Mountains, deserts and lights

Charlene journal 10 Comments

The title of this post says it all really. I stayed in Sulaymaniyah for the majority of the month I was in Iraq, but there were a few trips outside the city. One of those was an epic 3-day round trip from Sulaymaniyah to Erbil and Dohuk. There were mountains the entire way, and rain storms, and dust storms, and all kinds of crazy drivers. I have about 962 mountain pictures from that one trip alone, since I was in the passenger seat, with nothing to do but take pictures while Erin drove. I filled a memory card with mountains, roads and dust. Most of my shots were crap, but this handful do a decent job of showing what it felt like to look at …

Finding Familiar in Iraq

Charlene journal

Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2018 It threatened to storm as we breakfasted in Erbil. Instead of grey though, the world faded to a dull orange in the Iraqi Kurdish capital. Flat topped buildings stretch to the edge of the desert, ending in the reddish murk. I wasn’t sure if the storm was bringing dust or rain. Some incredible weather followed Erin and I from Sulaymaniyah (Suli for short) to Dohuk, stopping at Erbil in between. We’d taken smaller roads to stay inside Kurdish boundaries, as my visa didn’t allow me to enter the rest of Iraq. The relentless sunshine of the first day gave way to this brooding gloom on the second. By the time Erin and I were out of Erbil’s plains and into the …

Snapshots from Sulaymaniyah

Charlene journal 6 Comments

Sulaymaniyah, Iraq Whatever ideas I might have had about Iraq, they were always set against a stark desert background, like the one in the above picture. There is some truth to that, but as in most cases of roads travelled behind a screen, that is a thread in the fabric. I’ve been in Iraq now for 4.5 days as I write this post. I’m here in the city of Sulaymaniyah, in Kurdistan, working with Preemptive Love Coalition for a month. This is a dream opportunity, and between “omg I’m in Iraq” and “omg I’m here with the Preemptive Love people” you’ve got the bulk of what’s been happening in my head. In the last half-week or so I’ve just been absorbing as many inputs as …

Set in motion

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Singapore The wheels start turning again. The past month has been about taking stock, counting costs, starting some things and shutting others down. Same process i went through almost 6 years ago, embarking on this itinerant life. Today I make a month long trip i never imagined myself making, ever. Doing something i never figured I’d get the opportunity to do. More to come. (I’m being oblique because it’s too much to get into while heading to the airport, and but mostly because there are so many things going on, it is impossible to be cogent about any of it) (Waiting, that’s the worst)

Domestic blindness

Charlene journal 12 Comments

…is a bitch. Half the time i think my job as/the whole point of being a photographer is to find life in the blindingly ordinary, the stuff I don’t think about, ever. Because if I can’t see a different possibility, then I can’t ask another to do the same. You gotta do the work, you know? This place above? I walk through that concrete portal everyday. To eat at the hawker center, to catch the bus or train, to walk out into the world, and to come back home through it. 80% of us in this country walk through spaces like that everyday. The void decks of our public housing apartment blocks contain waypoints of our daily lives. And they too can bring out blockbuster …

Changi Airport

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Singapore Catching the airport’s iconic control tower from home, at the golden hour I’m not normally awake for. • Mum (and Dad, when he was alive) has lived in this flat for 20 years now, and neither them nor I knew that we could see Changi’s control tower from from the bathroom window, where this shot was taken. To make this picture, I stood on a step stool, not typical behaviour in the bathroom. Flemming pointed it out last year, being the only one tall enough to see out of this particular window without assistance.

What would another choice look like?

Charlene journal 6 Comments

Singapore Naming is a funny process. Something twigged after the last couple of blog posts about taking a break from the nomad life. Having decided, in writing, that my days on the road might be over for a little while, I started wondering how daily minutiae would change if I didn’t have to leave every few months. The biggest shift? No more living out of 2 bags, and ridding myself of the mentality that goes with it. The former is easily done, the latter, not so much. I’ve been back for almost 3 months now, and I still operate out of the same 2 bags that house my work and life elsewhere in the world, where I am only a visitor. Some of this has …

Camera as companion

Charlene journal 12 Comments

Singapore I’m in one of those “I should just bloody sell my camera” places today. Yeah, you know the one. Had a run of lousy days shooting, culminating spectacularly yesterday. Every frame in my memory card looked like it’d been shot by someone who’d never heard of a camera before. Pile of useless virtual crap. Except I don’t really want to sell it. I’ve said many times before, how beautiful I think the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is – especially this graphite edition, ermagherd! – but it’s more than an aesthetic thing. There are plenty of beautiful cameras in the world. Every banged up edge and scraped surface of this, and the ones before it though, is a marker on my journey: as a photographer, as a …


Charlene journal 3 Comments

Singapore. It’s that time of the year. The sun has swung over to glare at our kitchen windows. My neighbour gives her bedding a thorough whacking on the bamboo poles her laundry dries on, with a new fly swatter. There’ll be no mites or other potential invaders on anything when she is done. These are the little things that anchor me here. I understand them – why they’re done. Who does them. What they mean – the way I don’t, just about anything/-one else in this place. They make me laugh, and make my day. My latest piece, The camera as passport, is up on Fujilove. Somewhere in there i mention that coming back to Singapore – home – is a destabilizing prospect, even after …