Friday, December 22, 2017

Pride of Pyrénées-Orientales - Perpignan, France

Making my descent from the Pyrenees mountains on D117 back toward the Mediterranean Coast, I knew I was riding through warmer regions as I passed trellis after trellis of grape vines ready for harvest to make the world renowned vin français.  I was not the only slow moving traffic along this route on that clear September morning.  Tractors pulling wagons laden with freshly collected clusters of grapes bound for coopérative les vignerones to begin the transformation from berry to bottled nectar.  On my 60 kilometer ride that day, I appreciated the beautifully manicured vineyards but nothing could surpass the heavenly aroma that pours out from the cooperatives as the grapes are pressed to begin the wine-making process.  The sweet smell faded as I left the peacefulness of provincial life in change for the urban bustle of sunny Perpignan.  Not only did the unique history of this city draw me into the once capital of the Kingdom of Majorca but also the Visa por l'image.  Every year, the city showcases international exhibitions of photojournalism from the most impacting stories from around the world of that year.  I was excited to be a part of this celebration of photography but unaware of the changes that this would have on me.  Years leading up to this point, I had appreciation for photography and passion for producing images to remember moments in my life.  During my visit, that passion I had carried grew beyond the hobby that photography for my own pleasure into something more.  The shift inside of me moved from a hobby to a duty.  I had been told I had a talent with photography from family and friends but saw no calling to pursue photography.   Seeing these images from war-torn Syria, the devastation of the earthquakes throughout Nepal, the lives of struggling teenage mothers, and a long list of others worthy of recognition all made that change.  From them, I discovered a purpose within photography as these images not only captured a moment, but wielded a story that cast emotion, strife, and substance from paper to the heart of the viewer.  If you wish to see works from that moved me that day, visit Visa 2015 to see these power images that have guided me on this path to become a photographer that hopes to one day impact the world as these great photographers moved me.

Taxed from the turmoil of the world through the photographs of Visa, I sought out the second destination while in the city and the one that holds much of the city's heritage of art and culture under it's Gothic vaults for tranquility. I found that in Catedral de Sant Joan Baptista de Perpinyà as the locals know this 700 year old Catalan Gothic basilica which was begun under the reign of Sancho the Pacific. His short reign of thirteen years were remarked with peace and prosperity of the kingdom and her neighbors unlike those he followed and those the crown passed after his unfortunate death from an asthma attack. Since his death, the body of Sancho has laid to rest under the nave of the cathedral he founded in the heart of his kingdom's continental capital.  

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