Photographing Rome with David Du Chemin

Photographing Rome with David Du Chemin

I have just returned from an eagerly anticipated trip to Rome.  I traveled by myself to spend a week photographing the eternal city with David Du Chemin and a small group of other photographers.  It was a wonderful experience in a beautiful historic city.  The city was good, the weather was great, and the time to spend on my photography was wonderful.  I also spent the week with five people who I had never met before, which was a large unknown going into the week.  However, I was pleased to find everyone to be wonderful, fun, and interesting people who are all very skilled with their craft and inspiring to be around.

This was the first time that I have done a photographic holiday, with the goal of both experiencing the city and working on my craft.  I frankly did not know what to expect, but knew that I was looking forward to it.  This was advertised as an opportunity to learn how to tell stronger stories, and not a work-shop to learn how to “focus like a pro”.  We were advised to spend the first few days getting to know the city and looking for a story we wanted to tell.  After that, it was the task of creating twelve “gallery quality” images to present to the other group members by Friday afternoon.  No pressure.

For this set of images we were asked to work within self-assigned constraints.  David believes that constraints are key to the creative process, and after this week I would say I have to agree with him.  We were encouraged to shoot anything that we want, but to also keep working on our set within our constraints over the week.

Now to pick a theme.  I wanted to pick something that I was interested in yet something outside my normal so I could push the boundaries a bit.   Anyone who has seen my work will know that I love dog photography and architectural photos.  I did not bring the dogs, so obviously I wanted to play with the architecture of this wonderful ancient city.  And in order to make it a bit more interesting than just photographs of old buildings, I chose the theme of people interacting with the architecture of this city.  From locals living their lives to tourists in the city.  I also wanted to shoot in horizontal/landscape frame with a wider angle lens and process into black and white.

What I didn’t expect is that choosing my topic would push me into doing a bit of street photography.  It’s not an area of photography that I enjoy as I tend to be shy behind the lens, but if I was going to capture moments, I needed to have people in it.

When reviewing some of my preliminary images with David I received some positive feedback about the work, but it also became clear that I was too far from my subjects and needed to fill to frame to add the moments, story and interest that I was looking for.  I needed to get closer.  Damn.

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Another thing that became readily apparent to me was how complex it was to fill a wider field of view image.  Although I had many times where I liked the setting and the moment, there was simply just not enough in the frame.  This meant I needed to be more patient.  Since I wasn’t filling the frame with one main subject, but was instead wanting to paint a wider story, I needed to be more patient.

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So, I learned to be a more patient photographer.  To slow the pace down to try and tell the story I was looking to tell.  I ended up getting more than twelve images that I liked, but out of respect for the process and the project I will present the final twelve below.  More will likely make it onto the web site, but for now it is just the twelve below, and the two which almost made it in above.

David wanted us to present the images without titles or stories to let the photos talk for themselves.  I have done that below as well.  In a few days I will put together a companion post with more information about each of these photos, but for now I will let them try to tell their own stories.

The colosseum is such a classic staple of Roman architecture that I knew it needed to be in the final twelve. I took this one with GoPro to pair it with another GoPro image that ended up not making the final cut. I like how these typical tourists frame the building, while hurrying to get to the entrance.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Stefanie

    Wow, Dave, these are awesome! I can definitely see how you pushed yourself outside your comfort zone, but the end result speaks for itself… Particularly love no. 9 and 10, they technically are the antithesis of street photography (‘in your face’), yet tell such a compelling story.

  2. What a stunningly good set! And such interesting points about the difficulty of filling a wide frame & closeness to human subjects. Though I do agree with Stefanie that nos. 9 & 10 are stand outs.
    If I had to pick a favorite, though, it would be no. 12. I love all the details & the nuances of the story telling, & how that image becomes more compelling with repeated viewings!

  3. What a great opportunity and a fascinating holiday. I would not have the confidence to travel alone and meet new people in this way.

    You certainly achieved what you set out to do, super images with excellent story telling. My favourite is no. 9.

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