Terry O’Neill: The Storyteller

Romy Schneider Terry O'Neill

The face. Romy Schneider

 
What do you do when you find Terry O’Neill’s photography book, Terry O’Neill: The A-Z of Fame, on huge sale at a street book fair? Grab it looking over your shoulder, pay for it in a hurry (almos feeling guilty, but mostly giddy for such bargain) and run. You run with a story book. Because each photograph has its own story to tell.

But there is no face like Romy Schneider’s. And there is no portrait of Romy like the one shot by Terry O’Neill. Her natural, sculptural beauty, her mystery, her sadness, her self-regard, her hidden depths, her fragility, her sensitivity, her tortured soul … it’s all in this photograph, everything Romy’s face seemed to transmit, then making you question everything you thought you saw on her face.

Black and white has always been Terry O’Neill’s chosen medium. And it’s always his black and white photography that makes me linger over one image or another. He photographed everyone from Robert Redford to Sean Connery, from The Rolling Stones to Frank Sinatra (having compiled his pictures in the book Sinatra: Frank and Friendly). Terry O’Neill has many a tale to tell. And he has told the tales behind many of his legendary photographs (and, somehow, by doing so, he doesn’t take from their mystery, but adds to their appeal). But with good-natured tact, charm, discretion. Always the professional, never intruding. It’s the approach he has also used in his photography. “I suppose I get on with these people because I never wanted to be up front.”
 

“I’ve been repeatedly asked to write my autobiography
– I have seen an awful lot of famous people at their best and worst –
but I’m not interested in making money trading their secrets or mine.
I want my pictures to tell a story, not sell a story. […]
I have always tried to give people dignity in my pictures.
That is what it’s all about for me.”


 
IMG_0085

The photographer. Norman Parkinson

 
Jane Fonda Terry O'Neill

The Hollywood actress. Jane Fonda

 
Dustin Hoffman Terry O'Neill

The seeker. Dustin Hoffman

 

“I’m not really interested in photography anymore. I’ve semi-retired;
there’s nobody I want to photograph now. Nobody as great as all the people I used to photograph.
Standards have fallen where photography is concerned. Now when you go to a film premiere, the photographers look at their pictures as they take them and when they have ‘the shot’, they just stop shooting.
Photography is all about shooting and capturing a moment spontaneously,
not worrying about what picture you have already taken.”


 
Monica Vitti Terry O'Neill

The Michelangelo Antonioni muse. Monica Vitti

 
The Rolling Stones Terry O'Neill

The band. The Rolling Stones

 
Clint Eastwood Terry O'Neill

The legend. Clint Eastwood

 
photos of the book by me; Terry O’Neill: The A-Z of Fame was published by ACC Editions

Posted by classiq in Books, Photography | | Leave a comment

Living Your Style: Interview with Florence Donné

Interview Florence Donne Ringthebelle 
People who elevate daily life to the art de vivre. Who dare to dream. Who bet on their intuiton. Who seek natural beauty. Who teach by example. Who live unabashedly authentic. Who dive into their passion, heart first. These are the change makers and action takers, but, most of all, the dreamers who make the world more beautiful in the process. Awe-inspiring individuals and visionary souls have always been my biggest motivator. These are the beautiful people. Florence Donné is one of them.

More than that, Florence has the talent to bring other beautiful people together on RingTheBelle, and invites her audience into their homes and explores their universe, from interiors to fashion, from beauty to culture, from work to travel destinations. A universe that it’s at a simple click away. But more than a functional source of inspiration, more than a singular shopping experience, more than a Story Store, RingTheBelle is a Story Store with a soul. It nurtures the idea of being inspired by individuals who, besides seemingly holding their own little secret about a well-lived life, lead through personality, having found a strong sense of self and identity. And that’s the most important thing you can take away from RingTheBelle.

Florence recently opened up to Classiq about reinventing her professional life by inventing her dream job, life in Paris, and intentioned living.
 

“Transform the routine into rituals, make the present moment
as pleasant as possible, and know the little things that give us happiness so as not to expect from life only great joys.”

