I made it back to the states last week.  Backpacking across 9 countries in 7 weeks was an incredible experience, some of which I'm still processing. I made it a point to leave the camera behind in most situations, but I snagged a few shots along the way.  I may post more later, along with a few stories.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Athens, Greece.

Stuck between the Bulgaria and Romania border.

Brasov, Romania.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Plovdiv is beautiful. Joe and I took a 14 hour bus from Athens and arrived as the sun was rising.

Almost there.

"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot." -Charlie Chaplin

The Lovers, The Philosopher

The moment I took a knee to get a shot she started playing dead. During the next 2 days she would follow us everytime we'd cross paths with her in Plovdiv Center. She stole the hearts of onlookers.

Working the people.

Following Joe.

Admiring the The Roman Stadium.

Stopped by the Philippopolis Art Gallery & Museum. We spoke with Anna-Marie for a couple of hours about cultural differences between Bulgaria & America.

Old Town

Kebab on a sword.

Heading to Bucharest.

Last night.

Last night was great. Amidst what was one of the most beautiful and least stressful weddings I've filmed (something I rarely do now) I briefly chatted with a cool guy named Jonathan. We inhaled Mahi Mahi tacos and spoke about the paradox of duty and, at times, the necessity of remaining seemingly invisible in your work, or art. It can be bizarre when your craft, be it social work, or filmmaking, keeps you--the creator--behind the scenes.  "That person's transformation was incredible."  "That film was great." Depending on your line of work it can be rare for outsiders to discern the difference between the creation and the creator. Are they missing something integral in its meaning if it can't eventually be traced back to you? Maybe. But probably not.  

I think it's fair to say we were mostly keeping our egos out of the conversation, not being so much concerned about recognition, but curiousty.  We were trying to break down the dance just for ourselves, remaining conscious--and hopefully reverant--of the magical thinly veiled forcefield that exists between the particpiant/viewer, the idea/creation, and the professional/artist.  I don't know how conscious we are of it or should be but I imagine there has to be a part of us that works hard to keep the particpiant/viewer immersed without them ever fully understanding everything behind the scenes. Maybe ego does have a bit to do with it, but I'd like to think there's more to it. I'd like to think being conscious of the paradox can be a testament to your excitement and passion as an agency of change or inspiration. 

Collaborating with a handful of talented local artists I've had the fortune of helping them create exciting, ambitious shots. Some of which took weeks or months of pre-production, cost money and favors, broke a few laws, and were so stressful that they even severed a few professional relationships.  I think a giddy and elemental part of us wonders when it is all said and done will the participant know even a fraction of what it took: will they ever pick out tiny pieces of our heart in the creation, the true weight of the script's words and the experiences it took for her to find them, the blood and broken bones (if you have doubts, just throw a second damn sandbag on that c-stand and walk away), the broken lenses, the lighting challenges, the self-doubt, the----for-goddsake's-I-thought-you-said-we-could-capture-clean-sound-here, scheduling conflicts, the self-doubt, and the love?  Similarily will the young people that Jonathan helps everyday appreciate or even just understand the incredible value of his insight as he works to build a connection and help them out of their struggle?  Will they know how much thought and love and bravery he puts into finding meaningful ways of connection or recognize the possibility that his own struggles made that connection possible?  Maybe. But probably not. And they shouldn't have to. By proxy of our words and art any success had in connecting with people should be enough to be fullfilled and thankful. 

It was great how quickly we got to that shared moment of appreciation, no matter how different our backgrounds. I hadn't even finished my first taco. What a disarming creature, Jonathan.  

Sometimes I wo----


They're boarding the plane now. I'm flying to Greece in a few minutes to meet my good friend Joe. We're going to explore Athens and ride trains and busses through Bulgaria and Romania. We're going to meet beautiful people and landscapes. I imagine we may look towards the sunset and ancient ruins and the moon and exchange turns screaming, from a place of joy and hopefully, thankfulness. After nearly a week of that I'll say farewell to Joe in Bucharest from where he's flying home. The following weeks or months  I'll continue northwest with the hope of making it to Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, and the Netherlands. Thanks for stopping by my new site and blog by the way. I may keep it updated during my backpacking. -M