Gondolas and Gondoliers
What makes me mad is arrogance, pretension, putting on airs.
- David Duchovny
Venice, gondolas, and gondoliers. Does anyone ever think of Venice without picturing gondoliers gracefully guiding their passengers through the canals? Probably not and most photographs of Venice portray gondolas and gondoliers.
In this 'people section' of our blog, I typically try to have a portrait of someone along with a bit of interesting information about them gained through a short conversation. While this is not always possible, I definitely was not able to do this with the gondoliers in Venice. I approached a few of them at different times and was met with an interesting response. I cannot speak for every gondolier for it would have been impossible to ask each one of them, but the ones I approached were not friendly, impolite, and seemed to have a very high opinion of themselves.
The charge for a ride in a gondola was 90 euros while we were there (which I could not afford nor was I interested in doing...not my thing), and it didn't matter for that is not the type of portrait I wanted. I was interested in an environmental portrait of one of the gondoliers as they sat in their chairs in front of the canal (while on break) and then a short conversation, less than 3 minutes. I was courteous and only approached them when there were no tourists anywhere around looking for a gondola ride. Their typical response was either to look at me and not respond (this was not because they didn't speak english for I could hear them at other times dealing with customers), or turn away to the side without responding, and one gondolier said he wanted 100 euros (more than the charge for a gondola ride) to ask him one question and no portrait would be allowed. He then swiftly turned his head to the side as if to dismiss me. I think that's the first time I've spontaneously laughed out loud and walked away from someone. I didn't say a word in reply. What was there to say and why respond? An ego that large cannot hear anything you say.
Fortunately, I had already taken street-photography-style photographs of gondoliers and gondolas in the canals and those are what I have to share here. They are my favorite photos from Venice. No interviews or information to share about their job and life; no personal portraits of anyone for you but I did have fun trying to get a creative and interesting view that wasn't a repeat of all the other gondola/gondolier photos you see out there. I hope you enjoy them.