Photos by Sandra Benelli

Sandra is a friend of Isabelle Faucon. Isabelle recommended Sandra and her photos to me. And here are some for you to see, to engage with, including to enjoy.

I have written a few comments by way of feedback to Sandra and I hope that others will do the same. I have added some titles, but Sandra may prefer her own. She just has to let me know.

For readers not used to commenting on photos or indeed other types of artefact, artistic or otherwise, try this to see if it helps……..

When thinking about a photo, consider and try to answer the following questions:

  1. Does the photo interest you? If so, why? If not why?

2. What is the subject of the photo? What is the photo about? The answer may be physical, abstract or both.

3. What is it about the composition of the photo, which makes the subject of the photo be of interest to you?

Of course, you may have your own set of questions, which you prefer. If so, I would, of course, be interested to hear. what they are…..

Feedback from Sandra

😉  Regarding my photos, I thank you for this beautiful enhancement of my photos. Just a remark and not the least: I am Sandra Benelli, and not Sandrine Mignot 😉  

As for the comments, I am pleasantly surprised to see what you manage to detect… I really like the “play” vision of the photos of Nice and the change of point of view according to the photos. It’s exactly that ! I was really observing to trigger and catch the moment… hence also the sometimes “cucul” aspect where I found myself completely spectator in front of the natural elements and so cliché of Nice… but which made me embarked! That’s why some photos are really “clichés”… leaving the viewer that I was dreaming about what I saw and that I tried to capture as best I could.

To complete your analysis, I would say that the framing reinforces the staging and the impression of a show piece. For example, for the palm tree and the man reading his newspaper: it is the fact of having contrasted the imposing side of the palm tree, emblematic element of the Côte d’Azur, holidays and the sun, with the side very serious of the guy who reads his newspaper. For me, it’s a parallel that can be drawn between the tourist setting and people’s daily lives, which can be in opposition to the very watered-down image that we have as tourists.  For the photo of the shadow, it is not on a wall but on the ground, on the Promenade des Anglais. 😉  

Finally, the photos of Clermont are urban paintings where the black/white contrast takes up the urban/nature contrast of Clermont. Everything is also in the framing to reinforce this duality that I love so much in Clermont: the city at the foot of an exceptional nature which makes it a city full of character and authenticity. Two characteristics that revitalize me and resemble me, I believe.  Besides, I allow myself to join you other photos in the same state of mind that I made  there is little that really illustrates this duality and that I seek to capture 😉  A huge THANK YOU to you for this reading of my photos, very enriching for me

Sea and Sky Frame Med-Seanery Working Framework Nature’s Stage Working by the Med

This is a very curious photo. It engages in so many ways. This is reflected in the range of possible titles.

First, it looks like a piece of stage scenery. The sitter can be seen either as the stage and so ‘viewed by the sea and the sky’. Or as the audience ‘viewing the sea and the sky’. These views can change, while looking at the photo. Quite tantalising.

Second, it looks like an artefact with natural and artifactual elements. A bit like a maquette. More like an arrangement, than a piece of theatre. Although it smacks of the theatrical all the same.

Third, it looks like someone working on a public bench by the seaside. A sort of unusual holiday/working snap. Different from some of the other more ‘sea-side’ photos. Working at a distance?

Fourth, it looks like a construction, totally intentional, focussed with strong vertical lines of structure. Even the seat pulls us in two directions. All very unusual.

Fifth, it looks like a form of meditation/contemplation, peace and calm.

PS The photo was taken in Nice, France.

The Mediterranean Frame-Up (N1)
Seaside Palm Tree (N2)

The palm tree exerts a strong upward pull on the eye. At the same time, the forceful vertical line is topped by a sort natural fireworks (Nature’s Roman candle?). All this is done against a background of sea and sky – two shades of striking blue. The bikes and bystander are minor visual add-ons, emphasising further the majesty/greatness/wonder of the palm tree. I think the upward angle makes the trunk even taller with respect to the fronds (?) than I would normally expect to be the case and so the experience. A second take suggests that it might be a bit ‘corny’, but the thought is quickly dismissed. The palm tree is nothing less than majestic (although I am a Republican myself).

