A New Way of Seeing

Genova A New Way of Seeing Photography Retreat Fountain

There are moments in life when everything falls into place perfectly. There are no chances, this I know deep down, but the encounters that happen can change our lives – if we relax into them and say yes. I try to follow my intuition, but sometimes it’s easier than other times. However, when I received the invitation to attend A New Way of Seeing, a photography retreat in Genova with Di Mackey and Helen Kerrison, my spirit did a little twirl and I actually jumped up and down around the house. In my book, exuberant bursts of joy are usually a pretty clear sign.

Genova A New Way of Seeing Cathedral San Lorenzo

Tickets where quickly booked and I left one antica repubblica marinara and landed in another – Genova. Landing at the Genova airport after a panoramic flight over the city is quite an experience. Let’s just say I love being close to the sea, but I like the sea just a little further away from the runway. Ahem. It was the beginning of a fun and adventurous weekend!

Genvoa A New Way of Seeing Striped Steps Cathedral

Di and Helen waved at me from across Piazza de Ferrari as I meandered through the people soaking up the late afternoon sun around the massive fountain. My time in Genova was capped so beautifully by moments in this piazza and against the backdrop of the cascading water. After a short stroll we arrived at the hotel where I would be staying for the weekend, which was just across from the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for churches with stripes, and I practically went weak at the knees looking around me. Even the steps to the cathedral were striped! I wobbled across the piazza to check in, but it wasn’t long (perhaps record time if they keep check-in to checking-out-stripes statistics …) before I was out taking photos the cathedral in the evening light.

Genova A New Way of Seeing Cathedral Marble

After a marvelous evening talking over wine in Piazza San Lorenzo and Di introducing us to Roberto Panizza’s masterful cooking (and tucco!) at Il Genovese, the work of the weekend began in earnest Saturday morning with espresso and cornetti at an outdoor cafe. And, of course, Di diving into shutter speed, aperture and exposure. (One needs coffee and sweet reinforcements for this.) Soon, however, we were wandering the streets of Genova working on a series of exercises to learn about camera shake, depth of field and all those little buttons and dials on our cameras.

Genova A New Way of Seeing History

What better place than the absolutely gorgeous Piazza Matteo to experiment? (More stripes!) I had read before arriving that it was one of Genova’s most charming piazzas, and for someone who enjoys structural polychromy as much as I do it was just perfection. I couldn’t get enough of the stripes and the old green shutters turned here and there. And Di was telling me to take photo after photo after photo to learn the different camera settings and the results. Yep, no problem there teacher!

Genova A New Way of Seeing Piazza Matteo

The photography lessons fluidly led from detailed descriptions to anecdotes and to stories of Genova. Somehow I think I’ll always think of Genova and my new friends when I use my camera now, and I like that very much. While my Nikon D3200 hadn’t really budged from the automatic setting in the last year since I bought it, Di helped me break out and feel confident shooting in Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes.

Genova Photography Dream

At first, it all seemed a blur of ISO, F-stops and trying to sort out what aperture numbers really meant. But by Sunday afternoon something happened. We were taking photos of the fountain in Piazza de Ferrari and it all came together. Suddenly I could control the settings on my camera to make the spouts of water long and smooth or stop the action where it felt you could see the drops of water. Just by turning a dial. And it worked. And it made sense. Helen was sitting serenely on the side of the fountain and can attest to the fact that I resisted jumping up and down again. But just barely. My camera, I am pleased to say, has only been back to the Automatic setting a few times since I’ve returned. I’ve still got so much to learn, but after only a weekend with Di I feel like I am on my way. What a remarkable feeling!

Genova A New Way of Seeing Photo Retreat and Workshop

The weekend’s photography lessons were punctuated with conversations with Helen. We were creatively very open and seeing Genova with new eyes through our camera lenses after working with Di, and Helen gently led us on another journey turning our gaze inward. Through meditation, creative visualization and some truly inspiring talks, I think we all felt more connection with our passion, vision and dreams.

Genova A New Way of Seeing Helen

With Helen’s guidance and kind presence, I was able to grab hold of what it is that I am most passionate about–something that I have been struggling to get a firm hold of lately–and learn some new techniques for opening up to the flow of life and moving in the right direction. I can’t thank Helen (captured above looking very Italian) enough for sharing her wisdom, joy and quiet encouragement.

Genova A New Way of Seeing Flowers

After this remarkable photography retreat, I’ve seen myself in a new way, not only through my own eyes but also through the eyes of Di, Helen and the other lovely women that I am lucky to now call friends – Lisa from Renovating Italy and Leah from Help! I Live with My Italian Mother in Law! I rejoiced in their successes and got goosebumps as they opened little by little and shared who they truly are with all of us. I felt the same welcome and safety in return. It was a place to open up and to learn and discover – how to capture images and become more familiar with our cameras and to do those same things with ourselves.

Genova A New Way of Seeing Boccadasse

From ecstatic moments when everything just clicked with my camera to impromptu handstands, sharing dreams and sometimes tears and much laughter, it was one of the most opening, deepest and marvelous weekends I’ve ever had. Oh, and I learned out how use my camera, too! Did I say it changed my life? Just go – now is the time and you’re ready.

Find out more Di Mackey and Helen Kerrison’s A New Way of Seeing Photography Retreats.


Foto Friday | Amalfi Coast Garden

Amalfi Coast Travel Garden Terrace

Often when I’m out walking or hiking on the Amalfi Coast, I simply have to stop and marvel at the way of life that people have created here – often for generations. Way high above Amalfi, and nowhere particularly roads, you see terraces of lemons. And you know that to tend those lemon groves, make sure the nets are covering them when the weather turns cold and to harvest all those lemons when they turn their vibrant yellow means thousands upon thousands of steps each year.

While on a walk recently, I peered over a crumbly stone wall to see a gorgeous view of Amalfi sitting at the base of the valley. I also spotted two garden terraces. One had a trellis covered with grape vines while the other had rows of melanzane – eggplant. The way of living in these rural spots on the Amalfi Coast surely must not be easy, but few people can boast a view like that while gardening!

Pink Flowers on the Bell Tower

Amalfi Coast Travel Pink Flowers Campanile

In early summer the Amalfi Coast blushes a bright pink. When the days become warm and spring showers have turned everything a lush green, the valerian flowers burst out, quite literally, from every nook and cranny. They poke out of crumbly stone walls, drape over the walkways through villages and call home every untended corner of the garden – and sometimes even the the campanile. Yes, even the top of the bell tower had valerian flowers this year. There used to be a pine tree, but the flowers are decidedly more colorful.

Their dramatic position right at the edge of the bell tower caught my eye one day. Scanning the garden and surrounding area, I spotted them all over the place. It was a gorgeous day, so I grabbed my camera and took a walk to take photos of the valerian flowers. It was fun to have a fixed–and lovely–subject in mind.

Here are some of the photos from the pink flower photography outing. It brings me right back to those crisp, bright early summer days.

photocrati gallery