Ciao Venezia – Venice travel photography

Venice had never really been on my list of must-visit places in the world. I knew plenty of people who’d been for an anniversary trip, but I didn’t imagine myself onto a romantic gondola or sipping over-priced tourist coffee in Piazza S.Marco. What did appeal, though, was a photographic trip with 5 lovely friends from the UK and elsewhere in Europe, all female photographers and many of whom I’d only met online before I first visited Lisbon with them a couple of years ago. In our planning stages of Which-European-City-To-Visit-Next, it quickly emerged that Italy was a popular choice for end-of-September sunshine, and Venice was a source of inspiration that drew us in with its history, reflections, architecture and colourful character.

I don’t know what Venice did to me, but when I saw it laid out before me for the first time, I cried. And several more times after that.

The six of us are aware that often in our photographic journey, we grow a bit creatively stale, needing to bounce ideas and try out techniques and take in new views that jump-start our inspiration again. The thing about Venice, though, is that it’s so overwhelmingly glorious in real life (and boy, were we lucky with that late September light) that it’s almost too much to take in, in 3-and-a-half days. My friend Rebecca and I agreed that we were being hard on ourselves; it would take a bit of soaking in first, that it was probably the weight of expectation from the dear, kind “can’t wait to see your pictures” friends that made us feel under pressure to come up with something different, something to say through our photographs in a heavily-photographed city.

We had a perfect apartment via AirBnB, and it was the ideal base – from our generous hosts and local cafés onwards – to discover the real beating Venetian heart. I can’t imagine having to take the acqua alta in your stride every winter; to have lived there all your life and face the prospect of ever-higher sea levels; to be overwhelmed by cruise-ship tourism and a daily visitor-resident ratio regularly way in excess of 27:1 – but defined by their perseverance, the Venetians take such a gentle pride in their city. I hope I’ve managed to show how I felt about it; to do some sort of justice to this most uniquely beautiful place.

rio marin venice travel photographyvenice-documentary-photography_0002rio marin venice travel photographyvenice-documentary-photography_0004venice-documentary-photography_0005colour and reflections beneath bridge in venice italygondola and gondolier in evening light venice italyrim light street photography couple holding hands in silhouette venicegondola and gondolier in black and white street photography veniceback street canals of venice italy travel photographyvenice-documentary-photography_0011venice-documentary-photography_0012local evening life documentary street photography in venice italyvenice-documentary-photography_0014venice-documentary-photography_0015evening gondola on the grand canal in venice italyvenice-documentary-photography_0017

We had trouble with a Peeping Tom on the balcony! Haha!

cats of venicerio marin venice italy travel photographyvenice-documentary-photography_0020venice-documentary-photography_0021venice-documentary-photography_0022The Jewish Ghetto: in the 16th century the ruling Venetian Council of Ten banished the Jewish community to the island quarter of Canareggio. Many of them worked at the iron foundry; the Italian for foundry is ‘geto’ and this is where our word ‘ghetto’ comes from. About 500 Jews still live in this area of Venice. There are two synagogues, a Jewish museum, art galleries and kosher bakeries amongst the streets of Canareggio.

the Jewish ghetto of Canareggio Venice Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0024kosher bakery in canareggio venice italygondolier outside melori and rosenberg art gallery in canareggio venice italyCanareggio Venice Italythe wrought iron bridge leading out of the Jewish ghetto in Canareggio Venice Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0029fisherman in venice italy street photographyvaporetto driver towards san marco in venice italyvenice-documentary-photography_0032venice-documentary-photography_0033architecture and clouds on grand canal in venice italy

Photo below by Ana…

taking a water taxi along the grand canal in venice italyvenice-documentary-photography_0036taking a water taxi along the grand canal in venice italysunset along the grand canal by water taxi in venice italywater taxi driver in venice italyon the steps of Isola di S.Giorgio Maggiorevenice-documentary-photography_0041sunset from Isola di S.Giorgio Maggiore Venice Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0043venice-documentary-photography_0044Spritz popular cocktail in Venice Italy

