Venice always feels to me like it was built to be photographed. This collection of more than 100 small islands that rose from the swamps of the Adriatic Sea has grown to become one of the most photogenic places in the world. Stunning architecture, secluded alleyways, picturesque lagoons and not to mention their annual carnival, make Venice one of the best cities in the world to practice your photography. Here are some simple tips for capturing the best that Venice has to offer.
This beautiful city comes even more alive during the annual Venice Carnival, and every year more than three million visitors flock to join the fun and it’s easy to see why. The wonderful thing about the Venice Carnival is that it’s like being in a giant outdoor studio as you have a host of ready and willing models that will pose for your images.
But rather than just snapping away, firstly try to be patient and think about the composition and your background. Then try to direct your model to where you want them in order to obtain the perfect shot. Don’t be afraid to get close to your subject either so that you can pick up all of the details of the costumes and masks. You’ll need a telephoto lens, which will let you zoom in and let the subject fill the entire frame. You’ll end up with a beautifully colourful image but make sure that the eyes are in focus and look sharp otherwise your image will look soft and unappealing.
The Backstreets & Rialto Market
Remember that there is more to Venice than just St. Marks Square, and all the elegant costumes and masks are just one of the things that you can photograph. During the Carnival there are celebrations everywhere, so head to the quieter backstreets to capture an alternative to the masks and costumes around the busy, famous landmarks. Even at other times of the year the backstreets of Venice offer great opportunities for street photography.
Beyond the main tourist sites, one of the best places to photograph is the Rialto Market. Get there early and you can capture locals purchasing goods and produce. Remember to take your time when photographing markets, and try to capture the experience. A moment of interaction between vendor and customer is one of the best ways to capture the shopping experience.
The Bridges and Canals
It’s no surprise that Venice is known for its bridges as there are 417 of them. Every single one offers great photo opportunities, but instead of just focusing on the bridge, try to compose the image with other elements such a gondola or people so that you can tell a much more interesting story. After all, these bridges have all been photographed a million times, so to make your images standout you need to portray them in a different way to the other images out there.
The most famous bridges that you should look to photograph are:
- Bridge of Sighs
- Rialto Bridge
- Academy Bridge
- Scalzi Bridge
- Calatrava Bridge
No portfolio of Venice would be complete without capturing some of the amazing canals that meander through the city, but keep in mind that canals themselves are not that exciting for viewers to see. Try to look for opportunities where you can weave a story into the image such as combining them with the bridges in the same composition.
Walk the Streets
With no cars or roads, Venice is one of the best and safest places in the world to do some street photography. The best way to do this to do this is to simply walk from one point on a map to another and keep your eyes open for what is around you. Be on the lookout for:
- Locals going about everyday life
- Interesting shops and products on sale
- Tourists interacting with locals or each other
- Local customs and traditions
- Details in things around you such as drinking fountains in the street
It’s needless to say that anytime that you are doing any street photography you need to be ready. That means having your camera on, with the lens cap off and the correct settings. The last thing you would want is to miss a great photo opportunity because you have to get your camera out of your bag.
Art and Architecture
Buildings and palaces in Venice are built in a mixture of styles such Byzantine, Baroque and Gothic. Every building has ornate sculptures and carvings and makes Venice an ideal city to capture art and architectural photos. The opportunities are endless as you don’t always have to capture the entire building or sculpture. Instead, sometimes just focus on the small part of the detail and get up-close to fill the entire frame. This will often show people details that are missed by the naked eye and can give good variety to your portfolio.
Named Acqua alta, or “high water,” this phenomenon is often mistaken for proof that Venice is sinking. But even though Venice is sinking a couple of millimeters every year, the main reason behind these floods is geological factors such as high tide, low atmospheric pressure and wind direction. Although these floods are a real inconvenience to the local population, they do mean completely new and unique photo opportunities that showcase a different side of Venetian life. So if you do happen to be around during the flood, rather than packing your camera away, think of how you could capture photos which highlight this event. Surface water is also great to capture reflections in. But remember to always stay safe!
Venice is like no other city in the world and offers an array of opportunities for photographers whatever your preferred genre is. With careful planning and research you can cover a lot over just a few days. But try and capture a good mix of photos by creating a shot list before you leave home to stop your collection feeling repetitive. With so much to photograph it is easy to build a diverse collection, in fact, your only problem will be that you won’t want to leave.
Now it’s your turn, share your tips and photos below.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. Dreamstime.