Anatomy of this Outfit: Jacket – H&M, DIYed by me | Top – unknown | Shorts – H&M | Socks – H&M | Shoes – Vans

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

As you are reading this, I am writing this post from Kaffeebar in Kreuzberg. After meeting with Leni of Paperboats (oh yeah, I have a new internship on top of all the other things I am doing!), I headed over to have a coffee in the sunshine and wait for friend and fellow blogger, Franci. While here, I had an experience I felt worthy of mentioning, so read on dear reader…

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

Heeding my own advice, I decided to enjoy my little breather between work-related tasks and get a bit of my read on, which happens far to little these days. As I was sitting outside, sipping my iced coffee and reading an awesome article from INDIE magazine on female empowerment and three girl power groups taking the third wave of feminism by storm, an older man his 50s or 60s, most likely homeless with dirty clothes and messy hair struck up a conversation with the man sitting outside next to me.

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

I strained my ears to listen along, as this older man spoke about his poetry and personal formulas with the coffee shop guest. My ears overheard the man next to me telling the poet that he had spoken to him before and had received a poem from him at Tempelhofer Feld. The poet gifted with him his latest vernacular creation.

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

Now as an artist myself, I find wonder in the strangest of places, but think that there is a danger in romanticising sickness, tragedy, and poverty, especially as a person coming from economic privilege. Still, there was somethings so damned beautiful about the galaxy of thoughts and formulas – individual keys written for individual people to help make sense of this sick sad world – that were swarming inside of this man’s head. When he left, I struck up a conversation with the man at the cafe, curious to hear more about this wandering poet, some modern-day bard that society has forgotten, wondering if his words really could spin formulas that unlocked the root of it all.

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

This conversation spun into a 30 minute talk with the man I now knew as Benjamin, a Parisian artist who left the city after the artist communities of Paris were torn away and replaced with Starbucks and McDonalds about gentrification, art, and how art school is hell. (They say hell is other people, I beg to differ. Hell is an art teacher, and her name is Iona Park. JK, but seriously, Iona if you are reading this, you ruined my life.)

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

I asked for a link to his website, curious to check out what kind of creations this man was putting out into the world, with no specific aim or expectation to ever see him again, just thinking how when you slow down, you collect moments like this. Benjamin was also nice enough to gift me the poem which he had just received. The world works in beautiful ways.

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

Speed and productivity. Efficiency and getting shit done. These have tended to be my mantras. But it’s slowing down that enables us to drum up the kind of creative thought, zest for life, and inspiration for creation. It’s slowing down that allows for chance encounters and intimate moments with strangers all with the intention of connecting with another human being on an intellectual and emotional level without any expectation or hidden agenda. Simply for the sole purpose of the beauty of human interaction.

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

In return, you share pieces of yourself with these strangers. And you take pieces of those strangers with you. (And sometimes a hand-written poem as well.) These pieces inform your thoughts and shape your understanding of the world. They broaden your horizons beyond your everyday surroundings – that is, if you let them.

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

I’ve told those close to me that I identify as an optimistic nihilist with depressive tendencies, and while this remains as true as it did the day I realised it, even if there’s no grand reasoning for why we humans bipedally navigate this spinning rock, these small moments of intimacy with another beating heart make me happy for being human. And in these moments, even though I know that I will never solve life’s big mysteries, that intimacy is enough.

anatomy of an outfit 040 - - photography Sara Tortora

Photography: Sara Tortora

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Stay conscious, Rae

Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • Is there any chance that we can read the poem, too? Hihi :)

    Augustin Ra | Indie Spirit

    • rae

      I will definitely scan it and upload it and share it here!

  • benjamin sounds like a really lovely guy. i’d love to read the poem though ;D my fave photo is of you playing with your hair huhu you’re so cute i want to keep you in my pocket, rae <3


    • rae

      I will definitely be posting it here on LFB soon! And aww thank you so much!

  • You should definitely share that poem if that’s something you’re comfortable with. It’s also be a great way to shamelessly and happily promote Benjamin. It’s amazing what happens when you stop and let the outside, the stranger voices in. Also, love the “L’enfer, c’est les autres” reference from Huis Clos. Very appropriate with the topic.

    Of course, cute outfit as always, too =]


    • rae

      Oh I definitely do want to share the poem here with you guys! Bemjamin was the artist not the man who wrote the poem – the man who wrote the poem gave the poem to Benjamin, but Benjamin is also a wonderful guy who defintley needs more exposure. And sorry but where did you see that reference? Or are you referencing it here? :D

      • “Hell is others.” It’s a line from Huis Clos by Sartre! If you haven’t read it, you should give it a shot. It gives a lottttt of power to that line.

        • rae

          I will definitely do so, thank you for the suggestion!

  • Elizabeth Hisle

    I could comment on so many things (how awesome Benjamin must be, how you should share the poem, etc…), but I am going to focus on this: art teachers can be the worst. They can also be the best, but there are so many horror stories about artists from hell out there. I quit writing for quite a while thanks to some shitty college professors. ><

    On a separate note, I wish I had more time to sit and listen to strangers. Maybe I'll pop by my coffee shop and open my ears this weekend. :)

    • rae

      It is so sad because more often than not I hear stories from art students who lost their passion for art after studying at the university level. To be fair, I hated Iona but also actually lernt heaps from her, even if she made me stop drawing. lol.

      And yes! I definitely recommend doing it!

  • Dolce Nina

    Love this post! xoxo

  • How wonderful :) talking to strangers is scary (for me) but can be magic.

    • rae

      It can be scary but also very rewarding!

  • How amazing that you got to learn all about his story? I loved what you said here: “In return, you share pieces of yourself with these strangers. And you take pieces of those strangers with you.” So, so true.


    • rae

      Thanks Raashi!

  • This is so weird to read as I had such a similar experience with a man down the beach one day, he was a photographer who appeared to be homeless or at least someone on the margins of what others might call civilised society, he was so refreshing to talk to and so humbling too. I wanted to be like him in that he was unassuming, and delicate (wrong word but do you know what I mean?). I think without meaning to, so often we overlook those that don’t have the right ‘look’ because we don’t think we can learn anything from them, when in reality it is probably very different.
    erin | words and pictures

    • rae

      Oh definitely. Society definitely looks down upon those who are on the fringes of society which is a damned shame. There is not really anything that seperates us from someone who is homeless other than not being blessed with the means or support network to get us help before it gets to that point or not being financially blessed.

  • It’s so lovely that you were able to connect with a stranger like that! I found that I had quite a few encounters like that when I was travelling, but because these days I just go to work and go home again, and on weekends I’m usually with my boyfriend or friends, there isn’t anywhere near as much of an opportunity for that to happen as there is when you’re sitting in a cafe or walking around on your own because people are much more likely to start a conversation with you that way. But meeting new people and having a great conversation, even if you never speak to them again, is one of the ways in which life can be so beautiful and rewarding and inspiring when you least expect it. :)

    • rae

      Oh definitely. I almost prefer the idea of never seeing the person again, because then it really is just a simple pure moment. Hope you find some time to strike up some conversations with strangers soon!

  • Sophie Lee

    Love your write <3

    xoxo, Cool style for men