They say that your first 10.000 photographs are the worst. In this age of ever-changing technology, the tools of the photographer- mainly the camera- are getting better and better. But, it is not the tools that make one a Master.
Rome-born photographer, producer and writer Giulio D’Ercole have spent almost two decades living in North America and Africa and a few years ago he has returned to his beloved Italy. After working for Italian National Television (RAI), UNESCO and being the founder and head of the Canvas Africa Productions, he created in his hometown of Rome a photography workshop in the pursuit of sharing the knowledge and passion for the photography.
We met with him at 5:30 am for his workshop, in front of Castello San Angelo, on the outskirts of the Vatican City, in the city of Rome, and asked him a few questions….
In your opinion, what is the most important first step in learning photography?
There are few things that are somehow equally important: get yourself a camera you are confident with, read its manual, at least to understand its basic commands, be curious about things around you, learn how to observe, understand what captures your eye… and eventually, your heart, get yourself a good photography class to understand the basics and finally, take those first 10,000 shots.
Is it necessary to own a professional DSLR camera to enjoy your workshop?
Absolutely not. One can go on a tour/workshop also with amateur cameras, or even with their cell phones if they don’t own a DSLRs. For those using cell phones what they will learn is the ability to compose a shot, meaning how to frame the scene they want to photograph. One does not need to have the top of the line gear to take good shots, especially when a beginner. Let’s also not forget that my tours are not only or just photography workshops, they are also beautiful walks through the eternal city. So, there is a lot to enjoy in them: the possibility to be well guided from place to another, the pleasure to have a good conversation with an international photographer and the chance to get true stories of Rome from a real Roman.
What are the most common mistakes beginners make while photographing through Rome?
Usually amateur photographers, beginners, or, simply, tourists photographing Rome go around pointing and shooting, without stopping to truly observe what is the deep beauty of the subject they are photographing; sometimes they do not really know how their camera works, and they struggle with its settings; quite often people go around in the middle of the day, taking photos when the sun is too strong and too vertical, rather than in the golden or blue hour when light is magical.
Rome is a jewel that shines in the right light. If one truly wants to get memorable pictures, the above mistakes are the ones to avoid.
You propose eight different kinds of tours; why eight and what do you expect your clients to learn, see and capture in each one of them?
I offer eight different tours because there is truly a lot to see in Rome, and not just that: in fact, everything can be seen from different perspectives. There is Rome by Day and Rome by Night. For those who want to enjoy streets, squares and monuments with no people around, these tours can be taken very early in the morning or very late at night. There is the street photography tour to capture the unfolding life of Rome. Then you have the food photography tour (combined with cooking classes) and the one focusing on the gorgeous Roman churches and the art inside them. Others could wish to enjoy the “tamed” nature of Villa Borghese, mixed with a great photo-walk to the posh areas around it. Then there is the personalized, tailor-made tour for those who have already seen it all and now want to have a tour based on their very specific desires. Finally, I also provide photo shoots for individuals, couples, families and groups who want to be photographed by a professional during their Roman holidays. So, to answer your question, my clients will be gently taught on how to use their camera properly, they will become confident to shoot in a variety of situations, and they will take photos that, without a professional photo tour, they would not have found the time, the concentration or the easiness to take.
Do you have a personal favourite spot in Rome, at a particular time of day and why?
Here we go with the one million dollars question. Rome has plenty of amazing spots, all equally charming and fascinating, each one with its own history.
This city is a treasure chest filled with unique beauty, so it is very difficult to choose one place over another.
What I can say is that, unless I am around shooting street photography, I love being out in the very early hours (just before sunrise) or deep at night, because at those times I have the feeling Rome is there just to be photographed, undisturbed by traffic noise and by thousands of people roaming around. At these hours Castel Sant’Angelo, Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Saint Peter’s church and the Colosseum are just amazing!
What is your favourite kind of client?
I like giving tours and workshops to everybody, and, naturally, to people from all corners of the world. I truly enjoy exchanging information, experiences and knowledge with them, telling stories about my life experiences and listening to theirs, if they feel like sharing them of course. What I can say is that I came to believe that my tours are not just photography workshops, but they are also good opportunities for my clients and myself as well to spend very pleasant and enriching time while walking through the eternal city. Fortunately, many of the reviews I received are a confirmation of that.
Why Rome, in one sentence?
Because Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the whole world, if not the most beautiful one, and it surely is the only one where 2800 years have layered up, clearly visible and ….. photographable!!!