 
 
Interview Florence Donne 
A long-time reader of mine, living in Paris, introduced me to RingTheBelle and I was immediately hooked. Soon after, I featured Gaëlle Pelletier, as I truly related to her dressing style. I haven’t talked much about fashion on my blog lately, as it is the personal style of the people I admire that I pay attention to, precisely because it is something global that permeats every aspect of one’s life. And that was the case with Gaëlle. I titled the article “Living Your Style”, which is also how I would describe the message you want to transmit through your website. What is the story behind the premier Story Store?
I admire people that can transform their day-to-day lives into a real “art de vivre”. Ringthebelle is an expression of those convictions and passions. I dreamt, without finding it, of a place where products would be forgotten in favor of universes: the ones which truly inspire us. Ringthebelle tells the stories of women and men, who – thanks to their personalities – freely express trends and styles.

We share, through words and photos (Delphine Jouandeau, a great photographer, has gone all the way with me from the beginning), the inner self of my guests, their passions, their interiors, their styles, their favorite addresses, each are an expression of their inspiring lifestyle, which becomes available in a click for a reinvented shopping experience. I love seeing how people translate fashions and trends and reinterpret in their own way the era. Ringthebelle is the first StoryStore.

Could you tell me a little bit about your background and what made you change directions and do something on your own?
I worked in a PR agency for 15 years. Dealing with clients like PUMA, WRANGLER, MARTINI or PIPER HEIDSIECK. I really liked the variety of tasks, managing a team and the creativity.
After my maternity leave, I wanted to «reshuffle the cards». To reinvent my professional life by creating a more tailored job and by giving a personal twist to my job.

What advice would you give someone with their own idea or dream?
Listen to their intuitions and inner voice and not listen too much to others. And I often think of this phrasing of Pierre Soulages that I find so right: “It’s what I do that teaches me what I’m looking for”. It is necessary to give life to his dreams even if the reality is quite different.
 
Interview Florence Donne 
We live in a hectic world and more and more people are trying to go back to basics, to find a balance, to live mindfully. Your guests on RingTheBelle seem to have this common talent for transforming their day-to-day lives into joie de vivre. What does beautiful living mean to you?
To transform the routine into rituals, to make the present moment as pleasant as possible, and to know the little things that give us happiness so as not to expect from life only great joys. Knowing how to provoke things rather than wait for them is essential.

The people you profile share their style essentials, work, passions and cultural interests, and, most importantly, they open the doors to their homes and invite you in their universe. And you can tell a lot from someone’s home. Is it difficult to establish that kind of trustworthy rapport in order for them to open up about their private lives?
No, because every time a new rapport is made, it is a common desire that we embark on this adventure. There are two days of shooting and hours spent discussing together. So, it’s better to share the desire! And then I think that my guests know that the look on them will always be benevolent. There is an immediate confidence that is created. Without that, a reportage would not be possible.

What would you like your home to say about you when someone visits for the very first time?
That it translates to the kind of person that I am and that it makes you want to linger there and come back!

What inspires you daily?
I find my inspiration on the street, during my trips or from the people I meet. Also and mostly from Instagram, it gives the chance to discover amazingly inspiring people, with great eye and sensitivity.

Is there anyone in particular, famous or not, you look up to?
I love the incredible talent of Kelly Wearstler. She is an amazing interior designer and her very personal fashion sensitivity pleases me. She mixes and associates various styles with freedom and originality.
 
Interview Florence Donne 
There is a fascination with the French women that is unparalleled. Why do French, and especially Parisian women intrigue us so much? Do French women really hold the key and have the answers to style and beauty? Is there really such a thing as a „je ne sais quoi”?
Frankly, difficult to answer as a Parisian, but I guess there is something true in that since everyone says so (she smiles).

I think that this is a form of freedom that the French and the Parisians, in particular, maintain with fashion, beauty, seduction, life in general. It frees itself perhaps more easily from rules and conventions.

Could you share a French girl’s natural beauty trick?
Let your hair dry in the open air. A hairstyle too primed ages you instantly in my opinion.

You feel your best dressed in:
Pants, flat shoes, feminine top and my long and loose hair.

