GranTourismo! 12 months of portraits

Our twelve month odyssey over at GranTourismo! is over. While it’s been a blast we’re both recovering by taking on even more work than ever before. But we will be keeping the GranTourismo! project going – with more news to come soon. While we take a little break from daily scribbling about our travels, we doing some reflective posts on the year.
Foodies will like the post on my favourite food experiences of the year and my favourite dishes that I made in the kitchens of our holiday rentals, I’ve also written about my favourite portraits of the year as well as my best musical experiences.
Hope you enjoy them and there will be more news to come on this site and my portfolio site real soon.

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Portrait of a travel photographer – Matador Network

Camilo Lara, Mexican Institute of Sound, Mexico City

The hard working guys and gals of Matador have interviewed me for a series they have on travel photographers.
It’s a long and wide-ranging interview, which was fun and thought provoking for me to do.
I included only the portraits that I’ve done this year on the road as examples of my work. It’s been the most challenging and rewarding aspect of our time on the road this year – and a continuation of all the ‘run and gun’ portrait shoots I was doing in the latter half of last year.

Check out the interview here.

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Black and white in Cape Town, South Africa

Sabelo from Cape Town.

Sabelo Maku (above) was our guide for a couple of Cape Town tours in South Africa. Sometimes you meet people and they just have something that makes you really want to take their photograph. They make you want to capture their spirit – and in some parts of Africa they still believe that photographers really are taking their spirit! But more on that when I post about Kenya.

Sabelo epitomizes the new optimism in South Africa, fresh from running a successful World Cup. You can read more about Sabelo here. During our time with Sabelo, he said that a photographer had shot his photo but had not given him a copy. “A classic black and white photo”, he lamented.

I chose this particular shot because it shows his strength of character, particularly through his eyes and the slight, mouth-closed smile. The shoot, done outside with only one reflector for lighting, lasted around 15 minutes with the series of close-ups at the end. Just like shooting a movie or a documentary, I always shoot the wide shots first (giving a sense of the environment) and then go in for the close-ups when the subject is hopefully more comfortable with the camera. By the end of the shoot Sabelo was showing me the man that I had come to know over a couple of days. Capturing that is my pleasure as well as my ‘job’.

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Tips for travellers on taking portraits…

Cedo from Kotor.

I forgot to mention that over at GranTourismo! I put together a post the other month about portrait-taking for travellers. Many people want to make portraits of people when they travel but have no Idea how to approach their subjects. Check it out here.

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A conversation with a content scraper

Apologies, we’ve been busier than ever lately with the Grantourismo! Project, shooting an incredible amount of images as well as dabbling in a little video work as well.

It’s going great, however, lately we’ve been constantly dealing with people stealing our work. Lara’s website – dormant at the moment but soon to be back better than ever – has been ripped off so many times it’s frightening. Amusingly, today I saw a post stolen from her on a site that always rips off her stuff that we haven’t had time to get taken down. The post was about stealing content from her site.

But increasingly people are taking our content, including images, and slightly reworking it and linking back to us. It’s theft. So when one guy went to the trouble of capturing screenshots of a set of my images and took chunks of our content and placed inverted commas around them to create a ‘feature story’, I snapped.

Eventually I tracked this guy down, who said he ‘might have overstepped the line’ on Twitter and he finally gave me his email address – mainly because we had contacted the advertisers on his site and told them that they were advertising with a guy who steals content. Here’s my email to him:

We love people linking to our content. However, we don’t like people stealing our photos and appropriating half the story that we’ve taken the time to research.

All material on our site is copyright and will form the basis of a book that has been commissioned. No reproduction of any content without permission.

Funny thing is, if you were a legitimate site that had a decent ranking we would have been happy to give you an interview and a photo.

This kind of link is appropriate: <redacted to protect the guilty>

Either take the post down (you’re not really generating any hits for us so we don’t really care) or modify it to something as above.

We’ve already been in contact with your advertisers on the site. They’re awaiting your response from us.

