My Four Walls


This month, I was forced to think more personally about my images.
It's true that I'm my own harshest critic and whilst I'm working, I'm concentrating hard on the job at hand. However, when I'm home, I'm always aware of my often rambunctious, always lovely, Rosa and Albie.

Rosa, in essence, is the reason I'm here at all.  Back in 2009 when she was born I bought a camera.  I'd never owned one before.  So thank-you Rosa for being the catalyst of this journey I still find myself on.

This month's theme was loosely based around "Home" and whilst I know there are far more powerful, poignant and political stories this month, I really had to post these.  Because....well, because these are my home.

It's very true to say that until I started my long standing love affair with the X100T I had few "snapshots" of my children.  It may be rather quixotic, but I can't think of anything better that sums up home for me.

These are the building blocks of my four walls.
Happy April, everyone, from a somewhat milder Middle-England.

a Royal Hunt

Text and photography by Bert Stephani

Becoming a hunter in Belgium is a lot more complicated than buying a gun and venturing into the forest. It requires passing a pretty testing theoretical exam followed by a series of challenging practical exams. The exams are held only once a year and it’s a tradition that the top 20 performers get an invitation for a hunt on the royal hunting grounds, a privilege that is usually only reserved for the happy few. I never came close to be top of the class on the hunting exams so when I got the chance to experience a royal hunt as a photographer, I jumped to the occasion. 

In the late afternoon I meet Jan, an obviously smart young hunter and his personal hunting guide for tonight who also happens to be the head keeper for the royal hunting grounds. It becomes immediately clear that the hunting here is not just some kind of royal gesture to justify all that tax money they get, it’s a special gift in many ways. These forests are some of the most beautiful places in the country and no effort is spared to keep them in pristine condition for man and animal. The guide is an intense man who generously shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with Jan who soaks up every whispered word.  

We move slowly, all our senses on full alert and desperately trying not to snap a dry twig. Every few meters, Jan and the guide scan the area with their binoculars looking for deer, roe deer and wild boar. I’m doing a delicate balancing act of getting some pictures without spoiling Jan’s outing. It doesn’t take long before our guide suddenly freezes. He points in the distance but I can’t see a thing from where I am standing. The guide and Jan crawl to one of the many strategically placed blinds. The rifle comes out and I see Jan peering through the scope but no shot follows. I’m invited into the cramped blind and through the guide’s binoculars I can make out two does and a fawn. I was not carrying a long lens, so you’ll have to take my word for it. The does are fair game today but as we don’t know which of the two does is the mother of the fawn, we all enjoy simply watching the trio. 

After this amazing encounter we move on, always making sure we keep the wind in our face. Although we don’t see any game for a while, we all enjoy the sights, the sounds and the smell of the forest. It’s at moments like these that I’m amazed by how good our human senses can be. 

The light is fading quickly and our guide proposes to spend the last half hour in another blind that offers a decent chance at seeing roe deer. We all squeeze into the tight blind and we wait. Twenty minutes later we see a dark form emerge from the trees. It’s a female roe deer and since some need to be culled to maintain a good natural balance, Jan clicks of the safety of his rifle. As the roe doe turns broadside the small blind is filled with the loud report of a shot. The doe goes down as if struck by lighting, she never knew what happened. As is custom we stay in the blind for a couple more minutes to let the peace descend upon the forest again.

To prevent the meat from spoiling, it’s important that the guts are removed as soon as possible. Generally the guides take care of this but Jan asks if he can do it himself. He admits that he’s never done it before and everything he knows about this task, comes from watching YouTube videos. The guide clearly appreciates that this young hunter is not afraid to get his hands dirty and learn.

The notion of time fades away with the last light and is replaced by a sort of primal truth. 

This story would not have been possible without Frederik and Jan who kindly invited me to join them on their hunts, knowing perfectly well that taking along a photographer could have had a negative impact on their hunting chances. 

The invitation to photograph this outing came in about the same time that a secret prototype of the Fujfilm X-Pro2 landed on my desk. I decided to take the plunge and shoot this story with the prototype. To give myself some flexibility and a fully weather sealed setup, I shot most of the day with the XF16-55 f2.8 zoom lens. I wanted to travel as light as possible, so I completed my kit by stuffing some batteries and the 35mm f1.4 in my right jacket pocket. As a backup, I put my X100T in the left pocket. 

