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Just think a bit about what has happened last weeks in London. Now just think in a different way as you may usually do. Let’s just call things with a different name, and ask some (really silly) questions.

There are people, who claim being in some kind of special relationship with a very powerful imaginary friend, that entitle themselves with the right of killing other people who, apparently, don’t talk to the same imaginary friend. This circumstance is a good reason to kill them, they think. I am just curious…

How can we really know we are talking about different imaginary friends? What if it is the same for everyone? How many imaginary friends do exist, one, two, forty two, one per each person alive in this world? What has happened to the imaginary friends that no one ever remembers now, the ones that were so popular some thousands of years ago? Why these imaginary friends never seem to answer our biggest questions, and seem to easily answer the most petty ones? I’ve never been able to talk to one of these imaginary friends. Has it happened to you?. If so, how that conversation went? Has your life, or better yet, the life of your loved ones, changed in a meaningful way after that conversation? More importantly, what makes you so special (on the entire universe) to be listened to by your favorite imaginary friend? Does your imaginary friend talk to other people in need too, I guess in his/her spare time? What is time and who did it, by the way?

My most educated guess is: We will never know. Because perhaps, imaginary friends end being just that… Imaginary? When I think in this silly way, a crystal (ball) clear thought comes to my mind: What a waste of human lives, along the entire human history, in the name of… nothing?

 

The hypothesis of God, for instance, gives an incomparably absolute opportunity to understand everything and know absolutely nothing. Give man an extremely simplified system of the world and explain every phenomenon away on the basis of that system. An approach like that doesn’t require any knowledge. Just a few memorized formulas plus so-called intuition and so-called common sense.

― Arkady Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic

Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

— The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan.

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I think I’m going to start a black and white period of pictures. I love colour ones, but I feel like black and white is better suited these days. Black and white is less distracting, helping ease composition issues as pictures can become more abstract and schematic. Also perhaps it fits better with my current mood. Or the British weather, I don’t know…

Over a year ago, I wrote a post where I said that I was doing alright. It’s amazing how things can change so fast. A person that was like my anchor to this place, or so I thought, decided suddenly to search for greener pastures in another (more sunny) country. Also, the company where I was working closed its doors, suddenly too, for unknown reasons. So there I was again, feeling alone, in a place I really didn’t like. A place haunted by memories. After that, I moved to London, I found a job in another studio here, and everything seems to be back on track, almost. London, for all its charm and (photo) opportunities, is proving its fame of being one of the most unfriendly cities of the world. It seems very difficult to connect with people here. That’s what feels to me, so far.

2016 ended (thanks, it was time already…), and for this 2017, I have no idea what to expect. I’m scared of expecting anything. If last year new year’s resolutions were full of plans and ideas for the future, this one will be just about licking my wounds, as they say here. Yeah, I know, it’s a very dramatic way to put it, there are far more serious problems out there, but… Someone I used to know (and love) always said to me that everything happens for a reason. The same person that escaped to the sunny country, ironically. To be honest, I never believed in all that “the universe conspires to make me happy (or unhappy)” nonsense. It is, in my opinion, an irrational way of thinking. And a bit selfish too. An easy way out from (the sometimes hard to deal) reality. I’m sure the universe is busy with more important stuff, like burning helium in stars and throwing dust and gas into black holes. I am a more down to earth person, I guess. I’ll just keep taking pictures, reading, learning new things, doing my job the best I can, travelling with my daughter (my real anchor here, not an imaginary one) to places, etc… and see how it all goes. No plans ahead. 

