I’m back in Australia after a four week break in Italy (what an absolutely amazing country), with much to do before I end the year.

First up is a two week assignment in South Africa, then I return to shoot New Zealand before winding up the year in Vanuatu for their respective tourism authorities. There’s two books to finish up, photo libraries to build and assignments to schedule for 2016.

As I wrote earlier, I left the cameras and work behind for most of my time away, using only my I-phone to fend off the ocassional cravings which proved a worthwhile exercise; I return rejuvenated, keen to capture some exceptional images and – I’d like to think – enhanced as a photographer having immersed myself in the refined sense of ascetics that could only have come from visiting Italy and appreciating, first-hand, the Italian civilisation and the work of its many gifted artists.

I’ll be interested to see how the experience shapes my work.

Reason to be inspired. The ceiling fresco at Borghese Gallery, Rome

Art that inspires. The ceiling fresco at Borghese Gallery, Rome

Below: A collection of the previous posts featuring the I-phone images I captured of Italy.

It’s a curse that as a professional travel photographer I feel compelled to leave my camera gear behind when I’m on holiday so I can have a genuine break from my job. And it’s come as no surprise that the gods who peer down on me from Venice’s grand basilicas have been mocking me ever since I arrived having born eternal witness to the stupidity of the notion.

But, of all the places I have been, it’s likely that I would not have eaten, nor slept, nor read, nor stopped to talk to anyone if I was with camera in hand – such is the charm of Venice and the abundant photographic opportunities she provides.

Indeed, it is an absolute pleasure to just step out from behind my camera and simply take it all in without feeling a sense of urgency to capture the moment.

What a beguiling city.

……That said, I did manage to raise the iPhone to my eye and sneak in the occasional pic (below).

Captions: I like the way the old biddie worked out how to get around paying the $10 surcharge to sit and listen to the music in Piazza San Marco, the gaggle of gondoliers spruiking for fares, the view from Hotel Daniele where I celebrated my birthday, and the lone gondolier heading – gladiator-like – towards the throng of tourists on the overhanging arch in the distance.



…..I’ve been inspired to write about Venice from the moment I got here but at the end of each starting sentence (and there has been many), I’d get distracted by something else that glittered and off I’d wander.

Few, however, could capture Venice as Jan Morris has in her book of the same title. It’s the best travel prose I’ve ever read and the most intimate and informative insight you’re likely to get into this most picturesque city.


More pictures from my I-phone.

I’ve arrived in Venice – the pinnacle of my month-long Italian adventure – to celebrate my 57th birthday.

Sometime on Monday, I’ll be sitting down with fine food and an Italian wine in front of me, looking out across Venice’s Grand Canal to acknowledge my good fortune and the successes I’ve been granted in life.

It’s a Bucket List item – a reward if you like after 15 years in my own business (I just didn’t want to stand around wandering if I’d reach 80 to enjoy it).

This first photo (above) was captured early this morning when I got delightfully lost in the labyrinth of narrow corridors of Venice trying to get to Piazza San Marco (surprising – at least to anyone who doesn’t know me –  given I can see the Piazza’s slanting tower not far from my bedroom window). The other two (below) were shot yesterday (me and seven million, billion other people took the same shot) shortly after I arrived.

‘Tis an enchanting city indeed; different to Rome at first blush – not as grand and imposing. More delicate and feminine, I think. I’ll enjoy exploring her ancient waterways and nooks and crannies with Jan Morris to guide me over the next four days.


… Just point and click.

The Tuscan countryside

The Tuscan countryside

To those who haven’t experienced the rapture of leaning into a winding mountain road on a motorbike or can’t relate to the exhilaration of powering out of a corner at full throttle, this might be the best time to, well, get off.

I’ll pick you up in a couple of posts.

It’s 10 0’clock on a clear, sunny morning and I’m weaving through the picturesque Italian countryside of Tuscany, a landscape sprinkled with fairytale hamlets and a patchwork of vineyards and olive groves about three hours north of Rome (above). The soaring notes of El Divo’s Nella Fantasia are playing through my headphones and I can feel the engine of my BMW humming effortlessly beneath me. I’m in a t-shirt and jeans travelling with four other riders and our Italian tour guide, Enrico Rubaldo Fulvio Grassi.

This is – I remember thinking – as good as it gets.

Certainly I’d hoped for as much. Italy on a motorbike has been on top of my Bucket List for some time.

There’s a lot to be said for appreciating a landscape more intimately when you’re moving through it on a motorbike – when you’re working through the gears and shifting in the saddle to adapt to its undulations and curves; when you’ve synchronised body and bike to the sweeping bends and you’ve found a sense of rhythm in your riding. It’s about the subtle changes of temperature that splash your face as you plunge into shadowed valleys from their sun-kissed heights. It’s about the fleeting aroma of roasting coffee or baking bread as you pass through the tiny country hamlets, or the rich, earthy smell of the newly farrowed fields unfolding around you.
And, of course, it’s about the power at your fingertips straining to be unleashed. In just three gear changes, you can accelerate from zero to more than 100 miles per hour in less than 15 seconds. Cars in front of you seem to come to a standstill as you wind on the throttle and pass, before quickly shrinking into the depths of your rear view mirrors. At such speeds, your senses are heightened ten fold and the scenery ahead races to meet you. It’s exhilarating. An intoxicating mix of power and control. Effortless, explosive, acceleration coupled with the thrill of riding to your limits.
Driving in a car, by comparison, is like watching a movie framed by your vehicle’s windows. You’re moving through exactly the same setting – comfortable and protected – but physically detached from it all.
It’s a world away from the freedom you feel with every sense of your being as you lean into a corner with the wind on your face, elated and completely immersed in the scenery around you.

….And so ends some of the impression I’m left with from the first day of my motorcycle tour of Italy. I’m sitting scribing this note from my room in a charming hamlet overlooking a sprawling Tuscan valley, hoping to capture and recall the experience. Accommodation for the next 10 days is booked, our route onto Corsica and Sardinia has been plotted – we just need to arrive and enjoy everything in between.

What an amazing way to see Italy.


....one happy rider. Overlooking the winding mountain roads or Corsica

….one happy rider. Overlooking the winding mountain roads of Corsica

….then, as if wandering the cobblestone laneways of this ancient city and dining directly in front of the Pantheon on a balmy night in Rome was not enough, came the soaring notes of a lone Opera singer (below)



Above: More snaps on the I-phone (tempted as I’ve been, the camera gear’s staying in the room).

Next: I pick up my motorbike tomorrow to head-off to Tuscany, then to Corsica and Sardinia.