Shadow on the Wall (N3)

At least, I think it is a shadow……not sure of what. People in the centre? Chairs framing them? All rather enigmatic. Prompts the curiosity, though. Strong structure. Indeed, not much else. But, I think it’s interesting and engaging. A change from the rest. Striking is another descriptor, I might use.

Sunset on the Med (N4)

I like the ‘arranged’ quality of this photo. A single person, a sign, the sea and the sunset. Darkness this way; lightness the other way. Strong contrast. Like the Framed Med it might be thought a bit ‘corny’ or standard or overdone….but again it’s focussed nature causes one to rivet back and start exploring all over again. It’s bit of wonder gone astray. PS Taken in Nice, if you had not already guessed.

A 2-Street Sandwich (CF1)

No! Not Nice this time. More like Clermont Ferrand. The buildings constitute one strong line. And one facing each other. The bollards make another. Less strong and less straight, but working hard and making a double contrast. It is an unusual ‘take’, but one which pays off. One is drawn in, so to speak. Also, with a way out to the sky. The latter a minor character, but with structural role to play.

Puy de Dom (CF2)

This is a classic. I really like it. Bottom and top frames. Mountain in between. Bottom frame a curious mixture – tree and buildings. Top frame the expected sky and clouds. Le Puy is the meat in the sandwich. Content but enigmatic with a strong line of its own. I also like the contrast between the light colours – the sky and the windows and the dark colours – the tree the building walls and the mountain. Altogether most unusual. Makes me sit up and take notice.

Street, Statue and Puy de D (CF3)

This smacks a bit of the previous photo. Four major components.

Foreground to background:

First, Statue – virtually a silouhette.

Second, the ‘roaded-traffic’/ the trafficked-road/the traffic-road/the road-traffic, including the ‘bus stop/shelter etc.

Third, the buildings – 5 stories and windows to match.

Fourth, the PdD mountain, nature to the rest.

It is a really striking photo and stays in the mind.

Photos of Auzon

First, Nice, then Clermont-Ferrand and now Auzon…….Sandra’s photographic domain knows no bounds…….

Sandra and her friend Isabelle decided to visit John and Paola during the latter’s 2022 Easter visit to their bijou cottage at 2, Rue des Anglais, Auzon. A previous visit produced the Auzon pig video made by Vanessa. John recounted the story, prompted and questioned by Isabelle and Sandra. The video is to be seen on John’s website. This visit was to afford Sandra the opportunity of taking some photos of the ‘mineral’ garden, prompted and associated with a discussion between Isabelle and John. This was Sandra’s dream-team, although she seemed to do most of the prompting herself. However, if she thought it helped, who are we to disagree? Hopefully, all three will provide individual feedback in the form of comments. Others are welcome to do the same.

As a first stab at commenting John, Sam and Paola (JSP) pooled their views to produce the following.

Also, IF – Bonjour John, voici mes commentaires des photos de Sandra d’Auzon. J’espère que ça vous plaira

(JL Enormement. Merci!)

Also, CF, another friend from Auzon, who runs the Cafe Simples.

Hello John. I had a look at Sandra’s new pictures (of Auzon) that you put on the blog. I found them a lot more interesting than the previous ones (of Nice and Clermont Ferrand). The photographic eye is an ability to notice what other people may not see and to make it a work of art. So I liked her close-ups of tiny details in you garden, tiles, rocks and leaves. It gives a rendition of the atmosphere of the place without being too obvious and without using classic landscape photos. CF

Camille Frank



S –  Reflet flou dans une flaque d’eau comme si la pluie embrouillait la vue, les paysages d’Auzon.

J,S,P – Somewhat lacking in interest/definition. Background/foreground contrast. Too blurry constitute or to generate meaning, either visual or narrative. Not bad, but just not good. A bit disappointing. May have been a good idea in the taking……ca arrive!