By the way, the picture for this post, completely unrelated to this rambling, was taken two weeks or so ago in London. In black and white looks more interesting to me. The colors for this 2017…

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Hello again, after a very long time… I guess I should explain a bit my current situation with this blog. And with my photography. And maybe I will even tell something about my life. So, in no particular order…

Lots of things have happened/changed lately. Almost two years ago I became separated. Do you remember this picture? It’s the entrance of some mediation service office in Cambridge. Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, I guess, and as I promised, here is the explanation for that post title. I left my job. Now I live (and work) in another place. New friends, new places, new interests,… I think I’m doing pretty well. But I’ve become a bit shy about doing this blog thing. Or maybe a bit lazy. Or busy with other stuff. I still take pictures, more often now with my mobile. From time to time, with my DSLR. I spend less time editing, processing and posting pictures online. What I have started doing more is reading about photography and photographers, visiting exhibitions in London, all things that still interest me, but I was never able to do very often before. Also, I am enjoying spending time not only with me. I was told recently that I should spend more time with myself. I don’t know, I guess I have been doing that my entire life… And practising photography can be a bit lonely sometimes.

But again, I feel that keeping a blog updated with pictures, musings, quotes, comments about whatever comes to my mind, can have some therapeutic effect on me. I never cared a lot about the amount of followers. But I know that some of my followers are always interested in my pictures. And my best friends (not the imaginary ones, those can go somewhere else…) will be happy to know that I am still here (in this blog, I mean).

And you may wonder what has the picture in this post to do with all this rambling? Absolutely nothing, I just wanted to show you a picture of today’s lunch. Taken with my mobile, and processed in VSCOcam. I like the vibrant colours of the result. My cooking skills are not very good yet… 😉


Last day of 2014. Its been a difficult year for me. And for lots of other people. Yesterday I was walking in Cambridge, in a cold but sunny day, thinking about what exactly attached me to this place. Not only me, but some people I know has asked me the same question recently. And to be honest, some days I don’t know. Others, like yesterday, I think there is still potential. Cambridge in sunny days is beautiful. There are things I still love, and future things I will love, I’m sure. Today I really would like to forget 2014. Facebook’s clumsy attempt on making memorable posts for the year was not very welcome in my case either. At the same time, I know today there will be people in far worse situations. And people helping out instead of partying till late. And that puts things in perspective and makes me think that I shouldn’t worry so much. So, I truly wish 2015 to be a great year for everyone. It must be. That’s my only new year’s resolution. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago I went to another of those local photography meetings. This time it was about a project someone wanted to show and discuss. You can read more about it here. It is not about followers on social media but people who just follow their loved ones from one place to another because many reasons. Work is the most common one.

Somehow it felt familiar. I was myself one who followed his parents along the years through some different places. And now I am one who has dragged his family with him to a new place with the promise of a better life. Now I have my own followers, so I can easily relate to this project. There are many known things that happen in a leader-follower kind of relationship in a foreign country that this project describes.

One is the follower having to stop working. Developing her/his own career becomes difficult if not impossible. Depending on the country, the academic titles might not be recognized. In some countries you can only work with a permit of some kind, that doesn’t usually include your partner. The unemployment numbers might be high for specific kinds of jobs. Specialization means having to do courses, that cost money and time. And time for oneself is not easy to get, given that now she/he will need to care of the children at home, if there are any.

Another issue comes with the concept of home, a place that you are supposed to live in forever. Or is it just the place where you actually live?. While the leader can be perfectly fine at his/her office doing the job, meeting with co-workers, feeling part of the experience, the follower can feel just the opposite. Difficulties on people in the new place and possibly a complete lack of sympathy with the new place that she/he refuses to call home.

There are more things that can happen, but as a start, these two can become quite complicated. Sooner or later this will produce frictions in the relationship. Doubts about her/his role as a follower will appear. So at some point she/he will start questioning what was all this fuss about the expat life.

I asked to the host of the meeting about the leader part. If she ever did talk with the ones that at some point decided to bring his/her followers to a new place. She told me that only in a few cases. The project is more about her interest in people is this particular situation, one that she also is having, by the way. Another similar project could be done, or a second part to this one, about the leaders. These can also have their own sort of issues and doubts, more if not everything goes as expected. If that happens, the dynamics between leaders and followers can become even more difficult.

