Things have been so hectic that only now I can find the time to go through the pictures I took on this amazing trip. Starting on 17 May, I spent a month travelling down along the east coast of the United States, together with a friend. We visited New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Charleston, Charlotte and New Orleans. I was especially thrilled to visit New Orleans; it had been on my bucket list for a long time. Also, while in New York we took a trip to Asbury Park, N.J., which was just a few hours by train away from the Big Apple. It was a small pilgrimage to the neighbourhood of one of my heroes, Bruce Springsteen, who grew up around there and launched his career from the Asbury Park boardwalk.
In 2015 I travelled to New Zealand and Indonesia, an incredible trip which led to the start of this blog. To cut the 24-hour flight to Auckland in half we decided to take 48 hours off in the city where we had to transfer, Kuala Lumpur. As it turned out, 48 hours were enough, Southeast Asian cities being what they are – noisy, busy and rather smelly – but Kuala Lumpur was well worth a visit nonetheless, presenting a unique mixture of different religions, architecture styles and cuisines.
Given that there’s only one month the Fins can properly call ‘summer’, it might be a bit of a stretch to call Suomenlinna, a former military bastion just off the coast of Helsinki, a little holiday paradise. Yet there was still plenty to see when I visited there in April earlier this year, though it was clear that its inhabitants, museums and shops were awaiting the warmer weather and the influx of tourists which then still seemed a long way off.
You may remember my lightning visit to Dublin last year. I returned there for a proper visit last week, and naturally I took some self-portraits. It was lovely to get out of the city as well, for a drive through the Wicklow Mountains and a round walk on the small peninsula of Howth, a fishing village that has essentially merged with Dublin. More photos of these places are to come.
Recently, I was asked by my friend Anouschka to contribute something to her creative online platform, LitCafe (a brilliant initiative, where writers, artists, philosophers and other creative minds meet). As the theme for October was “Déja Vu”, I thought I’d write a short essay about my ever-ongoing self-portrait series: why I do it, why I call it art, and how it helps me see the world differently. It’s available to read here.
While on holiday in Yorkshire last month, my friends and I decided to go up to Newcastle for the day. I didn’t know much about the city, except that it was at the heart of the industrial revolution in Britain and that it’s where Dire Straits singer Mark Knopfler is from. In fact, while making my way to Yorkshire from Wales – where I started out, visiting friends – I found myself on a whistle-stop tour through the north of England, passing through Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds before ending up in York. My impression of these cities was all too brief: driving through Birmingham, which was heavily bombed during the war, left me with the impression of a hodgepodge of soot-stained red brick buildings with garish postwar structures planted here and there. Newcastle, however, surprised me: I had expected more of the same. But the moment we passed that magnificent sculpture on the motorway, the Angel of the North, which personifies better than anything the north’s industrial charm, and drove into the city with a view of Newcastle’s seven bridges curving over the river Tyne, I knew we were in for something different.
As opposed to the blink-and-you-miss-it blue twenty minutes we usually get here in the Netherlands — one of the best times of day for photographers, when the sun has just set and the combination of electric night lights and the still luminous sky makes for the most beautiful pictures — Helsinki was exceedingly generous with its opportunities for nighttime photography. Not only did the skies become a deeper and deeper blue much more gradually, the exceedingly modern architecture of the city almost gave it a sci-fi feel. Apparently Helsinki is famous for its starry nights, but sadly we didn’t witness any, although the clouds made for some spectacular skies as well.