Traveling in words and images

Words

Words and writing has always been part of my life. I was born when my mother was in university and my childhood was a landscape of books piled about our home. I needed to observe the most absolute silence when she was studying, if I wanted to play next to her. At one point I figured out that there was more to these imageless sheets of paper than I could understand and demanded to be taught how to read. Ironically, I was then given books on how to read. And started practicing.

The first books I could really read from front to back where the Tintin series. It had everything one could ask for: traveling, intrigue, action and complicated insults here and there. From the moment I could hold a book and fully understand its content, I was hooked. I used to hide in the bathroom in order to read in peace, a trick that could last right until my sister ratted me out. Judas.

Images

Fascination for images came later. I had always been collecting printed ads I thought were funny and clever, but making them mine was a quirk that unfolded during a student exchange in Toronto, Canada. I was a 21 year-old French-Canadian surrounded by much older English-Canadian geniuses and, at first, knew no one. A friend from New York had given me one of his old reflex cameras; out of boredom, I started playing around with it.

At first, I had no clue. I just had no idea on how to use these complicated pieces of electronic. But time, patient friends and a Guide on Photography by the National Geographic finally did the trick. Albeit still muffing almost one in two pictures, my camera has been my dearest travel buddy ever since I got its main purpose: it helped me see. I would catch details which I would have otherwise been oblivious to. It also helped my memory; I remember food most clearly, but names escape my head just as soon as I hear them. Thus, I’d photograph the places I liked so I could go back to them endlessly.

How photography changed the way I would travel

Venice, Italy. Who lifted their head at that exact moment?

Traveling with the purpose of taking pictures is completely different than going from point A to point B. The most interesting things not only lie in the destination, but also within the journey. Over the years, I have photographed countless scenes that obviously figured in thousands of of other tourists’ albums. But I was also lucky enough to catch glimpses of what locals would see without seeing, and sometimes what even locals had maybe not noticed. (more after the pictures).

New York friendships.

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A little too much to drink all’ombra in Venice, Italy.
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Venice locals may not find this strange anymore, but I do!
  
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Am I the only one who thinks the chipping paint on this wall looks like a cartooned old woman’s profile?
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Advertising and culture
Over the years, I started photographing ads or grafitis that I thought were interesting. They were very similar, yet so different from one country to another. Although most of were done by youngsters (one can perceive a certain vivacity and aggressiveness to them, even a touch of american culture), their expression varied slightly. I still have not quite pinpointed what would change, except how I’d perceive them. There was a different feel to them. Different cultures will respond differently to advertising, therefore ads are often a good sociological indicator, but I believe that identifying these indicators would be better done by a more trained eye than mine. All I could do was to immortalise them; to me, they were indicators of how different cities would feel.
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Brussels: colourful, with a bit of this old French feel:
Brussels: our products have been tested on children.
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Rotterdam, one of the most urban-forward cities I have been to, with London.
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Canada in Venice!
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Hungary: tags feel lonelier, a bit more aggressive almost war-like.
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New York, my favorite city for ads and tags. Everything is so blunt, vivid and in-your-face, it makes up for very lively pictures.
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Prague, a city that feels very romantic, on a background that is, at times, desolated.
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…aaaand Holland.
…more to come with future travels!
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