Travel Photography – Shooting the Venice Carnival


It’s almost as if Venice was built to be photographed and there’s no better time than the Venice Carnival. Follow these 6 simple tips and you’ll end up with some fantastic shots.

1. Pre-visualise your shot

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Being able to compose your shot in your mind is one of the best ways to making your images better. I had an idea before I even arrived in Venice that I wanted to shoot an image with this composition – a masked person looking at the camera through the mirror. I tried over several days to create this image using different models and finally captured this moment. So think ahead and try to compose your shot before you even lift your camera and your end result will be far more impressive.

2. Direct your model

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The wonderful thing about the Venice Carnival is that it’s like being in a giant studio because you have a host of ready and willing models who will pose for your images. But rather than just snapping away, try to direct them to where you want them in order to obtain the perfect shot. For this photo I moved the woman away from the window on the right so that the shot would be balanced. Don’t worry if you don’t speak their language, usually a smile and hand movements does the trick.

3. Look beyond the obvious

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It might sound obvious, but to make your images stand out you need to look at new ways of capturing popular places or objects. I started taking shots of a performer on a podium and realised that the composition looked ordinary, at which point I saw someone taking a picture of the performer on his phone. It took several attempts to time the shot correctly so that it was in focus but what I got was a much more interesting image than if I was to take a shot of just the performer on this podium.

4. Get up close

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With all that colour and detail in the costumes, why waste any space showing the background? Photography allows us to really zoom in and capture details which we wouldn’t normally see. You’ll need a telephoto lens, but then you can zoom in and let the subject fill the entire frame and you’ll end up with a beautifully colourful image. Just make sure that the eyes are in focus and look sharp otherwise your image will look soft and unappealing.

5. Be patient

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Unfortunately sometimes there’s no way around this. To get a great travel shot you need to allow yourself enough time to often revisit the same place again and again. I had walked past these two women numerous times over the course of the afternoon but the direction of the light was never right. They were in shadow the first few times I saw them and I wanted to frame them using the shadow cast from the arch of the columns. By late afternoon the light was just in the right place to get the perfect shot.

6. Head to the backstreets

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Remember that there is more to Venice than St. Marks Square. During the Carnival there are celebrations everywhere, so head to the quieter backstreets to capture an alternative to the masks and costumes around the busy, famous landmarks. I was heading back from the Jewish Quarter when I heard music and dancing in one of the squares where I got some fantastic and alternative shots.

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Kav Dadfar is a professional travel and landscape photographer based in London. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising but loved nothing more than photography and traveling. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty, Axiom Photographic, and Alamy and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, Lonely Planet, American Express, and many others.

Some Older Comments

  • Ian July 21, 2012 07:42 am

    Interesting article gave me a lot of thought in Venice there's was a lot happening and plenty to photograph.
    Some lovely compositions in your article well thought out has given me lots of thought . I have posted some images on flickr of photos I took in Venice.


  • Stefano July 20, 2012 09:58 pm

    A couple of shots of the Venice Carnival:

    Next time I'll try to follow your suggestions

  • Elizabeth July 20, 2012 10:37 am

    Great article. I would love to go one day, looks like so much fun! Thanks!

  • Scottc July 20, 2012 08:21 am

    Great photos, I've got some old P&S photos of Carnivale that I really need to find and get on line.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck July 20, 2012 05:45 am


    Great article to keep in mind next time I happen to be passing through Venice! In the mean time, all I have is the American equivalent of the Carnival...the State Fair. Although not quite as exotic, these places offer a bountiful selection of cool things to shoot and the colors of the rides are great for some slow shutter speed action! here is one of a Ferris Wheel, probably the most common of these types of images, but great to experiment on!

  • raghavendra July 20, 2012 03:00 am

    You have a voice in your writings
    that is appreciable!

  • Steve July 20, 2012 01:45 am

    I found Italians to be very photogenic and willing subjects. I agree with all the article has said and would add do not forget Italians just being Italians:

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