I just came back from a two-week photographic trip to Palermo and Venice with Within The Frame Adventures led by Jeffrey Chapman and Winslow Lockhart. Even with six international photography trips under my belt, I still feel like a novice international-travel photographer, or maybe it is just my nature to take each trip as if it were my first, since each location reveals itself to me in a different way.
Having just completed my book Life Happens In Color – A Street Photography Manifesto, I carried with me to Palermo and Venice a high-bar standard for my photography with my book’s first principle: Create a compelling story. A pretty picture alone was not enough. Each image must say something, give the viewer something to think about, or tell a story. In Venice, in particular, what is the story that would emerge from this over-traveled, over-photographed, but unique jewel-box of a city the locals call Venezia? What could I say that hadn’t been already said by dozens of photographers and in dozens of travel books?
My answer laid in staying away from the obvious images of historic landmarks and gondoliers. Instead I embraced the markets, the tourists, and the darkened alleyways and canals at night.
In every photographic outing or trip, there is always a very small set of images that rise above the rest. These tell the story with all the other elements of color, light, moment, and composition that elevate a simple photograph into something more. I am always most nervous about sharing these top two or three images. There are two reasons: 1) I have the most to lose if others don’t also see their brilliance, and 2) if I show these first, will all the others pale in comparison?
None-the-less, here is one of my images from Venice, one that I think rises to a very special place in my portfolio. Two Views – The Realto Market. OK – yes, another reflection image from Nancy; but this image has at least three layers of story 1) the story of the local butcher market that still thrives so brilliantly in some cities, and is almost completely dead in large American cities and suburbs, 2) the story of the repeat customer being waited on by not one, but by two butchers at once…she wearing a magnificent reptile-patterned oversized coat, and 3) the fruit seller that is just a few small steps away, enabling this community to buy everything it needs fresh for today, and then repeat again tomorrow.
I had spent about an hour or so wandering through the market. Most of the vendors pretty much ignored me (and the other photographers who were hanging around). They had business to do. This butcher shop, however kept waving for me to come in, which I did after I took this image. They didn’t know that I needed to be outside in order to capture both views of the market. What I like most about this image is that I was able to capture all 6 hands of the main subjects – each of the butchers and the two hands of the fruit seller seen outside the front window.