And what this has to do with photography? Why this discussion took place in a photography meeting? Part of the project are portraits and pictures of some of the places where the followers live. And while they initially didn’t look like very interesting pictures to me, they made more sense when explained. The most interesting ones were the portraits, with a split composition showing an empty space and a half of a follower’s portrait. This was meant to show that somehow, the follower was and at the same time wasn’t there, in a place that doesn’t look exactly like home. Other pictures were more about the place itself, like specific corners of the house, or personal belongings.

You can see a few of these pictures here.

Yesterday I attended to a local photography group meeting. The subjects of these meetings are usually more photography techniques related, but sometimes there is a nice debate. The theme of the night was ethics in photography practice. It wasn’t necessary to be a seasoned photographer to attend to this session, as the subject is applicable to lots of different aspects of life or work.

Some famous photographs were shown, that somehow have stirred the minds of people in recent years, along with other examples.The panellists talked about their experience in newspapers or street photography, two specific genres that can have issues of this kind. Issues about what pictures must be taken and not.Issues about what are the intentions of publishing specific pictures, their context and how playing with that context can alter the meaning of those pictures.

It seemed to me that for the newspaper person, the thing was about delegation and his own common sense and experience. Everything was measured on a professional scale. He was sent by his editors to cover some specific thing happening somewhere. His mission was just taking as many pictures as he could. And later this editors, based on their own criteria, featured “the picture”for the event. He mentioned a few times in his career that was told off by people asking why he was taking this or that picture. He was sent once to a place where a woman had drown in the sea, and some people started questioning his presence in that terrible scene. He also mentioned other times when he just wasn’t able to take pictures of some specific events he experienced. For example, when he saw an accident in the road just in front of him, and his first reaction was waiting for the medical services to appear. He wasn’t on an assignment, so he didn’t took any pictures. He didn’t even thought about it.

The street photographer was less concerned about this, I think. His sole intentions are mostly artistic ones. He wants to make a nicely framed picture of ordinary people doing more or less ordinary things in the streets of Cambridge. The biggest moral dilemma is usually the kind of: should I ask for permission, or not? Will that person notice me with my camera? If some embarrassing situation arises he just gives a card to people with his website address, so if they see a “bad” picture of theirs, they can ask him for removal. I have seen his pictures and they are really nice. In both technical qualities and intentions. I don’t think anyone could have ever found them offensive.

The extremes were mentioned. People that will do the impossible to get a picture. Someone mentioned Don McCullin, and I instantly remembered his documentary. I think that is a quite good example of a photographer that faced really difficult situations and even risked his life for “the picture”. Could his presence have changed some events he witnessed? Does a photographer in an armed conflict has that kind of power or responsibility? These are some incredible difficult questions that not even McCullin seems to have an answer for. At the same time, his legacy is an amazing set of historical pictures that hopefully will raise the awareness about the damages of the armed conflicts he documented.The other (ridiculous) extreme they talked about was the paparazzis. People with a camera that will become an intruder in anyone’s life for not precisely the right reasons.

Food for thought. Good weekend!

It’s no secret that a friend is someone who lets you help
It’s no secret that a liar won’t believe anyone else
They say a secret is something you tell one other person
So I’m telling you… child.

– The Fly, U2.

Yes, I have an imaginary friends. I must be going nuts or something, but that reality is becoming more and more obvious. I thought this things just happened when you a are a child. I see my daughter sometimes talking to people who is not there, as far as I know. They have different names, they tell her things, she plays with them, or she runs away scared. When this happens, I cannot avoid some strange feeling. Maybe, there was someone there, next to my daughter.

Anyone with children has had this experience. It is a very usual phenomenon, a child’s imagination is completely out of control, as it needs to be, and when you become older, your own self-control and awareness of reality makes this things more difficult to happen. At least, that’s what I thought. I’m almost 40, and long time ago I stopped playing with cuddly toys and LEGO (although I like LEGO still and I find broken old cuddly toys heartbreaking). I don’t consider myself a very imaginative person though.