Please respond within 24hrs as to what you’re doing about this.

Sincerely,
Terence Carter

This is the response I received. I believe I hurt the guy’s feelings.

Mr. Carter,

Why are you bent on ad-homonym attacks? “if you were a legitimate site with a decent ranking” where did that come from? I will discount your outburst to frustration and think no more of it. I’m also flattered that you would consider a two week old web-site enough of a threat to contact our advertisers (although, as you noticed, we have no significant traffic yet).

I’ve adjusted the post as you have suggested,

<redacted to protect the guilty>

In the spirit of cooperation, I hope that we can put this episode behind us, and that we can continue to link to your well written and researched articles in the future. Our goal, after all  is to promote the sights, sounds, and tastes of <redacted to protect the guilty>, and not to steal anyone’s content or profitability.

Respectfully,

<redacted to protect the guilty>

Here’s the response I drafted but never sent, because I don’t want to have an email exchange with this guy.

1. Look up ‘ad homonym’. Seriously. Find the more common spelling of it first, it will make it easier to find a definition. Then understand the concept. I am attacking the ‘man’ (if I can call a callous asshat that steals content a ‘man’) because you ‘wrote’ the post on the site that stole our content. If you can consider that an attack on you personally, all the better. It’s telling that you disconnect yourself from your actions. It’s like, “I swear officer, that content just wrote and uploaded itself!”

2. ‘A legitimate site with a decent ranking’, refers to the fact that your site looks like a content scraping site. Unfinished content, placeholder images, no email addresses, no easy way to comment, poor graphics. Plenty of other sites’ content turned into ‘posts’ and ‘features’. In other words, just another anonymous, anodyne site that only exists to get cents from clicks of poor suckers that mistakenly end up at your site. You’re a waste of bandwidth and a decent URL.

3. Don’t discount my frustration. You have wasted an hour or two of my time trying to track you down. I’m furious with you.

4. Don’t be flattered that we contacted your advertisers, we contacted your advertisers to find out who you were. Most content scrapers like you don’t leave easy-to-find email addresses. You’re just one of many scumbags we’ve dealt with. Now your advertisers know you’re a scumbag. I call that ‘win-win’.

5. You’re a threat? To us? Please! We checked out your ranking to decide whether it was worth sending you a bill for reproducing our content without permission to make money. You’re not worth it. But a threat? Firstly, we don’t accept advertising. Secondly, we don’t even write about <redacted>! Thirdly, a content scraping site is hardly our ‘competition’. Lastly, we don’t reprint other people’s content and proclaim it as a ‘feature’. Seriously, at best, you’re delusional.

6. There is no ‘spirit of cooperation’ between us. I loathe people like you, you waste my time that’s better spent researching, photographing and writing content. You stole copyright content, tried to make it look like you didn’t, was caught out and only paid attention when your advertisers contacted you. The only spirit of cooperation you’ll get from me is that I didn’t bother sending you a bill for stealing my content to make money.

7. If your goal is to ‘promote <redacted to protect the guilty>’, start by actually writing your own content instead of copying other people’s copyrighted content and going to great lengths to steal their copyrighted photographs. You’ll feel much better about yourself after realigning your moral compass and producing original content you’re proud of.

8. Please don’t bother linking to our site in the future, you make so many typos it’s embarrassing and you’d probably get the URL wrong anyway.

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New portraits – keeping it fresh

This year has been amazing so far. Absolutely the most busy I’ve been, but definitely the most satisfying time of my life in terms of my work. The GranTourismo! project has seen me off around the globe like never before – and I’ve spent the last four years on the road.
I’ve met  lot of wonderful people. I’ve photographed many of them. I’ve done my best to try and capture the spirit of each person – and the lovely comments from people whose portraits I’ve shot is gratifying.

So here’s to another six months of the project. You can see some selected ones from the project on my main photography site – and I’d love to answer any questions anyone has.

