December 2018 marked a radical change in the life of my family and mine. Two months earlier I had applied for a return to Reunion Island. After more than 25 years spent in Provence between Aix-en-Provence and Jouques, why want to change ? While it may seem like diving into the unknown, it really wasn’t. Finally more of a little splash. My parents and my sister being over there, our installation would be done without problems. Nevertheless we were aware that we were going to leave life as we had built it in Jouques. Lots of changes in the end for everyone. We had to sell the house we had built, to leave very close friends. Never underestimate a move, especially when it is done with children. They left friends behind. They grew up together and the separation was difficult for them. But as you well know, children are resourceful and have this ability to move forward without looking behind them.
When I knew that I had my transfer to Reunion, I did not jump for joy. It was expected, not really a surprise. Gwen even asked me if I was happy to go there or if I had any regrets. Frankly, staying in Jouques would not have displeased me. I had my friends there, my habits, my routines. Everything was set up like music paper. We knew that the children were going to go to college in the neighboring village and to Aix-en-Provence for high school. So yes now we are on Reunion Island and it will not happen as I had planned, but I have no regrets. I would have stayed in my Aix countryside, but we will also be good here. My children and my wife are happy on Reunion Island and that is enough for me.
Photographically speaking (because it is still a Photo Blog …), when I knew that I was going to move, I told myself that I only had 2019 to document the streets of Aix -in Provence. I thought until now that I had all the time in front of me. There was no hurry, the next 50 years I was going to hang around the Place de la Mairie, in the small pedestrian streets or on the Cours Mirabeau … The prospect of leaving put a little pressure on me. Each time I went out, I remembered that my days were counted in Aix-en-Provence. Besides, I took advantage of every moment to go hang out in town. What I hadn’t foreseen is, who says transfer, says move. There were a thousand things to do to prepare for our departure. Starting with the sale of the house. It was important to me to sell it myself. Not for the sake of money, but I didn’t want to delegate the sale of the house to a real estate agent. We did well because in the end, we sold it at the price we wanted in just 1 month.
When I look at my photos between January and October 2019, the date of my arrival in Saint-Denis de la Réunion, I realize that in the end I made quite a few photos in Aix-en-Provence. I have done many in Paris, Bristol, Toulouse, Marseille and even in Reunion. During this first half of 2019, we have moved a lot. Our long-planned holidays in Reunion, our week in Paris and for me short stays in Toulouse, Marseille, Bristol and Rome.
My stay this year in Bristol had a special flavor. I had already come to this city in 1998. I have almost no memory of this city apart from the pub which served as a meeting spot. I still spent 3 weeks there … I wanted to go back to find out what I had missed during my student youth. This city exceeded all my expectations. I loved hanging out on its streets. From a street photography perspective, Bristol is a hell of a city. A very heterogeneous population and neighborhoods. Bristol was also not far from Bath where John Harper roams. I wanted to visit him before leaving Jouques. It’s always intimidating to meet people you’ve known through social media. Do we really know people by chatting with them on the internet? And if it was a finished idiot? We create an image of the person with whom we are talking and then comes the moment of confrontation with this person. My fears evaporated as soon as we met. You remember from the Blog that I wrote John Harper: Gentleman Photographer. Well, that’s exactly him ! A person full of humor, very intelligent. I hope only one thing, that we have the opportunity to meet again in the future, here, elsewhere, whatever.
When the sales agreement was signed, I granted myself a little Parisian weekend with the blessing of my wife as a reward. I was very stressed by the sale of the house because it was an essential point to settle before leaving. Before the sale, there was some work to do in the house to present it in its best profile. Lots of paperwork too. These 3 days spent in Paris were a reward for all the work done. It was also an opportunity to visit Elizabeth Char had a solo exhibition. It is not at his first show, but it was close to my heart to be present for this still very special moment for photographers. It was also an opportunity to see her one last time before flying to Reunion. This was my second visit to Paris in a few months, except for this great weekend, I was alone in Paris with my Ricoh GR!
I also gave myself two little escapades to Rome and Marseille after my wife and my children went to settle in Reunion at the beginning of August to make the kids school start on August 17th. The house was sold, the move made, I was squatting with friends with a few boxes and bags while waiting to leave too. I can say that the last two months spent alone, I lived and breathed Street Photography H24. I don’t think I will experience another period like this. Besides, I came out of this leached period because I benefited a lot from it. I made a first selection of about 100 photos. This first sorting allowed me to see that in the end just 1/3 rd of the photos had been taken in Aix-en-Provence. Quite paradoxical in the sense that I told myself that I was going to make the most of Aix for this past year and in the end, I end up with more photos elsewhere.
I was very prolific during these getaways because I was solo and that changes everything ! It’s difficult to do Street Photography when you’re traveling with your family. So those moments I selfishly took advantage of. There was also this urgency to take a lot of photos because I knew that I was not going to come back to these cities soon. 2019 was not over, however, because I also spent the last two months in Reunion. I can’t say that I really started documenting the streets here. I think it will take time to get something consistent. I have time, we plan to stay the rest of our days in Reunion. Finally it must also be the case in Jouques …
Ah yes I was supposed to present to you in this Blog my selection of 12 photos to summarize 2019. As every year, it is an almost compulsory exercise, a little like the blooper of December 31 … This selection is very personal and therefore subjective. I went out of curiosity to review my end of year selections for 2016, 2017 and 2018. Through these selections, it is my evolution as a photographer that I see. Less aggressive post-processing, more shades of gray in my Black & White work, more complex compositions, better color management. When I started in 2016, I didn’t think I could take this kind of photo.
My best 12
2019 is also an important year for me because I have definitely given up on social media. I had already deleted my Facebook and 2018 account and at the start of the year, I did the same with Instagram. These photos were nevertheless shared on my YouTube channel that I created this year. I found with this support, the possibility of sharing more photos in the form of slideshows. Speaking of a slideshow, you will not escape my selection for 2019. The selection of the Best Twelve was made on this basis.
This Blog concludes this year 2019 which was rich in every way. I wish you a very happy holiday season and I look forward to seeing you next year for new adventures in the tropics !