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Mask Carnival in Venice 2010

Yes, I have been to Venice several times before. Having lived in Europe for many years, it was fairly easy to do. In addition, between 1979 and 1982, I spent several months in Priabona, a small village in Northern Italy, which is within striking distance from Venice, to complete my fieldwork but it was never during carnival days. Of course, I heard and read a lot about those beautiful, colorful, exotic costumes and most importantly, about those mysterious masks. There is no shortage of carnival images on this and other image databases. About 3 years ago, I considered going to Venice for the first time but that plan was not put in motion. However, when I viewed beautiful images from last year, I decided to put a definite plan together and we finally did it.

I contacted Silvano Candeo, a great photographer from Padova that has been photographing carnivals in Venice for many years. Although I never met Silvano previously, he was very helpful in providing information on our stay there. He was even more so in person and he gave me tips on location, timing and what to expect, etc. My appreciation goes to Silvano. While there, I also met other photographers, Joe Marquez and his family from Hawaii, who was there last year and other Italian photography enthusiasts, the group Il pokerd'assi (Alessia, Bianca, Marina and Monica) and Christian from France. Of course, Silvano, being a passionate photographer himself, was very active. On and off for three wonderful days, we captured images of people in masks together.

Carnival is a festival traditionally held in Roman Catholic countries. The festivities last for about ten days; it starts on Saturday and ends on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The official festival, for the most part is staged at Piazza San Marco but it is not about party, excessive consumption of alcohol and dancing on the street, unlike some other popular carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro or Mardi Gras. Those festivities are interesting alright but from photographic point of view are of less value. For the most part, we didn't even bother with them. Masks are the main feature of the Venetian carnivals. They can be made out of leather or of formed layers of paper layered with textile and mixed with paste. The original masks were rather simple in design and decoration. Nowadays, most of them are fancily hand-painted, embossed/ornamented and decorated with natural feathers and gems.

Who are these people behind the masks? Most of them are diehard enthusiasts from all over Western Europe although France seems to have the largest contingent, followed by participants from Italy and Germany. They work hard on designing and crafting the outfit and masks. Some really diehards have more than just one outfit. They changed their mask and outfit almost on a daily basis throughout the week. The total outfit was so intricate and detailed that it would not surprise me when I found out that each would take two months to complete. My hats are off to those diehards! It is simply amazing to see that they can change their appearance so dramatically. Your age, your facial features and to a certain degree, even you gender will be hidden. Behind those masks and costumes, you can be whatever you want to be, from bizarre and monster-like to elegant and beautiful. Not a single time, do they reveal their real face behind the mask and you just have to use your imagination. I couldn't stay to witness the entire wonderful event since my stay was limited to only the first three days. Well, there is always next year to look forward to....

At sunrise or shortly before sunrise a group of dedicated masks gather near the water front at San Marco. The weather cooperated for the first two days. Yes, it was cold but both sunrise and sunset were spectacular. When more and more crowd started to assemble, a group of masks and photographers moved quietly to a different location further inside the "labyrinth" of Venice to get away from the crowd. The "program" was flexible and communicated right there and then on the spot. Other popular shooting locations that I visited included, Santa Maria Formosa, Arsenale, San Giorgio and Burano or just about anywhere else less crowded.

The masks love their pictures being taken and you can ask them to pose as you please. In return, they would like you to send their images to them. Most masks are well prepared; they give you cards that show them in their masks and costumes. However, I managed to miss some of them since it could be quite hectic. If you happen to know the masks that I didn't identify on the images below, or if I misidentified some masks, please let me know. I would be more than happy to send some of their images to them.

Thank you for visiting this gallery. I hope you enjoy my very first images of this wonderful, colorful, photogenic and yet mysterious world of masks. Your comments are greatly appreciated. The last image on the bottom of this gallery provides a link to some grabshots.