Then, why at this age I’m thinking I have imaginary friends? What has happened in my mind lately to make me think so. Enter Social networks vs Real life. Everybody  this days is into social networks. Facebook, twitter, google, etc… The first thing I find funny is calling this social. Social for me is hanging out with friends or colleagues and chat about whatever comes across. Social is receiving an invitation for a dinner in some friends house. Social is doing a bbq in your garden, if the weather is right (oh, the weather). Social is inviting someone to your house or a restaurant or a pub to have lunch. Social is going with other people to places or just have a walk. Social is to meet new people, like when you start a new job in a foreign country.

All that, and a few more things, mean social to me, while seating in a computer reading status updates I don’t care about, laughing at the nth version of the latest meme, browsing pictures of holidays taken who knows where, or parties you haven’t been invited to, is not. At least not for me.

When I started using facebook, I thought it was great. I did what most people do. Added as friends some real friends I had close to me at that moment. Also, I added some work colleagues, not thinking first, what if they know about… whatever, It doesn’t matter. Also I started looking for people who I knew in the past. I have lived in a few different places along my life. It is always hard to move to another place and more so if you lose contact with people who at that point in your life was important to you for any reason. Old friends, old girlfriends, old crushes… old things generally speaking. I think everybody using this social networks have added at some point this kind of old people. Why? I don’t know, maybe you still have hope to continue things were you left them, maybe you are just curious about their lives, possibly you are a secret stalker. And lastly, I added some family to the mix. That would work right, I though…

Now a bit of culture shock. When I first knew about Facebook, I was living in Spain. Maybe its the weather, maybe its the people, I have no clear idea what it is, but people there is quite different. I know it sounds stereotype, but it’s that way. In three years living here I have met some people from different places, and there are some clear differences. Being myself Spanish, I know there are things, or ways of being and behave here, that I still don’t get. And I’m not talking about just being more introverted or extroverted. In fact, I am more the former. But I care about simple things like saying good morning or asking about the weekend, things that most of my colleagues at work just seem to ignore. Just a tiny example, a tiny detail that can drive a Spanish guy completely crazy. Here it looks much more difficult to know about someone in an informal conversation. You may end thinking that everybody ignores you, or that everybody is quite reserved, as the stereotype says. Everything can change in a pub though, under some alcohol influence. Then you really start knowing people. More so, if you manage to understand a word of what they say, a skill not taught in English schools in Spain.

And there is another place where people here seem to expose themselves really well, which is… Facebook. People here disclose all sorts of personal issues using Facebook. You know about birthdays, holidays, divorces, engagements, weddings, births, all sort of mental health issues, political and religious views (another kind of mental health issues), etc…, more from reading your wall than from real conversations with people. And it looks perfectly normal. To me, it doesn’t. It is not that I am not interested in those things. It is the way I get to know about them, reading a website, and not with a coffee (or tea, or beer) at hand listening to a real person in front of me. I find something weird about this kind of social interaction.

While these facebook/twitter/whatever sessions it is like entering into Matrix. You escape from the real world to the world of disclosed thoughts and musings in a website. And it is al-right. The wrong part for me comes when that becomes the only way of interaction with them. And in a foreign place, given the usual language and cultural differences, that can happen quite easily.

Hey, you are writing about some personal things in your blog! Yes I do but I find posting things in a blog a bit different. I am not forcing anyone to read them.  And as far as I now, none of my followers knows me in real life (well, that may not be strictly true) . And what this blog is most about is pictures I’ve taken. It clearly says that in the title, top left corner. I write about things that maybe are interesting to people but I don’t expect much in exchange. And I write here because I enjoy having conversations with my imaginary friends… 😉

Choose your enemies carefully, ’cause they will define you
Make them interesting ’cause in some ways they will mind you
They’re not there in the beginning but when your story ends
Gonna last with you longer than your friends

– Cedars Of Lebanon, U2