I had played around with the new camera for a couple of days before to get used to it. Having shot a lot with the X-Pro1, it was pretty easy to move on to the X-Pro2. The only thing that bothered me at times is the back button focussing. On the X-Pro1, I've always used the AF-L button to focus with my thumb but on the X-Pro2 I found it ergonomically better to assign the AE-L button to function as the AF-L button. By now my muscle memory is retrained but in the first days, I've pushed the wrong button repeatedly. 

I shot pretty much everything in aperture priority with auto ISO, just riding the exposure compensation if necessary. The biggest technical challenge for me was to shoot for JPEG-files as I knew I wouldn't have access to the Lightroom RAW presets I've created for my hunting photography until Adobe adds support for the RAW-files of this new camera. I've selected the ProNeg S film simulation, set noise reduction to -4, color to 0, Sharpness to +1 and Highlight Tone was set to -1 to preserve details in the bright parts. Throughout the day I changed the Shadow Tone setting repeatedly to get a good mix between the kind of shadows that I wanted and giving myself some detail with post processing in mind. 

Every sound decreases the hunter's chance of succes, so I activated the electronic shutter for totally silent operation. Due to the technical limitations of electronic shutters there's always a risk of unwanted artefacts, certainly with low shutter speeds, but I didn't experience a single glitch. 

At the end of the day in pretty much total darkness, I switched the 16-55 for the 35mm f1.4 to gather the very last photons of the day. 

I've shot most of my ongoing project about hunting (book will be finished in 2016) with the X-Pro1 and even though the X-T1 has become my main tool because of it's technological improvements over the X-Pro1, I still prefer the rangefinder-style form factor. With the X-Pro2 I have the best of both worlds and more:

- weather sealing and dual memory cards offer protection and peace of mind
- the AF has taken a big leap forwards again and the joystick makes selecting AF-points a breeze
- even though the camera pretty much looks the same as it's older brother, it feels more secure in my hands
- we now get 24 megapixels and the sensor still offers this unique Fujifilm magic
- despite the extra pixels, there's at least one more stop of useable high ISO sensitivity.

The Woodshop

Text and photography by Patrick La Roque

Phil was a painter and we were an alternative band. Or goth...depending on the mood.  We'd play underground clubs and he'd always be there, a friend as passionate as we were; as crazy. Now I'm a photographer dabbling in music and he's a woodworker, dabbling with paint. The years have grizzled us both, adding a hint of wisdom that's nothing but a front—we're still just kids inside, forever, because none of that ever changes; you come to realize it eventually.

The room is cold and perfect. A refuge of sorts.
We're just shooting the breeze here.
Drinking espresso.
Fighting off the years.

#Unite @ Montreal

Aux sombres héros de l’amer
Qui ont su traverser les océans du vide
A la memoire de nos frères
Dont les sanglots si longs faisaient couler l’acide...
— Noir Désir

Text and photography by Patrick La Roque

The dream is always the same...tornadoes appearing in the distance, slowly filling up the sky. I sit by the window, aware of the oncoming darkness and cold breath of the thunderclouds as I watch in silence, a witness to the gathering storm.


Today I stood with children and grandmothers, fathers and sisters and brothers and friends, all united against tyranny. I heard the courage of a people united in the broken song of an old woman, her voice sad but strong, shaken but defiant, ready to push back against the long nights of terror and barbarians.

As I write these words over 120 people have died in Paris, slaughtered by strangers, by neighbours, by their own. But today we faced the tornadoes, shoulder to shoulder.

No more.

Landscapes of Memory (I)

The point of departure is so often a severance. The breaking of ties, a rejection of all that is past.

The stillness of old spaces. Ancient burial grounds, awaiting resurrection; the spirits that burst forth in seething, vital turmoil.

At the borders of origin, can we deny that what we are, owes its place, to what was? 

Can we enter the foggy ground of what we were, without destroying what we are?

Can we ever truly return?

I am the Fire in the Structure

Text and photography by Patrick La Roque

"These are the new mountains" my father said, "towering and driven monuments, drilled into the ground by force, not time—there's a difference..." "Why? Why is it different?" I asked. "Because it's borne of control..." he answered, lighting another cigarette, his eyes suddenly vacant "...And meant to control."

We may eventually become the worlds we inhabit, as they absorb us through osmosis and sheer strength of will. But as I walk in silence, dwarfed in these extinct territories, it dawns on me: I will not be transformed, I will fight; I will testify.

I am the fire in the structure.

Running With The Pack


The grip tightens as the countdown begins. Dogs bark and howl in anticipation of the race ahead. It's bitter cold in the Cairngorm mountains of northern Scotland as the competitors take positions and ready themselves for speed.

