The Grass Is Greener Over Here

Charlene journal

Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan I arrived in northern Iraq in the wettest cold season the region has seen in… maybe forever. It rained and rained and rained for weeks on end, with grey skies and clouds that hung heavy on the twin mountain ranges flanking the city. I’ve enjoyed the rain and cold… but the continuing deluge has been deadly for thousands all over the Middle East, as infrastructure collapses and lives & livelihoods are washed away — usually that of already vulnerable folks. I wrote a piece for Preemptive Love’s blog. Read it here. When I got here I was all agog at the green and rain and cold. It was a complete counterpoint to the dry brown heat I landed in, back in September. …

30 days in Kurdistan

Charlene journal

Sulaymaniyah, Iraq I’ve been in northern Iraq (Kurdistan) for a month as I write this. It’s great to be on the ground, finally getting into the work I’ve been waiting so long to begin. On the personal photography front, things are at a complete standstill. Pretty much every photo I’ve made for myself is from a car, or the broad windows of our office. There are a few reasons for this It’s been raining. A lot. Which means I haven’t been walking around. There were some sunny days when I first landed, but that stopped pretty quickly. Here in the northern city where I live, it didn’t let up for 2 straight weeks. So I bum rides or take cabs everywhere. You’d think lots rain …

On the Instax SQ20

Charlene journal

Back in January, I got to play with the Instax SQ20. I’ve never used an instant camera of any kind before, and it never occurred to me to try the Instax, despite it being a Fuji. It’s a bit… well, too cute. But Instax Danmark was after something a little different from the super slick, very lifestyle, uber feminine imagery that their brand evokes. That worked for me, because none of those things describe me in the least! Christian from Instax Nordic gave me a camera, 4 cartridges of instant film and said “go do your thing.” So I did. Went out and shot the usual things I normally do. Trains, buses, reflections, and whatever else caught my eye. Read my piece on the SQ20 …

On Writing

Charlene journal

Singapore To write is to make a clearing in the wilderness in which, almost literally, you can see the wood from the trees. In the thick of anything, you hardly know who you are or where you’re going (which is the redeeming power of experience); at your desk, recollecting emotion in tranquility, helped by memory’s editing devices and imagination’s hunger for possibility, you take something that might only have been heartache and turn it into something more provocative, enriching, and even instructive. – from Writing Undoes Me, by Pico Iyer It’s been a week and a half since I’ve been on the new job. My work in Preemptive Love, is telling stories. Through words, still photographs, and/or video. As I’m working remotely at the moment, …

On Painting

Charlene journal

Singapore I haven’t been shooting much since I’ve been back in the motherland, so this post has nothing to do with photography, travel, or anything I usually blog about. It’s about about painting. Walls and such. I’ve been domestically preoccupied for a few months. Late 2018, before I headed to Copenhagen, there were weeks of prep for the big government upgrading program to our flats that gave thousands of us brand new bathrooms – among other things – and Mum’s own concurrent renovations. Then it was a week of cleaning, and I painted my room before heading off to Denmark for a couple of months. In the couple of weeks I’ve been back from Copenhagen, I’ve been painting the rest of the house. Let me …

On Loving, Preemptively

Charlene journal

Singapore Today, I am officially a staff member of Preemptive Love Coalition!  Preemptive Love and I have been talking about this for a while now, with my recent month in Kurdistan being a part of that conversation. It’s great to finally be able to say it 🙂 I’ll be photographing, writing and making video as a part of the Communications team in Iraq. All of my work will be about, and for, the people we serve in the region. I write this at the end of my first work day. I’m still in Singapore, working remotely while waiting to head over. Today’s been about catching up with my team on video chat, and getting into the flow of how we speak about the lives of the …

It’s 2019!

Charlene journal

New year’s eve in Copenhagen was watching people setting off fireworks in the streets, with the Jensen clan, from the safety of Vibeke’s balconey. It’s legal for people to buy fireworks in Denmark. I hear they’ve spent a billion kroner doing just that, this year. There are safety issues, of course, and more than a few horrible accidents that happen. But it’s hard not to get caught up in the mad anarchy of it all when the clock hits 12, and a new year is rung in. Happy New Year folks. Here’s to the possibilities of a fresh year.

Stockholm: My Fuji family

Charlene journal

This is a rejigged Instagram post What makes Stockholm – that astoundingly beautiful city – extra special is the people that Flemming and I get to see. Fujifilm Nordic is headquartered here, so when we’re in town, we get to catch up with our Fujifilm family. All of us – the good Fuji Nordic folks, fellow X-Photographers Knut and Mia – met at Fotografiska this time, at that wonderful restaurant with the epic view at its top level. There was talk of pirate eye patches, getting your teeth industrially checked at the Eastman Dental Institute (never knew Kodak and teeth were a thing), Swedish crayfish parties, and Instax cameras. Against the mad vista of Stockholm at dusk, very fine food, and a decent amount of …

Stockholm, December 2018

Charlene journal

I know what you’re all thinking: 2 posts in as many days. Is she on drugs?! No, no she’s not. She’s just been busy with stuff. Christmas, you know, and other absorbing things like procrastination. So, Stockholm, again, earlier this month. When Flemming and I left after our few days there in April, we both agreed that more time would have to be spent in this beautiful city. Turns out, he’s almost as taken with it as I am… I say “almost” because he doesn’t read fantasy and therefore doesn’t walk around looking for dragons and other imaginary creatures in likely spaces. That kind of thing just makes any experience better, if you ask me. But I digress. Meant to do a few more touristy …

Stockholm, April 2018

Charlene journal

I visited Stockholm for an afternoon, three years ago, to give a presentation at the Fujifilm Nordic office. I had an hour in between activities to walk around. Before I set foot in Stockholm, the only things I knew about the city were It’s the capital of Sweden Fujifilm Nordic is headquartered there (and yes, we visited with the great folks who look after us photographically) I had no idea about anything else, beyond a few photos I’d seen on Instagram. I figured it would be something like Copenhagen, just bigger and more…. well, Swedish, whatever that meant. Then I had a glimpse of it during that hour in 2015. I was flabbergasted. All those islands and bridges and graceful spires rising from the water… …