Hanna and I drive through the countryside to visit Stonor Park – a house that has been in the same family’s hands for over 850 years, a story of political survival. It is hot outside – this year’s british summer has surprised everyone and it’s only june – and my car has no air conditioning, shirts sticking to our backs, hair flowing in the wind coming through the open windows.
The gardens of the manor feel like time always stops here. It is very quiet between the walls, only the sounds of birds in the woods screeching can be heard. Even the heat feels silent, in the way it so heavily sits on you. It is not very well visited today, most visitors are staying in the shade of the pantry -the mansion’s visitor café, or inside the house enjoying the tour through the historic rooms that are still used by the Stonor family today.
Hanna and I roam the gardens in a dreamlike state. I take her pictures, her shy gaze more often turning away from my lens than towards it. Her and I haven’t hung out much yet, since the day we met via today’s way of making friendships – via social media – so we are still getting used to one another. I understand her hesitation to be in front of the camera, there’s just something about being in front of a lens that makes you feel just so much more vulnerable.
After a while, she seems to be warming up to the sound of my camera clicking away. She has seen the images I took the first time I went to Stonor, right after my move, and she asks questions on specific locations of my shots. We see the deer herd in the distance, up on the hill.
When other visitors pass us, we get curious looks. I am used to this, having had people stand and stare in different parts of the world, watching me shoot – and believe me, simply standing and staring is not the weirdest you can get – but I often notice my clients getting insecure when confronted with spectators, which is understandable. We simply pause and motion for them to pass, if we’re in the way.
It doesn’t take too long until I have a camera full of wonderful images and a body sticking with sweat in the hot summer heat. I like it. It makes me feel alive.