IF – Cette photo m’inspire le trouble, visuellement et émotionnellement, et le doute…


S –  Le chemin de ton jardin, tel la vie pas si droite avec des zones de flou et d’ombres mais aussi un tracé et de la lumière.

S,J,P – Interesting, curious and quirky. Few people would have made a picture like this. Good path/gravel structure and contrast. Different apparent foci. Life comparison interesting and to the point. A sort of ‘walking/zoom’? Unique angling of the shot. Not garden-distinctive.

IF – Un chemin et une texture.


S – Parce que le cochon d’Auzon (pour le fun).

P,J,S, – Very much more than ‘just’ fun. We all recognised the pig, not necessarily the Auzon pig, though. Very creative view of a tile to see its pigginess…..What a snout…..also the eyes, although distracted by the water. Middle of photo in focus. To think that it is a roof tile……Maybe the pig is thinking or a bit tearful. Bit like us humans really. Very rewarding photo.

IF – Le cochon d’Auzon à travers la tuile !


IF – Toute la magnificence de l’eau, posée et calme, dans sa candeur.


IF – Toute la magnificence de l’eau, posée et calme, dans sa candeur.


 S – Tryptique de gouttes d’eau pour le côté très graphique, abstrait, envoûtant de ces photos.

J,P,S – We all liked the tryptic. An unusual treatment of water. Makes it look more like mercury, it is so solid and sculpted. Interesting depth of field/focus. very sensual…..Myopic as well. Creative use of scale. Agree rather abstract as a result. Very visual though and even touchy/feely. Nice one!

IF – Toute la magnificence de l’eau, posée et calme, dans sa candeur.


S Pour moi, ça représente bien l’ouverture (d’esprit et envers les autres) que Paola et toi vous avez… une ouverture avec une profondeur derrière qui demande qu’on s’y arrête comme sur cette photo pour laisser entrevoir le cochon dans votre entrée.

S,J,P – An opening open indeed. With a welcome on the mat. 3 depths – door, entrance and interior, varying in definition. Interesting narrative. Pig hard to see. Mystifying? Mystic? Doors look in need of a bit of paint. Flakey at best. Nice contrast between first rubber mat and entrance tiles. Bathroom door ajar. Some beckoning going on here into the unknown, so visitors beware.

IF – Bienvenue chez John et Paola 😉


S –  Incroyable le nom de la rue de ta maison… pour le fun, la photo n’a rien d’extraordinaire.

J,S,P – You are a bit too modest about this one. Great contrast between wall, plaque and dead shoots. Also, the angle at which shot. Your narrative is an add on, which could be expanded. We were doing our best to fit in to the local culture – language, customs etc – and here was the Commune amplifying our otherness (and just because they had run out of fancy medieval names). Pas grave!

IF Bienvenue chez John et Paola 😉


 S – Mise en scène par Paola très narrative.

P,S,J – P collected these bricks and adores them. Partly historical, partly because they were made in a local kiln at Chappes, the next village. Crumbly quality well articulated. Sculptural? Portrait of bricks? Individual number for a brick or a batch. Might have had more depth…..just a thought.

IF – La matière première


 S – Qui se cache dans le volet ? Le diable ? Ou un gentil lutin ? ;-).

J,S,P – what a good question……..devil or goblin on the lurk? Some see eyes and horns, which would fit well. Nice focus. very imaginative. Careful not to fall into the mouth……looks a bit voracious.

IF – Détail d’une serrurerie.


S,P,J – Great colour rendering of the tile. Also, textures and crumbliness. Touch/feely strikes again! Would not normally be noticed. magicked out of nowhere. Tile/gravel contrast works – see also earlier path photo. Blown up to good purpose. Compare with water triptychs, earlier. Is this the way the world ends? Not with a cry or a whimper, but just a good old crumble…..ask me another.

IF – De jolies couleurs tout en contraste.


