. I loved going by the big cathedral square, especially later in the day or into early evening when there was often free entertainment in the form of buskers or of communal folk dancing, choirs, etc. You'll want to have seafood in one of the many restaurants along the beach, and, of course, check out the architecture. We got up to Park Guell but also spotted the Gaudi buildings along the way -- and although we weren't willing to brave the line-up to go inside the Sagrada Familia, we marvelled at it from the outside. We spent a day walking up to the Fundacio Miro and walking through the parks at Montjuic, looking down at the port of Barcelona -- I'd say that was a highlight for us. Mainly, we walked and walked, and we found restaurants by pure serendipity. I'll check my notes and see if I have more suggestions. I'd love to hear back from you once you've been there. Will you be tweeting a bit? btw, we were really happy with the Hotel Curious, if you haven't made accom. arrangements already -- really good price, clean, charming, and unbelievably helpful at the front desk!

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    2. Thank you so much! I had forgotten that some family issues arose while you were there. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm about the city. I'll take your suggestions with me. I generally gather travel and location tidbits, work them into a Word document and take printed and phone versions for references. I may tweet, depending on availability. We leased an apartment in Barce and Seville, splurged on the hotel at the Alahambra and have a small hotel and car for the white hill towns part of the tour. 3 weeks and counting until we're off!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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