Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Obsession and Intention - A Magnificent Tango

Wine as an obsession seems a bit odd to me these days. As I recede from the shores of the wine trade, the daily activities, the desires, the fears, the needs (are they really?) all seem to look less important to me. Does that mean I no longer love Italian wine, or even wine in general? No, not at all, but I do feel like the obsessive behavior I had, and which I see all around the wine world, might be misplaced energy. At least for me.

It’s no secret that I have little desire for any more certification for anything. I can see how the young generation might look at higher accreditation as a career path towards greater security, independence and freedom. But if you are working, and have to work, the idea of freedom will be limited, at least in terms of livelihood. Balance in life might be more seek-worthy, and from the looks of things, the young generation has a bead on that, and have had, at an earlier age than preceding generations.

I’m gradually backing away from the Italian wine guy persona, a de rigueur affectation in the beginning of the 21st century’s social media wave. I love Italian wine but it was not my first love.

If I am to have an obsession, at this point, it appears that my earlier pursuits, starting as a young boy, are supplanting the steady drumbeat of the wine world that has measured out the pace of my life. That earlier pursuit is photography. It was my first love, and it still is a true love of mine.

In 1970 I happened upon a workshop in Monterey, California. With the likes of Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham, two masters of photography, it was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. These two were gods in the photography world, and here we were, eating with them, walking, talking, shooting and being mentored.

Imogen was the same age as my grandmother, but I didn't think of her like that. She was spunky, had lots of energy, in her 80’s, and was engaging. She was present in the moment, not looking over her back at some time long gone.

I remember her telling me she liked one of my photos. A few months later I took a print to her home and gave it to her. She immediately put it on her mantle. If I had an exhibition at a gallery on Union Street, I couldn’t have been more fulfilled. A master who liked my work.

But what I liked about her was she lived in the present. Photography can affect you that way, for it is a fraction of a second, you must slow your world down, turn off the monkey babbling in the cage inside your skull.

These days, I have a Herculean task to catalog 50+ years of photographic images. I’m forced to look back, in a way. But that doesn’t stop me from shooting any day I’d like to. And not with my phone. With a real camera. It must be intentional, not some afterthought because I just got the latest Huawei 20 or iPhone 25.

My world has slowed down a lot. I can shoot now at 1/15 of a second or 1/30, not 1/1000 or 1/2000. The images before me play out in a different tempo. And because my life has slowed down, I can look back at those moments when 1/250 or 1/500 of a second had important things in them. Like the seemingly lost soul at an anti-war rally in San Francisco in 1972.

What photography compels me to do is to slow down and really look the thing in the eye. Not scan, not flitter. Be still.

It is also having a good effect on my appreciation for wine and the stories of wine. I know long-form blogging is presently pas à la mode. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Delectable, Vivino and the like have supplanted in-depth exploration with high-spotting. But I resist. I still think there are some amazing stories in wine. I see them when I put a sheet of negatives on a light box or go through my digital pix on the laptop. Yes, a picture can be worth a thousand words. But sometimes we need the words to go with the pictures.

So, that is what I am up to these days. Still obsessed with something, just that something has evolved from just wine to the larger picture. More to come. Stay tuned.

written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

  1. I applaud you and I love this post.


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