July 17, 2010

My conception of love (about the picture on the header of this blog)

Somebody asked yesterday about the picture on the top of my blog. It is my favorite photography, so this is the story.

In late summer 2007 I bought my first camera, a small Kodak. My first trip with it was to Guatemala and Southern Mexico, the second one, in May 2008, to Prague-Vienna-Budapest. I did that shot in Budapest.

My parents decided to spent the day visiting some castles, churches and that sort of architecture, while I decided to see the former communist neighborhoods. Somehow we met by chance and had lunch together. Dad insisted and persuaded me to go and see the Széchenyi thermal baths in the middle of a big park called Városliget.

So I walked all the way from Pest's downtown to Városliget stopping every now and then to make some pics. I saw a car accident, an art gallery, an open-air photo exhibition, the buildings destroyed by the communist dictatorial regime...

I was running out of battery. When I came to the big Hősök tere ("Heroes Square"), a group of rollerbladers was there practicing. I managed to shoot some pics of them and also a sale of animal fur in an adjacent little store. But I was fighting with the camera: I had to turn it on and shoot immediately, because it was impossible to have it working more than a second or two.

Hősök tere and Városliget are connected with a bridge, which is actually the beginning of a street called Kós Károly. The bridge starts right away from the square. On the shore of the lake, on the left side, a kermesse was ending. I don't know which kind of fair or celebration it was. But it was getting late (around 6.40pm) and people were closing, putting everything back in their cars and trucks. There was a big group of Biergarten-benches, relatively organized. You could see that there had been many people, enjoying the day, having fun. It was an interesting motive for me: signs of a nice day that many people had had. My upper position was also really good. But still I was too far away and since I had no more battery on my camera, it would be impossible to turn it on, use the zoom, focus and shoot. I had to get closer. I remembered Robert Capa telling me: "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough". I had no choice, I had to get closer. So I abandoned the bridge and walked on the shore, still in an elevated position.

I saw a sweater on the last bench. It was light blue, if I remember right. Somebody had forgotten it. I thought it would be the best detail of the pic, a more concrete sign of life, some kind of three little points of suspension at the end of a phrase... somebody perhaps coming back to pick it up.

And suddenly, this couple, very well dressed both of them, specially being Sunday, approached. I had seen them shortly before convincing the vendors to sale them some food despite the time. I don't know where they had been before, but it was obvious that they had just arrived, not only because of the need to insist, but specially because of the clothes.

I got disappointed. I wanted to shoot the empty benches and the sweater, and these guys were polluting "my" scene. I waited to see what they wanted to do while I was checking the angle with my camera off. They chose one of the benches and sat down "a horcajadas" (astride), as we say in Spanish, a beautiful expression.

He was very gentle to her. I think he kissed her shortly, maybe on her forehead, but I am not sure. I got very happy, the couple was improving my motive. Suddenly, he took her legs and pulled her towards him, putting them on his knees. He then took a piece of food (a cookie? some salty piece of dehydrated meat?) and put it very softly and romantically in her mouth, showing absolute care and dedication. I turned on my camera, looked for the b&w option and turned off the flash as fast as possible.

I shot.

The camera went off immediately, I was unable to see the image, but I knew it was a very good one. I stayed there for a while, enjoying the moment, being an intruder in their love and special moment. I thought of the girl who was waiting for me back in Berlin...

The couple never noticed me -- I was the only one on the shore -- or anybody else crossing the bridge. They were focusing on each other. Talking about what? Where had they been? The opera? It was not that far away. Who knows. Only they know. My intrusion was not that bad. I just let them infect me with their romanticism, since love is also contagious.

I tried to turn on the camera again: impossible, it didn't work. I focused on myself and told me that this was a very special moment that I would never forget. I walked back two or three steps, stopped and contemplated again those benches, the sweater and the couple talking and eating. My spirit was full of joy and happiness.

Then I left.

A bit later I was able to shoot one more picture, the very last one, of the statue of "Anonymous". Then the batteries were completely exhausted. I haven't made more images of Budapest since then.

That was my last evening before driving back to Berlin by train next morning. Back home I checked the picture for the first time and realized something I hadn't seen, namely that she was fixing her hair: that is why her hand is up, a detail which I don't like that much. But there is nothing perfect. Not even love.

This picture means a lot for me, it is my favorite one and depicts my conception of love. It shows me that the world is relatively in order, specially in our democracies, and that we are not the first ones to be here. Wherever we are, there has been already a story, a life, and there is even a story going on, as the forgotten sweater suggests.

But for me, you are my whole world, nothing else is as important as you, the rest can wait, but I cannot wait for you. Although we are close to each other, I want you to be closer, as close as possible, come close to me, let me put your legs on my knees to feel you really close.

We are just humans with basic needs. We get hungry, thirsty, sick, sad and happy, we will die, but now you are with me and that is my paradise, you are my paradise despite what the world thinks or does, if they are getting back home after a hard working Sunday, if they are tourists making pictures or just having a stroll on a bridge -- nothing of that matters to me, just you.

I want to take care of you always, as I am taking care of you now. I want to share this with you, it is not much, but is everything I have. I want to show you my care and dedication, to show you that you are my world and my paradise, the rest of the world can wait: past and future doesn't matter as much as you, because you are my present.



Anonymous said...

Like it.

Anonymous said...

Wow all I can say is that you are a great writer! Where can I contact you if I want to hire you?

Anonymous said...

Hi there

Awesome blog, great write up, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Go for it.

RicardoZF said...

Touching. Moving.