If you’ve visited Italia, you probably filled your camera when you did, creating a collection of the amazing things you saw at the beautiful places you visited. I did the same thing when I moved here in 2014 and used my brand new smartphone to grab visual ideas in Firenze, Roma, Siena, and dozens of other incredible Italian locations.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to return, or even make regular trips to Italia, you probably kept taking pictures of your favorite things, but with less of an obligation to take “I was there” postcard pictures. During the past eight years I was blessed with many return trips to Italia’s most beautiful places, and I never grew tired of visiting them. But I did challenge myself to see them anew and saw that the vibrant crowds gathered to experience Italia were important aspects of each place. It seemed obvious that I should start taking pictures of people.
You may be someone who loves photographing others, who doesn’t flinch when you step forward to grab a portrait of a friend or even a stranger. But shooting candid pictures of people is way outside my comfort zone — I marvel at great street photographers’ ability to step into a scene in order to capture it. Yet at popular locations in Italia, I found it easy to work around that anxiety, because everyone else there was taking pictures, too.
When I started sharing these pictures online, I introduced them with “Everybody digs...” I borrowed the phrase from Everybody Digs Bill Evans, probably because the album’s cover features a “crowd” of enthusiastic testimonials. It became a reflexive thought — when I’d walk into the Piazza del Campo on a July morning, and find it filled with a spectacular Saturday crowd, I’d think “Man...everybody digs Siena!”
I always mean that sincerely, with no snark intended. If you’ve been to any of the places in these pictures, you’ve also witnessed the enthusiasm of these crowds, how excited everyone is to be there. Sometimes that excitement bubbles over as pure joy, and sometimes it simmers as crabby frustration. But if you watch the range of responses, before long you witness compelling narratives of humans experiencing a unique moment in a beautiful place.
If you’d like to see more from this series, check out my Everybody Digs Italia project on Behance.