Workshop Shoot: Galleria Romanelli, Florence / Italy
A . M A R E L L I W o r k s h o p J o u r n a l
Rivers divide cities. The division is pretty simple. The guys in charge live on one side and the guys who work, live on the other. The two groups are dependent on one another, but historically, prefer not to mix. Nowadays the “working class” neighborhoods of any city are the most stylish places to live. Lofts, warehouses, converted factories replaced the grand homes of the past as the cool places to live.
This urban formula can be found all over Europe…London, Budapest, Paris, Venice and yes, Florence. The Oltrarno neighborhood got its name by literally meaning “the other side of the Arno.” Home to many Florentine craftsmen, it has a real neighborhood feel, only a stone’s throw away from the madness of the Ponte Vecchio. The food is cheaper, the feeling is more authentic, and you might meet an actual Florentine.
If you ever want to get a feel for a city, take a map and find the biggest tourist attraction in the place. From that point, burn a hole in the map about a 1/2 mile around. What you are left with are the places you want to visit. What you burned away will be good for about 30 minutes in the morning, but will be mobbed for the rest of the day. Better to see it in the off season. If it is as tragic at New York’s Times Square, skip it all together. Getting to know a city is not a matter of luck, but a deliberate act of avoiding tourist traps. They will swallow you up like an “All-you-can eat Vegas buffet.”
On the first day of the workshop we were invited to photograph a unique studio in the Oltrarno. Galleria Romanelli is a sculpture studio founded in the late 1800’s by Lorenzo Bartolini. The building is a converted church from the 15th century. Inside they produced everything from table top clay busts to full scale equestrian statues.
Today, the two Romanelli brothers still run the place. They each have a specialty. Raffaello focuses on humans, where his brother sculpts animals. The tag team duo is equipped to produce almost anything their clients can throw at them. We spent a few hours inside with Raffaello looking through the vast archive…how vast? Well, with a studio that was a former church, the ceilings are just shy of 50 feet tall. The equestrian sculpture with mounted figure looked like a G.I. Joe on the floor. The scale was staggering.
When you combine this scale with the diversity of marble, bronze, and plaster pieces, we had the DNA of Florentine sculpture laid out before us. Whether you wanted a piece of the David, a bust of Dante, or studies from Roman sculptor Bernini, Galleria Romanelli was a fountain of spectacular options.
The photographers were given a chance to practice art techniques they learned earlier that day, without the rush and hustle of the streets. It was the closest thing to a “perfect training ground,” to develop their own skills. They had a chance to photograph Raffaello at work with one of his students, architecture, and a stock pile of sculptures blessed with incredible light.
DESIGN YOUR OWN WORKSHOP
If you could photograph any workshop in the world, we would like to hear in the comment section below:
- What would you like to shoot?
- And where would you like to go?
SPECIAL THANK YOU
During the Florence Workshop I shot a Leica M240, compliments of Photo Village here in NYC.
- Berlin, Germany with Leica Store Miami: Few spaces left, sign up here
- London, England: Few spaces left, sign up here, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Venice, Italy: SOLD OUT