Sicily, Italy 2009
Easter in Sicily has always something special to offer. The profound religious sense that Sicilian display always plays a major role in each single procession that we follow and photograph. I also feel that my knowledge of the place keeps growing and it helps the students understand better how to approach their subjects.
Anna, Giampiero, Sophie, Silvana e Viky had all come determined to let their images go beyond the surface of things; to understand better what it takes to make an image that can conjugate at the same time form and content. Silvana had just been with me in Salvador last December. She was he sparrow of the group. She had followed my advice to take another workshop close to the first one to allow her photographic growth to continue (check group the Two vultures and a Sparrow, Salvador, December 08). Sophie, a veteran of BazanPhotos workshops, was finally realizing her dream to come to shoot in my native island. Viky had come to the NY workshop the previous year where she had taken beautiful and personal images of the city (check out the group Regulin, NY 08). Anna and Giampiero were the two newcomers. After a few initial, disappointing editing sessions, it was clear to all of them that they really had to start seeing “photographic moments” rather than just registering reality. I told them to take pictures only when their heart was beating stronger. When you shoot with a digital camera, you always have this tendency to overshoot and to do too much chimping. I urged them to avoid that in order to concentrate more on their images. Each day we would go out to see a different celebration. I took them to smaller procession in Trapani to give them a sense of what the important one was going to be like. Some interesting photographs started to appear, but I still felt that they were not doing enough seeing with their internal eye. We had a memorable day in Palermo. We walked for hours exploring the inner beauty that had prompted my initial fascination with photography over 30 years ago. The next day we started working early in Marsala for the unique procession. We had the privilege to photograph the preparation of the many actors and actresses that participate in the daylong event. We were all very busy photographing the myriad situations unraveling before us. As always, I was urging everybody to try to discern significant moments from the many photo opportunities around us. I emphasized the importance of justifying the whole frame, eliminating disturbing elements that might compromise the outcome of a good image. During the editing sessions we continued to analyze what worked and what didn’t, trying to comprehend the simple and yet uncompromising rules of what a good image should have.
The marathon shooting during the fantastic Trapani’s processions worked out really well for each student. Their minds and eyes were finally paying more attention to the flow of life. We worked day and night. The early morning shoot offered many unforgettable situations. For the first time in seven years Giggi didn’t faint. The following editing sessions were long and intense. Many pictures were eliminated easily. Very few remained. Slowly each photographer’s vision was beginning to surface. What impressed me greatly about the group Momentos Fotograficos is that each student had become so critical, so tough almost more severe than I. It meant so much to me to see how Giampiero had won his struggle with ordinary moments. I could see his happiness in his shining eyes. Anna had created a very unique set of images that had her seal. Sophie showed how her experienced eye had managed to take more beautiful photographs to add to her extensive portfolio. Silvana fought till the last moment against her shyness and frustration. Her critical eye managed, once again, to tip the scale in her favor by creating some interesting images. And finally, Viky’s vision showed how to capture ordinary life with her intimate, personal approach.
After carefully reviewing my own photographs, I found one image that made me smile. I look forward to next year.