Where in the world can you go to party 24 hours a day for 2 weeks nonstop, and not even need to enter a nightclub or bar? Venice Carnevale.
I love to travel Europe in the colder months for several reasons. The light is soft and subdued which are perfect conditions for street photography, there are fewer tourists around, the prices are more reasonable and you don’t have to wait half a day in line to get into tourist attractions. There’s also something about rugging up for a day out, stopping regularly at coffee shops for a hot coffee or chocolate or finding shelter from the rain in places you wouldn’t have battered an eyelid at. It makes you slow down and observe your surroundings – except during Carnevale.
The energy is electric, the streets are packed from St Mark’s Square to Rialto Bridge and beyond with revellers well into the early hours of the morning. Streets are strewn with wine bottles, plastic cups and confetti. Surprisingly the litter adds to the beauty of the city, if only for a moment. Revellers congregate in St Mark’s square fully clad in costume every night, wine bottle in hand, dancing to the music playing over the loud speakers. And its about to snow, nobody seems to care.
Everyone participates in one way or another. Whether it is donning a full 17th century costume, or something humorous like making out you’re Napoleon Bonaparte to wearing onesies (both big kids and little kids I’m afraid). Some chose a simple venetian mask, others chose face painting and silly hats.
It all added to the vibe of the city. If you’ve been to Venice during summer and thought it was crowded, try Carnevale. It is classified as the high season with the largest number of visitors to the city during the two week period. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I would have to chase down addresses for majestic balls to see ladies and gentlemen in their finery. To my surprise they were on my door step, literally.
On arrival, this was the scene when I checked into my hotel
On my first morning, I decided to get up early to take images in St Mark’s Square at sunrise, with nobody around but the occasional street sweeper. How wrong was I. As soon as I made it down to the Riva degli Shiavoni (Grand Canal near Palazzo Ducale) there was a buzz of activity in every direction, and it was still dark! Pockets of people huddled in groups with flashing light popping from the centre. Upon closer inspection, and to my delight I found groups of pro-photographers shooting away at models dressed in full Carnevale costume. I chose one model and began photographing with the rest. But I didn’t have a flash, the light was just starting to glow over the horizon but it was behind my model. What the hell, I just clicked away, composing my images as best I could with all the pushing and shoving going on. Then I realised, I could capture the flash from another photographer, it was just a matter timing and a bit of luck. This is one time I just kept shooting until I got the shot (image below).