P,S,J – These are drips from the wood store tiles… might be noticed by a passer by, but not on this scale. caught in the moment. Suspense in all senses……..focus makes tile very untimely….Nice left/right balance. Good dark lower contrast. A subtle photo….very thoughtful.

IF – Les gouttes d’eau.


S,P,J – A sculpted leaf. generic, but articulated at an enlarged scale. Monumental, one might say. Wet dry contrast. Looks like one might get gobbled up…….beware of Mother Nature. maybe not all she seems.

IF – Du vert à la nature après la pluie.


P,S,J – Scaled up wall fragment. Made to look monumental. Near/far contrast gives form and shape. Rather staid. Needs some more structure? A lateral line of hint thereof might work.

IF – Un empilement.


J,S,P – The is the Porte du Brugelet, one of the gates through the ramparted wall of the medieval Auzon, leading up to the castle and the collegial church. Our house is a bit further on. We descend this path to get to the grocers. Great feeling for the stones – path, walls and the gate itself. What a sight and experience. Angles nicely captured.’Poetry in stone’ says one of us. Lines and angles galore.

IF – Je remonte le temps.


J,S,P – not recognised. Not clear what it is. A horizontal bar dripping from the rain, as seen from below? Very abstract and concrete at the same time. Curious……

IF – Des gouttelettes d’eau qui ne veulent pas tomber, comme si le temps était suspendu.


J,P,S – Door to our garden. Opposite to the house door – see earlier. Chemin de Rond (ramparts path) separates the two). Refurbished in 1925…….Great framing by the door (see also the Nice framing photo earlier). Gives a multiple vista – path, wall door opening, garden, table and chairs and forest……Check the path against the earlier photo. What a change of focus can do. Encapsulates the whole charm of the location of our house.

IF – J’ai envie d’entrer !


I think these are called succulents. They certainly look like it, although I have never had the temerity to taste one……Blowing them up makes them look impressive and assertive than normal size. Would fit in well on the Alps or somesuch. Come to think of it, they are 400M up the Massif Central…….

IF – Comme des petits coraux de mousse.


As for A18, except for the very fragile looking something, claiming its place in the sun……. Again, looks like the side of the Alps or somesuch. Mountaineering comes to mind…although not my kind of sport. Too risky by half and I have left it a bit late, unless assisted suicide is the order of the day….

IF – Comme des petits coraux de mousse.


These are my re-cycled, anti-weed, ground-occupying artefacts, including being horsemen of the apocalypse – see elsewhere. Black and white rendering does not do them much favours….a bit dour.

IF – Un peu comme des fouilles archéologiques mais inversées.


Very iconic. Short-view path, curious building subject and long-view the forest. The building was the old outside WC at a time when there was no sewage system. I have now converted the inside into a tool store. Very handy. Gravel very grainy. Paving stones hardly discernable. Black and white treatment?

IF – Le petit coin au fond du jardin.

Stone wall, dividing the garden from the Chemin de Rond, around the battlements (Auzon is a fortified village…..).

IF – Une petite abeille sur un mur.


Scaled up leaves, looking bit spiderish…..They contrast nicely with rough surface of the wall. Also, light versus heavy……

IF – La légèreté des feuilles.


Our neighbour’s house, built on a corner, like the corner. Very Auzon-style – use the ground as best you can. Note the pebble Chemin de Rond . Compare it with earlier photos. The house has windows……..

IF – Prendre la bonne direction.


A very curious photo. I ‘recovered’ this pipe and wired it to the end of the house’s drainpipe. It feeds a plastic bin. Serves as a waterbutt. Not very artisanat, but it works……Here it is reflected in the same butt, which is full. Gives a quirky impression, I think. The apparent continuity of the drainpipe threw me a bit…along with the house/door/wall scenario in the background. ‘Unheimlich’ is the German word for it………’strange’. Not sure in French? The angles and the walls all add up to a bumper crop of images and structures. I didn’t think too much of this photo, to begin with, but it has grown on me. I rate it.

IF – L’effet miroir.