One favourite thing to do in Paris and which you would miss if you lived anywhere else in the world.
As I live in the area, I love walking through the Palais-Royal gardens, having lunch at one of its terraces in the Summer or taking a short break in one of its cafés. I would miss the beauty of the City. Its past, its culture. Also, the fact that, even if it’s a capital, it is still human-sized. I do everything on my bike or by walking.

How would you describe a typical day of yours in Paris?
As often as I can I start my day with some training: some cardio in my club or Pilates near home. Each day is different and I love it that way. It can be either a shooting day with my photographer, Delphine Jouandeau, writing, meeting with young entrepreneurs like me to share our adventures …
I try to have lunch with my son Joseph several times a week. It’s our little happiness together! I stop working at 7 pm to spent the rest of the evening with him. Once he is in bed, I get back to work until my husband gets home. That’s one of the pleasures of entrepreneurship: the day is never over! But I manage to take real breaks by going to shows or exhibitions in the evening or by having dinner with friends.

You wish people appreciated more:
Delicacy and good manners.

A daily pleasure:
Lunch with my son.

Where would we find you when not working?
In a museum, a gallery, at the Bon Marché or in a cafe in the gardens of the Palais Royal, the most beautiful place in Paris.

Latest book you’re read/ latest film you’ve watched/ latest song (music) you’ve been listening to on repeat:
Late Bloomers by Catherine Taret / Mr. Gaga / Woman by Rhye.

Words you live by:
“It’s time to live the life you imagined.” (Henri James)

What makes you happy at the end of the day?
Find my son, my husband or someone I love and share a glass of wine; by making my world … my favorite occupation!

You can keep up with all the stories of Florence’s guests on RingTheBelle or on Instagram (@ringthebelle_storystore).

photos: Delphine Jouandeau

Posted by classiq in Interviews, Style | | 1 Comment

The Rocket

The Rocket 2013 
The Rocket (2013) is Australian documentarian Kim Mordaunt’s first full-length feature. The director previously documented Laos life and its minefields in Bomb Harvest (2007). The idea for the film came to him because he wanted to tell the story of the people and children of Laos, a country that was confronted with a secret war lead by the CIA that lasted for nine years, 24 hours a day. “Just because the country doesn’t have a film industry, that does not mean that their real story shouldn’t be told and heard,” said Mordaunt in a “Making of” interview.

I haven’t seen Bomb Harvest, but what I appreciated about The Rocket was that although the movie shows a clear-eyed observation and understanding of the country’s dark history and cultural backdrop, it is not sentimental about poverty and hardship, and it evades any sense of offensive exoticism. The film’s beating heart comes from choosing to focus on the coming-of-age story of a young boy (who is superstitiously believed to bring bad luck), depicting his indefatigable optimistism, resilience and the genuine curiosity of youth as opposed to the mere shock of a child facing unimaginable personal loss and being put in a dangerous situation. The little boy, Ahlo, is played by Sitthiphon Disamoe – an authentically raw, unstudied performance. Sitthiphon was a street kid – which is also accountable for the neo-realistic feel of the movie, one of its strongest points – who, after a long and difficult casting, had struck the director with his strong sense of self and survival and of never giving up – qualities he took with him on screen. “This film is like my real life,” confessed Boonsri Yindee, who played Taitok in the movie. Gripping and heartwarming and thoroughly authentic.

photo: Red Lamp Films, Curious Film, Ecoventure

Posted by classiq in Film | | Leave a comment

One Day That Summer: Little Dreamer, Paris

Young aspiring footballer, Palais Royal gardens, Paris, France 
To celebrate summer, in the course of the following months I will be collaborating with various photographers and photography collectors to bring you exclusive stories from behind the lens. Whether travel photography or pictures from the movie sets, One Day That Summer is an invitation to discovery, to open your mind and eyes, to live life like you stole it.
 
Everyone now has a camera in their pocket and an array of editing techniques to beautify the results at their fingertips. But that doesn’t make everyone a photographer. Every day we feed ourselves to insane amounts of images. But how many stick with you? How many speak to you? How many would you want to have, to frame and to hold? Very, very few.

