The adventure I am about to bequeath begins many moons ago, back at a time when I decided to dedicate my life to photography.
I used to lead a double life: a university student by day, barman by night. It was a frantic life. Always on the run, trying to stay occupied, trying to fill my life with something to do. Didn’t know back then - no one does, it is something you just realise later - but all that effort was just a symptom. And my disease had a particular name: dissatisfaction.
I was unhappy; it was as simple as that. I was living a life that I did not feel was mine. Mostly because I was living in a place that I was not able to call home: I did not belong. Alone, lost, defenceless. I do not want to sound ungrateful. That was certainly a good life to live. The thing is, it was not mine.
I could have run away. Leave it all behind and start over, but I have learned that to avoid problems is never a good solution. So I did the only thing that seemed right to me, I made a choice. A straightforward and rational choice: I lay on the ground.
To lie down for me is more than just a physical action. It is a way to understand things, to empty your mind and truly see things differently. Most of all, it is the way I deal with my feelings. Whenever and wherever I feel I do not belong, I lie on the ground. Six years ago, I lay down and realised that I would become a photographer. I started my first project, and soon after had my first exhibition. The rest of my life, started that day on that ground.
Today, I will lie down in Milan.
Milan is fashion, design, architecture, Michelin star restaurants, finance, sport, monuments, cosmopolitan. Milan has everything you may need from a city. But Milan can be cold, and I have never felt I belong.
As an Aperture Tours Photographer, we have not only to know the city we are hosting, but we have to breathe them. We have to live in the streets, embrace the character, taste the food sold at the corner. This is the only way to make our journey tailor made to suit you. It is like friendship: the closer you get, the more intimate you know them.
The same thing happens with a city. Venice is my lover, especially after I found her peaceful side in Giudecca. Verona is the girl next door, the one you know since you were born. Milan? Milan has always been a distant acquaintance to me. So I wanted to embrace her, and this is why I lay down in Milan. I wanted to hear the sound of the city.
To hear someone's heart, you need to place your ear on their chest. So I did. I started to listen to the beating sound of Milan, and I found a new friend.
When you lie down in the street, everything changes. If you are looking at something from the lowest point of view, it is an act of humility. From that point of view, you will stop looking, and start seeing. It is like synesthesia: you can hear something with your eyes. And that voice, comes from the city, just telling you, finally, that she is ready to reveal her true colours.
A train approaching. A businessman screaming at the phone. The wind blowing through the leaves. Children playing at the park. Two people making silly conversation while waiting for their lives to move forward. High heel passing by the Galleria. I may have seen this all before, but this is the first time I felt the need to take an image of these scenes. I know why now. Once again, it is like a friendship. You have to listen to your friend to understand how she feels. This time, I listened; I felt I belong to what I heard.
If you are looking for somewhere you belong, try to lie down. You may find a new friend as I did in Milan.
Author : Mirko Fin
Mirko is a photographer with Aperture Tours: professional photography guided tours, designed to help you get the best out of your camera whilst exploring wonderful cities with a local. He has no limits or disciplines in photography. He looks for the meaning in everything. He finds his life as a photographer as a never-ending challenge, an everlasting expedition.