Young in Florence
Before I discovered food, my first love was black and white portraiture. When I was 18, I spent a dreamy year living in Florence, Italy. Fresh out of high school, I applied to a small studio called The Florence School of Arts. I arrived with a large suitcase and little idea of where I’d be living, what my classes would be or even how many other students there were.
First to arrive, I wrestled with the medieval key to the apartment and though exhausted, set out to explore the streets of Florence. I found a pizzeria and ordered an entire pizza. I picked one at random, not being able to read the Italian menu. An aubergine covered pizza was placed in front of me, dripping in olive oil. I slowly ate the entire pizza, alone in that pizzeria watching the elegant Florentines on the streets. At first, I was confused by the distinct taste of the pizza. Then, I succumbed to it’s delicious perfection. After that, I could never fully appreciate an American style pizza ever again.
When I got back to the apartment, the other students had arrived. There were only three. Canadian, Irish, Filippino and Belgian (via Sierra Leone) we were certainly an international group. It was the start of a year of history classes that took place in the streets or in museums, fending off persistent Italian men, discovering just how good pasta can be, and a lot of art making. It was wonderful.
Posso fare una Foto?
It seems my love of markets has always been there, as I spent most of my time wandering them with a small camera. I asked all of these obliging subjects if I could take their photo before I did so. It’s only polite. I asked in Italian. Some days, I would set out to take portraits and approaching each person I would try and work up the courage to ask. It often occurred that I returned back to the apartment on the Arno without having taken a single frame.
Early in my discovery of photography, these portraits have a candid nature that I would find difficult to achieve today. They’re imperfect and I think, better for it. The were taken with film. The negatives were scanned so that I can share them with you here.
Obviously, I found it easier to approach men. Those Italian boys… how could you not love them?