I narrowly escaped the low doorway, stumbling from the bedroom to find a desperate bottle of water. Paint flakes from the window ledge felt like they had blown over our sunlit faces for hours, while the curtain made our dreams erratic. A strange yellow light was diffused by the window. And an unusual burning smell found its way into our lungs. Outside, I found myself beneath the engulfing haze that had covered a vast stretch of the morning sky. Minuscule parts of ash were falling onto the clothesline, and the dead grass seemed more vibrant than usual. Fires had erupted all over mainland Greece while we slept off our summer hangover.
George the baker told me there wasn’t much for him at work this year. He’s a friendly and round man in his early forties, and proprietor of the island’s best olive oil rusks. They call them paximadia and they are legit remarkable. Instead, I often saw George riding around the town village on an old mountain bike. His thongs were about to fall off every time he threw his arm up at someone he recognised in the street. I got the feeling that George was the only man who owned a bike and he didn’t mind that.
Athens was battling a war of desperation when I arrived this year. Although, when I made it to Kythira, that great afternoon cloud still blew in from the west. The fennel plants still went to seed on time, and the cats slept in the shade of olive trees. I unpacked my bag that would last me seven weeks, and checked the fig trees for the first signs of fruit.
The radar was showing red and not much coastline. So we waited it out for one night, before me and my girl took off down the coast, arriving in the dark black night. I introduced myself to the man beside by the fire, but there wasn’t much in common, besides the fire. Casey was saying something about the tent and I forgot to bring the wine. But the stars were satisfying. And the last ones to bed, we poured a bucket of water over the performing embers, as we watched them fall offstage.
There was unusual excitement on the morning of Jazz and Olly’s wedding day. It was the first real wedding for some of us, but there was also a feeling, somehow reminiscent to the first day of school holidays. We couldn’t wait to go outside and do everything together right now and not go home until we had to.
As we arrived with tents and bottles and clothes spilling from our arms, I noticed Olly standing by the entrance with all the composure in the world, chest inflated and shoes perfectly white. I began to breathe as I congratulated the groom and looked up to the welcoming gumtrees and late afternoon sunlight. This was the beginning of Jazz and Olly’s day.
When I finished my second year of photography, our teacher gave me a small book of nude paintings. I thought it was a odd gift, albeit a symbol of maturity between the teacher and I. I never used the school’s darkroom again, although I’ve always remembered how mesmeric a woman’s body can be.
Equipment: Nikon F4s camera / 50mm f/1.8 lens / Kodak TRI-X film
After a day of driving through the hot forest ranges, we descended into the Glenfalls campground. A freshwater river paralleled a long grass field, while kids strayed from their parents and waited for an early feed. And a young blue heeler named Gus, sat by his tree.
Australia began to incinerate with irrepressible bushfires for another summer, as the people peel singed eyelashes from their irises and amassed at the beach. I stood on the decking that led down to the water, watching over the colourful scenery of ocean and charcoaled skin. I thought of how the landscape was described to be 227 years ago, before the Indigenous land owners were massacred. The Aborigines had an inseparable relationship with fire, constantly burning off vegetation. Their understanding of native fauna and wildflowers was the catalyst for this unique technique known as fire-stick farming. It provided an enhanced visibility for hunting, allowing them to target their pray with greater ease. Trees looked as though they had been sporadically planted for human needs, with barrenness in between. The Kangaroo population was high, and bushfires were seldom.
And just at that moment, a couple of blokes dropped their Eski momentarily as they carried it down to Gunnamatta Beach.
Equipment: Mamiya 7 ii camera / 43mm lens / Ektar 100 film