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Messing with the Visage

This year I’ve been keeping it clean with my portraits, no, not like that, I mean straightforward, no fuss, no crazy lighting. But what I’ve missed is texture. I do really want straightforward portraits of people for the Gran Tourismo! project – but I’m missing playing around with things a little.

I was checking out the effects on our Olympus PEN EP-2 that we’re testing out as a possible replacement walk-around camera for our DSLR’s and loved the window frames in our Venice palazzo – yes, it’s a tough life!

I took this photograph hand-held through the glass, you can see the lens in the top right-hand corner of the frame. I haven’t used this technique for a portrait session yet this year, but I’ve filed it away for future use…

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Seeing the Seasons: Asparagus and Artichokes

Vegetables occupy a peculiar place in my life with food. Some, such as the tomato (yes, I know it’s a fruit of sorts…), carrots or potatoes are pretty straightforward – fresh and forgiving. Asparagus and artichokes – are classic spring vegetables I have an odd relationship with. For me growing up, they were always from a can. There are some things that should never be put in a can and those two are prime candidates. Why? Because I loathed both these vegetables until I started to cook because the only ones I had tasted were from cans. As far as I’m concerned, if they’re not fresh or preserved in a way that gives at least a decent hint as to their original flavour, don’t eat them.

On the Grand Tour I’ve noticed much more than before how Italians, French and Spanish foodies know and love their seasons. And being here in spring that means plenty of asparagus and now artichokes. But it’s made me think about how when I’m back in Australia or Dubai that I notice the seasons very little compared to when I’m in those countries. In Australia I don’t generally think much about matching my recipes to the seasons as they do in Italy, France and Spain. Is it a reflection of how I grew up there? In Dubai it’s even odder. The seasons mean nothing once inside the mall as produce comes from all over the world. I can remember one instance of having just flown back to Dubai from Lebanon in October when the grapes and apples were being picked and I sampled the most delicious versions of both. But back in Dubai the apples and grapes were from countries where both were out of season.

Perhaps there are a few reasons I’m so out of tune with the seasons. Firstly, in Australia I’ve seen much less farmers’ markets and therefore I miss that connection that you get by actually talking to producers. Secondly, most people tend to get their vegetables from the national supermarket chains where just about anything you want is available year-round. As well, we generally don’t have the extremes of seasons in Australia that most Europeans experience, there isn’t that sense of change in the air that you get in Europe. When visiting restaurants in Australia, I can only remember the excitement being over rhubarb and truffles – both of which were sourced from overseas.

While this year – when I’m most certainly only cooking seasonal produce as part of our project – I’ll be most certainly paying more attention to seasonal produce wherever the work takes me after next February when the project ends, which, as I now firmly know, is the end of winter and the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere!

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Natural light and a reflector…

This year is working out in a quite interesting way and I was really happy with a couple of portrait sessions I did in Barcelona. Relaxing and fun. Both Julio and Sergio were sipping a couple of beers when we arrived to shoot them and there is no better way to get to know a couple of guys than over a couple of beers!

While we were talking I was location scouting their street. We were initially meant to shoot one of the guys in their apartment, but they were not so keen on that. One of the things I like to do as a photographer is really show respect for the people you’re shooting. You need to know when it right to push for something and when it’s better to let it drop.

So across the road from the café, right on their street, there was a bench and a painted garage roller door. Street art is a big part of the Barcelona streets and having it in the background creates a good neighbourhood feel. I loved the way both of them dressed – great personal style and they both posed with little interference with me. All Lara had to do was get a nice glow with the reflector and we were off.

The whole session? About half an hour. Lara said to me the other day that it’s always the last shot or last pose that I end up using. That’s generally true – and that’s why it’s generally the last setup! Once you have it in the bag, pack it up!

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Foodies, mind your own damn business

“You shouldn’t be eating meat here, this is Essaouira!” proclaimed the dismissive voice outside the restaurant where we were taking to the owner about his food. We had been discussing the local beef, having tasted a fantastic, perfectly-cooked, saignant (rare) piece at his restaurant in the heart of Essaouira, Morocco. The indifferent voice was a French visitor, who along with another late-fifties English man were checking out the restaurant’s menu. They both we’re clearly ‘foodies’, but clearly clueless as to why we had ordered a steak at the restaurant – not that this was any of their business.

