I am meeting Katie Currid in the heart of Vicenza’s old town. After a blindingly hot weekend and a super early Monday morning start I am feeling decidedly lacklustre.
Katie comes down the street full of energy, with a big engaging smile and wearing a pretty pastel dress with matching manicure which I rather like. Like me, she has also had an early start, but you will be hard pressed to guess it.
Hmm… I am definitely having what she is.
Which turns out to be caffe shakerato – Italian iced coffee. We have taken refuge in an air conditioned coffee shop just opposite Pigafetta’s house – one of Vicenza’s most illustrious sons and, in modern terms, the first travel blogger to circumnavigate the world.
Our coffees arrive at the table in tall elegant glasses. We take little sips of the potent drink and launch into the type of chat you usually have with someone you really want to become best friends with.
Katie is a trained photojournalist and a blogger whose photos and writing I have been following online for months. Hailing from the US, she currently lives in Italy. I love looking through her pictures on Instagram and on her blog – Freckle & Fair – which she co-authors with a friend.
Her slightly muted photographic palette gives her pictures a dreamlike quality. They are just the type of images I would surround myself with to help transport me into a beautiful parallel world.
At the same time I admire Katie’s ability to capture the moment by pressing the shutter right when the action is happening and thus documenting the most dynamic and sometimes even humorous glimpses of life.
So, when I decided to start a new series of posts on my blog, the first person I thought I should interview for the inaugural article, was indeed Katie.
Italy Through The Eyes Of… aims to be an exploration of the connection people from different countries and different walks of life establish with the bel paese. With its picturesque towns and villages, lush countryside, rich history and amazing food, Italy inspires uniquely every person whom it touches upon.
After living here for over nine months now, I realised that I would like to talk in person or online to other people who are creating their own story with Italy and learn what inspires them and motivates them in their relationship with it.
Katie kindly accepted my invitation to help me bring Italy Through The Eyes Of… to life.
In our easy-flowing conversation we cover several topics: language learning (Katie is working hard on her Italian), her memories of Denmark (where she had spent a semester as a college student), flavoured coffees, favourite shops, blogging aspirations, travelling, even Shakespearean theatre.
When the conversation turns to our main topic – Italy – this is what Katie has to say.
Rossi: Hi Katie, thank you for agreeing to be the first person featured in my new blog series Italy Through The Eyes Of… First things first, so, please, could you introduce yourself?
Katie:I’m Katie Currid. I worked as a photojournalist in the United States for various newspapers in different areas of the country. Now, I’m part lifestyle blogger, part lady-who-lunches and part wanderlust dreamer. I apply my documentary background to things I photograph nowadays, which is whatever I fancy — food, travel destinations, portraits, cultural exchanges, what have you.
I’m originally from the Midwestern United States and therefore have an unhealthy obsession with peanut butter, and I also enjoy a good trivia night, board game match-up and pretending to be annoyed with my cat, Teddy Roosevelt.
Rossi: How do you see Italy through your camera’s lens?
Katie:As a documentary photographer from a foreign country, I’m most drawn to what I’m not used to. I love going to festivals and seeing new foods or events, and I’m also really into agriculture and how food is produced. I am drawn to bold colors, beautiful outfits and historic details — which abound in Italy. My favorite place I recently photographed would be the island of Burano near Venice, which is covered in bright colors and beautiful doorsteps.
One of the more hilarious cultural exchanges that my husband and I enjoyed was going to and photographing a “country Western” night in an Italian village, which was supposed to look like an old American Western town. They had wooden façades of saloons, jail cells, and even a Wells Fargo. The Italians all dressed up in their cowboy boots, jeans and cowboy hats, but were still walking around with their man purses and greeting each other with two kisses. It was really interesting to see our own culture reappropriated and that people were having so much fun with it.
Rossi: How is Italy different from any other places you have photographed?
Katie: The Italians birthed the Renaissance, and with it, the lighting technique chiaroscuro, literally meaning “light-dark” in Italian. Maybe I’m crazy, but I do feel like a lot of places I go in Italy have that beautiful, soft, fall-off type of light that is common in Renaissance paintings. Maybe that’s how it caught on? But I can’t get over it and it’s so nice to go to so many places with beautiful light.
Also, people here, especially the elders, just dress impeccably and they make for wonderful props in beautiful city scenes. It makes it hard to tell what era the photo was taken, which I love.
Rossi: What advice would you like to give to people trying to capture Italy with a camera in hand?
Katie:I think the trick is to just slow down. People here move slowly, and I often believe that one of the best ways to capture a place is to emulate its people — take a long lunch, chat a while, greet people and stare. Honestly, an aperol spritz wouldn’t hurt, either.
Rossi: Finally, please, share with me the five things which you adore photographing here in Italy.
Katie: 1. Fashionable older men and women in Italy: The elder population in Italy dresses impeccably. Whether they’re just out for lunch, heading to church or riding their bike to the market, they’re dressed better than most Americans going to work.
2. The markets: I am constantly fascinated by the different ways food is bought and sold here. I remember going to the supermarket for the first time and being so impressed by their deli and bakery counters – if it had been in America, it would’ve been a very upscale place! And the fresh air markets are so lively and fun. It’s hard not to find inspiration there.
3. Windows: You can’t go wrong with a good window scene in Italy. People here have gorgeous, well cared for gardens, and the delicate flowers set against brightly colored weather shutters always catch my eye.
4. Fresh flowers: Just ask my husband, but anytime we’re at a market or near a flower shop, I stop and fawn over whatever is in season, remarking at how beautiful the flowers are, probably snapping an Instagram and debating whether I want to take them home (where I would have to battle my cat, who eats anything beautiful that I bring into the house). Fresh flowers seem to be on display here much more than in America, and I still haven’t gotten over them.
5. New cities: This is a no brainer, but I love going to new places and taking in fresh inspiration. Every region is so distinct in Italy that driving just an hour away will put you in what feels like a brand new country. It’s always helpful for creativity and perspective.
Thank you so much, Katie, for your insight into Italy and the wonderful images you kindly shared with us!