I fell in love with this photograph (I only knew of the black and white version until recently, but I was so happy to find it in colour, too, just as emotional and natural – two distinctive qualities of b&w photography in my opinion) by David C. Phillips a few years ago. It remains one of my absolute favourites. It’s timeless. It’s wondrous. It captures the magic of childhood. I am lucky enough to own a black and white copy. Photographer Georgianna Lane, David’s wife (and whom I interviewed here), surprised me with sending it to me when I was pregnant, right after I had found out I was going to have a boy (she didn’t know). That made it even more special. And, since then, it has really taken hold of my heart because our now two-year-old son loves to play ball more than anything else and I sometimes surprise him pausing with his football in his hand, gazing into the distance before carefully placing it on the ground and resuming his game. It often makes me wonder: what is he thinking about? I never ask, afraid not to break the spell. There are no bigger dreams than those dreamt through the innocence of childhood. This photograph speaks a thousand dreams. I have talked to David about the story behind it and more.

 

“I had a few seconds. Fortunately, my camera was handy and ready,
so I crouched down to his level, as that seemed appropriate,
and got one shot in before he trotted off, dream over, action in mind.
It was a whole story in a second or two.”


 
What is the story behind this photo?
It was my second visit to Paris and I was there on a photo job for friends and we were walking through the gardens of the Palais Royal when suddenly I saw this little boy holding a football and wistfully looking off into the distance, obviously dreaming of something. I had a few seconds. Fortunately, my camera was handy and ready, so I crouched down to his level, as that seemed appropriate, and got one shot in before he trotted off, dream over, action in mind. It was a whole story in a second or two and I was thrilled to have been able to capture it.

Do you always carry camera with you?
When I’m at home and just doing errands or whatever, I only have my iPhone 7 on me which obviously has a fantastic camera in it. When I am visiting places where I expect to find subjects I want to photograph, I try to carry my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with me along with 3 zooms and one or two prime lenses as well as spare battery. Sometimes, if I’m only going to be outside, I reduce this to the camera and the three zooms. If I don’t want to carry so much gear (it’s heavy!!), I just carry my Sony Cybershot RX100 M IV which is a wonderful 20+ Megapixel camera with a great lens and pop-up viewfinder which shoots very good photos.

Take or make a photograph? Do you wait for a good photo? Or is it always spontaneous, like in the case of the little boy?
I consider I always make a photograph, even if it’s spontaneous. There are many instinctive actions that go into making a photograph and I go through those always, regardless of how quickly the photo has to be made (I nearly said taken!). I often wait for a good photo. So much so that I will find a great location (e.g. a great doorway in Paris) and stand there waiting for some interesting scenario to materialize. Often they do. That was not the case with the little French soccer star, but it just as well might have been. Sometimes, if I miss the action but think it would make a great shot, I am not unknown to ask the person or people to go through it again so I can get the shot. I often stand there for minutes just watching and waiting, with the feeling that something interesting is sure to happen. (See this photo of the two girls on scooters. I saw them coming from far away and was waiting for something to happen in front of these wonderful doors.)

So I would say that the spontaneous photos that have to be grabbed are ones like the little boy with the soccer ball. It actually would have been very difficult to get him to do that again.

Are there times when you simply witness the moment without taking any picture?
Yes, but I usually kick myself afterwards if it’s a great shot. I have an innate desire to share moments like this with others and the best way for me to do it is through photographs.

What is the most important lesson that Paris has taught you?
To keep getting up very early in the morning and walking for as many miles as I can with my camera gear!

What exactly is it about Paris that makes you come back?
To be completely honest, Ada, a lot of it has to do with Georgianna, who loves Paris. I actually do love Paris for its architecture and style, and for its people. I never get tired of photographing Parisians and showing them in their daily life. They have a special character. But Paris is not my favorite city, London is.

Actually, London is one of my very favourites cities, too. What is it about London that makes it so special to you?
I am British. Born in Chile, but went to school in England at age 13 and spent half my adult life in England.

