I REMEMBER BEING TOLD A STORY ABOUT THE WRITER OF THE LITTLE PRINCE, ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY FLYING DOWN TO RIO DE JANEIRO WITH HIS FRIEND THE ARCHITECT CORBUSIER, TO PICK UP THEIR FRIEND OSCAR NIEMEYER.
They were going to fly over and around Brazil…which became the canvas for Antoine’s “The Little Prince”.
FLYING DOWN TO BRAZIL IS ONE OF THOSE JOURNEYS THAT CAN PRODUCE MYSTICAL BEAUTY LIKE FEW PLACES ON THE EARTH. THE DIMINISHING JUNGLE CAN SWALLOW UP DREAMS AND REALITIES IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. THE PEOPLE CAN DANCE WITH YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT...THE FOOD, DRINK AND OTHERWORLDLY DELIGHTS CAN KEEP YOU AFLOAT ON DREAMS AND MEMORIES FOR A LIFETIME. MY DREAM WOULD BE TO EMBRACE THE TRIO’S VISION, THEIR STORIES ON THAT JOURNEY.
Flying down to Rio allows you to play in your mind every song written about Rio, Ipanema, Copacabana…
Once the playlist rolls through your head, your dreams of what is about to start to become reality.
I was on the plane flying to Rio to photograph Oscar Niemeyer and his work. I was also to photograph the Mayor of Rio, Cesar Maia and Christain Portzamparc’s Cidade Das Artes in progress.
I was in my element ..." flying down to Rio”. I was feeling exotic. Exotic to me is being on a surfboard diving towards life and death on the 50-foot wave in Nazare, Portugal or Teahupoo,Tahiti.... yes it is part of a dream... but suddenly my photography dream was becoming a reality.
I was visually diagraming in the sky how I was to photograph Oscar Niemeyer. It was a previsualization moment. It is something I have done for generations. Niemeyer was a force of nature in the world of Architecture. Few other voices have had an impact on the 20th and 21st Century built designs. Where conformist made great work Oscar created a template for architects to explore themselves and their designs. What was my camera going to deliver? I had to imagine what I might do.
I was suddenly nudged by my flight mate. It turns out he was CIA. We talked and drank for the flight duration. But that story and more is for another 10,000 words another day.
Back to my Dream:
In my life, the photographic experience is the visual realization of a dream come true…It is rare and it is memorable.
The Little Prince is a written dream. A dream where reality seems within reach. This great story is about adventure and discovery. My camera has been my tool, my instrument my window to the same adventure and discoveries.
I entered his apartment…wide-eyed not only in anticipation of meeting one of the great figures of modern Architecture but see with my own eyes the life of a design visionary in real time. As I entered my eyes danced around the studio looking at his drawings on the walls…and the ocean/sky horizon outside.
The giant entered the room:
I am 6’3” Oscar is about 5’3. To meet and greet him was kind of awkward. But he was the king…and I am not.
We got on with the pics…i just wanted the lens to absorb the room and sink into the film transparency like indelible ink.
I didn’t want to go “snippety snap snap snap” with my camera. I was supposed to be kind of important, otherwise, why would he allow me there?
I was like a kid. The chaise he sat on…the drawings he surrounds himself with…all looked sort of old school,
but for me a life’s memory.
Maybe the most interesting part of our exchanges were his queries about all of the Pritzker Prize architects I had photographed. I guess the funniest/awkward moment was; “who is your favorite,? he asked”.
After our shoot, he took me by the hand into his drafting room.
The master placed a pen in my hand…his hand on top of mine on the drafting table atop a sheet of paper. He commandeered my control, and together we drew a beautiful piece together. I was metamorphosed back in time to the innocent I used to be. It was a beautiful moment.
Needless to say, after he signed it, I guarded it like a treasure trove of jewels. It seems that I came home with many gifts.
I was actually in Rio a week before heading off to São Paulo to photograph Paulo Mendes. I made some architectural images that I am proud of. Every day from the beaches and more I tried to imagine how my experiences mirrored the Little Prince and his friends.
My afternoon with Oscar lives in my lifetime of real dreams.