I should be sleeping but…

… Im up scanning some film from today.  I recently came into some Type 55 and decided to shoot a few sheets of it to see if it still worked and if I still liked it.  Check yes on both of those.  Anyways, had a shoot for the NY Times magazine today earlier (nothing to do with what I am sharing here) and it went really well so, some of that mojo must have carried over to the afternoon.

So, Colleen called me up and wanted to get some photos made real quick since she is cutting her dreds off this week after what I imagine is a few years.  A white BG and the 4×5 all set up, the sun cooperated and went behind some clouds and we got to it.  I haven’t seen the actual film yet but this is one of my favorite images so far this year so, here
’tis.

Colleen Type 55Its kind of nice shooting B/W again – been awhile for that too.  Ok, I have to sleep – out of town again tomorrow for another shoot…

Shameless Plug

So, I figured I would give the whole eCommerce thing a try and just set up a BigCartel store this evening (I know, its Friday, go out and do something).  There are only 5 images up since that is the max for the free version.  I figure if I sell one piece, I can use that to pay for the expanded site and then host more images.  Lets see what happens…

Click through here or just cut and paste the following to all your friends and have them buy my prints…

http://hollisbennettphotography.bigcartel.com/

Pain, Penance and Perseverance

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am back from quite the trip to Morocco.  I won’t repeat what I wrote earlier but in a nutshell, I went there at the behest of an artists residency program and things went sideways real quick.  The powers that be decided to revoke my carefully obtained permission at the last minute and prevent me from shooting anything under the threat of arrest and deportation.

Saying this was a disappointment would be a gross understatement.  Being forced to sit on the sidelines with a full complement of gear and film for days was horrible.  This is where the pain aspect comes in.  Much as Im sure it would be excruciating for a junkie to be around a bunch of dope and not allowed any, the same went for me with all the amazing visuals happening constantly around me.  One day, I will go back.  Have to go back.

I mentioned having a load of film as well and you might think film?  Weird.  I chose to shoot 4×5 on this project and Im not going into the reasons but it has nothing to do with shooting polaroid and ‘happy accidents’ and more with slowing myself down and shooting style.  This is where the penance comes in.  For some reason, I think that its a great idea to take 40 kilos of gear and 500 sheets of film with me overseas, through multiple flights, on the backs of donkeys and ultimately, on my back.  I don’t know if I am atoning for prior photography sins or perhaps even taking on the sins of many (namely, HDR) but much like the penitent man, my burden is mine to carry.

film

When things go sideways, pear shaped, upside down and totally fubar’ed, the easiest thing is to just walk away, lick your wounds and come back another day.  Unfortunately, that really isnt an option.  There might not be another day and as we all know, things only really ever happen once weather it be the subject matter or the quality of light or the camera in hand or hostile village councils or any other of the million reasons that might conspire to ruin a shoot.  So, I had to do something.  I couldn’t leave empty handed and although the images I came home with aren’t what I set out to make, I am still extremely pleased with them and honestly, have no qualms in the end the way things developed.  PerseveranceIts as important a tool in the camera bag as the spare batteries or the camera itself.

Ok, less talk, more images but first a quick note as to what I did shoot.  Since I was banned from shooting in the village where the pilgrimage was taking place, I stayed behind in the town of Moulay Idriss with my local assistant/translator and set out to make street portraits around town.  I was received much more warmly than in the village down the way but still, I would say it was only 50/50 at best as to who would let me shoot their portrait.  Regardless, got some nice work.  After that was all said and done, I moved on to Fez where I was staying deep in the Medina or old city and through some acquaintances was able to have some amazing access to the local artisans.  Fez is know for the high quality of goods that come out of there and people are still manufacturing things piece by piece the way its been done for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Its what Brooklyn aspires to but thats another story for another day.  Anyways, I was able to shoot the leather workers, the tanners, the jewelery makers, the cloth dyers, the metal-smiths, woodworkers and so on and so on.  So, that being said, some images…

Rooftop from Moulay Idriss looking South

Rooftop from Moulay Idriss looking South

Local Berber man, Moulay Idriss

Local Berber man, Moulay Idriss

Mule Porter, Moulay Idriss Souk (market)

Mule Porter, Moulay Idriss Souk (market)

 

Metal-smith shop, Fez

Metal-smith shop, Fez

Tannery Worker, Fez

Tannery Worker, Fez

Woodworker, Fez

Woodworker, Fez

Cloth Dyer, Fez

Cloth Dyer, Fez

Tool Sharpener, Fez

Tool Sharpener, Fez

Fez Medina

Fez Medina

There will be many more images on my site and perhaps a book coming out as well.  Stay tuned…

 

 

Migration, perhaps.

