Verona Challenge, Anna vs Mirko Face-Off

Creative photographers love play time. We need it. When intense work periods tie up most of our days and nights, it's important that we get out in the sunshine and have fun. So fellow Aperture photographer Mirko and I met in Verona to do just that. It was a great break from our busy schedules, and we always love a challenge. And Verona is always a pleasure to photograph.

Mirko and I hadn't had the time to plan out a specific shoot for our photo date, so we came up with a game. One at a time, we selected seven words with a random word selector (plenty of them online). Then we had five minutes to photograph something that represented that word, each on his own. So we had to be observant and think quickly. We wandered around the city center as we chose the words.

YELLOW – Piazza Bra

In the piazza was a small market of products from various regions of Italy. I was very attracted by the bright colors of candied fruits at the Sicilian stand. In my picture are candied lemons. Yellow was a pretty easy word, and it turned out to be tasty too.

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikkor G-ED 24-70MM F/2.8 @ 24MM - F/4 - 1/8000 - ISO 250

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikkor G-ED 24-70MM F/2.8 @ 24MM - F/4 - 1/8000 - ISO 250

Photographer tip: Always be nice to people and engage in conversation with them. First I asked the guys at the stand about their products, where they were from, if they enjoyed Verona. Then I asked if could photograph their products, and they were happy to let me do so, and even offered me a taste of their treats.

Mirko chose a less obvious path and decided to look at things that weren't at eye level. Upon looking down, he created the symmetrical and geometric photo that you see here.

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55MM - F/5 - 1/320 - ISO 100

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55MM - F/5 - 1/320 - ISO 100

Photographer tip: don't forget to look up, down, sideways, and behind you.

ASCENSION – Piazza dei Signori

This word has many meanings, but Mirko and I both thought of "up". I photographed the staircase in the courtyard of Palazzo della Ragione, looking for interesting geometries.

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikkor G-ED 24-70MM F/2.8 @ 24MM - F/11 - 1/200 - ISO 500

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikkor G-ED 24-70MM F/2.8 @ 24MM - F/11 - 1/200 - ISO 500

Mirko went to the other side of Palazzo della Ragione and found a couple of girls giving out balloons as an advertising gimmick. He placed himself under Torre dei Lamberti and asked one of the girls to let go of a balloon. So he clicked "ascension".

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 18MM - F/6.4 - 1/125 - ISO 100

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 18MM - F/6.4 - 1/125 - ISO 100

Photographer tip: if you imagine it, find a way to do it.

HELP - a small bar behind Piazza dei Signori

After the second round, we both needed to rest our feet and have a Spritz Campari (a typical happy hour drink made of Prosecco, Campari and soda with a slice of orange. It was noon, so happy hour lunch time). As we talked about the difficulty of not being tragic when photographing the word help and how we were going to get creative, Mirko said, indicating the Spritz, "this will help". Then we didn't even need to talk about it anymore.

I took my photo with a macro lens and focused on the colours in the drink. Mirko added some environment to his photo.

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @ F/3.5 - 1/50 - ISO 1000

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @ F/3.5 - 1/50 - ISO 1000

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @23.3MM - F/3.6 - 1/125 - ISO 1000

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @23.3MM - F/3.6 - 1/125 - ISO 1000

Photographer tip: Sometimes you just need to stop for a rest to get a shot. Photography isn't just about clicking away, it's also about enjoying life.

LUCK - Piazzetta Navona

I was lucky enough to stumble upon a lady scratching away at a lottery card, so I didn't have to search much. However I didn't focus on the card, which would have been a bit too obvious, so I included the wedding dress shop behind her, to further illustrate the idea of "luck in life". It was also a nice contrast given the age difference between the lady and the model in the window.

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @  F/16 - 1/200 - ISO 200

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @  F/16 - 1/200 - ISO 200

Photographer tip: Sometimes you need to back away and see how your subject is connected with the surrounding environment.

