Photographer Massimo Bassano shares his experience photographing the Traveler story “Lake Como: A Love Story” and capturing an unexpected photo against all weather odds.
It was set to be a long day. Long before the sun rose, I left the hotel in the morning rain. I was looking to follow the normal routine of locals in the area and to find a routine that reminded me of Susan, the protagonist of the story, and [give] a sense of Lake Como as home. As I photographed the story for Traveler, Susan filled my mind, and I wanted to make a picture to capture that feeling.
Someone told me that Lake Como means rain. “During and after” the rain, Paolo Aquilini, the restorer of Villa Carlotta, said, “you can get the real essence of the lake.” Especially the fragrance of the lake, “filled with the flavor and scent of wet leaves that invades everything,” Aquilini told me. With these thoughts on my mind and the awareness that in bad weather it’s possible to make great photographs, I drove along the east side of the lake, looking carefully through the wipers for my photo.
I’m typically a slow driver, watching my rearview mirror; I know that looking back changes the perspective. And it’s in this way that I captured the view behind me. A house covered by the rain, wrapped in green and grey colors, spoke to me about the “real flavor” of the lake.
I stopped the car immediately and walked back to find the view I’d seen through the mirror. I set up a tripod against the wind, which was so strong that it was almost raining horizontally. I didn’t care to dry the lens; the raindrops made the view more natural. When I looked into the lens, I felt I was missing something. The picture felt flat, a monochromatic lake with rain. I like colors that contrast, and just then, a magic moment—my giant red umbrella, lashed by the wind, moved in front the lens, into the composition. And I pressed the button and I said, “Susan, we got it!”
Photographed with a Sony SLT-A99V and a 16-35mm lens, f/22, 1 sec. exposure.
Follow Massimo on Instagram at @massimobassano.