Im looking at migrating this blog over to Tumblr so I can be hip.  I can’t wear skinny jeans, my bike has too many gears and PBR makes me fight the police so, I figure this is the next best thing towards being ironically cool.

Its not a done deal yet, still researching options.  Any comments/suggestions are appreciated.

Home, Part 1.

I arrived back home Sunday night from my 2 weeks in Morocco and I am glad to be back.  Really, really glad to be back.

To give a bit of background, I was selected to be one of 2 artists in residence for the moussem (pilgrimage) of Sidi Ali bin Hamdouch up in the foothills of the mountains in N. Morocco.  This pilgrimage is a very loose collection of folks from all over Morocco and NW Africa but all share a common thread in that they are all members of Sufi Muslim brotherhoods.  My intention was to arrive, shake some hands and set up the 4×5 and start shooting deliberate, honest portraits of the folks that attend to show the numerous differences between everyone but also the commonalities that they share.  This didn’t exactly happen as planned…

As soon as I arrived in Fez it was pouring rain and cold and generally horrible weather.  That cleared for a little while the next day once we had arrived in Sidi Ali and I decided it was time to set the big camera up and see what sort of response I got.  In less time than it takes to type half this sentence the city council officials were on my ass and demanding that I take the tripod down (hadn’t even gotten the camera on it yet) and all hell was breaking loose.  The coordinator for the residency stepped in and tried to make sense of things and diffuse the situation but to no avail.

The frustrating thing about this was that I was worried this might happen so, I made sure that the residency folks secured permission before hand, which they did, but as are the ways of the world, the powers that be revoked my permission.  Shit.  No what?  After trying and trying to get them to allow me to shoot it got me nowhere other than a few deportation threats and a permanent shadow to make sure we didnt break the rules.  Now, mind you, I was livid about this as I had spent a lot of money and more importantly, a lot of time to get over there and now I was rendered about as useful as an asshole on an elbow.

So, the days go on with out me shooting but observing and being in the moment of things at this pilgrimage and I tell you, as a photographer it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with since the visuals were so intense and there were so many good photos to have and, well, Im still a little bitter but Ill get over it.  Again, for some clarity, I should explain a few of the things that were going on at this event…

The pilgrimage goes on for about 10 days and starts roughly on the Prophet’s birthday but these are not hard and fast rules – as we have seen earlier, there is no such thing in Morocco.  So, people come from all around to the shrine of Sidi Ali bin Hamdouch to receive baraka or blessings and they bathe in the holy spring that comes out of the mountain.  Sounds pretty tame and like many other religious sites the world over (Lourdes, Ganges, etc etc) but oh, it is so much more.  The big component to Sufism that differentiates it from the rest of Islam is their strong belief in spirits or Djinn that are constantly present but sometimes need to be coaxed from the ethereal into the physical and they do this with music.  The way it manifests itself is that people start going into trance and pretty much lose their shit.  I was fortunate enough to be invited into some private homes to attend and ‘participate’ in these conjurings and Im still trying to wrap my head around all that I saw.  Not in order but I saw…

Women shattering glasses on their heads and eating the glass

A cow sacrificed in a living room

A woman trancing in the cow’s blood as it kicked for life (heavy)

Lots of knife play and lots of human blood

Speaking in tongues and animal voices

Lots of eyes rolling back into peoples heads

and lots of other bat shit crazy things.

 

So, Ill leave the follow up post to deal with the second half of the trip and add to these observations as I still need time to process everything.  Hell, I don’t know if Ill ever process everything.

To be continued…