I've been really looking forward to this photography holiday, my first trip with Happy Camera and actually Happy Camera's inaugural holiday. I liked the fact that we were due to gain much inspiration from a huge festival of photography and then explore the region taking our own photos.
For the long Eurostar journey to Avignon, to get our creative juices flowing we were lent a random book to read, absorb and distill en route. My muse was the Johnny Stiletto book "shots from the hip". Definitely some food for thought for when we're exploring the markets etcetera in the days to come.
On arrival we checked into our beautiful hotel, retired to a street café for much needed refreshment, and started planning our visit. We laid out the maps accompanying the festival across our little round table, and were determined to get some of the exhibitions out of the way. We didn't have too many choices as it was later in the day, but across the road was the somewhat controversial Martin Parr exhibition, plus a few others so that seems the place to start.
The exhibits are spread over several floors of blackened rooms and you are each armed with torches to explore, amongst other things, Martin Parr's curated collection of propaganda photobooks. I have to admit the novelty of the flashlight does seem to encourage a more singular immersion as your torch reveals the next piece in the collection. I suppose the issue with Martin's exhibit is that it can't really be called his photography, but more photos of his personal collection.
After a feast for our eyes, our thoughts turn to our first French feast. We meander around the centre of Arles and identify some likely candidates but they look full and eventually plump for the obviously touristy la café de Nuit. The café was immortalised by Van Gogh in his painting Terrasse de café la nuit sur la place du Forum à Arles. I don't think we'll remember the food in particular, though my daube of beef isn't too bad but we do have the welcome distraction of Jasper, a dalmatian puppy who seems a feature of the café.
Finding such an obliging dog makes me immediate want to channel Elliot Erwitt. He is the perfect subject for my first foray into black and white photography on this trip, l suspect there will be many more to follow.