The stories behind the images

The stories behind the images
chairs, rome

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a quieter side of venice

The story behind the image:
This image was taken early-morning in Venice, outside Caffe Florian (Italy's oldest cafe, first opened in 1720).
When I first went to Italy almost 20 years ago, I took so many photos of all the famous monuments and locations - I just couldn't get enough. Now, I find it is the small things that appeal to me. I get such pleasure shooting the quieter side of such well-known places.
The challenge with these more intimate images is ensuring they still have some way of identifying the location. Otherwise you run the risk of "oh, where was that taken?" - every travel photographer's nightmare!
With this image there were a number of elements I wanted to include - first, the leading lines and patterns (these appealed to my eye); second, the reflection of Piazza San Marco/St Mark's Square in the door (for location identification); third, the curtains on the pillars, the cafe stools and some of the lush cafe interior (to identify the subject); fourth, a person (for interest). I composed the image and then waited for the person to come along.
I feel this image was relatively successful in identifying it was taken in Venice. Perhaps the reflection is too subtle? Maybe for someone who had not been to Venice before - they may not recognise the tell-tale chairs and pigeons and background architecture as Piazza San Marco...
Of course I could have included more elements of the cafe to identify it as Caffe Florian, however my image wasn't about the Florian, it was about a cafe in Venice at Piazza San Marco (whichever cafe that may have been). And more than just that, it was about capturing what we would know or imagine to be a typically busy location in its quieter times.

These more subtle and intimate images are difficult to capture, however when done well they give us an insight into a location that we may not have seen before which makes them unique and unusual.

Are there lessons to learn here? Yes. When composing your image, make sure you include an element of location even if it is just a hint... a fellow photographer reminded me recently about the power of mystery. Not every image needs to hit you over the head with a sledgehammer.
However, if your image has to fit a brief (whether that be for a competition or for editorial purposes) you may need more than a hint.

Alternatively, you can caption your work, to remove any doubt as to location. Or create a diptych - on one side show a more "postcard" type image of the location, on the other side show the more intimate image.

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy