One of my clients recently asked me about the story behind the print she bought of Dancing in Florence. It's one of my artwork photo that gets the most engagement by wowing the audience. How did I create it? What's the story behind it.
Italy has a way to wow me
Italy is a country very close to my heart. It always had a way to wow me. I learned Italian at the Lycée instead of Spanish. Somehow the school I had chosen, because my friends did go there, did not teach Spanish. Then at 18, I discovered that my grandfather was Italian, cheeky?
During my years at the Lycée, I bathed in Italian culture through my Italian language teacher Mrs Bouvier; she introduced us not only to Italian literature but also films director like Pier Paolo Pasolini, movies like la Dolce Vita.
With my friends, we also decided to travel to Italy as often as possible. We went mostly to Florence and Venice. It's during that time that I discovered Florence. We stayed in a convent on Piazza del Carmine that had strict rules; you had to be back at the convent by 10 pm every evening! Not very compatible with being a teenager but we had lots of fun anyway.
These three years at the lycée, where a great enhancer in developing my knowledge about Italy and it's culture.
Back in Florence
When I went back to Florence to take this image, I hadn't been. back for more than 30 years. I visited Rome on a regular basis fell in love with it and completely forget about Florence. I loved the shabby chic feel of the city. It's only when I went back to Florence that I realised how both towns were so different. I stayed in an Airbnb next to the Duomo, booked some yoga lessons on a rooftop terrace with a view on the Duomo and a tour across the city. I learned that Florence used to be the financial district of Italy, this completely made sense to me. The architecture, the austerity of some buildings made the city look more like a bankers' city, compared to the Dolce Vita feeling of Rome, wonderful though nevertheless with such a different feel to Rome. I was hooked again on Florence.
Dancing on the Ponte-VecchioThe idea behind this image was Italian Cinema of the 60s. If you haven't seen la Dolce Vita yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. The film by Federico Fellini, sums ups an era and an attitude. Anita Ekberg plays Sylvia, a Swedish superstar. The moment she walks in the Fountain of Trevi in a strapless black dress is the most iconic scene in the movie. This scene was so sensual that it was condemned by the Vatican at the time.
When I created the image of Dancing in Florence. I had this exact scene of la Dolce Vita in mind. I knew that I wanted to create photographs inspired the Italian Cinema of 60s. I had booked a model, and a makeup artist and had brought the dress that I wanted the model to wear. What I did, is ask the model to walk along the bridge first a few times in front of my camera and then dance on the bridge. It's how this iconic image was created. It's a woman lost in a beautiful moment in a glorious dress. It is a celebration of femininity, photography and Italy.
Free spirited women
I mainly feature women in my images, and the recurrent theme is about free-spirited women. These women are finding the freedom to be themselves, either in a gesture or a look like in the bewildered maiden series or a more bold and extravagant gesture like dancing in a city, running in a forest, walking or adopting a strong stance.
What does dancing in Florence evoke for you? What do you like about the image?