Walking around Brussels

When you walk around London or New York, and probably any other city of more than 5 million inhabitants, you feel as if you were shrouded in an invisibility cloak. As soon as you leave your own front door, you assume anonymity. When occasionally you do bump into a friend, you fling your arms round each other. "What are you doing here?" you both ask. "How small the world is!"

With a population of just over 1 million, Brussels is a big village. I started recognising faces on the street within a couple of weeks of arriving here in 2004. Now, I very rarely go out without meeting someone I know. Social, cultural, professional and local networks overlap and interconnect. Distances are short. Friends knock on one another's doors in the hope of a cup of coffee, but are not disappointed if there is no one at home.

I walk around the city a lot, and I always have a camera with me. I am not sure if the photographs I make count as street photography, which seems to have strict rules. I take pictures of people, but also of buildings, signs, street art, or anything else that catches my attention. Brussels is strong on whacky charm, so there is no shortage of subject matter.

Chaussée de Wavre, Matonge

Chaussée de Wavre, Matonge

Rue de la Concorde, Ixelles

Rue de la Concorde, Ixelles

The world is beautiful

I like people. Amost every day, I strike up conversations with strangers on buses or on the street. I like hearing about people's lives and interests, and if they ask I don't mind telling them about mine.

And it's mainly people that I photograph – portraits, street shots, and especially people working or playing together. I look for the glances and facial gestures that people use as much as words to communicate intention and meaning to one another. I find people fascinating and beautiful.

As a species, on the other hand, we are ugly and stupid. But when our collective cruelty and wastefulness get me down, I can almost always find new inspiration by looking at the natural world. From cloud-shadows racing over hills to dewdrops caught on the micro-fibres of a leaf surface, there is astonishing beauty everywhere.

I've removed my Beautiful World gallery from the site's navigation because I want visitors to focus on my work with people. But the gallery is still online, and if you're interested you can access it here.

Please do let me know what you think, either using the Contact page or in the comments below. As I said, I like meeting new people.

La Petite Foire de Semel

The 'little fair' of Semel is explicitly designed as an alternative to Belgium's big agricultural fair at Libramont, and takes place each year on the same weekend as its larger rival.

It's a relaxed and friendly event that mixes demonstrations of traditional farming and craft techniques, and opportunities to sample and buy organic local produce, with debates on agricultural policy and practice. The organisers present themselves as anti-agribusiness ('Towards ethical, peasant farming'). Representatives of Monsanto should probably stay away. Hard-core participants camp overnight and are invariably charming. The food is wonderful, but everyone is expected to wash their own dishes.

I offered my services as a volunteer photographer for the weekend and had a fantastic time. Almost everyone I encountered had an interesting story to tell and was willing to be photographed without striking a pose.

I've made an album of my favourite shots from the weekend. If you like them, perhaps I'll see you there next year!