I took some photos with Roxane in May. It was not for her birthday, but it was on her birthday. Just before that, I watched a documentary about the famous British photographer Norman Parkinson recently. There was one part about how he found his models. There used to be agents collecting rooms of young girls and they would all wait there for him and hope to be picked. It was a bit sad to see how some of the young girls have ended up now. Some of them are still with red lipstick and black eyeliner. But some of them are not glamorous anymore.
I don’t have young girls lining up for me but I do have many pretty girlfriends. I remember the first day I met Roxane. Her pale blonde hair with a neat fringe and big dark eyes were the first things I noticed. She was wearing a school uniform type of jacket, which made her look like a school girl.
She’s quiet some of the time. Sometimes she talks, asks questions and listens carefully. I admire her ability to listen patiently and show real interest in other people’s lives. I always think people who have seen the world, talked to people and read the books are always quick to listen and slow to speak. I don’t know Roxane very well, but I’m pretty sure she’s one of this kind. She has been to many different places in the world, she talks to people and she’s curious about their cultures, she reads. She’s open to new ideas, she dares to try new things. I think that’s largely why I like her and asked her in the first place if she’d like to go out for some photos.
So we went to Durham, where Bill Bryson got off the train many years ago and fell in love with it at first sight. A cherry tree was flowering outside the station that day. The cathedral looks like a grandfather – old, respectable, but friendly and close.
Most of the photos were taken along the river. Roxane was like a flower bud that had blossomed in front of my camera.
I heard this poem translated by Sasha Dugdale on the radio the other day. It reminded me of those moments I captured, when her laughter jumped off the bench, when her hair danced in the air, when her thoughts drifted along the River Wear.
When I fly over the dark waters,
when I sweep over the black trees,
I have nothing in my pockets,
but a tangle of tobacco and Russian poetry.
When an angel carries away my soul,
all shrouded in fog,
folded in flames,
I have no body, no tear to weep.
Just a bag in my heart,
full of poems.