By Ben Resini
The weight of a professional camera can grow heavy over time. It’s a slippery slope between the benefits of a “dream” profession to eventual burnout and creative standstill. I had spent a decade behind the lens as a full-time wedding photographer and the toll was becoming more apparent as time went on. I had sunk my heart into my business, sacrificing weekends, time with my family, even my health.
So I closed shop and booked a ticket to Rome, promising myself I would never photograph another wedding.
I also told myself I would not pack my camera for the trip. Who was I kidding? I’ve been lucky to spend a fair amount of time in Rome’s various piazzas. As gathering points for friends, lovers and leisurely after-dinner strollers, the piazzas in Rome can offer a much-needed respite from one’s cares and worries.
That’s the “therapy” I sought late one afternoon in Piazza del Popolo. Sometimes taking a back seat to the bustling piazza Venezia or grandeur of piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, known as “People’s Square,” offers a large urban area where the art of observing the everyday in the eternal city is perfected.
As I walked casually around the piazza I began to witness the beauty that encapsulated the area. I decided to reach for my camera, focusing my eye within the confines of the all-too-familiar viewfinder gridlines once again. But this time was different. My camera no longer felt heavy, no longer burdensome, somehow altogether new as I began carefully snapping away.
The Eternal City is a palette of infinite creative possibilities when it comes to photography, in particular street photography, a new avenue of imagery I was instantly captivated by. The fire had returned, along with a new freedom, and Rome was my new canvas.
Photographers are perpetual “seekers of light,” many of us constantly trying to reinvent ourselves the older we get. I found that reinvention that evening in Italy within Piazza del Popolo among the beauty of the everyday.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
- Piazza del Popolo was designed to be the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire.
- It recently served as Rome’s “football village,” welcoming thousands of passionate Azzurri fans during the wildly popular UEFA 2020 EURO tournament.
- If you climb up to the Pincio Hill Gardens, you’ll get a sweeping overview of the piazza, with stunning views of Rome with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background.
- Piazza del Popolo is a pedestrian zone today, but it used to be clogged with traffic and parked cars.
- The center of the square is home to the second-oldest Egyptian obelisk in Rome, known as the Obelisk of Seti I, arriving in Rome in 10 B.C. by order of Augustus.