I sometimes feel as though I've spent my whole adult life photographing in Italy.
Of course, that's not true, but over many many trips to photograph and to teach in the summers, Italy has been a base, a foundation of creative output for me since very early days. I don't know the whole country, having never been to the south, but north of Rome, I know well, with many pictures the result. Viterbo, Duino near Trieste, Venice, Luca, and northern Italy? Feel like home.
These were places I was teaching summer semesters abroad for various schools, until I created a program in Venice with Holly Smith Pedlosky for Northeastern University to teach a Summer 1 photography course in 2007. I stopped after 3 years but the prgram continued for the next 10.
Much of my time photographing in Italy was spent working in black and white with the 8 x 10 camera. This was mostly in the 90's:
Those summers I taught 5 days a week with Friday afternoon crits.That meant I had the weekends free. I'd load up the 8 x 10 and off I'd go in some tiny Italian rental car, free to roam, to look and to photograph.
Often I'd have a teaching assistant along with me or a student or two, but many times it was just going off on my own. Each evening I would unload the exposed film in a closet or dark room into empty film boxes. These I would bring back to the States with me at the end of my time in Europe and begin to develop the film. 4 sheets at a time in 11 x 14-inch trays in total darkness, day in and day out. There were years where it would take me 4 or 5 months just to develop the film.
I've written this before but I didn't really think much about how difficult all this was, how labor intensive, expensive and heavy the gear was. It was the way I made my pictures, simple enough. If I wanted to photograph something, well, out came the big camera.
Next up, in Italy 2 we'll take a look at the early 2000's when I started photographing digitally, leaving the 8 x 10 behind.