The Challenge of True Solitude | Brian Bolster

Charlene journal

This is one of the most beautiful short films I’ve ever watched, made by filmmaker Brian Bolster. Magnificent in its still, poetic frames, spare narrative, and quiet, spacious edits, it’s a gorgeous telling of Oceanic Hotel winter caretaker Alexandra de Steiguer’s story, and the draw of living in an empty hotel in a weather lashed island, during the cold. I’ve watched it around 15 times at this point, over the course of a couple of years. Every viewing reveals something more about the story. Absolutely worth 15 minutes of your time.

81

Charlene journal

Singapore If my dad was alive, he’d be 81 today. He probably wouldn’t be making annual pilgrimages to the South China Sea to catch marlin anymore, the way he used to when I was a kid. He often told me, in his later years, that he didn’t have the strength / endurance to do sport fishing anymore. Enjoyed talking about it though. And still going fishing with his buddies for the table variety of fish: tenggiri, selar, grouper, ang zho (respectively: spanish mackeral, yellowtail scad, cod, red snapper) etc. He’d also object strenuously to all of the Christmas and Chinese New Year baubles that Mum and I have taken to hanging on the big fibreglass marlin that still hangs in the living room. One does …

Raving in Kurdistan | March 2019

Charlene journal

Late March 2019: Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq (Kurdistan) I had a bit of a difficult start in Iraq. A couple of weeks into my moving there this past March, I was in a car accident, while on a trip for work. To this day, neither I nor the colleague driving know what happened. One second we were cruising down a mostly empty, flat stretch of highway, and the next, we were careening through the field next to the highway, windshield cracked, airbags deployed, the front of the car smashed. Miraculously, neither of us were hurt beyond cuts and bruises. I did get whipkash and bang my ribs up though (passenger airbag hit me full in the sternum), and for the next 5 or 6 weeks, inevitable …

Meeting the Titan: Making the X-Pro3 movie with Ihsan Ibraheem

Charlene journal

Sulaymaniayh, Kurdistan, Iraq This movie is the best part of the entire X-Pro3 project for me. It’s the most epic of all the things I delivered, because ace filmmaker Ihsan Ibraheem made it. He’s a one-person Hollywood production machine. He directed the movie, coached the clueless star, did the cinematography, set design, editing, grading, sound capture, and sound engineering. If you look very closely, you’ll notice, towards the end sequence, that there’s motion graphics involved in one of the scene transitions. Yep, he did that too. Man’s got a multitude of serious skills. Ihsan and I work together, so I’m well aware that he really knows what he’s doing with filmmaking. He’s got a breadth of skills in that field… and can also remember minute …

Meeting the Titan: the Fujifilm X-Pro3

Charlene journal

Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan, Iraq This article was written for the official Fujifilm X Series portal. The version on this blog comes with some minor changes. World, meet the X-Pro3! I’ve been holding this baby close to me for a while now and it’s good to finally be able to talk about it! If you were keeping an eye on the X Summit in Shibuya, and the heading image on this post looks familiar, you might have seen it when Fuji announced the X-Pro3, and that flip down LCD some people are emotional about: Onto the camera. As a long time fan and user of the X-Pro series, I’ve been looking forward to the development of this camera, and was surprised and very happy when Fujifilm approached …

My Best Photo in 4 Months

Charlene journal

It was one of the rare occasions that I had a full hour to hang around and just watch Buthena attend to her clients. Everyone was a little unsure about the cameras at first but I was there for so long that they got used to it and stopped paying me any attention.

That, for me, is always when the magic happens.

Good Medicine

Charlene journal

Central Iraq, May 2019 In my present line of work, I meet many extraordinary people. Folks who have made it through war, exile, unimaginable loss, and still find the grit to get up and do their best each day. Folks who go above and beyond to care for those around them. Like the extraordinary Dr Mustafa, whose story is up on the Preemptive Love blog today. Check it out. He’s a displaced doctor, serving displaced families. He’s a qualified physician, with a “real job” at the hospital where he lives, and more opportunity than folks who don’t have his level of qualification. He doesn’t have to take a second one in this devastated town, where the work is hard, and frequently heartbreaking. But for some …

Language Lessons

Charlene journal

Photo above: December 2018 in Copenhagen. Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan, Iraq I’ve been learning Arabic, the last couple of months in Iraq. It’s doing some funny things to my brain, which became apparent during the latest trip to Copenhagen (I was there a couple of weeks ago, for 6 precious days). My progress in Arabic itself is slow, but spoken Danish is way more accessible than before…this, after not hearing any for 5 solid months. I’ve never formally learned Danish. Only reason I can read any at all is because of Flemming’s late father. He had all this Viking history—which I am mad for, and he was a veritable encyclopedia on—in Danish history magazines. On long visits to Jutland in years gone by, I’d park myself on …

Amouna | Preemptive Love

Charlene journal

Kurdistan, Iraq In the photo above, Amouna kisses her granddaughter during an afternoon of work. I’ve been waiting to post this one for a while. Read the full post here. As a woman, it’s always great to see other women reclaim their confidence and their lives. And so often, all most of us need is a little helping hand. Amouna is one among thousands and thousands of Iraqis displaced by ISIS terror. Life in a refugee camp is hard (to say the least), and she’s been struggling to make ends meet for 6 children, alone. Then Preemptive Love donors stepped in to give her exactly the hand she needed to make her business work. So she’s making enough of a profit to never have to …

The Light of Her Eye

Charlene journal

Kurdistan, Iraq A few days after I started work proper in Iraq, i encountered a 6 year old Syrian refugee called Ileen, who really took a shine to my camera. I wrote about her experience with the X-Pro2 for the Preemptive Love blog, so do check it out there. That was the first time I met her. She’d never seen me before and was a little shy, peeking at me over the shoulder of my colleague and her Mum, so after a bit i started taking photos of her and showing them to her on the back of the camera, hoping to draw her out. It had the desired effect: she sidled up and pretty soon was leaning on me, besotted with my magic box …