the power of a picture

by Sharon Santoni

shoreline on mediterranean

I promised to tell you about my new encounters in Nice this week, but for that to make any sense, I have to tell you a tale and talk to you about the power of a picture

colourful streets in the old town of nice

My daughter Ella has a young communications company in Nice, on the Cote d’Azur.  The girl is passionate,  driven even ….  and I am continually amazed by her energy and vision.   Her company is called Sunday Events, and her favoured media is street art.

Sometime late summer last year,  while surfing on instagram, she came across the account of a young photographer called Callowlens in Bridegport, CT.   Different setting, different lifestyle, different life experience but similar age and sharing the same love of a good picture, and the way that urban arts are a part of today’s living.

tall building in nice cote dazur

She started to connect with the young photographer whose name is Donovan, and to cut a long story short, he and his fellow photographer Gary Pivot boarded a plane  early March to come to Nice, where Ella had promised them prime position in her upcoming exhibition.

We can call this a leap of faith, and a big leap at that.  A leap that removed them from everything familiar and took them to the Cote d’Azur.  Not only do they speak no French, they had never left the States before and they had never before had an opportunity to show their pictures.  A culture shock.


Before the exhibition took place they had a week to acclimatize and explore the region, and I had the good fortune to spend a morning with them in the old town of Nice and on the shoreline, chatting, and taking photos.  Donovan and Gary are fine young men, brave enough to try to launch themselves in the competitive world of photography.  Modest and autodidact, Donovan’s logo, proclaimed on his website reads, “Avoid being the smartest person in the room”.   I like that.

beach at nice cote dazur

The exhibition took place in the vaulted cellar of a 16th century building, decorated beautifully.  The music was live, the mood was young, and the energy in the room vibrant and positive.

street view in Nice, cote d'azur

And once again, the power of their beautiful pictures, along with the work of the other street artists in the show served to cross boundaries.   The evening saw an amazing mix of people from journalists, to artists, to family members, to town dignitaries, to foreign gallery owners and other professional people from this bustling town.   The goodwill was apparent, the wish to see the exhibition succeed and to assist in the launching of the young artists.

And as I chatted and met new people, I was very happy to think that the whole event came together because of the power of art, and our longing to share the beauty around us each day, no matter which form that beauty may take.

sunset over bay on the french riviera

Gary and Donovan have supplied the photos for this blogpost, and I am proud to show their work and their view of the south of France.

palais de justice, nice cote dazur

If you’d like to learn more :


Gary Pivot

Sunday Events


DebraShoppeno5 March 21, 2016 - 1:55 pm

The photography is a work of art. Absolutely beautiful.

Taste of France March 21, 2016 - 2:11 pm

Stunning photography. A pictures speaks a thousand words with no translation required.

Loreen March 21, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Thank you for sharing! Love it!

victoria March 21, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Really beautiful pictures…and such an amazing story…of trust and faith.
Love it!

psharpe March 21, 2016 - 2:24 pm

A lovely post & fantastic photos. How fortunate for the young men to have such wonderful exposure!

Pam March 21, 2016 - 2:31 pm

So lovely. Thanks for posting.

Laura March 21, 2016 - 2:35 pm

I love this post too! Our middle son is a graphic designer and does street art on the side. His main street art where he gets paid is painting large murals on sides of buildings. Sharon, I am talking huge murals, using a cherry picker, scaffolding–you get it. When he began, he had to shine his drawings on the building with a projector to get the scale right. But now he is so good, he can get the scale, even as large as it is, without any visual aids.
I love watching all the cool stuff younger people are doing these days and I am glad you do too. I once read in W magazine, in order to stay mentally youthful as we age, we need to do several things, including keeping up with books, music, and movies that are current. Also we need to be aware of what is going on with younger people. What is hip, what is happening now, what is current?

Ruby May 13, 2017 - 5:52 am

Great for your son !

Celia Becker @ March 21, 2016 - 3:17 pm

A really lovely, touching story, and so well told in your beautiful words. The photos are very special too. Thank you.

Valorie March 21, 2016 - 3:32 pm

Beautiful story and photos! Bravo to all involved! Valorie

Sandra Sallin March 21, 2016 - 3:42 pm

Beautiful shots!

LA CONTESSA March 21, 2016 - 3:56 pm

THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA and a GAL IN NICE with an EYE for DETAIL!I wonder who she TOOK after!!!!!!

