I’ve noticed that as the series continues, my style of shooting it has evolved, which is a good thing. The photos are becoming more consistent, especially in terms of composition. The camera is placed on a level with the object, which usually means much lower than eye or even sometimes waist level, and more frontally square to the object.
The hydrant is in a suburban Florida cul-de-sac where the tallest things around it are date palms, and they’re not massed together to form a giant wall, so the lighting is direct sun, not a diffused sky. I’ve been looking at it and trying to decide how well it fits the series – I think it does on the subject matter and the compositional level, but until I shoot more objects in suburban or rural environments it feels weird because the background isn’t walls or windows or passing traffic, but grass and trees.
As you may well know if you’ve followed my blog for some length of time, I like taking portraits of ordinary objects- things we see in daily life and ignore and/or take for granted, like pay phones, water fountains, traffic cones, and trash cans. I’ve photographed them in Paris, Toronto, New York, Washington DC and now Rome and Florence. They all have a common denominator of their base functionality. I think though that the Italian ones seem to have just a bit more flair and style to them – take a look and see what you think.
This fire hose connector is probably the newest thing I’ve photographed in this series – the copper connecting pipe has only just begun to oxidize!
In contrast, this trash can in Florence with cigarette butt receptacle is quite well-used, but still has style.
… as does this Roman bin across from the Capitoline hill.
The poor mailbox in Trastevere has been graffiti’d and stickered and it still soldiers on.
Don’t you wish all payphones were this glamorous (and as easy to find)? Here in DC when I went to find a payphone to photograph, it took me several days of looking before I ran into one. I saw this one on my first day in Florence.
I’ll include this because it has a very utilitarian purpose – it’s a street lamp. Granted, a 15th century street lamp attached to a palace, but a street lamp nonetheless.
A public drinking fountain. These were ubiquitous across Rome, in very much the same form, some in better and some in worse condition. But they worked, and the water was sweet and clean, always flowing, and free.
A lowly door handle – this one in particular is attached to a palace, but there were plenty to be found of similar quality on middle-class residences in both Rome and Florence.
And last but not least, a traffic cone. Well, in this case, a red granite bollard some four feet high and three-ish in diameter, in the entrance courtyard to the Palazzo Barberini.
Another of my portraits of ordinary objects – this time a trash can in Rome, outside the Theater of Marcellus, at the foot of the Palatine Hill. The trash can sits at attention, doing its duty exposed to the elements. Neither rain nor snow nor ill-placed cigarette butts deter it from its appointed task.
I don’t usually photograph in the rain, but I was so excited to be in Rome, running around and photographing without constraints, I didn’t care if people were staring at me as if I were some kind of freak, photographing a trash can in the rain with a 60 year old camera. This particular composition appealed to me because while the trash can is the center of attention and the star of the show, the background of the cafe umbrellas and the woman in the red coat with matching umbrella convey an extra level of that sense of how people turn their backs on public conveniences like trash cans and ignore them until they need them. Everything else is more important and more deserving of protection/attention.