The Venetian photographic association Marco Polo Fotografia has a collective exhibition coming up soon on the theme of Vaporetti.

The vaporetti are the typical water buses of Venice, which are all over and impossible not to notice.

With an open theme like Vaporetti you can do a bit of everything, since the boats are all over and everybody uses them. However, knowing that there are at least thirty others who will bring their photos on the same theme, you need to find a personal or unique angle to the subject.

Approaches to the task

The first instinct of most is to take the rather obvious photos of the vaporetti themselves. Lots of others will do the same, however.

It will inevitably be banal.

Street photography

Second approach was to do street photography inside a vaporetto or on the platform, but little came of it. I didn’t have the time necessary to go around the city for hours on end.

The boats are often very crowded, and getting a clean shot of a scene without having an arm or a leg sticking in at some odd point is quite difficult. If they’re not, people will notice that you’re photographing and few appreciate it.

In the end nothing left me satisfied.

A dog’s view of vaporetti

Then I tried to lower the point of view to that of a small dog. This yielded some slightly more interesting photos, but maybe less evidently related to vaporettos.

The windows

One day going home on a number one, I looked not out the window, but at the window. Like in many other places, advertisement is ubiquitous on public transport in Venice.

The windows are covered with a kind of grid to accommodate the advertising. From close-up you can look out, but from the outside you cannot look in.

Focusing on the window and the grid, rather that on what’s outside, made some rather weird effects, and I got some reasonably interesting shots.

High water

You can go looking for photographs as much as you like, but sometimes you’ll have to wait for the photographs to find you.

On November 12th an extremely high tide submerged Venice in the late evening, with very strong winds. The next morning I walked down towards through what looked like a war zone.

The tide, wind and waves had conspired to push boats of all kinds more or less up on land. There happened to be some vaporettos in between the wrecks, and others were in active service in spite of the widespread damages.

Some of these scenes did the global news cycle for a couple of days.

The selected photo?

The rules of the association don’t allow us to publish the selected photo before the opening of the exhibition, so I cannot put it up here yet.

Place and time of the Vaporetti exhibition

The exhibition will be open from 11:00 on Saturday, February 1st, 2020, until Saturday 8th, daily 9-13:30 and 15-19.

The venue is the Scuola Grande di San Teodoro, Campo San Salvador, San Marco 4810, 30124 Venice, very close to the Rialto Bridge.

Entrance is free.

The exhibition will most likely be on display again later in the year in other locations. The previous annual exhibitions of the association repeated afterwards at the Laguna Libre restaurant in Venice. Last year’s exhibition also at the Bassano Biennale di Fotografia 2019.

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