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

The second day of my trip started early, although not quite as early as I had planned. A 4am start the previous day meant I slept like a log having got to bed around midnight and by the time I had roused myself, showered and got myself packed it was 7am and not 6am as I had hoped. Regardless it was still early by tourist standards, even for the Venice Carnival 2014, and with breakfast not being served at my hotel until 8am I knew I had time to get out before most people ventured into the streets.

I collected a breakfast bag from the front desk, and ate it on the short journey to St Marks Square, ensuring I was ready on arrival to start shooting shortly before 7:30am. It was certainly less crowded and there were a large number of costumed people already posing by the gondolas and in the colonnades of the Doge’s Palace. I kicked myself for not making it out at least 30 minutes earlier for sunrise but then quickly switched into shooting mode to make the most of the warm directional morning light on another beautiful day at the Venice Carnival 2014 .

Fortunately the early hour allowed me to capture one of my favourite images of the day a shot directly down a colonnade with a single costumed lady posing in the foreground and the columns and archways receding in to the distance. A short adjustment in my position allowed me to block the single person in the background with the dress and both myself and a couple of other photographers have this lovely image. The next step was to bring in two of her friends and build a group in the same scene which I manage to do despite the language barrier – never safe to assume that they are Italian, in fact I believe that they were a mixture of French and Belgians. Most of the people out in the morning were new to me and I got some great variety in my backdrops including the gondolas, Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs all of which had warm light on them.

I can’t recall the exact time but it was probably around 9am and as the crowds increased the performers left. Many were off to compete and I took this as my cue to head back to the hotel, edit some of the mornings images and then pack up and check-out. With a loaded backpack and my unnecessary coat I then took a more touristic walk around shooting some scenes in the squares, alleyways and across canals before grabbing a much needed coffee and snack. Refreshed visually and nutritionally I went back to the square and spent the next 3-4 hours finding interesting costumes and masks to photograph trying to get variety in both colour, composition and background.

By now it was busy again and every person in costume was being mobbed by photographers and tourists. As I mentioned in my Day One journal they seemed fine if not pleased by this but it reminded me of a press scrum without any of the etiquette or courtesy afforded to fellow photographers in that situation. Always naturally conscious of walking in-front of someone with a camera to their eye or standing up from a kneeling position and blocking another photographer I was being constantly bumped, pushed, stepped in-front of – or even stepped on, and ignored as people clamoured for their shot with iPad and smartphone photographers the worst culprits. One one occasion I was photographing “Les Mutants” a couple dressed in golden costumes and masks with cogs, wires, and bolts adorning their masks. They posed patiently while I tried to get a clear shot and laughed with me as I was continuously denied by the other photographers. We had a good conversation afterwards whilst I took their card and I thanked them for allowing me to eventually make some images.

You’ll notice that my images, unless scenic, are very clean in the background. It is the style I was looking for when I decided to go to the Venice Carnival 2014 despite the challenges of shooting ordinary people in the natural environment and amongst the general public all of whom are well within their right to walk, pause and photograph wherever they wanted to. My tack was often to patiently wait for an opportunity to move to the front and kneel down, or use a longer lens and shoot through the crowd, trying to gain eye contact or time the moment when the pose worked for me. Often that meant holding fire until a passer by had walked through the frame or was hidden behind my subject. The benefit of this considered approach was that more often than not I was spotted by the subject who then engaged with me rather then those who stepped across, took a single image and then walked away with no recognition or thanks to the subject for being able to do so.

At about 3:30 the sun dipped behind the rapidly increasing clouds and the light flattened. It made my decision on timing easier and I grabbed a final slice of fresh pizza to eat before heading back to the Rialto bridge and the Alilaguna for my trip back out to Marco Polo airport. The 50 minute journey allowed me to ingest my images and even start an initial edit which I completed whilst waiting for my flight to be called. I managed to caption my selected images on the completely full flight back to the UK and wired them off on arrival when I could use my UK based wifi modem.

Here is another¬†selection of 10 images from Day Two. I hope you like them…

 A lady from Japan who travelled over for the Venice Carnival 2014 poses in front of the gondolas

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