This is my studio for exploring my work. Consider these drafts.

Former selves

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
— Stanley Kunitz, "The Layers"


I think I first read this poem when I was 18 or 19 years old (I only quoted the first stanza, but let's stay focused here for a moment). That time and that self is only vaguely recognizable now.

I took these photos over five years ago and that photographer feels like a distant self.  And I think the self she is now can remember the shirt grazing her thighs, and the heels she would wear to boost her lips closer to her lover's (I've never forgotten them), the taste of whiskey in the glass, and the sensation of seeing herself watching herself. But the self she was then is a language rarely spoken. 

But it can all intersect at such an unexpected moment and you see how close you are to that past self. You see that you are very much the same as then in some essential way. And that is comforting.

I still look at her and feel the need to photograph her. 

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by Balthazar Simões

Beautiful feelings

I make landscapes out of what I feel. I make a holiday of sensation.
— Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Recently I've been revisiting shoots I did long ago (if a few years can be considered long ago). It's an exploration of memory, but memory is really about the present. I see the photos differently now; how I saw them before is lost. So I build a new structure out of the feelings that I have when I look at these photos taken by a faraway self in a faraway place.

These truly are different photos then they were four years ago. They look like they were taken in a quiet alley in old Europe and maybe they were. It feels like they were. I never share so many photos at once, but sometimes memory is exuberant and you have to know when to say yes. 

Do you want to know a secret? I still don't know what I'm doing and I certainly didn't when I took these photos. I just had a beautiful feeling.

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by Balthazar Simões


But really, wouldn’t the story make more sense the other way around? Man, a part of a woman instead of woman, a part of a man?

You can’t divide a smaller number and get a larger number in return (or maybe you can, I don’t know how). You can’t divide a man and get a woman. Only women can divide. 

Division instead of addition or subtraction. 

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by Balthazar Simões

It's just a picnic

I don't usually shoot in black and white. It's too hard for me to understand anything without colors. But, it's the film I had and you should always eat such things as are set before you.

The photos lack some perfection. I couldn't hold the camera straight, or still, or skillfully. 

It's been months since I looked at them, but I'm finally seeing them for what they are and they are pretty special to me. It's all crooked and alive and smirking at judgment. A picnic.

I think we oughta take some o’ these people
And put ’em on a boat, send ’em up to Bear Mountain . . .

For a picnic
— Bob Dylan, "Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues"
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by Balthazar Simões

To know both

They are tactics of imagination, which sometimes turn upon enhancing the beloved, sometimes upon reconceiving the lover, but which are all aimed at defining one certain edge or difference: an edge between two images that cannot merge in a single focus because they do not derrive from the same level of reality—one is actual, one is possible. To know both, keeping the difference visible, is the subterfuge called eros.
— Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet


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by Balthazar Simões