Renate
Renate
Joelle at Lamp Post
Joelle at Lamp Post
Florine in Front of Palazzo Ducale
Florine in Front of Palazzo Ducale
Red-Blue Mask at Waterfront
Red-Blue Mask at Waterfront
Renate at Waterfront
Renate at Waterfront
Colette at Waterfront
Colette at Waterfront
Marie-Louise (Loulou) at Waterfront
Marie-Louise (Loulou) at Waterfront
Masks Couple at Waterfront
Masks Couple at Waterfront
A Surprise Look of Colette
A Surprise Look of Colette
Aaah, Finally Some Eyes...
Aaah, Finally Some Eyes...
Colette
Colette
Pierre and Marie-Paule
Pierre and Marie-Paule
Group of Masks at Waterfront
Group of Masks at Waterfront
Red and White Mask at Palazzo Ducale
Red and White Mask at Palazzo Ducale
Joelle in Orange at Palazzo Ducale
Joelle in Orange at Palazzo Ducale
Peggy and David
Peggy and David
Laura at Waterfront
Laura at Waterfront
Gerard and Leather Mask
Gerard and Leather Mask
Anna - the Princess in Red
Anna - the Princess in Red
Anna - Princess in Red
Anna - Princess in Red
Anna at Bridge Railing
Anna at Bridge Railing
Anna - Low Key
Anna - Low Key
Backlit Principessa in Rosso
Backlit Principessa in Rosso
Arnaldo
Arnaldo
Arnaldo and Laura
Arnaldo and Laura
Laura
Laura
Laura Along Canal and a Passing Gondola
Laura Along Canal and a Passing Gondola
Laura Along a Canal
Laura Along a Canal
Laura and a Future Mask
Laura and a Future Mask
Solange
Solange
Colorful Mask at Sunrise
Colorful Mask at Sunrise
Loulou as Moon Mask at Sunrise
Loulou as Moon Mask at Sunrise
Solange at Sunrise
Solange at Sunrise
Diana at Sunrise
Diana at Sunrise
Two Blue Masks at Sunrise
Two Blue Masks at Sunrise
Florine at Sunrise
Florine at Sunrise
Muriel at Palazza Ducale
Muriel at Palazza Ducale
Backlit Muriel at Sunrise
Backlit Muriel at Sunrise
Florine and Muriel in Mirror
Florine and Muriel in Mirror
Christophe at Waterfront
Christophe at Waterfront
Silver Masks Couple
Silver Masks Couple
Anna At a Market
Anna At a Market
Anna Along a Canal
Anna Along a Canal
Alain
Alain
Anna
Anna
Jeannette and Pierre-Edouard
Jeannette and Pierre-Edouard
Jeannette and Pierre-Edouard
Jeannette and Pierre-Edouard
Dan and Violaine
Dan and Violaine
Two Masks Couple
Two Masks Couple
Anna in High-Key
Anna in High-Key
Anna Along a Canal
Anna Along a Canal
Elise and Matching Mask
Elise and Matching Mask
Tie Masks at Plazza Ducale
Tie Masks at Plazza Ducale
Muriel and Solange
Muriel and Solange
Eve Along the Way to Arsenale
Eve Along the Way to Arsenale
Eve
Eve
Eve Near Arsenale
Eve Near Arsenale
Backlit Patrice
Backlit Patrice
Suzel and Daniel
Suzel and Daniel
Sandrine and Lea
Sandrine and Lea
Marion
Marion
Marion and Florie
Marion and Florie
Amélie
Amélie
Estelle
Estelle
Colorful Mask Looking at Colorful Flowers
Colorful Mask Looking at Colorful Flowers
Masks Couple
Masks Couple
Backlit Purple Mask
Backlit Purple Mask
Elise and Matching Mask
Elise and Matching Mask
Marion and Amélie on a Bridge
Marion and Amélie on a Bridge
A Gazing Mask
A Gazing Mask
Mask Couple on a Ledge
Mask Couple on a Ledge
Two Masks
Two Masks
Giusy and Two Colorful Masks
Giusy and Two Colorful Masks
Myriam and Patrice
Myriam and Patrice
Anna
Anna
Sandrine and Lea
Sandrine and Lea
Peggy and Another Similar Mask at Sunset
Peggy and Another Similar Mask at Sunset
Jocelyne and Alain
Jocelyne and Alain
Anna
Anna
Anna
Anna
Anna
Anna
Backlit Patrice
Backlit Patrice
Myriam
Myriam
Closeup of Anna
Closeup of Anna
Sun Mask at Sunset
Sun Mask at Sunset
Peggy at Sunset
Peggy at Sunset
Mask at Sunset
Mask at Sunset
Mask at Sunset
Mask at Sunset
Sandrine and Lea at Sunset
Sandrine and Lea at Sunset
Delphine at Sunset
Delphine at Sunset
Red Mask After Sunset
Red Mask After Sunset
Two Masks
Two Masks
Florine
Florine
Alain
Alain
Francoise
Francoise
Solange
Solange
Family of Masks
Family of Masks
Solange
Solange
Closeup of Florine
Closeup of Florine
Gerard
Gerard
Jeanne on a Bridge
Jeanne on a Bridge
Josselyne
Josselyne
Peggy and David
Peggy and David
Peggy's Secondary Mask
Peggy's Secondary Mask
Patrice
Patrice
Monique and Pierre
Monique and Pierre
Marie Helene
Marie Helene
Solange
Solange
Solange
Solange
Myriam and Patrice
Myriam and Patrice
Framed Elegant Mask
"Framed" Elegant Mask
Pink & Green Mask
Pink & Green Mask
Florine in Burano
Florine in Burano
Jocelyne and Alain
Jocelyne and Alain
Nathalie
Nathalie
Jeannette and Pierre-Edouard
Jeannette and Pierre-Edouard
Florine at Canal
Florine at Canal
Florine at Canal
Florine at Canal
Look at Those Wonderful Eyes - Joelle Wattre
Look at Those Wonderful Eyes - Joelle Wattre
Grabshots and Behind the Scenes
:: Grabshots and Behind the Scenes ::