I love Londoners. I love the history, the culture, the museums, the best cab drivers in the world by far! I love the old architecture and all the great buildings and monuments. The pubs. The aliveness and the feeling of being in the center of international activities. London has it all.

What is your favourite moment of the day for shooting? Do you swear by the “golden hour”?
Early morning is my favorite, from well before sunrise to soon after. I love the morning glow. My favorite lighting is backlighting, so I try to shoot (on sunny days) when the sun is low in the sky, either soon after sunrise or late afternoon before sunset.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now (old or new location), preparing to get a shot, where would you want to be?
I would be in Bhutan, preferably Eastern Bhutan, preferably in the village of Merak in Eastern Bhutan. It’s a remote village that can only be reached on foot, home of the Brokpas, a semi nomadic ethnic group originally from Tibet. The village setting is most unusual and the people are amazing.

You can find more of David’s photography here:
Instagram: @photosbydcp
Website: davidcphillips.com

Posted by classiq in Interviews, One day that summer, Photography | | 1 Comment

Du cinématographe by Jean Cocteau

The art of cinema Jean Cocteau 
 

“I am rather surprised whenever I hear people chatter on about poetry in cinematography, the fantastic in cinematography and, particularly, ‘escapism’,
a fashionable term which implies that the audience is trying to get out of itself, while in fact beauty in all of its forms drives us back into ourselves and obliges
us to find in our own souls the deep enrichment that frivolous people
are determined to seek elsewhere.”


 
Escapism is a word I have often been reluctant to use when talking about the experience of watching films, exactly from the reasons stated above by Jean Cocteau. Before reading his book, The Art of Cinema, I hadn’t expected to find some of my fundamental concepts about cinema in Cocteau’s collection of writings on the subject. But I did. ‘Cinema as art’ is another one. Cocteau was one of the most individualistic of the French directors and promoted the idea of cinema as art – distinct from what is usually known as ‘art cinema’. He disliked the elitism of art cinema. So do I. His cinema as art is about motion pictures which are full of a myriad of artistic possibilities, something that is rarely explored in contemporary cinema today. To be honest, I have always been of the opinion that art movies are made for critics. And, as Cocteau said, “critics have no hold over it [beauty]. […] Critics can not hear it because the roar of current events clogs the ears of their souls.”

A brilliant mind and visionary artist, Jean Cocteau thought the heart presided over the intellect. And so it should, shouldn’t it? He often referred to his work – an unequalled variety of artistic expressions (from filmmaking, to theater, sculpting, painting and literature (he even designed sets and ballets)) – as poetry, “but not that which relates to verse, but rather a lyrical sensibility rooted in intellectual integrity and hard work”. That kind of poetry, I understand. His films had an ethereal beauty and elegance and he wanted them to appeal through images rather than words. He was not inspired by facile anti-Americanism and his writings show his eclectic taste in movies. He disliked the word cinema, preferring to use the already obsolete term cinématographe, which Robin Buss translated ‘cinematography’ in the book – “Cinematography is an art. It will liberate itself from industrial slavery.”

But here are some of Cocteau’s most eye-opening words on films. Bold, witty and discerning.

 

“I attach no greater importance to the text –
which I always try to reduce to a minimum – than to the visual style.
This is the real style of the film, since it is primarily a matter of writing for the eyes.”

 

“The best films arise in difficult circumstances. Russia, Germany and Italy conquered the screen
at the worst moments in their history. As soon as countries recover, and get rich,
the standard of their films declines. […] there is no such thing as film production.
It is a joke, as much as the production of literature, pictures or music. There are no good years
for films, like good years for wine. A great film is an accident.”

 

“Yet, as we all know, art has survived only because of little volumes
with small sales in their time, little newspapers distributed by hand and magazines with minimal print runs. This is where the world
later finds the names that it respects and loves.”

 

  “People use the word ‘genius’ with too much restraint.
It is not the sole prerogative of the Goethes and Shakespeares of this world.
Genius extends through the whole range of humanity. Stendhal uses the word
in referring to the exquisite ease with which some beings move and act.”

photo by me

Posted by classiq in Books, Film | | Leave a comment