Caught in the Act, Streets of Siena

One of the techniques I taught in Tuscany was a street photography process known as "shooting from the hip". This is best used when you don't want to bring attention to yourself and lose a candid moment. It's about trying to catch people as they really are, rather than manufacturing a perfect pose.

Amazingly, the city of Siena today is largely the same as it was in the year 1200. Like most of Italy, the streets are very narrow, making car travel inconvenient and parking nearly impossible. As such, an overwhelming number of citizens rely on scooters, vespas, and other two-wheeled modes of transportation to get around.


While walking through town, I saw this stylish woman inside a shop with a helmet under her arm. The scooter was parked just outside, and the texture of the surrounding bricks was just magnificent. I lingered around for a few minutes and didn't see her come out. When I turned back around, she was just about ready to take off. I quickly shot a single frame from the hip with my Canon 40D and 17-40mm lens. Clearly, she knew exactly what I was up to and flashed a terrific expression just oozing with attitude.

Ironically, the whole scene looks staged, almost as if she's part of a commercial shoot. Yet, there were no studio lights, soft-boxes, or tethered laptops. In this historic city filled with so much architectural beauty, this quiet and seemingly unremarkable moment may be the frame I connect with most on a personal level.

Chris Corradino