Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fabio's Fabulous Roma

I’d been in Rome about two hours and I was learning what “jet lag” truly means.

My wife and I dropped our suitcases off at the hotel, grabbed our cameras and headed out. When we get to a new city, we try to find one of those double-decker busses that take tourists around to see all the sites. We’ve found this to be a great way to get oriented and plan the places we are going back to.

On this particular morning (which was the middle of the night as far as my body was concerned) I admit that I was listing to one side. But then the bus turned a corner and I had one of the most powerful travel experiences of my life.

I was face to face with the Coliseum.

I remember the fog in my brain clearing instantly – and being completely overwhelmed. This wasn’t a Hollywood set or some tacky theme decoration. This was THE Coliseum. Gladiators fought here. Gala competitions were run here. Guys who ruled the world came here.

My memories of Rome all meld together. We’d be up and out before the sun rose. We’d walk the entire day, walk until our feet burned and then walk some more. There is such a casual beauty in Rome. Touchable history and fascinating people.

Fabio, the second flickr artist I’d like you to meet, says his Rome is something altogether different.

“Already the monuments of Rome are among the highest expressions of architectural history,” he says. “They are photographed by almost everyone. But what about the people who live here? Who sees them?”

Fabio does. He lives in Rome. He’s a barman and a web designer. He’s also one of the finest street photographers I’ve ever seen. We had a long chat the other day, talking about his passion for street photography.

“I love the portraits on the street,” he tells me. “Photographing people in their daily life, I manage to communicate the beauty and complexity of life for everyone. Most everything is spontaneous and natural. Everything is more beautiful, like life itself.”

Here’s another star of flickr that doesn’t have any difficulty communicating his passion for life, and the vibrant tableau around him.

We invited Fabio to share some of his favorite images. His absolute favorite is at the top of this blog. It’s of a woman looking to the east. When I asked him what made it his favorite, I found the nuances of what he discussed fascinating. He talked, not only about the direction the woman is looking, but also the things he chose to leave in the background: the crossed legs, the people – all the busy life going on around this very still looking woman.

When you look at Fabio’s work, you need to pay attention to the things he has included in the image. Yes. The people are fascinating but the beauty of this work to me is that they are all captured in the context of where they are in that exact second. And where they are has a tremendous impact on the overall image.

“You can stop the memories of life with an image,” he explains.

He wanted you to see this violin player as well. Have a good look at the artful cropping here. Many artists would have brought the crop in tight on the subject. Fabio chose to include the textured wall and to place the subject off to one side. What’s he saying? I think he wants us to know where this charming man comes from.

No one poses for Fabio.

“My photos are stolen,” he admits. There’s no further explanation forthcoming. Actually, when you think about it, no explanation is necessary. My sense from having talked with him is that Fabio isn’t interested in taking the same photos others do. He wants people in his images. And he wants them raw.

Does it get much more raw than a mother’s love? As you look at this image, try to reconstruct what it was like to stand there. If you were Fabio, how would you have composed the image? Here the mother is holding her child, attentive. This is a particularly eloquent image because you don’t need to see her face to know what’s happening in her heart. The child holds your attention with its eyes. It is a masterpiece of composition.

Here is an honest streetscape. The image is titled “How to Shoot a Wedding.” Here’s an alternate title: “How to Shoot a Streetscape.” Fabio’s fascination with people comes shining through in this image. The couple kissing are the subject, only because they are the focus of all the other people’s attention. Fabio doesn’t care about the kiss so much as he cares about showing us how other people react to it. Some smile. Some look away. What do you suppose the woman in the backpack is feeling? How about the couple holding hands?

A great streetscape poses questions like this and give the viewer great material for dreaming themselves into the image.

I wanted to finish with my personal favorite from Fabio’s Photostream. It’s entitled “Where the Hell is Jack Sparrow?” Again you will find the outstanding use of negative space and texture to put the subject into his environment. For me the image is all about crisp focus and that perfect instinct for the exact right time to take the shot.

Post-production isn’t a big part of the job for Fabio. “Ten minutes max,” he says. “I work on the contrast, the crop and the tone.”

At this point I am willing to bet fifty bucks that, as he typed this response to my question from his home in Rome, that he shrugged. My impression is that this is not an artist who is about working in the studio, or slaving over a hot computer.

This is a guy who is all about the street and experiencing the rich life that provides the heartbeat of one of the world’s great cities.

I love the mental image I have of Fabio creeping through the streets of Rome, camera in hand, looking for the picture that tells us a story, an image that shares what his Rome was like today.

Have a look at his flickr Photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeyh/

All Photos in this blog segment are by Fabio Jey-Heich and are used with his permission. He reserves all rights.

1 comment:

Fabio Jeyheich said...

An honor for me to have known Fella and speaking with him.


Thank you my friend