The lovely thing about traveling and photographing with no agenda is that I can indulge myself. I am in Lisbon for the week. There is no goal, no assignment, no list of things I have to get. I can walk through a neighborhood with the most indirect of intentions, with the only aim to be fully present to all my sensations and feelings. The point of doing it with a camera is to deepen that feeling of connection with where I am, which is my go-to device for getting in that state. But what was remarkable about today were the moments I intentionally did not reach for it.
I was chasing the sensation of light. The way it skimmed across surfaces, the way it made blocks of shapes by its absence in shadow, the way it bounced and lit places the sun wasn’t lighting directly. People were useful only as foils and silhouettes, passing as shapes through the landscape. And yet.
An old woman is sitting on the stoop, “Boa tarde,” I say. She says something back, then I sit on my haunches to be at her level. She starts on a long soliloquy that I can only nod and murmur to. She’s the quintessential old Portuguese village lady with all the right wrinkles and all the old lady clothes. Any other photographer would be all over this situation. But I decided, I don’t want to make a souvenir of this person. I just want to enjoy this moment of connection. She’s not a trophy to share. She wanted to share the moment with me, and I with her. That was sufficient. So, no picture. I didn’t want to make it about that.
There’s no judgment or moral point to be made here. I gave myself permission to only shoot what I felt like. Which was, the afternoon light in Alfama. Nothing more.