Our workshop proper began on Sunday morning with a pre breakfast portrait shoot on the street outside our hotel with Natalie, our traveling model for the week. This was followed after breakfast with critiques of past work. Sensei took a look at four or five images from each of us to get an idea of where we are photographically. Given our numbers, this took all morning.
We then took a long lunch break to enjoy the sunshine as tourists, rather than wrestle with its harshness as photographers. At 4.30pm we set off together to shoot street photography at the Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria under the guidance of our tutors. At 7pm we reassembled to head up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to shoot at sunset.
Some “location attitude” was required to seize the best position and hold it as we waited for the best light. We had as much right to be there as anyone else but of course so did they. To pass the time Joe did a couple portrait shoot against the background of the city, demonstrating the use of flash to blend the subjects with the background. This drew an even greater crowd, including some of his fans who recognised him from online video tutorials and a lot of Chinese tourists who just wanted to shoot the models with their smartphones. As they pressed against us with an Oriental determination and a surprising lack of respect for personal space, I experienced a disquieting physical intimacy for which thirty years of marriage to an Englishwoman had not prepared me.
Eventually the setting sun did its stuff and we did ours, waiting (unlike the hard pressing iPhone crowd) for the lights on the Duomo and other landmarks to come on at about 9.20pm. Then I adjourned to the terrace restaurant of a nearby hotel for a splendid late supper and some Brunello di Montalcino with two friends from NYC who were on the previous workshops I’ve done with Joe.
Today, Monday, we leave Florence to head out into the Tuscan countryside.
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