As I was clearing out some storage space I came across my boxes of old photos from the early days of my obsession with photography, and during a short trip to Maine I got access to a good scanner, so I decided to revisit some images I haven’t really seen in nearly 25 years.
The pages of negatives that I pulled out of the boxes were random – just to see what sorts of things were on them. One group that I got quite a few of was from a trip to Venice for Carnival, in February of 1992.
I was a 18-year-old exchange student living in Austria at the time, and solo travel was verboten, so I had to have my mom fax a special permission form so they would let me go. Looking back this was one of the many times my parents let me do things that a lot of people thought they shouldn’t have, and I am so grateful that they did.
I first really got the photography bug on a trip to Mt. Everest in the summer of 1990. After that I got involved with the high school newspaper, albeit as a writer, not photographer. A friend showed me around the darkroom, though (which didn’t take long – it was a glorified closet) and I kinda ditched writing for photographing. Anyhow, by the time I got to Venice I’d been serious about photography for about 18 months.
Once I got into photography, there were a ton of places I was excited to go and, probably, just copy photos I’d seen and admired: the Tetons (because of Ansel Adams), Antelope Canyon, and Carnival in Venice, to name a few. I was excited to go on my own expedition!
I don’t remember much of the trip, for various reasons. One, as I said, it was nearly 25 years ago. It was a blur of activity – Venice was absolutely packed with people, in what seemed like a ratio of 1:200 of costumed locals to photographers and tourists. I was nervous about photographing people, staying safe from pickpockets, etc, not to mention not really knowing what I was doing with f-stops and all that stuff.
I’m pretty sure I remember shooting 12 of the 13 rolls of film I took with me, in about 8 hours of shooting. In digital terms, that’s nothing, but for me at the time I was impressed with myself. Looking back, I’d be more impressed if a) more of them were in focus and b) I didn’t waste an entire roll of ASA 64 film handholding at night. (Now I could shoot at ISO 6400…)
Apparently I also thought it very important to try out what seems to be every type of film available in the store back in Austria, since in scanning the five rolls I found in storage each one is different: Ilford HP5+, TMAX, Fuji Reala, Ektachrome, and Kodachrome.
Then, finally, I stopped for dinner and somehow got connected with a group of tourists that took me in. I ordered a bottle of wine to go with my nice Italian dinner, thinking sure I had two other people to share it with me. I think one person took one glass, and I think I finished off the rest.
Oh, and the closest (cheap) room I could find was in Padua, which I think was a two-hour train ride away. I’d been up and photographing since early morning, and on the train ride back was so tired I couldn’t lift my backpack up on the luggage rack above our heads. Some nice compartment-mates stepped in to help me out, then kindly woke me up when we pulled into Padua’s station.