This image probably gives me more satisfaction than any others I have made. Prior to heading off to Italy for a two-week photographic trip, I checked out guidebooks in our local Library for possible locations. I came across one image of this village near Tuscany and knew immediately I had to photograph it. It is so small and it was difficult to find as on my map it was hidden by the page number! I planned the trip which consisted mainly of Umbrian and Tuscan hill towns with a detour to this village – a cluster of houses with a church, all huddled around a piazza, and set on a rocky outcrop.
When I arrived there one evening, the sky was darkening and distant thunder revealed a storm moving over. As I set up the camera, the atmosphere was literally electric, with lightning flashes over the hills. I had never felt this level of excitement when photographing. There was something ethereal about the whole experience. The following morning, I was back at dawn. The best vantage point was on top of a gatepost to raise the camera level above bushes in front of the tripod. I am pleased nobody passed by – only a madman would be perched on top of a gatepost with a tripod in the dawn light. I spent the morning shooting and then wandered over to the village to look around in the afternoon. An elderly Italian man sold me a crust of ciabatta toasted over his fire and dipped in olive oil for lunch. It was hard to leave; this was by far the highlight of the trip, easily up there with Venice and frankly, more appealing than even the amazing architecture of Florence.
I guess it summed up something about how I view life; seeing the bright, good and simple things amidst the dark or glamorous. I spent many hours on Photoshop to bring the image to the way my mind's eye saw it. An autobiographical image, if such a thing is possible.