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01 June 2007

Country Roads

It was a quarter to five on Sunday morning, February 6, 2005, and I had just left home for a journey to Spain to collect another bunch of Domestic Landscapes in the provinces of Galicia, Asturias, and Castile & Leon.

While John Denver sang about his country roads, I hit the highway. Two owls flew across the road in front of my car. The song was part of a marathon interview on the Dutch radio with a guy called Rob Bruintjes. Rob is (or was) the tallest man in Holland (2.21m) and the spokesman for all people with odd sizes.

Rob and I go back a long way, when I first got involved in commercial filming and we needed a very tall and a very short person to sell a telescope lamp for “Mr. HUBO.” That time made me very clear that commercial filming was not my cup of tea. In fact, commercial photography is not altogether fulfilling and that made me go a different road than the one I was on at that time.

When I changed directions carefully in 1996, I never dared to dream of the things I’m doing right now, that also brought me to Spain and a whole lot of other places to look for and to photograph the most beautiful places and its inhabitants on earth.

When I started driving the first of the total of 1160 kms I had in front of me that day, I wondered whoever would be listening to an interview with Rob, on this Sunday morning from 4:00 until 6:00, until I realized that it doesn’t really matter whether there will be anybody listening or not. When you're given a chance, you will talk, no matter if any other people are listening, just as long as the person you're with wants to hear what you have to say.

I saw this happening time and again when I was shooting Domestics; as soon as you give some real attention to someone who lives a bit isolated (or even within their own community) they start to talk and never stop. It seems as if they have no one around that wants to listen to them anymore and the first person who comes by and gives attention, they claim to give their story. It often goes with very heavy emotional reactions.

The people I met in the next few weeks also got a short bit of unexpected attention; it made them feel important for a while. It is very well possible that the day after they asked themselves if they did the right thing by letting me in to have their photograph taken by this totally strange guy. Maybe they regretted it. I just hope that they felt good again after having received the print I sent them.

Country roads, here I come...


Bianca said...

keep going at your road. and now, with b&w films? wherever, i´m sure we´ll have pleasure with the results.

Bert Teunissen said...

Thank you Bianca. Be assured!