Nancy March 21, 2016 - 4:29 pm

Wonderful tale of young photographers! Very cool indeed….thanks

Deborah March 21, 2016 - 4:50 pm

Beautiful pictures of art in another dimension! Such talent! Thank you for sharing. Sharon, you always have such interesting, insightful and amazingly beautiful posts. I am always ready to read your blog! Thank you so much for sharing!

Jan March 21, 2016 - 5:01 pm

I live in Darien, CT…just down I-95 a bit from Bridgeport! It makes my heart happy to read this story and see the photographs. These two young men just had quite a chance to expand their horizons and I wish them luck.

Carol L Poole March 21, 2016 - 5:02 pm

Love this! Such a wonderful thing…art!

Dana Veach March 21, 2016 - 5:27 pm

What serendipity! The photography is visually stunning and emotionally impacting…thank you, Sharon! Your daughter has displayed her own vision and industry in bringing the work of these talented young men to the world’s attention. That is a singular talent of another dimension.

Colleen Taylor March 21, 2016 - 5:39 pm

Gorgeous photos, brave young talent, I love it! Your daughter didn’t fall far from the creative tree! Bravo & I know how proud you must be! X

Mary Alvarez March 21, 2016 - 5:42 pm

I love street art…I have a new canon (and I am a newbie at taking photos) I lately I have been on a bit of the “country” scenery kick. Flowers, trees, fields and barns. But I have discovered a neighborhood here in San Antonio I am dying to photograph…So I love when I find inspirational photos of that others have taken. Thank you so much for sharing.

Brenda Chambers March 21, 2016 - 5:55 pm

Howdy from Texas. Great post. Always love getting your emails.

Carolyn March 21, 2016 - 6:04 pm

What a wonderful story and such talented young people!

Emm March 21, 2016 - 6:41 pm

Just, wow. Not only a good eye, but a terrific sense of composition and color. Those pictures are excellent. Hope those two have massive success.

[email protected] March 21, 2016 - 7:14 pm

What a wonderful story and amazing photographs! I love the power of the internet!

Vicky March 21, 2016 - 8:49 pm

Fantastic pics…thanks for sharing and good luck to all those passionate young and old people who want to chase their dreams

Heather in Arles March 22, 2016 - 12:03 am

Their work is fantastic. Sometimes I think a fresh eye can bring so much more to a scene than a locals – that is exactly what they both did here and wow is it not an easy task to push beyong the cliché in Nice!

Bravo to all involved and thank you so much for sharing this inspiring story.

Avril March 22, 2016 - 6:29 am

Fantastic story and pictures amazing talent not easy in the art world full credit to them and your daughter. My son is a visual artist from Australia with a residency in NYC check out his work on


Jeanne Henriques March 22, 2016 - 9:59 am

The power of connection, I love it! Well done Ella, Donovan and Gary. Beautiful imagery across the world. Thank you for sharing Sharon…xx

Kiki March 22, 2016 - 12:13 pm

with posts like this, you are actively restoring some faith and hope in many of your visitors – with all the horrible and terrifying events taking place everywhere and at all times, we are more than happy to drink the beauty and sheer ‘joie de vivre’ from these talented men’s work. Stunning pictures and beautiful post. So many thanks from me!

Karen B. March 22, 2016 - 3:36 pm

Thanks for sharing a beautiful story! Kudos to the young people!

Karen Abel March 23, 2016 - 12:19 pm

Thank you for giving us the joy of the beautiful pictures and story. Nice to hear these talented young people are following their passion and sharing it with all!
Karen A~

Sally March 23, 2016 - 7:09 pm

It will be the arts that will save this world. Thanks for sharing this blog.

JudyMac March 26, 2016 - 2:35 pm

As the old saying goes, “travel is so broadening.” Getting out of your comfort zone to explore a new part of the world is a great experience. And what great photographers these guys are! They’ll never be the same again. Love their pictures!

Ace March 28, 2016 - 8:19 pm

AMAZING pictures, and even more amazing story of forming relationships and artwork across cultural boundaries. Great story!

marcie March 29, 2016 - 12:15 am

“Magnifique” to borrow a French phrase, if I may. I love the spirit of the whole adventure … on the part of your daughter and those brave and talented young men. All of your posts are fantastic but this was so inspiring!


Leave a Comment