Venice, a beautiful city located on the northeastern part of Italy, should be on the short-list of any serious street photographers. The city, is made of more 100 islands separated with canals and linked together with bridges. One of the beauty of Venice is that it’s car free and exploration is mostly made by foot, vaporretto, water taxi or the famous gondolas.
Venice is divided into what so called 6 sestieri (neighborhoods in Italian) each contributing to the charm of the city: San Marco, Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Polo and Santa Croce – the first three being located on the northern part of the S-shape Grand Canal and the other three on the southern part.
The photos included in this article were taken during a 3-day trip to Venice in June and I wanted to capture the local night-time atmosphere in the city by avoiding the touristy places. The streets are quite safe and like a labyrinth really enjoyable to walk through.
To start, the sestiere of San Marco (and mostly the Piazza San Marco) is where the mass heads. June is not the not the true Aqua Alta season (flood in late fall), but parts of the Piazza often get wet during high tide in the evening when the water is oozing out of the drains. It can be fun but also a hassle. With a short walk we come to the edge of the Grand Canal, where you can you see – along the church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the background – gondoliers heading back to the piers as it becomes darker.
Continuing the walk to the Dorsoduro Sestiere with a vaporretto trip to cross the Grand Canal, this district has many faces and probably one of the best for street photography. Towards the tip of it, there are many art galleries and museums such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Fondation Pinault at the Punta della Dogana. More in the central part, one can appreciate the Venetian local life along the narrows streets (Calle in Italian). At night those narrows streets give a mysterious atmosphere, some of them almost empty or with just one or two people. Venice is a very quiet city at night and most of the nightlife takes places around local cafés or gatherings in around one of the major so-called Campo (equivalent of “Square”). When you look at people, it is very interesting to see the Italians speaking with their hands as well!
A little further up, San Polo district is where the main market for fish, fruits and vegetables is located during the day. It’s also where the famous Rialto Bridge is – the oldest one and also one that spans the Grand Canal, therefore it is a busy gateway for transiting between San Polo and San Marco.
Located East of San Marco is the Castello sestiere worth exploring during the day as you will discover more popular Venetian life in narrow alleys, kids playing around, also the scenic laundry hanging outside. (See my website for Venice during the day). Moving along the different sestieri, Cannaregio is located northwest of San Marco and being a residential area, it has some great photo opportunities to offer with picturesque squares and gorgeous canals giving its local taste and mystic atmosphere at night.
As far as equipment, all these images were taken with a Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) along with 35mm and 50mm Summilux lenses at high ISO (between 5,000 to 10,000 for most).
Vadim Krisyan is a French-Armenian self-taught photographer who is mostly interested in Urban and Street Photography where un-staged aspects and available light are key components of the pictures to reflect the natural aspect of the photographed scene at any given time. He is also a Contributor to the Moment Collection of Getty Images and his photos have been published on LFI, Dumbo Arts Festival, PH Magazine among others.