On one of the last, and first, summery days of this year I found myself en route to the airport. It was time to meet up with friends in Milano, Italy. Some of them friends I hadn’t met in a long time and others friends I had yet to meet.
The main reason for my visit to Milano was that iStockphoto was hosting one of their iStockalypses, so this would be a great time to meet up with friends from all over the world that I hadn’t seen in a while and meet people I hadn’t met yet.
Since I was only taking part in the evening activities, I can’t tell a great lot about the event itself. But I can tell that the locations I’ve seen and the imagery produced were nothing short of breathtaking.
Three out of four.
Out of nothing there were three Italian guys standing in front of me, all with big friendly smiles. When they introduced themselves to me, I was delighted to find out I was talking to most of the four man collective that goes by the name of “Zonecreative“.
Why I was so delighted to finally meet them? Last year I stumbled upon some of their images from the “Oh my god!” series. The technical quality paired with their playful sense of humor made for a series of images that left me speechless. But there didn’t stop here, they have been producing an impressive body of beautiful work. The one more inspiring than the other.
Excited as a child that has the chance to ask how a magic trick works, I asked them how they came up with all these concepts. Luckily they were more willing to share than a magician and the answer was simple but beautiful: “It all starts as a joke and then we work from there.”.
Just before the end of the conversation they mentioned that one on my self portraits inspired an image in their series “Nerd style“. This and the very positive vibe I picked up from talking to them made me propose a collaboration. Which they happily accepted, looks like I’ll be doing more Italian travels in the near future!
Small talk, big influence.
From Tallinn, Estonia comes another inspiring friend, Peeter Viisimaa. Not only is Peeter a very talented photographer, he is also one of these people that just seem to understand everything there is about other people and other cultures. His people skills are extraordinary, he’ll be able to make anyone feel at home and tell their story.
This was also the case with “Robbie”, one of the salesman of everything cheap, plastic and touristy. After Peeter told me that all these guys came from Bangladesh I became very interested in them. What brought them here and most of all, how does this work? Who decides that the next thing they’re going to sell are punk wigs? Where do they get it from? Where is home after a long night on the streets?
All of these questions could only be answered by talking to these guys. At first they all seemed very interested in talking to us, but soon it turned out that most of them either couldn’t talk English or didn’t want to talk about these things and just tried to make us buy their goods. Except for the man who goes by the name of ”Robbie”, who seemed happy to talk to someone without being hushed away.
The answers given by “Robbie” were in no way surprising. What was surprising is that the next night I was tapped on my shoulders by one of the salesman, it was Robbie. Just before giving me a big hug he told me, with a big smile on his face, how happy he was that we actually talked to him. Beautiful how such a small thing can mean so much for someone isn’t it?
Milano, the city.
The other reason for my visit was the city itself. Some people’s faces would light up as soon as they were talking about it, others even decided to move there. But there was also a group that told me they had a hard time to connect to the city. Curious as I am, it felt like a good time to find out for myself.
Sadly enough I do feel that, for now, I belong to the latter group, but I do also realize why I didn’t connect with the city at this time. One weekend just isn’t enough time to find out where to go and emerge yourself in the local culture.
Not all hope is lost for me and Milano though, on the last night I got to meet the lovely Ròssella, a well traveled resident of the city who invited me to come back to take another chance at finding the real spirit of this city filled with beautiful people.
~ I am Ivar photography – photos that love you!