|HOLDING ON by Patrizia Burra|
It was her beautiful smile which I noticed first. It was full of warmth, friendship and love and yet we were meeting for the first time. How could that be? Well, it is easy to explain. Patrizia Burra is as passionate a person as her wonderful photography suggests. She instils her work with a love of the medium certainly but also with a love of life, a love of her fellow human being and a clear understanding of what is good in this weird world of ours. One only has to look at the images on this page to realise this.
When I saw her work on her website (after it was featured in Professional Photographer magazine), I knew that I had to write to her and tell her how much I loved it and to ask if she might consider photographing me even though I knew that she lived and worked in Italy. She replied the same day saying that she would be pleased to come to England to photograph me. I was so pleased. We corresponded at length and gradually began a countdown to the day of the shoot. I had such high expectations of the shoot that I suppose there was a danger of disappointment. No way. First of all, I met her very handsome husband, Corrado, whose kind eyes told me, in one glance, so much about them both (that is Corrado and Patrizia - not his eyes) and then I went to find Patrizia and was met with her smile and then her slightly awkward words of greeting - awkward because she doesn't speak English very well. They suggested that we went outside so they could smoke and we could get to know each other better which we did but it was too late. I knew enough already to realise that I could throw myself into the shoot with complete abandon and trust that the images would be stunning. I did and they were.
I told them that Patrizia was the 250th photographer to photograph me and I felt very emotional as I did so because I suppose it is a sort of milestone. Also, I had wondered from time to time whether I ought to stop at 250 and say to the 250th photographer "you're the last one" but I knew that it wasn't going to happen - I enjoy the shoots far too much.
We returned to the studio and Kenny McCracken helped them set up the lighting and eventually Patrizia was ready and I took off my clothes and she directed me as to what I should do mostly with a large piece of white gauze material. She was very business-like and knew exactly what she wanted but every so often she would stop and smile with the sheer pleasure of it all. It was a very carefree atmosphere but at the same time, very professional. After we finished, I took them back to our house and introduced them to Jane and we all went down to the local cafe for a snack. They then took their leave of us and so ended a magical day but not the magic itself which reappeared with the images which Patrizia sent to me. I was so very impressed and moved because they were produced with the same love and care that she applied during the shoot. I knew very quickly which one was my favourite and Patrizia approved of that as well as the title which, in fact, was suggested by her. I love the way the light catches my face in such a way that suggests a real innocence (and, yes, Patrizia, tenacity too), a real clarity of purpose and thought and love for the world and this life. I think that it says much the same about Patrizia.
So, there we are,"Holding On" by the one and only Patrizia Burra. A beautiful person with an adorable husband and a huge amount of talent. What more can you ask for?