A couple of people have asked how I took the photo below; truth is I was in a bit of a rush and had one shot at it, since we were waiting for our table to be ready in the restaurant to the left of the bridge, and they’ve just called us in – so technical peeps, here goes. My camera is set down at floor level on the stone bridge, peeking out below the level of the railings (my strap still round my wrist just in case!!). It’s not on a massively narrow f/stop – like I said, our table was ready so I haven’t time to hold the shutter open for ages; it’s only f/5 and instead you can thank the 50mm lens for the starburst lights!  ISO 400, 1.6 seconds on the shutter, and captured a couple of stars in the night sky for good measure too. That’s our apartment middle-right, yellow with green louvre shutters. What a special place!

rio marin venice italy at night

Cat dress (£900!!!) in Dolce & Gabbana / cat model in the apartment garden…


We were taking photos of each other in the apartment windows since we had such lovely balconies. Unfortunately Anna and Rebecca didn’t notice a funeral boat going past…!

funeral boat in venice italyvenice-documentary-photography_0049venice-documentary-photography_0050venice-documentary-photography_0051venice-documentary-photography_0052venice-documentary-photography_0053venice-documentary-photography_0054Italian colours Italy flag window peeling paint Venice Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0056

Took the vaporetto to the island of Burano, land of colour and lace, for the next bit:

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Popular place to get married; here’s the first wedding we spotted.

venice-documentary-photography_0063venice-documentary-photography_0064venice-documentary-photography_0065colourful island of Burano Venice Italy

Burano is a hugely popular tourist destination but for us introverts, it’s still possible to find little backstreets away from the crowds…

Burano Venice Italy colourful houses reflectionscolourful doorway Burano Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0069pigeons of Venicequirky Burano mannequin head and handportrait headshot taken in Burano Italycolourful reflections of Buranocolourful reflections of Buranovenice-documentary-photography_0075colourful reflections of Buranovenice-documentary-photography_0077venice-documentary-photography_0078

We found a colourful alleyway (hello overhead shade!) which was perfect for trying out some headshots.

venice-documentary-photography_0079venice-documentary-photography_0080venice-documentary-photography_0081colourful Burano Venice Italylace making in Burano Venice Italy

I spotted the next wedding pair as they walked past all the colours of Italy, and that’s something that pleased me a great deal…

bride and groom Italy wedding Burano Venice Italian flag colourscolourful doorway in Burano venice-documentary-photography_0086

We had such kind hosts in Elena and Francesco. Francesco is an artist and gifted us some prints of his work.


Early morning wanderings in Canareggio again.

venice-documentary-photography_0088sunrise Canareggio Venice Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0090venice-documentary-photography_0091sunrise Canareggio Venice Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0093venice-documentary-photography_0094documentary street photography Venice Italydocumentary street photography Venice Italydocumentary street photography Venice Italyvenice-documentary-photography_0098venice-documentary-photography_0099caffé del Doge Rio Marin Venice Italydocumentary street photography Venice Italy rio marinvenice-documentary-photography_0102documentary street photography Venice Italy rio marin gondolierdocumentary street photography Venice Italy elderly ladiesvenice-documentary-photography_0105documentary street photography Venice Italy elderly gentleman in shaft of light at church

view of the veneto from the air

venice-documentary-photography_0107venice-documentary-photography_0108sunset from isola di san giorgio maggiore venice italy



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  • Rebecca Spencer - Wonderful photos Julie-Anne, they made me cry. In a good way I promise! Your people watching skills and capturing just the perfect moment are out of this world, that natural talent of yours clearly has been honed through all those weddings you shoot.ReplyCancel

  • Anna M Francken - O Julie-Anne, I want to go back! These photos of you make me long for Venice even more. We had an incredible time together and I am so glad that you are in my precious circle of photography friends. Love you XReplyCancel

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