Issue 004 - words from the editor

About a month ago, when we were discussing a theme for our April issue, I was in the middle of moving to my new home. I was leaving a place that contained a couple of unfulfilled dreams and frustrations but mostly good memories. The whole decision process had started many months earlier and provoked a lot of introspection. What does "home" mean to me? What do I want it to be and what certainly not? Since this topic kept tumbling around in my mind, I proposed to use it as our theme for this issue. After thinking so much about it for so long, it should be pretty easy to make an essay, right? Wrong, I started at least ten drafts but none of them really expressed my feelings. On top of that, my new home town was brutally shaken up by a terrorist attack. For two days I could do nothing but sitting in front of the tv, dazed and trying to make sense of it. In a way, it felt like a violation of my home. 

We all struggled a bit with the concept of "home", it was a lot harder than we expected. But when the stories finally started to come in (most of them very close to the deadline), my KAGE buddies again made me so proud to be part of this group. My own essays keep me confused but in the stories of the others, I find solace and clarity. 

I hope you will enjoy this month's edition. Feel free to share our content on social media and don't forget to get in touch with us. Leave your feedback in the comments on our stories, they motivate us to go on and continue to come up with new work. 

Bert Stephani

One Solitude

Text and photography by Patrick La Roque

I should've been happy. I had a beautiful wife and three young kids. We had the house, the cat, two cars, a big screen TV. The whole damn shebang.

But I wasn't.

No matter how much we rebel, we're psychologically conditioned for that white-picket-fence-technicolor-happiness dream. It's measurable, it can be identified, quantified. It puts happiness in a nice little box we can hold up like some gold-plated bowling trophy. Too bad it doesn't actually translate into anything.

Truth is I had a hole in me the size of Quebec and Ontario put together, and to anyone from the outside looking in...for no obvious reasons. Yet here I was, creatively empty for the first time in my life, watching days fall around me like dominos, weary and guilty. Something had to give but I'd moved beyond the action threshold. Paralysis had set in. So my wife pushed: "take the car" she said "grab your camera and go west. Do it. We'll be fine."

I did.
I went all the way.

I'm what you could call the embodiment of the 1970s Trudeau vision: a Quebec francophone perfectly at ease in either French or English, straddling the cultural fences, proud of both heritages. Ours is a complex country when it comes to identity and we've somehow come to accept the term two solitudes when describing the perceived dichotomy between francophone and anglophone. Alone together. Forever segregated in enclaves, big and small.

The differences certainly exist—any fool can see it. But it's such a reduction of what we truly are: we're nothing short of a cultural multitude spread across this ever changing landscape. As I rode the Trans-Canada highway I found a country of extremes and incredibly beautiful emptiness. Such emptiness. A luxury really.

The barren sprawl of the Shield above Lake Superior. The endless Prairies with enough sky to drown in. The Badlands. The Rockies. Seasons changing hour after hour, from rain to snow and then flowers in full bloom. The Okanagan. On Route 3 I saw an old woman riding bareback, carrying the weight of centuries, proud and windswept. I slipped out of time—the snake is long—nothing out here is ever the same.

Miles and miles later I would find myself standing on a small beach in the town of Ucluelet, completely alone before an immense turquoise expanse. Jewel waves crashing the rocks beyond a small bay. The Pacific.

I would stand there, slowly beginning
the long voyage home.

That was six years ago. Before Fujis, before essays...before the beginning, really.

The voyage was a solitary one, with very little in the way of human interaction. And not surprisingly, without consciously pursuing any kind of set agenda, the pictures I took all seem to express that feeling of isolation and loneliness. The country feels abandoned, filled with ghosts and a few stranded silhouettes passing through. The eye sees what the mind wishes to see. The camera captures what the eye sees—and so on.

I guess I needed time to parse everything. Time to let those images settle and breathe on their own. To find the process. Time to decrypt and decipher the myths, interpret my own perceptions. I've come to realize, looking back, that I don't believe in two solitudes. In the end there really is but one solitude, all encompassing. One solitude for all inhabitants of the Territory, for all citizens of these vast and desolate landscapes that stretch between oceans and mountains. A Mari Usque Ad Mare.
In the end we're all riding the same deserted highway...desperately seeking to kickstart our soul.

As for home, well...sometimes leaving is the only way back.

Home Away from Home


The word “home” to me has little to do with a physical space, it’s more about how you feel in it. Last week I took the family for a couple of days to the French countryside and immediately, in this little rented house that we had never seen before, we all felt right at home. Home is a place where I calm down, feel safe and have time for my family. It’s where my kids can go “feral” and be creative. It’s a place where we don’t have to bother with conventions and be ourselves. 

