Italy, April 16 2018
When I first got behind a camera, my photos were boring - almost lifeless. Monument. Museum. Statue. Moments were marked by the attractions I saw, not the people I interacted with. Over the years I’ve started taking more photos of people. They’re a more interesting and accurate representation of the life and energy of a city, brewery, or country.
But, in a popular city like Rome, the onslaught of tourist-driven hoopla can quickly dilute the authenticity of your experience. Men dressed as gladiators with plastic swords. Shot glasses with the Pope’s face. Peddlers with fake designer bags, selfie sticks, and glass knick knacks of the Colosseum. Within that circus though, there’s a strange humor and charm. It’s impossible to avoid, so it’s easier to embrace it.
This violin player was stationed on a cobblestone side street near the Pantheon - an optimal location for gathering change from tourists. Seeing us, he shyly took a step forward, his half-smile holding something back. Sensing our interest, his movements became more exaggerated - pulling the bow with gusto, moving his head with the rhythm of his song. As I raised my camera to take a photo, he squared his body, positioning himself for the shot. He had done this before. I reach into my pocket to grab some money for him. “Grazie mille” I quietly say, hoping my horrendous accent didn’t offend him. He smiles big, finally revealing a toothless grin, softly bows his head and returns to playing.
When in Rome.