How to Photograph Doors in Venice

I grew up around photography, but I didn’t start to take a serious interest in it until I was about 19. My dad is also a photographer, and I remember a conversation we had back then about creativity in photography. We were in the car, driving to a Cardinals game and he brought up the idea of the photo series - picking an idea or subject matter, some unifying theme, and exploring it through multiple photographs. I guess I had always been aware of the concept, but something about him talking about it turned it from a nebulous thing into a concrete approach to making photographs.

I remember he sort of off-handedly gave the example of doing a series of different, interesting doors. I liked the idea immediately, but I never ended up doing a door series. There are a few different reasons: I was a teenager, exploring a new interest. I didn’t want to just take my father’s idea and run with it. Around that time, I was joining a community of other photo students, and I was often worried that they would see me as spoiled, riding my father’s coattails, entitled, etc. So I probably worried too much about trying to be original and not working on photos unless I could call the ideas 100 percent my own (I think there are some significant problems with this way of thinking for a young photographer).

A couple years after that, I heard about a different photographer doing a series on doors. So I jumped to the conclusion that the idea was a cliche. Not only was it not my idea to begin with, but a total stranger had thought of it as well. It must be an idea that every photographer thinks of at some point. It would make me look like an amateur if I did it. I retreated from the idea even more, and didn’t think about it for years.

My wife and I were in Venice recently for our honeymoon. We absolutely loved the city. The canals were obviously beautiful, but I was also enchanted with the architecture. Every single building I saw was unique and interesting. I started to notice the doors, and I remembered that conversation with my dad. I couldn’t stop myself from photographing them. When I took the pictures, I thought about some of my old pretentions, and how I didn’t care about them anymore. The idea that other people have taken pictures of doors before doesn’t bother me at all. Everyone has done everything before, and no two people have done the same thing. There are no “same things”. The idea that I am taking a thought from my father and actualizing it has become precious to me. It is something I would like to do every day, if I could. And, of course, I will always associate these photos with our honeymoon. So I think these doors will always feel like growing love to me, past, present, and future.

Or maybe I was just waiting for the right doors.

Full series here: Venice Doors

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