Since visiting Northern Italy in 2011, I had been looking forward to returning. In the fall of 2023, I spent six weeks in this amazing country, this time focusing on the heel and toe in the extreme south of the “Boot” area. Italy is a country renowned for its remarkable natural beauty, rich history, vibrant culture and great food. It is also a photographic wonderland. When it comes to travel photography, my typical goal is to come home with a portfolio of 15 to 20 images. I felt certain this trip would be a success in that regard and I was right. There is so much photographic potential here that I feel you could drop your camera and still get a good shot! In this blog post, I will explore a few of my favourite locations, show you some of the images and talk about my photographic workflow while in the field.
Unveiling the Beauty of Alberobello
Photographing the trulli in Alberobello was high on the list from my pre-trip research. These unique, cone-shaped buildings are iconic to the region and I had some pre-conceived ideas as to how I would photograph them. The area is extremely popular, but most travellers congregate in one area. It was shoulder-to-shoulder during the daylight hours. There are numerous images posted to social media sites but they are mostly average points of view of the same scenes posted over and over again. I had an idea for something unique and this involved being on site in the very early morning. I had scouted the area the day before, lined up a few good locations that were away from the busiest area. I returned the following morning at 5 am, just as the sky was beginning to brighten. Early morning (the earlier, the better) is the best time (and my favourite) to shoot because the light is great and the crowds are non-existent. This allows me to be in my own zone photographically, able to focus on my style of photography and get the images I want. I shoot with a tripod as well which allows me to fully engage with the imagery in front of my camera. Notice the cat in the upper right window well.
Chasing History in Matera
Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a city unlike any other. Famous for its ancient cave dwellings known as "Sassi," Matera offers a unique and captivating landscape. It was one of those cases where the visual opportunities were so prevalent as to be almost overwhelming. This is when it is a benefit to stay at a location for multiple days. I was able to reconnoitre during our initial outings and then return to those spots when the light was best. The maze-like streets and alleys, carved into the rock, create a fascinating interplay of light and shadow, but still required me to pay attention to where the sun was at certain times of day. I found (like always) the best time to photograph was during sunrise or sunset, when the warm light enhances the texture and colours of the stone buildings. A city like this is photographed “to death” but looking for opportunities off the beaten path and “seeing” from my personal perspective made for some truly unique and remarkable images.
Too Much for One Blog Post
Being in Southern Italy for six weeks offers way too much content to cover in a single post so I will be posting a follow-up to this one. Whether you find yourself exploring the Truli of Alberobello or wandering through the ancient streets of Matera, each location presents its own unique photographic challenges and rewards. If you go, pay attention to your surroundings, be in the moment and look to really see the visual opportunities that are around you. You will not be disappointed. I wasn’t.