Italy Travel Photography

  By Brad Wrobleski

Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Milan, Pisa,
Lake Como, Sicily…ahhhhhh Italy. There are so many amazing places
in that incredible country. My job as a professional photographer has
taken me back and forth across Italy several times, but of all the
places that I have seen it was the ‘secret’ Amalfi coast that
hooked me on la dolce vita.

 

I love Nepal for its stunning, soaring
mountains. I love Hawaii for its beautiful beaches. I love France for
its fantastic food, architecture, wine, language and art. I love the
Amalfi coast because it is all three of those places wrapped into
one.

 

Most of Italy is well known to
Canadians, but for some reason, compared with the rest of Italy, the
Amalfi coast is a bit of a secret. I ‘discovered’ it by accident
a few years ago when friends, who knew I was in Europe, invited me to
pop over for a glass of Prosecco. So I did. I was instantly smitten
and a bit shocked. Soaring green mountains, long beaches with crystal
clear, warm water, vineyards, lemon orchards, quaint villages,
ancient architecture, endless sunshine, friendly people and so much
amazing food. (If I wrote a book about photographing in Amalfi I
would jokingly call it ‘Eat, Drink, Shoot’ or ‘How to take
amazing pictures on 8000 calories a day’). My friend commented that
the Amalfi coast feels like you are in a classic film or a romantic
novel. No wonder it is the wedding capital of Europe.

 

All of this makes Amalfi a great place
to create photos. Every time I go, I stay in Ravello, the stunningly
picturesque hilltop town that looks out over the entire coast. It is
right in the middle of everything, which means within a short drive,
walk, or hike I can be shooting beautiful landscapes, environmental
portraits, architecture, food, vineyard culture, awesome street
photography, great flower macros, and when the day ends the entire
coast lights up in a glorious spectrum of lights. There are so many
amazing things to photograph you could shoot all day and all night.
Good thing Amalfi has great espresso!

 

Of all the 55 countries and 7
continents I have traveled, the Amalfi coast has more variety and
more to do within a couple hours drive than any other. The island of
Capri, hiking up Mt. Vesuvius, cooking classes, Pompeii, Herculaneum,
the colorful cascading town of Positano, swimming, beautiful hikes,
the streets of Amalfi, colorful gardens, cobblestone streets leading
you to world class shopping, a night club built in the side of a
cliff, great art galleries, sculpture and music. No wonder it has
been the inspiration for artists for centuries. Wagner, Somerset
Maugham, Gore Vidal and Greta Garbo have all called Amalfi their
muse.

 

One of the things I like about
traveling Amalfi is that you never know what might happen next.
During one trip I was roaming around taking photos and I heard some
commotion from a small church in the small town of Minuta. I poked my
head in the door to see what was going on. The woman at the front
looked at me and my camera and my big 70-200mm lens hanging around my
neck and asked if I was a professional photographer. I sheepishly
nodded ‘yes’. The next thing I knew I was sitting in the front
row of an Andrea Bocelli press conference. (I couldn’t understand a
word) The next day I got tickets to sit in the front row of his
concert. It was outdoors in a small piazza of the town of Scala. It
was incredible. Sometimes it pays to have a big lens on your camera.

 

My two specialties as a professional
photographer are adventure sports and travel. This means that I often
have to travel light, and traveling light means not taking a tripod
unless I have to. When roaming around Amalfi the last thing I want to
do is be setting up a tripod or bumping into things in shops with it
on my pack, so I have other ways to keep the camera stable. One of my
best ‘tripods’ is two Ziploc bags, one inside the other, filled
with rice or risotto. This is a great, cheap beanbag that can be
nestled on almost anything for fast stability. The other thing I like
to do is use a hiking ski pole with a tripod screw on top with a
quick release plate mounted to it. It also doubles as a great walking
stick to help get you up the infamous stairs of the Amalfi coast.

 

When I travel I like to keep it light.
I like to keep it simple. If find the less gear choices I have to
make, the more focused I am on what is important: being creative and
getting the shots. I often travel with just a 24-105mm lens. The
24-105mm allows me to zoom in to get a good close up, but maintains a
wide end near a fixed 20mm. My go to lens for dark places like an
Italian church or street photography is a 40mm pancake lens. I love
that it lets in a lot of light, has a super silky focus and its
shallow profile make it great for tucking the camera into my jacket
or bag.

 

One of the reasons I go back again and
again to the Amalfi coast is the feeling I have when I shoot. Few
places inspire me as much. There is just something about the Amalfi
coast that words can’t really describe. There is something
incredible about this L’ispirazione, the inspiration that I
feel as soon as I drive through the Lattari Mountains into the ocean
air, the ringing bells and greenery of Amalfi. Words don’t really
work. That is where photography comes in.

 

Brad Wrobleski will be presenting the Italy Travel Photography Seminar on January 28, 2014.