Sarah Black Photography

family film photography travel

A week in Taormina (part two of That Winter We Went to Europe Instead)

family, film, travelsarah black

In 2017 our family took two months off to head to Spain and Sicily. We travelled a month in each, spending a week at each destination, staying in villas and airbnb accommodations, generally perching in more out of the way places and just immersing ourselves in everything local. I blogged the Spanish part of the trip quite some time ago, after making albums, but have only just gotten around to making the two Italian albums, and so having enjoyed revisiting these photos. I thought I’d share some favourites in case I can inspire anyone else to head off on whatever family adventure might be lurking at the back of their dreams. I believe in the value of travelling anywhere at all really, even if it’s to the next suburb on the weekend, but this is a truly jawdropping part of the world and I’d encourage anyone to spend a month driving around the beautiful island of Sicily, should that opportunity every present itself. First stop for us after flying into Catania was Taormina, a gorgeous seaside town perched above and below the eastern cliffs of this part of the coast, with glorious Mt Etna (an active volcano and a very worthwhile day trip away) in the background. There an ancient amphitheatre, authentic and interesting shopping ( I’m not really a shopper, but I loved the stores here and bought handmade pottery and beautiful linen patterned in very subtle pumpkins and grapes) and the best granita in the world (or so we were told, and it was easy to believe). We stayed in an apartment down near the beach, and there is a very cool Funicular (cable car to transport you up to the main street for dining and shopping and people watching).

These photos are fairly documentary, as when in public (by which I mean any single person can potentially see them) my kids are much more reluctant to do anything for my camera which might draw attention to them - which is hilarious because quite often they naturally do things, like having punch ups in a very small and densely populated cable car, which definitely draws attention to them, but there you have it.

We generally avoid big cities where we can, and so Taormina was just big enough to be able to explore fully, and get to know a little bit: things which still stand out in our memories are sand like hot gravel (or sand which is actually hot gravel, same/same), our only experience of one of those funny Italian beaches where you have to pay to sit in a chair but which was so worth it because a choir of considerable talent seemed to be having their annual sing-off in a bar above and delivered a spectacular free concert to anyone within hearing distance, Sardines Beccafico, wordless games of soccer in the street outside our apartment with the little boy who lived downstairs, Aperol Spritz (which seems to be the town’s official drink, so when in Rome, and Taormina…), a day clambering over the lower slopes of Mt Etna, granita good enough to queue for, a day trip to Ortigia, more granita, and the view from the cable car.

Next up, Noto, further toward the southeast corner of Sicily, followed by Menfi, higher up on the southwest, and finally the island of Favignana, off the western coast.

//Sarah Black is one of Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula's most sought after family and newborn baby photographers. If you are interested in finding out more about commissioning a natural, soulful photography session to capture this time in the life of your family, children or a newborn baby, either in your own home or on location anywhere in Melbourne, please get in touch here. Weekends book out around 6 weeks in advance (weekday times are more readily available), so if you are considering booking a session then please get in touch asap to reserve your date.//

Beautiful people

family, film, lifestyle, childrensarah black

I am finding it hard to put words to my thinking and feeling at the moment. I'm going through one of the those luminous times, if you've been lucky enough to experience this, where your understanding of certain elements of life shifts wholly and perceptibly to a new level, leaving your continuous self a little dazed and confused, although in a blissful, gentle way. I kind of feel like someone has substituted the suburban block in my head with about 10 acres of sweeping vista, and I'm fumbling around in my pyjamas looking for where the tea is kept now?

I only mention this because this beautiful human I was so lucky to meet and photograph on a recent trip to Noosa in Queensland, is the real deal, and is exactly the sort of person to understand about such things; she is someone to sit in the stillness (actually she is also the sort to find and make the tea for you) and share how perfect it is, without needing any more in the way of explanation than that.

I 'met' Marina online through her Instagram feed and our shared love of film photography (which she uses for personal work), and before meeting her in real life I guessed that I would approach her photo session in a freeform and expressive, more abstract, way. But my approach to photography is very responsive to the energy of the family I am capturing, and I was so moved by their earthiness and candour that I couldn't bear to interrupt their own natural flow with too many requests to do or be this or that. My general instinct has always been to keep out of people's faces, and I used to think that it was because I was naturally introverted and lacked the courage to insert my personality into situations (which I assumed must be a necessary step in the pursuit of artistic goals, one which I continued to execute miserably). But now I understand my inclinations better than that. I have always felt that people are inherently beautiful just as they are (without judgement from me on individual personal traits), with the motivations and feelings and desires that have brought them to this moment. Of course, some people are a little shy and welcome a photographer's invitation to be more playful or relaxed, but beyond gentle encouragement to soften that resistance (which might just take the form of engaging in light hearted play), I've long felt reluctant to impose on people any interactions or gestures that don't seem innately theirs, without understanding why i felt this so keenly.

I learnt something powerful the day I photographed Marina's family: to trust more fully in my heart's desire to follow curiosity, without expectation. I learnt, finally, to push my ego to the side and let go of my ideas of what things should be. The most genuine thing I can do to simply make a space for a family to be themselves, and then quietly bear witness to their loveliness, as mindfully as I would a flower, or any other thing of miraculous beauty.