I started 2011 by travelling to Shetland. I explored the most Northern part of Scotland, hiking through dramatic landscapes in all sorts of weather: strong winds, snow storms, sheets of rain, sun. I was not always fighting the winter elements. I shared a lot of good times with the welcoming Shetland communities. Tea, beer and whisky was always on the table whilst sharing a conversation.
I spent a lot of my time following Peter, a crofter, in his daily activity and had some very good moments in his company. He is passionate about his job and gave me some very interesting lectures about crofting in Shetland. My visit also coincided with one of the biggest torch light festivals on earth, Up Helly Aa, along with the smaller Scalloway fire festival. I had an inside look at the event by first following the Scalloway fire festival official squad before documenting the Up Helly Aa procession and one of the parties during the night. Lots of celebration, drinking, food, dancing and fun. A good way to start a new year.
In March, I went for a short trip to Istanbul. Well … what a place. I instantly fell in love with the city, its skylines, its unique atmosphere, its contrasts, its history. There is something fascinating and attractive about the Bosphorus, The Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara shores. It is a city that I would like to experience for a longer period of time … I did go back in November, but only briefly to explore Turkey further. No project in mind but travelling with my partner. The trip brought me to Kiyikoy on the Black Sea shore, Edirne, Gelibolu, Canakkale, Bursa and Istanbul. I have just started to look at my photographs. Hopefully I will tell you more about this trip very soon.
In October I returned to Morocco to carry on working on my project about its Medinas. I explored new places like Essaouira, Safi, Tanger while going back to some others like Tetouan, Marrakesh, Larache. I stayed for too short a period of time in Casablanca. I just had a taste of it. I was impressed by the strong feeling of energy around its busy Medina’s streets. Its atmosphere is nothing like I experienced before and I won’t compare it to Marrakesh or Fez. For my first visit, I didn’t take my camera out of my bag when walking along its street. I didn’t feel like it. For some reason I felt intimidated by the place. So I promised myself that I would return to Casablanca in order to take my time and to accustom myself to it.
It is difficult to take street photography and portraits in Morocco. The reasons are both religious and cultural (I plan to create a post about taking pictures in Morocco). I really struggled to document the street life inside its Medinas. For this reason, it makes this trip a bit less enjoyable than I expected. So, when I came back from my third Moroccan journey, I felt like I had’t take the pictures I wanted. Well … now that I have been through a lot of them, I feel quite happy with some of them. They are a good addition to the work I produced previously. And since I started this project, I feel for the first time that my body of work is starting to be consistent. However, I still need to sort the writing out.
Bristol: The big news of the year will have been my move to Bristol. I left Edinburgh and Scotland but left a part of my heart there. I will miss my friends, the warmth of the Scottish people and the character of its land. I will miss the Scottish Ales too. Bristol is a different city. It is a wonderful, creative city right in the middle of London, Birmingham, Wales and the South West coast. There is something rebellious about it that I really like. I arrived just before St Paul’s Bristol Carnival and it plunged me straight in a big part of the city culture: reggae and the Caribbean community. I still have plenty to explore, plenty of people to meet, to see again, and plenty to do … I am going to love it.
A journey through 2011 doesn’t show my best photographs of 2011. It is more an exploration, a photo series telling the story of 2011 for me.