Mirko had to search a bit more, and piazzetta Navona is quite small, so it wasn't easy. Finally, when the five minutes were almost up, I watched as he snuck up behind a girl and took a picture of her hand. I was perplexed as to how he was portraying luck with that shot, but when he showed it to me I understood. We don't know why she had crossed fingers, but they do indicate hope, and therefore luck in a way.

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @52.7MM - F/4 - 1/125 - ISO 250

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @52.7MM - F/4 - 1/125 - ISO 250

Photographer tip: Sometimes you really have to get up close and scope out the details.

WALK - via Stella

After a few shots of people simply walking Mirko and I were unsatisfied. There were some good compositions, but just people walking was too easy. I took a picture of people using Segways instead of walking because it just seemed perfect and Mirko went for a pretty detail of red shoes. Our other pictures were better photographically speaking, but we preferred these for content.

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @  F/2.8 - 1/500 - ISO 200

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @  F/2.8 - 1/500 - ISO 200

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @55MM - F/8 - 1/320 - ISO 100

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @55MM - F/8 - 1/320 - ISO 100

Photographer tip: Don't settle. Take more pictures if your first ones are just 'ok'.

PUSH – Piazza Bra

What are things that you push? I didn't see any doors or strollers around, but I did see a guy sitting on a rail in front of the Arena. It would be mean, and I actually wouldn't push someone off a railing, but that was the photo that made me giggle.

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @  - F/2.8 - 1/1600 - ISO 200

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8 @  - F/2.8 - 1/1600 - ISO 200

Mirko took a photo of a mailbox because, well, you push letters through the slots.

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF/2.8-4 R LM OIS FUJIFILM X-T@ 18.8 mm f6.4 - 1/250 100 iso

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF/2.8-4 R LM OIS FUJIFILM X-T@ 18.8 mm f6.4 - 1/250 100 iso

Photographer tip: You don't always have to explicitly show your idea in an image, think outside the box.

SURPRISE – Piazza Bra

On a sunny day, Verona center is bustling with people of all kinds, so I searched for something interesting until I found a man that grabbed my attention. What caught my eye was his happy smile. He was looking around and kind of swinging his leg. He seemed like a kid, waiting for something exciting. He then saw the person he was waiting for and hopped over to her and went straight for a kiss. I guess it was no surprise that she was there to meet him, but love is surprising, it grabs you at any time or age.

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8  @ F/3.2 - 1/4000 - ISO 250

Photography: Anna Volpi - Nikon D700 - Nikon Micro 105MM F/2.8  @ F/3.2 - 1/4000 - ISO 250

Mirko also waited to find the right moment. His image wasn't so happy, but it was perhaps more of a surprise than mine. He shot a police officer giving a parking ticket. An unhappy surprise, but that's what it is.

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF/2.8-4 R LM OIS @55MM - F/4 - 1/320 - ISO 100

Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF/2.8-4 R LM OIS @55MM - F/4 - 1/320 - ISO 100

Photography is often like fishing – sometimes you just have to sit back and wait for the right moment.


Anna and Mirko Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF/2.8-4 R LM OIS @27.7 mm - f/3.6 - 1/125 ISO 400

Anna and Mirko
Photography: Mirko Fin - Fujifilm X-T2 - XF18-55mmF/2.8-4 R LM OIS @27.7 mm - f/3.6 - 1/125 ISO 400

Author: Anna Volpi with the assistance of Mirko Fin

When she's not taking pictures, Anna is usually enjoying dinners or having aperitivo with friends. She loves discovering new areas in Italy or going back to places with a crew of models and photographer friends to make magic happen. View more of Anna's work at her website

This article was made with the kind assistance of fellow Aperture Tours photographer Mirko Fin. If you would like to see more of his personal work, head across to www.servlad.com

Mirko and Anna lead photography tours in Milan, Venice and Verona. The sunny season is just around the corner, why not shake up your creativity and stroll around with them?