For many years now I was of the firm belief that I had to travel to get good pictures. It wasn’t until I bought my Leica M9 that I started to see photography differently. Since I learnt some ‘tricks’ on technique by two great street photographers Gary Tyson and Eric Kim whilst in Hong Kong, I began to experiment around my own town. Originally I had thought, this is just too boring, there’s no people around and I won’t get much at all. Yet every weekend I venture out with another photographer friend and we walk the streets, usually in Fremantle, and we both come away with one or two good images. The best part is we enjoy the day with several coffees, lunch and banter on about photographic rubbish.
Today, I took Mum out for breakfast for Mother’s Day and when we got back to her place, the usual ritual transpired. ‘What can I get you from the garden’, she says, ‘there’s not alot left’. Every visit to the family home I come away with a box of organic goodies depending what’s in season. Today it was chestnuts, kalamata olives to cure (which Dad had especially grafted a branch just for me), fresh parsley ready for drying and a potted parsley plant to put into the garden. Oh and a few of the last figs of the season. No eggs today as the chooks are getting old and have stopped laying.
Whilst Mum and Dad rummaged around proudly picking my shopping basket, I looked around me and saw the usual 1/2 acre of vegetable garden and years of accumulated junk everywhere. This is where I grew up with my brothers and so used to seeing the organised mess. It is certainly not the usual backyard of the the Italians at the other end of Dianella and certainly no white lions out the front! Mum and Dad are of poor stock, and have always worked the land for their fair. They are proud of what they produce and enjoy their retirement years pottering around in their beloved patch. It wasn’t until this moment this morning that I realised I had in front of me great cultural picture opportunities. Two Italian oldies in their garden doing what they love.
In this image Mum and Dad are making a fuss of gathering a couple of handful of chestnuts, the last of the season. My Grandfather planted this tree when I was a child and I fondly remember helping him to cook the chestnuts on a coal fire and then enjoying the fleshy fruit whilst Grandpa told me stories of the old country.
Perhaps this image is quite subjectively a favourite of mine, as this is how I see my parents. However in my travels to remote countries whose cultures have not fully transgressed into the 21st century, I’ve seen first hand similar scenes of my grandparents, my parents and the stories passed down to me of the old country. I recall on my first trip to Italy of being overwhelmed by a sense of ‘coming home’, yet I was born and raised in Australia.
I am truly blessed.
Domenico’s refurbished olive press, ready for next season.