When it comes to happy places and comfort zones there's no other place like a botanical gardens and its glasshouse. This sanctuary of stillness, slow life, natural aesthetics and a mathematical order of grow immediately get the heart rate down and cool off the sometimes overloaded city-life head. Naturally, the slow paced kind of walking kicks in, breathing calms and the gaze gets filled with calming green.Read more
Winter is almost gone and all we talk about is the scents outside the house - it smells like spring!Read more
I will write you how it really went. Manuel and I have been planing to meet up for a photo session long before meeting in person. Sending each other pinboards with inspiring photos of wonderful photographers via messenger we seemed to be planing a huge thing there - with body paint, with plants, with glitter, with smoke, mirrors, blankets, coal.. But when the day came to meet up (after postponing or cancelling it for a great amount of times) I got all indecisive and that said - simply lacking any inspiration or focus at all for the kind of scenery I wished to produce. Last second we decided to get the bus to the riverside and combine our artistic evening with a picnic. Until we got to the right spot, the perfect sunset hour just slipped out of our sights, though not stopping us from playing around with the light leftovers.There were bike riders passing by the place we sat at the water, the big field of meadow got all silent, fresh and moist after the dew had fallen. We took the given freedom - in no rush having a french style baguette-cheese-tomato dinner between the tall grass, then running around the empty fields, experimenting with smoke bombs, LED lights. Back then though I thought "what a pity - I have this beautiful evening, wonderful people but no ideas in my head". But the way my friend models were relaxed changed the flow of the evening into a magical result, at least for me.
I realised just shortly before the session that it's a very different thing all together to photograph a man as the main subject. I have rarely done it for a variety of reasons - women tend to join me in a session faster or on more simple ways than men, I guess. Also, it's a different message when you combine let's say flower blossoms with a girl than with a man (see, there's no link there for that kind of a session because I simply haven't done it yet, and I wish I had! though it was hard in the past - I remember I once tried placing an ex-lover in front of a blossom bush. He gave me 3 minutes. And after never again.)
It was wonderful - a closing session like this of the warm sleeveless season and birkenstocked feet in the fields. Inspiration isn't always there, sometimes you have to gently invite her to come over, no force though. It's like a campsite cup: you hold it up, maybe it'll be filled with something delicious, maybe not, come anything - be grateful. Only when you don't have the right time for her - inspiration is aggressively there, annoying and teasing. Sometimes you just need this one shot to get your artsy ego happy for the night. At least we were more picnicking, laughing and joking than forcing anything. And after all - things just happened. And I'm thankful to the Fairy of All Beautiful for putting the right props together for me in the one right shutter speed moment.
When I first met the two owners of La Primera Sonrisa at the opening of their café & bar, I ended up standing behind the counter and pressing fresh lemons into the iced water for their curious new customers. People were standing lines on their first open day and I was more than keen to offer my help switching from customer to a bartender. The thing is, after two months of me living in a sleepy little village it was like an iced water splash into my face to see two young lively people with dreams, ideas and certainty in their eyes doing their own thing. Their magnetic energy kinda reached my good vibe locators and so a friendship was born.
Here are some facts. Koen and Ivo are two of those, who actually did quit their well payed jobs in Holland and decided to turn their paths into a more sunny, tropical kind of life under the Andalusian sky. Just a couple of months ago, they did what many thought was impossible - they opened a café & bar followed by a two room design hotel on a site where there's not one shop nor office nor market. But a grand view.
It's the village called Polopos in the very south of Spain, white and old like Spanish little villages are, with narrow crooked streets, big bloomy flowerbeds, clean air, a view of dry mountains and the Mediterranean sea, and countless possibilities for outdoor hiking adventures. It's very tranquil and what some might call boring, for many - me included - it's the way to unplug from a noisy city life, get relief and reconnect with the simple joys, sensations or even the own breathing rhythm. On a calm sunset hike you start feeling like a prince of the world, watching endless Mediterranean below the feet, snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada in the north and sometimes even another continent in the far South. It's a village with a huge potential of a tranquil kind.
