Venice Carnival 2014 – Day one of a self-assigned photographic trip

The Venice Carnival (Carnevale di Venezia) has been on my bucket list for many years, and this year I managed to organise a flight and hotel in enough time to make is a possibility – I also arranged to cover it for an agency who sorted my media accreditation out for me. The Venice Carnival runs for three weeks gradually building over time. There are a series of cultural events through the Carnival (detailed on the official website) but it is best known for the large numbers of people who travel to Venice from all over the world to dress up in decorated masks and elaborate costumes and frequent the area around St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs to be seen, and photographed by the throngs of tourists, and the professional & enthusiast photographers who travel to the Venice Carnival.

First flight out saw me leaving the house around 4am complete with warm clothing, and my Think Tank Shapeshifter backpack filled with laptop, cameras and lenses and very little else. Everything went smoothly at the airport and on the flight and we landed on time just before 11am at Marco Polo airport which was bathed in warm sunshine. Having cleared customs I headed to the shared water taxi booth and met up with the other 6 passengers making their way over to Venice. A pleasant 20 minutes later we all disembarked at the Rialto Bridge, and said our goodbyes as we all went out separate ways.

My next task was to locate the press office for the CarnivalĀ and collect my accreditation. It was only a short walk from Rialto Bridge and with some minor assistance from Google Maps to help me navigate the narrow high alleyways I made it there pretty quickly and picked it up with no issues. My hotel was a stones throw away and whilst I arrived before official check-in my room was ready and it allowed me to drop off some of my kit and my puffa jacket as it was plenty warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt and at just before 1pm I was ready to start shooting.

There are people in masks and costumes walking around many of the streets between the Rialto Bridge and San Marco as there were over much of Venice but the biggest concentration by far are in the square itself and down towards the waters edge. I checked out the stage area with press “railings” to denote our shooting area – fortunately mid-week it wasn’t too busy and had I wanted to I could have close access to the stage. The programme of events in the staged area was limited mid-week and restricted to some live music and the “Best Masked Costume Contest” which ran twice daily and so I went for some better backdrops and more time with each person/couple and left for the open square again.

I’ll talk more about the actual process of taking the images in my next post covering day 2 of the trip but suffice it to say it is a bun fight. Fortunately the people being photographed (a) seem to love it and (b) are very patient. I think it also helped that I was wearing my accreditation as well as they are keen to make it into print and have the chance to have good images taken of them. Most of the afternoon was spent getting some good quality portraits with clean backgrounds as well as fulfilling as much of my agencies brief as possible which also included me getting up above the square to get a general view of the proceedings and so up the bell tower I went with a large group of people including a Japanese gentleman who seems to have lost all sense of spacial awareness and proceeded to constantly bump into me as we entered and exited the lift and for the entire journey up as well, and mysteriously on the way down also.

Having been treated to some amazing late afternoon light which cast beautiful shapes into the colonnade of the Doge’s Palace it suddenly went cold, and dark as the sun set and I headed back to the hotel to edit and wire a set of images and grabbed some pizza from one of the take-away shops on the way back.

Here are a very small selection of the images from day one. More to come tomorrow.

Venice Carnivale 2014

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