When visiting a place known for being a photographic destination, it isn’t unusual for certain locations to be “famous” as sites of iconic photographs. We all have our favorite examples. One of them for me was the photos I made of the blurry gondolas in Venice. While I captured the obvious shot, I also tried to find my own view, to make it my own, in a sense.
While on our photo tour in Tuscany, several of the students asked about specific locations and whether we would be going there. Jeff (Curto) indicated that those spots were not on the itinerary but that we would likely pass by a few of them. Jeff was very familiar with the locations, but cautioned us that for a number of reasons – namely conditions such as weather, season or time of year – we would not be able to capture the photos those folks had in their minds and had seen on Flickr, Facebook or National Geographic. But, photographers being photographers, they wanted to go anyway so we did. There’s nothing wrong with photographing famous photographic subjects of course, but Jeff encouraged us to find our own unique view of the locations – under the conditions we found there – and to make the best of them.
Case in point is our visit to the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta, which is in the Tuscan countryside near Vitaleta, Italy and is the location of the photo I posted previously and the location of the photos in this post. It’s a spot that even I was familiar with, having found photos on a number of websites and possibly in a guidebook or two along the way. It is a beautiful scene under just about any conditions, but at the time of our visit we faced a number of challenges. First, being that it is a place famous for being famous, it attracts a lot of attention. In the middle of the afternoon in June, there was no way to avoid people. Second, it was 4:00 in the afternoon, not exactly an ideal time for photography, although the light in Tuscany was almost always ideal for some kind of photography!
I worked to try and come up with a couple of views that I felt would reflect my own take on the scene. By taking the wide-angle approach I minimized the appearance of people and took advantage of the great sky and the surrounding landscape. I also looked around for other scenes that were not as iconic but photo-worthy themselves. I think I came up with a few good shots, including one of some actual people! On the distance shots I could have cloned out most of the bodies, but to me that was part of the scene and I decided to leave them in. Plus, the scenes looking elsewhere didn’t have any people in them! If at some point I decide to make a “fine art” print I may take a few more liberties.