In September, after the long, hot summer, life in Rome supposedly returns to its usual work/school routine, doctor’s appointments and whatnot. La ripresa. Not that anyone is really going back to what was before.
La ripresa could also refer to an economic upturn. Again, dubious.
Today’s photography theme was la ripresa, working around the stalls in Campo de’ Fiori, which was hardly bustling.
At least in one sense it was a ripresa: my own personal one of going around the city with my camera again, for the first time in months. I felt a bit rusty, not unlike the wrinkled tomatoes with a touch of mould in the basket in front of an empty restaurant.
In the background, the fairies were doing their best to keep up appearances.
Some restaurants had a more sombre look, perhaps hoping their good name would bring their customers back.
Every little corner in this area has a rich history, and hidden treasures.
Down at the other end of Camp de’ Fiori, off the via del Pellegrino, is the picturesque Arco degli Acetari, with one of the most photographed courtyards in Rome.
Although the waiters’ and salespeople’s masks made their words mostly inaudible to me, they seemed very keen to get the ripresa going. It’s not that I’m difficult to please, but I’d already done my fruit & veg shopping, don’t enjoy the taste of pomegranate juice, was not tempted by the menù veloce. If it had been evening, and one of the comfy and spacious front row seats available, I might have stopped here for a prosecco, for old times’ sake.
As it was, after 3 hours, 2 coffees and a few short conversations with a dozen or so strangers, I was already exhausted – a fairly typical side effect of the September ripresa.
It felt like nighttime already. I followed the pink flamingo’s example, donned my mask and headed for home in the rain.
Who said you have to suffer for your art?
No more backpack-laden uphill hikes pre-sunrise for me. I’ve had it up to here with standing around in loch-side mud getting chewed by midges. It has finally dawned on me that I’m no longer interested in putting up with endless hours in the rain and howling winds without sleep, food, relaxation or wine in the name of landscape photography. Same goes for the effort involved in trying to keep up with the exaggerated strides of blokes 2 metres tall, each with 3 cameras, 10 lenses and 2 tripods in their backpacks, as on The day I landed on Mars.
Landscape photography tours and workshops can be wonderfully inspiring thanks to the places you visit and the input and feedback provided by the workshop leader. The people you meet and exchange information, views and ideas with can also make all the difference. But do we need to experience extremes or push ourselves to physical limits in order to create interesting images?
These were my thoughts when I came across an “impressionist photography” workshop in Giverny arranged in summer 2019 by photography workshop leader Cheryl Hamer. It sounded just what I wanted: a peaceful rural location, a small group, no early morning rises, no long hikes to extreme locations in wild climatic conditions. Just an unexplored photographic technique for me to learn about and practise (multiple exposures with an impressionist effect). Plus I love French food, wine, the sounds of the French language, and Monet’s water lily paintings.
In the stunning setting of Monet’s garden at Giverny, Cheryl’s clear input and supportive feedback, both of which came in just the right doses at the right time, provided plenty of opportunities for creating images in Monet’s garden. The fact that this particular group turned out to be made up of lovely, friendly people with a sense of humour who also appreciated pain-free photography in a relaxing environment was an unexpected bonus.
Not that I’ll be giving away my midge net, wellies or rainproofs yet though: Northern Ireland is my next stop.