Every year in the dead of winter they meet and race. Sledges if there is enough snow, wheels when not. The temperature is minus a few fingers below freezing and the snow is coming in sideways at certain points of the day, but the dogs seem to love it for all of that and more. This is what they do best and they know what is expected of them. They're pulling their master to the finish line. They're running with the Pack.

De Camille à Amy...

Text and photography by Vincent Baldensperger

Amy sculpte, dessine et peint, le sens de la vie au bout des doigts, Amy a de nombreux enfants. Chacun a son caractère, ses reflets sous le soleil, tous sont nés de l'élégance et d'une sensibilité rare. Marqués du sceau de leur créatrice, façonnés du bout des doigts à l'instinct, suivant plutôt les traces de Camille que de Rodin, ils habitent cet atelier, s'observent, se parlent en silence.

Matière vivante, la petite dernière est d'ébène pour la teinte, fragile encore sous les gestes d'Amy qui l'observe sans relâche, lui dessine délicatement le profil de l'enfance, révèle ses traits et sa personnalité, offrant enfin à la vie et en musique ce nouveau petit prodige, émotion pure sculptée de mains de maître…

Amy sculpts, draws, paints; life's meaning at her fingertips. Amy has many children, each with its own character, its own reflections under the sun, all borne of a rare elegance and sensibility. Marked by their creator, moulded by instinct, more Camille than Rodin, they inhabit the studio, observing, speaking in silence.

Already alive, the youngest is of ebony, still fragile under Amy's gestures as she observes her, delicately shaping an infant's profile, revealing  traits and personality. Bringing to life and music a new being—pure emotion from the hands of a master...

For Joaquin

In a small corner of Buenos Aires is La Recoleta Cemetery.  A huge mausoleum of many thousands of souls.

I strolled, one day, through the gates and into this ethereal world.  The tombs of many of the rich, famous and notable members of Argentine society are here.

You can see them.  The tombs of the famous that is. Surrounded by tourists snapping away.  The resting place of Eva Perón is here.  Her tomb is polished, immaculate and rightly so, daubed with flowers every day from grateful Argentinians and benevolent foreigners.

Move around, away from the crowds, and I became lost in this city of the dead.  Crypts from as far back as 1822 line every walkway.  There are no road signs here.  There are no messages of information telling you where to go.  Each passageway has a final turn, each path is the final stop.

I felt discernibly uncomfortable looking endlessly at these bedrooms of the lost.  My own mortality and that of my loved ones was featuring in my mind. 

Many of the tombs have been forgotten and left to ruin.  Broken glass, litter and graffiti lead one's eye to the rotten remains of the caskets.  Aged photographs, dirty urns for pets and tiny urns for once-loved children huddle in the corners, comforting one another into eternity, abandoned generations ago.

Wander further, past the glitz and the bronze statue protected tombs of past literary giants, beyond the multi storey statues set to commemorate great Argentinian leaders and I found Joaquin.

Joaquin b2006 – d2011.


Not many people will visit this place and notice Joaquin. Not many will mourn for him or wonder, as I have, about his story. All little boys are loved. No little boy should be forgotten.

Remember Joaquin, and others, as you remember Evita and the others.


Text and photography by Patrick La Roque

We’ve rented a small cozy apartment on Via Tolemaide—a few minutes walk away from the Vatican—which means every day we navigate the street vendors, the ticket scalpers and the lumbering hordes crowding the sidewalk, inching towards the gates for hours on end, rain or shine. 

This morning it’s our turn. We booked a skip the line tour and we’re glad we did: some thirty-thousand visitors will enter today—a veritable circus; a gigantic, awe-inspiring, sweat-laced circus.

Tour guides walk around with flags held at arm's length so each group can follow its leader, but the human tide is relentless and we get separated more than once. You can’t even fight it: you just ride, lost in rooms and corridors bursting at the seams with frescos and paintings, massive sculptures above you, others just scattered around the floors like bargain items at a flea market. Museum and warehouse all in one—like some vault waiting for the end of days.

In Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel we’re herded like sheep, security guards shouting “No pictures!”, “Silence!”, “Move!” every thirty seconds. It’s downright military. And that picture ban? It’s not about reverence or respect: a japanese TV network owns the rights to any visual representation of the chapel. Part of a deal made when it was last restored; Yeah, money makes the world go ’round… The things you learn.

But it’s still grandiose and terrifying, and beautiful and excessive. Four hours spent wading through two thousand years of human achievement, cramed into every corner. When we end our tour at St-Peter’s Basilica, we feel microscopic, dwarfed by the gold, the stone and the towering dome. 

And as we leave, we welcome the rain.
We most certainly welcome the rain.