A love affair with Rome. And a flirtation with Monte Carlo.

Ferrari in Rome.  Your camera exposure should already be set, in weather like this the light isn't changing quickly.  You turn when you hear the roar of the engine, bring the camera to your eye, compose and then shoot.  No muss, no fuss.  If you look closely and are a car lover you'll note that all four cars visible in the shot are Ferraris.  Ahhhh.  Rome.  Nikon F100 with an 85mm 1.4.

I've been in and out of Rome a fair bit.  My first visit was with my parents in 1965.  Once with a girlfriend in 1978 and then over and over again either on business for various multinational companies or with my wife.   Usually I stay at the Hotel Victoria, about 400 meters from the Spanish Steps, just off the Via Veneto.  Working or not I always take a camera with a normal lens along for the ride.  A medium wide angle and a short telephoto also hitch along with me.

I've shot the city with an Argus camera from the 1950's, a Canonet QL17, a Canon TX, a brace of Leicas, a Nikon F100, a Mamiya 6 and a Canon EOS-1.  I've never shot a digital camera in the eternal city.   Just wasn't ready yet the last time I was there.

The thing that makes Rome so enticing to a good ole boy from Texas are the things that are different.  We don't have any buildings here in Austin that are much older than about 70 years old.  We have one or two like the state capitol that have been around longer but they've been modified over the years.  In the central part of Rome they don't really have any buildings that are under 100 years old and most are older still.

Again.  Turn and shoot.  If you've been shooting in the same light there's little reason to fiddle with exposure.   Rome.  Same camera and lens.

In Austin, with the exception of our giant outdoor pool, Barton Springs, and the seemingly endless outdoor concerts in the parks all of our social life in Austin seems to take place in cars and bars.  We're either going somewhere or coming back from somewhere.  And only the hippies and poor college students walk anywhere.  In Rome, at all hours of the night and day, people are walking, strolling, strutting and otherwise meandering down the ancient streets powered by nothing but their feet.  And when they do take to the cars the cars themselves are really worth looking at.

Do you think per capita income in the U.S. would go up if we stopped dressing like slobs who were about to go work on the yard and started dressing like serious adults?  Lawyers seen nodding "yes". Nikon film camera, 50mm lens.

We take food seriously here in Austin.  In Rome it's like life and death.  In Austin it's hot and everyone wears tee shirts.  In Rome it can get hot and people still wear their Armani and other fabulous stuff.  Which always looks better in photos than a big bellied redneck in a bright white Budweiser promotional shirt.

I just love the way the city resists change.  Here's my plan for 2011:  Shooting trip to Rome in March.  One camera.  One lens.  A million CF cards and a hundred batteries.  Who wants a very expensive guided tour of the world's coolest city?

Um.  Golly jeepers.  Do you notice how many people are out walking in the streets?

Addendum:  Zack Arias is wrong.  In his blog he states that people undercutting the market only hurt themselves.  I believe that all damage is cumulative and that photography as a business is dying by one hundred thousand small paper cuts per day.  Read his blog and decide for yourself.  Read it carefully.  It's right here:  http://www.zarias.com/cheap-photographers-only-kill-themselves-not-the-industry

I like Zack's work and his writing.  But I was a bit surprised to see that he confesses that he still can't afford to buy health insurance.....  I think he might want to reconsider his blog's point of view.  


Kurt Shoens said...

Given how great these color film Rome shots look and given that things change slowly there, I'd sure be tempted to shoot film on a trip there. A few weeks ago, MJ of TOP offered that there's no reason to shoot color film nor B&W digital. He might be right about B&W, but I'm not convinced about color.

These days with massive X-ray screening at airports, maybe film isn't such an attractive travel option. I visited Colorado last week and the X-rays made me leave film at home.

People are out walking in European cities because the cities are dense enough that mass transit is practical. In the suburban sprawl where I live, only those unable to drive take public transit. I only see people en masse at shopping destinations and the malls chase away people with cameras.

I don't know much about the economics of the biz but I was sure sad to hear that Zack can't afford health insurance.

Andrew Karre said...

To your comment on Zack's post... I think you're right. The effect is broader. We see this in music; we see this in books. Granted, most people don't have regular retail relationships with photographers as they do with booksellers or music stores, but I think the downward pressure on prices is the same whether you're talking retail or business to business.

It seems to me that the default setting for content in digital economies is volume-priority, if you'll forgive the camera metaphor. Obviously, some people figure out how to change the settings to suit their content (see: "1000 true fans," or authors, musicians, and photogs who use cheap/free digital content to promote live events/workshops). But it takes a lot of fiddling, and there's no guarantee of success. And, as with cameras, I think the vast majority of business probably stay at the default settings for too long.

Daniel Fealko said...


I'm glad you added the addendum regarding Zack Arias's post. I had considered responding to it, but decided he was entitled to his opinion.

I, too, have nothing against Zack and enjoy his work.