The visitor’s point was, of course, that with all this lovely seafood chugging into the port of Essaouira via the local fishing fleet, you shouldn’t order meat, with the implication that there is something ‘wrong’ with what I did, even though the beef is raised in the area. It’s a ridiculous argument, especially if you’ve visited the markets in the town and seen the local beef and lamb at the huge number of butchers. It’s fresh, it’s local and it’s organic – purely because it roams free with a little guidance in the fields along the coast. “They even go into the sea near my house!”, said the restaurant owner.

As we had been in the restaurant earlier in the evening having some drinks, we had seen how popular the beef was, especially with French guests. As we were writing about restaurants in the town, we thought we’d try what was popular on the menu. Besides, not everyone can and do eat seafood and we were reviewing the place. So apart from a quest to finish an exploration of lamb tagine, this was the only meat dish we ate the whole time we were in Essaouira. If you’ve been in Morocco for more than a couple of weeks, the endless mezze, cous-cous and tagine becomes a little repetitive as well and French food is a welcome respite. Even French bistro and brasserie staples, which generally bore me to death unless I’m famished and in Paris!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago in Barcelona. We had gone back to one of our favourite restaurants from our last trip there a few months ago. A friend had told us that the front-of-house staff had completely changed since our last visit and that they weren’t sure that the place was still as good. It wasn’t and the talented chef was also struggling with a full house of foodies in town for a conference. A dish of venison (cooked rare) arrived the table. It had been sitting, inexplicably, on a bench for at least five minutes and as the plates were stone cold, so was the food. We asked for it to be just heated a little (something we’re loathed to do) and the predictable happened, they we’re both dry when they came back to the table. The chef came to speak to us and he apologized and offered to re-fire the dish or any other dish that we wanted from the menu. We told him that it wasn’t his fault and that the staff had left our plates sitting because they were swamped. No problem – and the staff lifted their game after that. The re-fired dishes were perfect and the chef came out to check if it was okay, even though he knew it would be. For us, we don’t think any less of the chef’s cooking.

As the meal wound down a table of food industry types who had been eaves-dropping on our conversations with the chef were leaving the restaurant. One of them, a quite tipsy Australian, appeared to be a little astounded that we had asked for a dish to be re-fired – after all these chefs are god-like! He leaned in to me and asked if I was Australian. I lied and said I was English, in my best BBC announcer accent. As he drunkenly left he shook his head and said, “it’s really a shame you didn’t enjoy the food”.

I was gob-smacked. There was no time to tell him that this was one of our favourite chefs in Barcelona. That it was our second meal here in several months. He was gone before I could tell him that it’s okay to send back cold food. There was barely a second in which I could tell him that just because you’re a foodie, this doesn’t translate to me being automatically interested in your opinion, especially when it’s not asked for.

On the flipside, at another restaurant in Barcelona, a couple of diners asked us who we were writing for and what we thought of the food. We then chatted about the food scene in Barcelona and as they were residents of the city gave us a thorough run down on what was happening and gave us some great tips that we later followed up. We love it when that happens. Sometimes it’s the key that opens a dozen doors.

While it’s great to see more people interested in food, food culture and criticism, there is a real snobbery or elitism about the growing number of people with extensive food knowledge. But seriously, if I really want your opinion, I’ll ask for it. Thanks.

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  • Meet Terence Carter

    Terence Carter

    Terence Carter is a travel and editorial photographer and travel writer. He literally lives out of a suitcase accompanied by a couple of bags of photography gear. He travels with his much more talented wife, Lara Dunston, fabulous travel writer and itinerary maker extraordinaire. He is Australian by birth, he has a Masters Degree in media studies and his home is Dubai, where he visits occasionally to empty his post box.
    Check out my photography on my main website.

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