When I was 7 years old, I wanted to write poetry. My favourite was Maurice Carême, a Belgian Francophone poet. His poems were all about nature, animals and beautiful rural scenes. So simple yet so deep it would make me daydream, “she’s in the clouds” (translated literally from the French), my teachers would say. I would always sit next to the window so I could look out and “fly away”.
I remember him describing scenes that came out of the paper (“L’Artiste”1970) and animals escaping from cages (La cage aux Grillons 1959) it was like magic. I had my first taste of escapism through art then. To recreate those feelings I liked to write poems myself carefully calligraphed with my fountain pen on fancy paper. When I was 9, I wanted to travel the world. My homework would bore me and I would always keep an Atlas of the world under my desk at home. I would then open it and start dreaming and planning of where I was going to go, what I would do and how I was going to get there. Even though I was a very shy and solitary child from the outside, I wanted to be this daring and courageous kid and maybe I wasn’t far from the inside.
When I was 12 I started to read Agatha Christie and this lead me to wish for adventures and travel. I started them in my mind composing never-ending films of dramas, detective and adventures. My imaginary films would never have an end as I thought that would be too sad.
I always wanted to open machinery to have a look inside: my aunt would give me radios, clocks and other things for me to repair. This is when I started to get interested in cameras. I was intrigued by it and soon I would get my hands on cameras like Kodak disc, mini Minolta, Yashica, Pentax, etc.
When I was 14 I wanted to write books, I would climb into the attic at the top of my room, my secret den, and would plan my novels. I kept notes then typed them on an old typewriter then eventually on a very basic computer, another intriguing machine.
At 15 I got my first SLR, a second-hand Nikon. This is when I first experimented with filters, lenses, etc. We went on an exotic family holiday in the Caribbean and this was for me the first time I spent time creating and planning shoots. I wanted to take those milliseconds home with me and make the scenery even more stunning. I was thrilled at the possibilities the camera and its accessories gave me. My room became a marketing board for a travel agency!
When I finished school, I had to think about what I wanted to study for it was the path one had to take. I was hesitating between journalism, film making and documentary. However my timidity took the better of me and I went to London university and studied Media. Even though university was not as exciting as I thought it would be, I did manage to have some great experiences.
My love for photography expanded beyond the textbooks and I spent most of my time in the lab, printing gave me even more scopes and it became an art.
Trying different papers, different methods I would not stick to what was asked on the course. I wanted to discover more and my teacher was very patient and knowledgeable. He would take the time to explain the whys and hows and I would go out there trying his techniques and coming back with more negatives to process and images to print.
At that time Photoshop was only at infant stage but very attractive to artists. I would then split my time between the lab and experimenting with desktop publishing on the Macs.
Later on I upgraded to a better Nikon the SLR F3 that was my treasure.
I was taking pictures of everything and anything: people, landscapes, sports, ballet, etc.
When I went to Spain for the first time, summer of 92, I discovered Latin culture. It was for me a revelation: the language, the people, the history, all made me get out of my shell and scream to the world “This is my place, this is me!” I felt at ease in the culture, was talking to everybody, the sunshine filled my soul and the place warmed my heart.
At the end of my studies, one thing led to another and I ended up in China, teaching English and other languages in a rural place in Hunan province for an NGO. I was 26, this was the trampoline to what i have become. I discovered a culture that was fascinating and was going to be intrigued by all my life but also this gave the taste to go for it and discover.
That feeling of fairness, social awareness, sense of purpose, drive to better and help were lodged deep inside me and managed to express themselves. I have always been inspired and intrigued by people who “moved the earth” such as Che Guevara (without the crime!) or Robin Hood (without stealing!), Mandela, A.Robbins, R.Branson, Manu Chao, etc. and countless charities. I am myself a dreamer, an idealist a non-comformist trying to make a better world.
Since then my life and work have been going round the same themes.
And now I want to develop and share….