I was talking to an old buddy today.
We were sitting in the back of his van at the beach, catching up on new experiences, realizations and inspirations.
He was telling me about a manuscript he’s been reading, which suggests there is a purpose of each encounter we have with someone.
I was showing him this very set of photographs that follow, freshly printed of a trip I had just returned from across Spain and Italy. Whilst travelling I learnt how to ask in their language to take a photo, and this opened up experiences that fed my soul and fascination in human beings.
He asked me: what did the encounter with each of these people give me?
What did I take from each interaction? What can we learn from each of these meetings?
Some I knew right away, from the time we first made eye contact.
Some I digested after a while and came to a conclusion.
Some I still haven’t put into words.
Would you care to muse with me?
Take this moment to feast your eyes on their eyes.
Senior Reading: Montorosso, Italia.
This man had such grace in being him. A beautiful way of peacefully doing what he pleased next to a happening family soccer park.
The girls getting some sun, first rays of summer! Everyone can look snazzy in togs and enjoy the sun on their skin.
Old amigos, new smiles: Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italia.
I had forgotten the simple splendour of sitting next to a friend and watching people walk past. Since then I have made more time for this and feel all the more wholesome for it.
Sebastan, Appenzeller, on his way home from the forest sourcing wood for his family flute making: Barcelona, Spain.
I stepped off the bus in Barcelona and looked straight into these bright eyes. He intrigued me.
After asking to take his photo we shared a nice conversation, in which he told me with great vigilance, “You know your biggest problems in life. Run at them. That is where you’ll learn the most.”
What a laugh! This photograph reminded me how much I love wrinkles. We share the same name, Josephine, but we pronounce it really differently.
The teeniest bar in all Gaudix, España: Alberto from Baza.
This man was able to communicate with me, even though we don’t speak the same language, because he talked with so much enthusiasm! I recognised the value in communicating enthusiastically and shamelessly.
Hot, sweaty, bustling alley. I walked past hours later, and they hadn’t moved.
I thought, “if you don’t like what you see, change your scenery instead of scowling for hours (or years).”
This guy seemed intimidating, but as part of my out of comfort zone practice I asked to take his photo anyway. I was really surprised he agreed to.
This confirmed to me that, “It’s worth asking for twice as much as you think you’ll get, because you just might get it.” (Jeffery Slayter)
Organised Chaos: Roma, Italia.
Keen eyes looked up at mine. The man lived and breathed the joy of working with his passion.
So next time you have a little encounter with someone, ask yourself why it happened.
I’m not encouraging you to take this practice as law and start reading into every situation, but it’s worth bearing in mind knowing how much there is to learn from each other.
Author/photographer: Josie Harvey
Editor: Renée Picard
Images: original images via the author