Here is a story of my trip to the French Riviera & Will Smith’s hand. A strange topic you might think, but it all turned out beautifully and taught me to have more fun!
In May I headed off to Cannes on the French Riviera for 10 days with a photography project in mind, that I had in my head for quite a long time. However when I got there the security for the film festival was so intense with road closures and armed police, that it wasn’t the crazy, zany fun place I remember from my first visit to the festival (admittedly a long time ago) where bright yellow Lamborghinis roared up and down Promenade de la Croisette with a collection of pneumatically enhanced girls in bikinis inside. Our pursuit of celebrity has changed and the festival felt different, more industry exclusive – there was no possibility of going for a drink in one of the huge old Belle Epoque hotels where I’d previously sat on a table next door to Susan Sarandon. Throngs of suited men with walkie talkies guarded the entrances and no one not on the list was getting in.
The point of realisation came when on the first day I saw a great crowd of people hanging around the entrance of the Hotel Martinez, so I went over to see what the fuss was about. I saw a car swing around and people started screaming “Will! Will! WILL SMITH!” and so took a photo just as the palm of Will Smith’s hand raised behind his tinted window. Laughing, I instastoried the Hand, but the idea of spending a day hanging around a hotel waiting to glimpse a celebrity or their appendage brought huge clarity.
The really great thing in all of this was that I found that I genuinely just didn’t care. That’s a great test of moving on in a great number of things. I left the film industry nearly ten years ago and the excitement I once had for it and wanting to ‘play the game’ of politics and rise through the echelons of production had completely gone and of course I would love to shoot a serious portrait of Will Smith one day, but no thanks to idolising celebrities. So I realigned my intention for being there and focused on my travel photography.
Something else great happened too. I am guilty of always thinking about what I should be doing and hardly ever what I actually want to be doing. I think that’s quite common as a self-employed person! I was forced to find a new hotel as my hotel in Cannes wasn’t available to extend, so I decided to get out of Cannes and go to nearby Antibes. Once there it was a different world – my hotel was an old sixties building out of town and beautifully quiet. I explored the old town, sat in cafes people watching and gradually relaxed into what was turning into a little holiday.
I woke up one morning and prepared to go do some more travel photography, when I stopped and felt like I didn’t really have the energy, not that day anyway. What did I want to do? I really wanted to slip on a bikini and do nothing apart from lie on a sun lounger on the hotel’s little private beach. So I did. Then at the end of the afternoon I returned to my room and had a delicious bubble bath and pondered what I wanted to do next. Put a dress on and go eat dinner in a Michelin star restaurant. So I did and I LOVED it. I would go so far as to say it’s become a new hobby! When I got into bed that night I thought about the day and how relaxed and joyful I felt, because I’d spent it exactly how I’d really wanted to.
My unintended holiday turned into a valuable reminder that it’s so important to allow yourself to do what you want to, not always what you should do and follow your bliss. I always knew my bliss involved sunshine, but now I know it also involves haute cuisine which is absolutely fine by me!