Fran was here for 10 days and now I know what I’ve missed by not having kids and grandkids: power shopping. I had no idea how complex this could be. Of course you’d want to be fair to everyone but this is no simple matter. One needs to take into account the quality of the gift, where it came from, its color and perceived value in the eyes of the giver and recipient. It was of course inevitable that any purchase could only up the ante and lead to the next store. Very tricky stuff here and I could only watch and wonder, and head for the nearest café and a soothing pastis.
As for me, I’m into the barter economy. Wages and earnings are very low around here and, as a result, what we would normally think of as reasonable compensation for photography is out of the question. When the government of Maury wanted to use my photos for their web site annual report, etc. they offered me €100 and then proceeded to choose 60 images. I said OK to €100 each for 60 images, but I had misunderstood. They wanted all 60 for the 100. Tough negotiator that I am, I got them to 200. When another organization wanted to use one of my photos of the mayor in their annual report, I knew there wouldn’t be much, so I suggested €50. They were willing to go 15.
So now I’m into bartering and since I spend most of my money on wine, that’s my preferred currency. When Marc Barriot asked me to do some photos for a book he wants to make for promotion, I knew I could either work for about five cents an hour, or I could drink his wine. Fortunately I like Marc’s wine, so we struck a deal similar to the one I’d already made with Marcel. This is wonderful as long as I choose the right winemakers.
So we started with some photos of plowing, one vineyard by horse, one by a small, hand-driven motorized plow that can fit in the rows of these old vineyards.
Marc also likes to talk and to teach, or preach the virtues of organic farming and was delighted to find an earthworm turned up by the plowing and offered up as proof of the quality of soil without chemicals.
So, having finished shopping, I’m now back to shooting, always a good thing because I like the work and I’ve been mostly happy with the results. Even days that don’t feel very good often produce a photo worth saving, not always, but often enough to convince me of the rightness of being here. Part of that is being in a new place and seeing it with new eyes, but it also has to do with the richness of this place, the beauty of the landscape and the interest I have in knowing it. I’ve been here about 9 months now and think I’ll stay a while longer so I’m looking for a place to rent and I’m looking for a landlord who wants to barter for photos.