H2o Me


They stand silently, but yet menacingly above the homes they provide to. Giant creatures turned to stone as they moved between a multitude of houses. One of them alone holds a million gallons of water elevated to the birds domain. They have become part of the landscape and accepted by the occupants below. Without height there is no pressure. Without pressure there is no water. Without water there is no life.

I had a fantasy more than 30 years ago that one day I would convert one of these water towers into a house and retreat from the world. It would just be H2o on stilts, me, a saxophone and a camera. I would live high in the air, away from society and shoot anyone that dared come within range of my lens.

Within range of my H2OME.

No place like home

Guanajuato, Mexico


We hear it all the time: It's where the heart is, a space-place of safety, anger, belonging, angst, love, terror. It's the people you're with, the places you love, the food you eat, the ability to rest. Battleground and shelter, it messes with your point of view.

Home is difficult.

In 3 years of moving around, I've had a number of temporary homes. I have felt curiously at rest in places I should have least solace, and where I would expect to find some measure of belonging, comfort has been absent. Ordinary tasks  - eating, drinking, washing, working, sleeping - are often surprising from place to place, and the approach to daily living is frequently also an indication of how the surrounding city should be traversed. 

In all of it, I come home to an abundance of light, color and texture.

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.

Searching for Home - Part I


For generations the farm meant not only home but the whole world to our family. Circumstances necessitated selling the farm more than 20 years ago. It is still the only place I would call home. Years of living in various flats in cities working office jobs never felt like home. Never felt right.

So at some point I figured, might as well change it all. Take off into the world. See what there is to see. Search for that home feeling.

To be continued...


Une photo, finalement, c’est bien peu de choses. Elle ne peut capturer qu’un seul moment sur des millions de la vie d’une personne, ou de la vie d’une maison. Les photos sont la preuve que les choses dont je me rappelle se sont vraiment produites, qu’elles ne sont pas des souvenirs fantômes ou des chimères, des fantasmes.
— Jonathan Coe


Une photo, finalement, c'est beaucoup de choses. Elle capture une infinité de moments de la vie d'une personne ou de la vie d'une maison. Elle capture le présent, le passé. Elle est le sillage du parfum d'une vie, de toutes les vies qui l'habite. Une photo c'est une maison, un jardin, une allée, un grenier, une cave, une chambre, un salon, une salle d'eau, une cuisine... photogénique.


A photograph is in fact many things. It captures an infinity of moments, of a person or a house. It captures past and present. It is the wake and scent of life, of every life it inhabits. A photograph is a house, a garden, a basement, a room, a den, a bathroom, a kitchen…photogenic.

Rains of March

Text and photography by Patrick La Roque

When we're kids, home is a haven, our entire universe within a single space. Later, home falls into a state of flux, until we decide to settle and build again, on our own; wherever we may land. It remains fragile, always, and for some even impossible—a hopeless dream in a fog of war or hunger or loss. Sometimes it stays transient, relying only on a few people around us in order to exist. Maybe nothing more than a state of mind.

The home I knew as a boy is being erased one book, one painting, one table or chair at a time. Erased like our mom's grasp on the present—liker her tortured soul. This morning I drove through hard torrential rain, half-dazed and weary, on my way to a memory on the verge of collapsing. Neighbours have passed away, replaced by strangers. Our street has grown tendrils, the fields we used to hide in paved over, the forest in our backyard long gone.

The smells still linger though: of old childhood and reprimands and board games on a Sunday afternoon. Of curses and strange sleepless nights, holidays and love and death. Solitude.

Maybe it's March digging its wet claws into my soul —I don't know. But it’s clear my home has shifted and my family lies elsewhere. This house is little more than nostalgia now and it hurts a little, like losing part of yourself to something you can’t control.

It’s just a frame—waiting to capture someone else’s memories.


By Bert Stephani

I was going to make an essay about how I finally decided to give up the studio space and the big house I worked really hard for. I was going to show you how too much clutter in a too big place, almost became my downfall. I was going to explain how I turned everything I've learned the hard way into a better future. I tried for days to make a comprehensible story but just couldn't make it work. I guess it's still too fresh and I'm still in the middle of this big transition. I really want to do something creative with these confusing times. And once the dust has settled, I will. 

For now, I will leave you with some portraits I made in my studio "The Barn" over the last eight years. There are some pictures in this gallery that I still like a lot, but I mostly see a photographer who has the technical skills but is desperately looking for his own voice in studio photography, sometimes getting close, more often not.