Diary (archives) - Claude Lavoie Photo

Photographic chit-chat

Photographic chit-chat (image unavailable)

Thursday 2010-06-17 :

The cruel fate of the one Aphrodite of Milos would elect to love : bask in the rapture of her love, yet support the grief of never knowing her embrace.

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I am nothing but hesitation, confusion, contradiction and paradox. Whoever pretends to know me is an arrant liar.

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A day of Belgian rain; the sky heavy with dark threatening clouds, as though laden with Catholic guilt.

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"Escape from a certain death" : nonsense! Death being by essence certain, there could be no escaping it. At best can it be pushed back for a while. Let's nevertheless all admit trying.

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Those haphazard successes one hastily proceeds to explain, often ascribing to oneself full credit for their happy outcome.

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I would gladly trade all those bores, who relentlessly explain the past, for only one person who could predict the future.

Tuesday 2010-05-18 :

The end of yet an other notebook. I am writing these words on its very last frayed half-page.

Soon, after it has been numbered and labelled with the dates of its first and last entries, I will place it atop the pile of its predecessors, on the bottom shelf of the bedside table.

I might leaf through it infrequently, in the future, in search of a missing detail or an aphorism worthy of this column. And I will recall, upon reading their account, events that might then have faded from my memory.

A brand new notebook is standing by, ready to be picked up as soon as this paragraph is complete; eager to take over, to be my inseparable companion in the months to come. Similar in every aspect to the one about to be decommissioned, save for its smooth glossy cover, its corners exempt from dog-ear marks and, naturally, its blank pages . . . it has about it an air of naïve enthusiasm.

How many more notebooks are left for me to fill during the rest of my life?

Tuesday 2010-04-27 :

A late winter storm fills with snow the corollas of the tulips that have sprouted in the last precociously warm days.

The biting wind hisses against the banister flanking the entrance way and, every time someone opens the door, rushes inside the café I sought shelter in.

Through the shivering windowpanes, I watch people plod along the blanketed sidewalk, shielding themselves behind umbrellas they have to hold with both hands, to prevent them from turning inside out.

They bear patiently, for they know this fury will be short-lived; it is the last show of might, the swan song of a dying season.

Monday 2010-03-15 :

It is an odd feeling to find myself alone after having a friend visiting for six weeks.

During this period, my routine has been radically altered : cooking and talking, at night (sometimes until late) as well as in the morning; providing information on where to find things and how to get to places; working during the day while my guest had all the time in the world to look around, stay home to relax, or even take a nap.

Seeing my old friend is a great joy; but after a month and a half, I am tired. During the last week, I envisioned this very moment with mixed feelings : glad on the one hand to regain command of my time and to be able to catch up on sleep; unsure on the other of what to do with so much time on my hands, and worried of loneliness . . . I will find out when I get home tonight.

This morning, we rode the bus into town together, he headed for the airport, I for work. It was a somewhat solemn parting, for we knew we might not meet again for years, since we live an ocean apart. For a long time we stood at the center of the station concourse, exchanging messages for relatives and friends, promising to keep in touch. Then silence. Smiling, we shook hands once more, bid a last farewell, turned around and went our separate ways.

The ordinary ending of an unforgettable visit.

Tuesday 2010-02-23 :

The last photo shoot took place more than three months ago; none in sight in the foreseeable future. I still regularly ask people to pose, without success. I have a feeling that finding models is harder than it used to be.

With time, I have gotten used to the suspicion my proposition is often received with; the reputation of photography has been tarnished by the advent of Internet. Yet, just a few years ago, more people would have asked for additional information, more would have shown interest, more would have accepted. Maybe has my voice, wearied by the repetition and the too frequent rejections, become lifeless?

My method of recruiting collaborators is highly uncertain, but it suits me fine : I like to propose point blank, to people caught off guard, to stand there before the lens, just for the fun of looking thereafter at the resulting images; without expectation nor guarantee as to results. I portray it as an opportunity to play truant for an afternoon, a chance to take one's mind off the routine. I am touched by the generosity of those who accept, their willingness to give their time and their acceptance to expose their vulnerability.

I could resort to professional models; competent, each with a palette of time-proven poses : the all-included of the photo shoot. But I prefer the misgivings of the novice who accepted out of enthusiasm, curiosity and courage, just to later find herself or himself tugged between the fear of failing and the elation of discovery.

What to do then? I will pursue my quest with renewed energy, my voice each time as enthusiast as though I was proposing for the first time. I remain convinced that there are models-to-be everywhere. Mine is the mission to find and reveal them.

Friday 2010-01-22 :

An advert in the morning paper : a full-page colour picture of an immaculate beach under a cloudless blue sky; no soul in sight. The caption reads Escape to the friendlier skies of the Caribbean.

Mid-January, steeped in post-Christmas blues. Cold weather and short daylight, the bottom of the long trough between the holiday season and spring. At this time of year, legions head south for a week or two in the sun. The phenomenom gains momentum with every year; so much so that the luxury of travelling now seems to be considered by many as a fundamental right.

We allegedly work so hard that we do not only deserve some time off, but actually have to escape from the unbearable winter (noticeably mild this year) in order to find solace. As though this country, in this season, was an evil place one should run away from at all cost. So, deafened by the drumming of the travel industry, people pack up by the scores and endure congested airports, crammed charter planes, delayed flights and lost luggage in exchange for five meagre days in the sun, trading an overloaded work schedule for an overcrowded beach.

Not for me. Instead, I look forward for a relaxing weekend : stay home, keep a pot of coffee warm, sit by the window in my favourite armchair, leafing through a book of photographs, and watch the snow fall on the winding path that cuts trough the snow banks on its way from the street to my door.

This land sure has a harsh climate, but it has been generous with our forebears, my fellow citizens, and myself. This is where I belong, where I will spend and enjoy the winter.

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