A Venetian with an eye for beauty, Johann DePietri captures that magic in his images which he shares with the world on Instagram @depietrijojo. He is one of our favourite Instagrammers at Baglionihotels on Instagram. So we asked him to share some of his images of Venice and Instagram secrets in this exclusive interview with Italian Talks.
If you are addicted to Instagram and wish to pick up some great tips read on…
Many of your photos feature reflections and water, and you’ve used the term “puddlegrams” with some of these. Can you share how you came up with this original concept?
I think it’s a natural extension of having been born & raised in Venice. Being in contact with the water 24/7 I’ve always been fascinated by the many reflections it creates in its canals and especially the games of colors & patterns the water flow generates when there are waves and currents (see image below).
Also, when there are high tides (“acqua alta” in Italian), you literally get to “walk on the water” and therefore, by looking ahead of you it’s extremely common to catch a beautiful reflection of a building, church or similar. What I find exceptional is that many times, in my shots, the reflection actually looks crisper and more saturated in tones than the actual “real” subject.
Oh and, I wasn’t of course the inventor of the term/hashtag “puddlegrams.” There are a lot of people in the Instagram community that share my fascination with water reflections and reflections in general. In particular, amongst the “Igers” that I like the most and that definitely inspire my style are @rastelling & @geidiemme. Check them out!
If I have to find a niche in the reflection spectrum in which I’m specializing and trying to create my signature style it is the “water level shots” I take in the canals (see below). Careful with these.. high risk of getting your camera wet or even falling into the canals!
I am self-taught. I’m an avid blog reader so I try to stay updated and learn new tricks by reading some photography-related feeds.
Do you have any tips for capturing the perfect street scene?
Definitely yes! Here are 3 ingredients I recommend using: patience, awareness & foreseeability. Here’s why:
You need patience because it takes time to take an interesting shot. You may need to take quite a few shots from the same exact spot in order to get the desired result. For example, if you are trying to photograph a water splash, arm yourself with loads of patience as most shots will look just awful (weak splash, way too strong splash, wet camera etc.).
Awareness & foreseeability: I think these two abilities go hand in hand. You need to be aware of your surroundings in order to be able to take an interesting photograph (e.g. Notice the interesting looking gentleman that is walking behind you? Wow, he’ll definitely look good in a shot).
At the same time, try to foresee what the next action in a situation will be in order to shoot at the right time (OK, the gentleman will probably need to stride over that puddle in order to get back onto his path. Let me wait here – patience – and try to shoot him when he walks over the puddle … Image below).
You use quite a few hashtags for your Venice photos. How do you determine which ones are most useful?
Yes I do use quite a few hastags *blush* . Hashtags are useful for mainly two reasons:
- By using a hashtag your picture will appear in that hashtag “feed” and if it gets lots of likes. it’ll be amongst the “most popular”; if the hashtag is widely used and it features amongst the most popular it’s guaranteed that your shot will get great visibility (and many more likes & follows.. hooray!).
- Perhaps a more important reason that is less well-known: many times a hashtag corresponds an “aggregator account.” These accounts carefully go through the shots that include their hashtag (if your shot is amongst the “most-popular” it is a plus). They then feature your shots on their account with your credits. Some of these accounts are huge (see @beautifuldestinations, 7.1 million followers, for example), so the visibility that you’ll get with the credits on some of these “aggregator” accounts is astounding.
The choice of the hashtags therefore is influenced by the two factors above, but I always pick hashtags that are relevant with the content of my picture.
Water seems to be a common theme in your images of Venice, and appropriately so. You seem to always manage to find a unique shooting perspective, as opposed to typical touristy photos. This talent is what makes your shots so appealing. How did your experience growing up in Venice contribute to the “eye” for the scene?
Great question. My growing up in Venice has in fact enormously contributed to the choice of my “unusual” spots and subjects and for a simple reason. I often associate vivid memories to an apparently hidden, casual spot I’m shooting. It could be the street I would walk everyday to go to school (even in cold humid, foggy and wet winter days). It could be the “campo” (square) where my friends and I would play soccer when we were young, or it could be the bridge where we would sit and talk for hours about nothing in particular.
But my sweetest memories relate to when I was with family and friends and we’d take the boat and start cruising across Venice’s small canals and then into the lagoon. Long exciting days spent out on the Venetian waters, eating in remote islands in the lagoon, picking up clams in shallow spots and diving into the “canals” that link the lagoon to the Adriatic sea, where the water is fresher.
No doubt that these memories positively affected my dearest photo theme: the water.
Finally Johann, would you are to reveal to Italian Talks’ readers your favourite secret corner of Venice?
I have many favorite secret spots, but recently, I have become very fond of a spot I “discovered” because of the exploring that Instagram and photography incentivizes me to do around my city. It’s the canals that sit right behind the Fenice Theatre in Venice.
I love the lights, the water reflections that the building creates and the fact that there are always gondolas passing by!
Feel free to DM @depietrijojo on Instagram and I’ll give directions on how to get there
Italian Talks shares photos of Italy lovers like Johann via @Baglionihotels on Instagram. Follow us and share your love of Italy on Instagram!