The hotel offers two rooms with a unique design. It's a personal business matter for the two entrepreneurs and you feel it when you enter the rooms - vintage carpets, fossil accessories, upcycled furniture and found attributes from around the globe meet together in a hotel room with aview. In the mornings they cook you breakfast and in the afternoon there's a set of creatively homemade tapas to every refreshing drink till after the sun sets.
To book a getaway holiday at La Primera Sonrisa you can contact Ivo and Koen directly or book on the common booking websites. Otherwise, take a sneak peek on their homepage, instagram or facebook to get yourself convinced.
Good to know: best airport to land is in Malaga (120km away); rent a car with a slightly bigger engine for serpentine uphill rides; go in autumn, spring or around the Christmas period - it's good for hikes (if you are fine with melting in the sun - July and August are also great!).
By the way, the café and the hotel are the stepping stones for a further grand idea: in the following months an off the grid eco resort is in planning. A kickstarter alike project will be launched soon to collect the needed resources for this vision to come alive: you will be able to make a contribution of 500€ in exchange for a two-person ten-day accommodation in one of their Valle del Eden Tiendas that will be built on a mountain side land property surrounded only by nature. So stay tuned for more details on their media channels.
... or The Things You Can Learn From Your Older Cooler Brothers
Both of my brothers are technical geeks, of course. Because who's brothers actually aren't. Every time I come around to visit the one or another - there's new things to see, to learn, to touch and then be jealous about. This time my big bro' introduced me to his precious new toy - the drone DJI PHANTOM 3 Advanced. As an out-dated humanist I have never actually seen nor - moreover - tried out navigating a drone of that kind. It's this little light weight, four propeller thing with a flexibly attached camera; it can fly and be navigated for up to 2 km of a distance away from its controller. A 12 megapixel camera with HD video recording capacity - all there. And - when you attach your mini tablet or smartphone on the controller, you can follow the drones route from birds eye perspective while still keeping your feet firmly on the ground. How damn cool is that!
And so we packed the drone bag to drive towards the next calm corner in the busy city of Vilnius. My brother insisted on me overtaking the controller and daring to get the drone up to the sky. Amazing how easy with just four different finger movements you can come up with something amazing like that within minutes; I got thinking about how many more possibilities open up for creative people and artist, how many fantastic unseen images can be captured or even staged. Just to start with - look at this Lithuanian photographer Karolis Janulis who was obviously having lots of fun experimenting with his drone pet.
But as it isn't quite of a bargain that you spontaneously purchase out of boredom at night on Amazon, here's my top five reasons to start saving on one:
- it opens a rare perspective from a birds eye on demand, something that was not possible to be seen on a casual every day basis
- it reaches things, buildings, nature landscapes which are hard to be reached by foot or machine and makes an additional point of view possible
- it's practical for different kind of documentation like events, real estate, landscapes
- what ever you do photographically - it will bring you to the next level
- and let's face it - it's a great toy in general! like when back in childhood the kids who got those tiny remotely controlled helicopters for Christmas and from then on everyone wanted to be friends with them.. but that's a totally different kind of story.
Good to know: get at least one extra battery at purchase, otherwise you can pack up the propellers after just 20 minutes of great but short fun.
A few snaps from up above:
Look at that - the most symbolical building of Vilnius, the Gediminas' Tower, the reason why the whole city was build around that hill. I was navigating the drone up above it and around.
It was a rather special visit of my brother and Vilnius this time. To be honest, even though it's only the cream part I've been spending time at - like the old town, newly reopened parks with their musical fountains in bright sunshine, those busy but somewhat charming summer city corners amazed me. We were cruising on longboards in a big green park at dusk together with many other people cruising on other things while some DJs were changing one chilly vinyl after another, just because it's summer, just because it's good weather; we tested some of the new Vilnius talking statues between beers on a warm summer night to rediscovered some of the forgotten Lithuanian history pages while the streets were full of celebrating beautiful summerly dressed people; my bro' showed me a place to try out virtual reality glasses which was a whole lotta different experience all together. It was a quality visit for sure. And I'm happy to have a big brother there, too.