Milano Diary - The Streets are Alive

Street Photography in Milan

A week into my trip to Milan and I have been shooting on the streets every day. The bonus is- that after the Photography and Fashion course which I am attending here finishes; the sun is slowly beginning to set and I am released into the golden hours of a Milano evening (which lasts right up until 9.00pm at night). Then of course there are the equivalent bright mornings. So, I am shooting for fashion in the day and then shooting at either end of it on the streets. It's  a great arrangement. This trip also represents my transition into using film for street photography and I have been able to track down some useful suppliers and more importantly laboratories to assist me while I am here.

Emerging from the melee of the first weeks images, are some themes which I have tried to work along with. Firstly, I have decided to  use a composition which sits the subject at the centre of the photograph. I'll call it:  "Central Viewpoints". Rather than using a traditional 'rule of thirds' composition, I am using one which compels the viewer to be in the frame by presenting the subject slap-bang in the middle of the frame. I recently watched the film "The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson which uses this risky compositional theme throughout the film to great effect. It occurred to me that Wes Anderson might have been following, or maybe even paying homage to Stanley Kubrick's penchant for one point perspective-style composition in his films. Then with there being so much Renaissance-period art all around me, it seemed rude not to play around with a strong compositional theme, even if that meant breaking the traditional  rules of good photography composition. I honestly think that sometimes a 'Central Viewpoint' works.


Then there's: "Street Portraits", I simply cannot resist approaching people who, to me seem to be real characters, as well as typifying a certain  Milanese and / or  Italian-ness. There is a  warmth and friendliness to  people here and these encounters are nearly always good humored.

"The Underground" is another emerging theme. Which comes as no surprise, as I spend much of my time using the metro system here to move between Instituto Italiano Di Fotographia, Instituto Di Moda Burgo  (where the Photography and Fashion course takes place) and Piazza Cinque Giornate (where my residence is). The Milano Metro, just like any other cities underground system, provides a rich source of human activity and where there is life - there is always photography.

Another category for a theme, albeit it less well defined, is: "Street Performers" (an umbrella term used here to encompass all activity in the streets intended to engage the passer-by's attention). This category witnesses on-the-street-activities which really bring the city alive with everything from earnest charitable appeals, outrageous cons, cliched acts  to impromptu jazz to BMX biking to Hare Krishna dancing.

Perhaps what is happening is a fusion of all of these aforementioned themes, as they begin to overlap with one another. Here's this posting's visual essay - in no particular order of category:

Other themes which seem, (to me),  to be compelling are: "People Eating Ice Cream", "Couples Dressed Similarly", "Stuff On The Ground" (with apologies to Eric Kim) and "Alone Together" '(you guessed it! The curse of those smart phones and tablets; dumbing down our experiences in the midst of such rich visual culture). Let's see what develops next week. the streets don't sleep here.

So until next posting - Ciao Ciao