My early visits to Florence were full of wonder at its art, architecture and history. I read extensively before arriving and imagined past events being played out in the streets and squares. I sought, found and delighted in difference and maintained a state of excited otherness.
Indeed, this was my approach during 15 years of extensive business travel, until my tenth trip to Japan in late 2015, when I could no longer sustain it. As I walked through a bustling Ginza, suddenly my environment wasn’t strange. I was aware of differences but could accept them with a calm detachment and curiosity. I had become a permanent or constant tourist.
This was similar to an experience earlier that year, attending a Guardian weekend course on street photography run by the wonderful Antonio Olmos. During our first outing to Camden Lock, I struggled with my fear of upsetting people by putting a large camera in their faces. With Antonio’s guidance, I understood that if you approach the world in a worried sneaky way, “hiding behind pillars and large people”, the world will see a worried sneaky person. But if you slow down, merge with the crowd and stay present, then people will either not notice you or they will be pleased or indifferent at being photographed. This, of course, was an exercise in mindfulness.
The first two photographs below are typical of my usual style, multiple light sources, with no or low natural light, long exposures and beautiful buildings and bridges. The other two are attempts at street photography. I have edited them in black and white as the colour detracted from the narrative and connection.
My next destination is Venice and then I have a choice: do I turn East, back into Slovenia and up through Hungary and Poland, or West and North to the Alps and Switzerland?