I feel a lot more confident now than I was 10 years ago. Yet I still get nervous and anxious. That’s what makes street photography so challenging and exciting.
Over time landscape photography has become boring to me, because it doesn’t challenge me mentally anymore. It has also become more difficult, for various reasons. Being in a steady relationship where we have fixed days to be together is one of these. Mind you, I am not complaining
I do not believe that social skills are inborn. Obviously some of us are naturally more extroverted and introverted, but to interact with strangers is a skill that comes over time. I am still learning.
I am only an extrovert when I’m comfortable with friends and family. Yet I’m still nervous and suspicious around strangers, and I really need to push myself out of my comfort zone to make myself naked in front of them.
It has been, still is, a long process of self-development.
Between 2008 and 2011 I visited the French Opal coast on numerous occasions. This resulted in a series of landscape photographs and a few solo exhibitions.
When I look at these photos today they do not represent me in any way anymore. I was a different man back then, a wanderer, a loner, desperately searching for his Holy Grail.
I found my Grail on the evening of September 6, 2011 and our story started a few weeks later, on September 20.
With Sweetheart, my Princess, I am finally complete and together we opened a whole new world.
This coming week will be a retrospective of my landscape photography at the French Opal Coast and these images have never been posted or shown before.
After all these years I’ll be looking at these photographs in a different way and it will be, in some way, and discovery for me too.
That first Christmas felt awkward and my daughters and I did not know how to react. It took a few months before I got my act together. I was able to stop taking medication and depressions went away and never came back.
In April 2007 I took my daughters on weekend to the French Opal Coast. It was cold and they did not like it very much. Guess they still did not know how to react, how to be themselves in a world of single parents.
The beauty of the Opal Coast, a region between Calais and Boulogne-Sur-Mer, is absolutely breath-taking. I could relate with the vastness and the solitude of these costal landscapes. Cap Blanc Nez became a place where I could feel at home and get away from the loneliness reining my heart.
I bought an used Nikon F100 to shoot some film alongside my Nikon D300. I liked that camera very much. It was responsive and fitted perfectly in my hand. It was a brief flirt with film though. Shortly after the F100 died and for some reason using another analogue Nikon did not feel the same.
I fell in love with the Opal Coast and for the next few years I visited the region regularly and photographing, trying to find a connection.
One evening, in my hotel room in Calais, I was exhausted after roaming the beaches, searching for those images that expressed what I wanted to say, it happened. While I took a shower images were transferred from my camera to my laptop.
I opened Ligh room and looked at the images I had taken that day. It was an overwhelming experience. What I saw was what I had been looking for so long. I could hardly imagine I had taken them. I had finally found a way to express myself through my photography.
I worked and worked and bought an A3+ photo printer, a Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mark II.
I was driven and felt so creative.
Several expositions followed and then finally one in my home town, in out Cultural Centre. It was an old dream of mine.
At opening night I also knew it would be my last exposition. I had achieved something. I had discovered I was able to express myself through photography and I had learned to accept and like my own work yet to criticism it in a healthy way. I had exposure and I felt so much pleasure.
On that opening night Sweetheart was at my side. Our relation was almost a year old.
With Sweetheart I knew I had really found what I had been looking for all my life.
Sweetheart is my Holy Grail, the Love of my life and, with my kids, my everything.
Yet she took away what had fuelled me on those beaches. She had taken away my solitude, my loneliness, strong emotions I used to capture my landscapes. For more than 2 years my camera’s stayed silent.
I am so very grateful though. Sweetheart has given me things I could not have imagined I would ever have or experience.
She made me write again and we are building a new life together.
Most of all she motivated me to take up photography again.
Going back to black and white film and working with old cameras has offered me another way to look at the world. I find myself taking pictures I would not have thought of a few years ago. Slowing down, thinking about a capture is so rewarding. Developing, scanning and printing myself so much fun. I feel so close with photography.
Thank you, Sweetheart as you have given me so much. You are the One I have been waiting for so long. I love you deeply and give you my heart, my soul and my love.
I dedicate all my work to you, Sweetheart.