I swear I’m shooting more than just the Occupiers. Really. But the Occupy Movement has social, cultural and economic undertones (and overtones), whereas most of the paid work I shoot does not.
This past Tuesday, Occupiers from across the US gathered in DC for a protest against Congress. The crowd, though relatively small (maybe a thousand), still found ways to annoy the local authorities, remain in the news and enjoy a beautiful 50 degree day in mid-January. I tagged along as they “occupied” the Rayburn Congressional Building, marched through the streets back to the Capitol and eventually found their way to the White House.
Protestors occupy the entrance to the Rayburn Congressional Building.
A protestor dressed as a Guantanamo detainee enters the office of Maryland Congressman Elijah E. Cummings.
Cheers to the Secret Service and US Park Police, the DCPD, the Capitol Police and the protestors for an incident-free day. There were moments of tension, but that’s exactly what a protest is designed to cause. It’s supposed to be an annoyance — an interruption to normal day-to-day life — causing those who aren’t part of the protest to take notice of the grievances of the protestors. Occupy Congress took place the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day and it was, appropriately, a peaceful demonstration.
Simply stated, there is no other place in the world like Venice. We only spent a day in the “City of Water” but Venice and the weather made it count. This city is so photogenic, it knows it. The entire afternoon, I could almost hear whispers coming from the shadows, “psst…now look over there and wait for the light to move,” only the whispers were in Italian so for all I know they were saying, “pssst…aren’t you surprised by all the hot dogs here? Me too!”
My favorite shot in this post is the affectionately titled, “Gondola Guy in Hallway Place” which you’ll see toward the end, and it’s my favorite because when I walked by that archway I could feel the city grin back at me, like it knew all along that I’d eventually find it. I was only there shooting for about 10 minutes when Gondola Guy walked out, turned around and walked back in. Gotcha.
A chronological glimpse at one day in Venice…
As much as I love black and white photography, sometimes there are images and more specifically, places, that beg to be shown in all their vivid glory. Italy is one of these places. So much fun light.
I’m splitting up these color posts into the cities we visited; Florence, Venice and Rome. A majority of our time was spent in Florence, so those are the photos you will see here. Be sure to check back because though the Venice/Rome shots are hot. Molto Caldo!
To my family, do not be discouraged. I will put a post together featuring your beautiful mugs in the days to come.
A taste of Florence…
Nestled in the side streets of Florence lies one of the most incredible food stuff spots in the world, at least according to me, but I’ve basically been exposed to Cub Foods and Harris Teeters. Trust me though, it’s amazing. A result of the risanamento or restructuring of Florence late in the 19th century (thank you Wikipedia), Mercato Centrale is exactly what it sounds like, Florence’s Central Market (you’re welcome for the translation).
Packed full of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, pastas, sauces, sandwiches, cheeses, spices, coffees, wines, oils, balsamic deliciousness, etc., you can find just about anything to make some stellar homemade local fare.
I would make a terrible photo editor. “Yes, I know you sent me these almost two weeks ago but I still haven’t decided what I like. Maybe tomorrow.”
As a photographer, life is good any time you’re someplace different, someplace new. Italy brings it to a whole new level. It’s like being someplace different, someplace new and someplace with Tagliatelle! Three years ago my family took a trip over to visit my little brother, who was just finishing his “studies” in Florence and putting down two or three pizzas a day. I want pizza.
Armed with my trusty Canon point-and-shoot, I walked through the piazzas, past the palazzos, over the ponti and stopped at pizza places. I realized how much I loved taking pictures, and it was something I wanted to do well. Some people feel that way about jogging or personal finances. Yeah, no. I caught the photo bug. There’s just something badass about seeing something, then having it documented, remembered, even relived. I had no visions of grandeur, no desire to be better than Bresson or Smith or Koudelka or Salgado, didn’t even know who they were. But those Italian people with their perfect little side streets made me want to take better pictures. A few weeks ago I was right back in the same place that I started out.
I’ve been fighting with these photos for days. “Do I post a photo essay on the Market? Should I make one about the water taxi’s in Venice? Gondola’s are cliché. Bicylcles. What about when the Pope speaks? Maybe I should just separate it by family and not family. Meatsauce. Things that I like and then things that everyone else might like. Penne all’arrabbiata! I loved this photo yesterday, why do I want to slay it with a thousand swords today?” Typical.
So I’m going to shut up now and show you some photos because I’m not Bresson or Salgado. To the place that made me want to be a photographer…good to see you again. Color’s up next, but for now: Italy Redux – the Black and Whites.
Ok, not really. But I did take a ride on Amtrak’s “Southwest Chief,” a sprawling, crawling, smooth ass journey from Chicago to LA via Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. For the first time in my life, a genuine “all aboard” was announced and I got on a train. Couldn’t help the stupid grin on my face as we pulled out of DC’s Union Station, destined for Chicago’s. It was Monday afternoon and I was scheduled to arrive in Vegas some 60+ hours later. Awesome.
I spent most of Monday night blowing my nose, throat all sore. Not a good start. I was popping Vitamin C drops like they were Mike & Ikes. It got dark in a hurry. I kept thinking that I should be taking pictures but I wasn’t settled in. Too self-conscious. Too eager to blend in, not be a distraction. Then the two guys behind me got drunk, then they got more drunk. Then they got into a fist fight with the Conductor and Assistant Conductor. C&AC won by decision. Then they calmed down. Then the train stopped and they went to jail. Then it was morning.
I have several mini-stories I feel like telling but I have to remind myself that this is a photoblog and I’m supposed to be a photographer, letting my photos tell the stories for me. Ohh well.
The sun came up again in Kansas, went down in Arizona. The people were so normal and so fantastic, each with their own destinations, their own uniquely boring stories. I spent hours looking out windows, snapping hundreds of banal landscapes that no one will ever see, eavesdropping on conversations about nothing.
Stupid grin on my face.
This past weekend I shot Audi’s corporate party here in DC to celebrate the release of their new A8. As an objective observer, this carmaker does it right. The space was awesome, the food looked amazing, the cars outside made my eyes well-up and the evening’s entertainment was Wyclef Jean.
The man has serious talent. He brought people up on stage, joined the masses for a quick break-dance and the music throughout seemed to be exactly what his Audience wanted. (See what I did right there?)
(all images ©2011 David Phillipich – shot for MOSHE ZUSMAN PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO)