For years, my wife Caitlyn has been talking about Rome. We finally got the chance to visit this past week for an anniversary trip.
Being my first trip to Europe, I was astounded. Literally, 90% of the walkways are made of paver stones. I can’t imagine how many of these little stones are on the ground in the city. I almost wanted to take one home…but I didn’t.
During the day, the city teemed with tourists (us included) but at night it became a different place all together. The footbridges, alleys, storefronts and plazas each had a story to tell. Our first full day in the city, we walked over 13 miles to see a bunch of different churches and basilicas that are less traveled. Each church was more amazing than the last. Giant marble slabs adorned every wall. Scary sounding latin prayers were carved in huge letters above marble statues. Huge frescos painted on the ceiling 60 feet overhead. It’s incredible.
As far as street photography goes, this place was an absolute goldmine. So many interesting people just roam the streets. I’m trying to get better at photographing strangers. It’s a hard skill to develop. You basically have two choices, be covert or invade their personal space. With my Fujifilm x100F, I’m shooting everything with a 35mm equivalent. This means that I have to get pretty close to capture people’s faces and expressions. Sometimes people (like the guy above) catch you in the act but most of the time, people are so deep in their own thoughts, they never even notice. It’s a beautiful thing when your composition lines up. You see an interesting environment, set up the shot and a single person walks into your frame. Click. It’s a big difference shooting with a wider angle when you’re favorite lens in an 85mm.
On a side note, a huge highlight of the trip was going to I Grandi Maestri at Complesso del Vittoriano – Ala Brasini. It was a Leica exhibition celebrating 100 years of photography. We must have spent almost two hours in that exhibition. I ended up buying the exhibition book even though it’s all in Italian. It was there that I first saw a short video on Mark Cohen and his incredibly creepy/invasive style of street photography. Check out the video of Mark Cohen’s process by Michael Engler here. He’s like Bruce Gilden in that he gets uncomfortably close to his subjects but his method is just crazy. If you tried his methods today, I’d be surprised if you didn’t get punched in the face.
I’ll be posting more photos from the trip in upcoming blog posts as I go through them. Enjoy.