The Abruzzo story

One of my professors hails from Abruzzo, a quiet region where you can find some of the incredible nature in all of Italy, and I've been hearing about how enchanting it is nonstop for the past year. Finally, after the chaos of midterms and thesis preparation, we loaded up a car and drove the 5 hours to Abruzzo for a weekend in the middle of nowhere. It turned out to be just the sort of escape that I needed; in fact, I'm still daydreaming about spending another week there. There's something intoxicating about those mountains.

We slept in tiny cliffside Pacentro, and our B&B is one of those uniquely Italian places in which the family history was displayed on the walls. The best way to begin this story is to show you the photos I took there…

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When I asked people for their photos, I never heard a no. In fact, the baker even threw in a loaf of bread after I took his portrait. My professor Romeo also kindly agreed to being photographed in one of the restaurants we visited…

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It was two days driving down winding mountain roads, wandering through forests and along lakes, exploring both inhabited and abandoned villages, and- of course- making lots of photos. I tried regional foods like arrosticini and a special type of coffee that's made with cream of hazelnut. Each of us brought home a local specialty; for me and the other student it was wine and chocolate covered almonds, but Romeo may have bought half of the town (2 kilos of bread, 5 kilos of potatoes, chocolate, jam, and more).

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At this point the MFA photo group is a bit like family, so getting to see Romeo in his element was another highlight of the weekend. I'm convinced that Abruzzo is part of his genetic makeup, and by seeing it in person, the rest of us have deeper understanding of who he is. Now I understand why I've heard so much about this place, and I'm already ready to go back...

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London portrait challenge

I was in London this weekend for two specific reasons: to see the Alec Soth show (yes, it was amazing) and to meet up with a friend/fellow photographer I met during the photojournalism workshop I did back in August (y'know, the one with all the speed dating). Oh, and if I'm being honest, reason #3 was to go and eat at my favorite Ethiopian place again. Florence is sadly lacking in Ethiopan food, but I digress. It was a lovely weekend of bookstores and photography shows and great conversation; in fact, it was so lovely that I didn't even mind my flight back to Florence getting canceled. Well, maybe I minded a little... but the airline did give put me up in the Hilton overnight and I ordered room service. Maybe that was also a blessing in disguise.

Before going to the photo show, I spent the morning wandering London and ended up stopping a few strangers in the street to ask for a portrait. I told my friend about it later and mentioned how, for whatever reason, asking people for their photo is so much harder than shooting candid street photos (ironic considering I did commercial portrait photography for years prior to grad school). Oddly enough, my friend has the opposite problem and can talk to strangers without problems. So, what do two photo nerds decide to do when they find themselves in a city like London armed with cameras and 30 minutes to kill? The answer: a half-hour photo challenge. We gave ourselves a set period of time to take street portraits, alternating between posed and candid, and shot what we could.

Because "posed" portraits are a little outside the realm of my usual street photography MO, those are the ones I'm going to show you today. So, here are the results of a day in London spent talking to strangers... it's a side to this kind of photography that I'm (slowly but surely) getting more comfortable with.

Catalonian independence protest- London, October 2017

Over the weekend, it was announced that the Spanish government is exerting control over Catalonia in an effort to crush its expanding independence movement. The response from the independence supporters in London looked like this...

More photos/updates from London to come, but right now I believe this set is the most timely. 2017 is certainly a divisive year...