The Light Of Venus
My name is Brandon Latcham and I am a Photographer. In late October I embarked upon the most challenging journey of my life; ; for six months I trained for a cycling tour across Italy. I became inspired by George Vasari, the first great art scholar of history. Vasari wrote a collection of biographies of Italian artists from Cimabue to the last grand chapter of Michael Angelo. Many of the roads I cycled were that of Vasari or the nomadic artists’ travels. My goal was to absorb the ascetic and knowledge of the lush culture and showcase it in my own style.
I set off with seventy five pounds of photography gear strapped precariously to the back. I felt very much like the tiny dog from “The Grinch Stole Christmas,” hauling a sleigh back to the Whovillians. Over seven weeks I had traveled a total of eight hundred kilometres; starting North East towardsTuscany and culminating in Umbria. The following are some of the gems. I found; amazing people and stories that drew reference from their rich and powerful history. I’ve also included some excerpts of a travel novel I’m writing , and a bit of history.
Jubilant classical music played throughout the chamber. Dante and Beatrice had their hands conjoined over their heads as they marched in. The red satin of Dante’s garb became vibrant and distinct in the hard light of the chamber. Beatrice was in an ornate gold and black dress holding a stem covered in red berries. Many sat at the feast of wine cheese and bread. Dante read from the Inferno with booming eloquence. The epic poem was bound in a large leather book embroidered with the symbol of Florence. I drifted way to the far wall. There was an entry to a tunnel that was gated off. It was part of a network created during the Second World War. I stared intently down into the mysterious darkness. A flash of crimson illuminated the walls and a heinous growl echoed from its depths.
Young Women On A Hillside
I pushed my bike, Delilah, up the steep kilometre stretch. Heavy traffic flowed and some passerby’s laughed at me while I wheezed. I planned to purchase a piece of black fabric in Urbino for an upcoming photo-shoot. Luckily, it was Saturday morning and the Piazalle Di Roma was bustling with merchants. It was here I found the perfect drapery — a black pashmina with a rippling sinuous texture. Beside the market there was a large monument of Urbino’s son, the Prince of Painters. I toasted Raphael’s dark figure for good luck rolling my way to the Parco della Resistenza.
To my relief when I turned the corner the thick gauze of condensation lifted from the palazzo ducal. The tan facade of the humanistic spires and cathedral was finally unmasked in a dim soft light. The Pallazo Ducal was the house of the duke that nurtured Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Perigino, and many other Umbrian hands. It also inspired the courtly writings of Baladerse, where he was later painted by Raphael. The spectacular centre piece of this tiny hill town was one of the most notable courts of high renascence. Three young women passed over the hill and I asked them all for their photos. They asked how much and I replied “no charge.” I politely took a couple of pictures of the first two girls, one wearing
a green and blue hijab and the other wrapped in the drapery I had purchased at the market. Finally, the third girl stepped in front of the camera with a coy and pleasant smile. She was relaxed and lighthearted. As I wrapped the fabric around her tightly her demeanor transformed from meek to serious. It was so mysterious how the desired expression was reached. Every so often you will get a subject that completely understands the intention of an image. This was such a moment; it was an unspoken understanding that simply happened. I explained some of the other aspects of the shoot and she was so respectful. I positioned her in a three quarters pose so that only her top half filled the frame. This is typical of the Leonardo-esque style, adding power to the subjects gaze . These techniques heavily influenced Raphael’s evolution into the next great. The light was positioned in a way to replicate the masters of light and shadow. Her expression changed more as I climbed higher up the hill.
Leaving the three girls, I pumped my fist in the air triumphantly. After viewing a couple of the images I danced and sang. A car drove by, breaking abruptly at the foot of the hill.
Madonna di Gubbio
In the morning I awoke exhausted from the insane ride into Gubbio. The morning after introduced a day benign in opportunity, so I decided to climb to the top of Gubbio’s mountain. The exposed crest at the church at the top of this mountain was hammered in a damp wind. A few visitors left, and Ubaldo’s remains was the only thing that broke the solitude. I was far in doubt. The nightmare cliff clinging ride was the most fearsome thing I have experienced. Often the proceeding day of a ride would be uneventful. I found the exhaustion manifested itself into the day. I was thriving off the road but each obstacles would become more daunting from each crazy trip. There seemed to be no chance of anything in the winter rains. Gubbio was nearly vacant while I walked through the medieval streets. I would go back to the grand piazza the next day and hope for the best.
Little Laughing One
A man in a long tan overcoat and striped sweater observed the weathered page of my mole skin. His face tightened into a perplexed expression; ”no capiche,no capiche.” After several minutes of explaining without resolve he waved his hand to follow him. While we walked he did not speak a word, and I became slightly paranoid until we came to the entrance of Gubbio’s museum. The man talked to a women behind the desk. She listened and then looked surprised when she saw my face.
“You’re the man that helped us yesterday?” she questioned.
“Yes, did you get all the pieces in?“ I asked.
“Yes thank you for that,” she said.
We discussed the formalities and my project. I brought the stranger I met in the street to the hanging garden and then to the largest wine barrel in Italy for more pictures. The museum was small it housed hundreds of pieces most notably Eugubine tablets. I went back to the desk. Two young girls were there giggling with the rest of the staff. The woman thanked me for yesterday again and gave me card from the museum. I asked if anyone else wanted a photo before I left, and she talked to the two giggling girls. They looked at each other assuredly with broad smiles and ran to the balcony. The balcony of the museum overlooked out to the grande piazza and ancient Roman theatre. I pointed to my face and forced dramatic pensive expression for them to replicate. They pushed and teased each other clearly looking at the lens. After separating them, the other began too goof around on the outside of the frame. Her friend summoned all her might before falling back into her fit of laughter.