On returning home

Charlene journal, vagabonding 2 Comments

Singapore Home is so often the hardest place to return to. As I celebrate 4 years on the road, I’ve noted feeling something suspiciously akin to gladness at being in Singapore. This is unusual for me, given the isolation of coming back to empty spaces of friends and family who have left, sets in too quickly, and by the time I’ve been here 2 weeks, I’m desperate to leave. I arrived at the start of December, this time around, and it’s been different. December and January have been exceptionally rich months with the important people in my life. I got to see both my sisters in short order of each other, which is incredible, given one lives in Malaysia and the other in the USA …

An ode to red rock: Arches and Canyonlands national parks

Charlene journal, vagabonding 6 Comments

I’ve been trying to write this post for a very long time, finding it difficult to articulate the hold that Arches National Park has over my imagination. It is the one national park that I could swear, knows me by name. It’s a ridiculous thing to say, particularly for someone who’s a city slicker to the core. If the park did have a voice and addressed me by name, I doubt I’d hear it. I am equipped to parse urban environments, but the outdoors fill me wonder for more than just their magnificence; my utter unfamiliarity with the code of natural environments is also rather awesome. The park is, appropriately, full of natural sandstone arches – it has the highest density of these peculiar, majestic formations of anywhere in the world, along with spires, fins and other varied geological forms. …

The endless grey

Charlene journal 7 Comments

Nordjylland, Danmark It’s been about two weeks since I’ve seen any sun. The sky has been a flat not-quite white which fades to black at night, and lightens to an evening shade of grey when it becomes day. It weighs more when a drizzle wanders in, but that is all the change there is. Fog and mist and rain are a hair’s breadth from being the same thing. Shadows are barely perceptible, but the trees that have their leaves are a deep green, and others shedding their foliage are unrepentantly gold. The passage of the season is clearer to me right now than that of a day. The light never shifts except to evaporate at night and coagulate again in the next morning, washing the world dimly. Time is seeing a dark cloud in the great grey. That at least, …

One night in Copenhagen

Charlene journal 2 Comments

I walked around the center of Copenhagen for hours today. And realized with a jolt, that after all the time I’ve spent here – every summer for the last 3 years – I’ve never been out in it on my own. This being Flemming’s home city, I’m always with him when we’re here. But today I padded around the city in the way I’ve done in so many others as long as I’ve lived this travelling life: Alone, allowing its rhythm and melody to settle under my skin. Made some pictures. Lots of crap, as always happens when I am somewhere new (and Copenhagen might as well be new, for all the attention I haven’t paid it until now). There might be an award winner …

The streets I see

Charlene journal 12 Comments

Belgrade, Serbia “What genre of photography do you specialize in?” was the first question. I hmmed and hawwed on the keyboard: typed, tried words out for fit, deleted and started over. My relationship with this thing I do has been doubt-ridden from the beginning. I call myself a street photographer because its mode – harvesting unscripted pictures from whatever/wherever the situation – describes how i work. But my work itself isn’t razor sharp like those whose images define the genre. I am an ardent admirer of street photography’s many gods, among them Alex Webb, Natelle Autio, Trent Parke, Matt Stuart,Helen Levitt, Jesse Marlow, Elliot Erwitt, and recently, the women whom I haven’t read about in its scrolls: Sabine Weiss, Xyza Bacani, Elena Maiorova, and any/all of these amazing photographers, whose work …

Close enough

Charlene journal Leave a Comment

Belgrade, Serbia It’s all in the wheels. Trains, buses, cars, bikes, skates… and trams. I can’t get enough of trams in Belgrade. The clank and sway of the half-century old tram cars on the No.2 line and the smooth contemporariness of the others, with their air-conditioning, free WiFi, and padded quiet. I often wonder why I’m so drawn to making pictures on transport. I can tell you about how it started (something to do on the way to work), and I can show you all manner of pictures made over the years when this became a little more than just that. But I think that there is also an element of recognition in all of this: the limbo between leaving and arriving. The point at which the past is left and possibilities abound, …

Shadow and texture, Belgrade

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Belgrade is all shadow and texture to me right now, a riot of geometry and hue with a thousand ever-changing facets. The old buildings with their patina of post-conflict grit are incredibly photogenic, if only to the guileless tourist. We’ve been doing little other than walking around in the past week and a half that we’ve been here (aside from that one glorious wet plate day). Getting lost in half a hundred different ways is the best way of orienting oneself in a new city, which also allows for enjoyment of the unexpected around every corner; light, folk, color, rhythm.