Faces of the Venice Fish Market

Octopus, Italywise

Piovra – © Jed Smith 2017

Last Thursday we packed a small overnight bag, and took the twenty-five minute train ride from Treviso to Venice’s Santa Lucia train station. We’d found a great last minute deal at the Palazzetto Madonna, a fairly new four-star hotel in San Polo.  We found it on hotels.com, our new favorite source for accommodations worldwide. I’d been wanting, for several weeks, to give myself a photo assignment at Venice’s fish market, called La Pescheria di Rialto since it’s at the northwest corner of the Rialto bridge.

Faces richly etched with character abound at the Venice fish market.

As I write this, I realize what an understatement it is. I hit the jackpot of photo opps. I hope you’ll agree as you see just four of my favorite images taken during this recent excursion.

Simone and I were out of bed before sunrise, and it was pretty damn cold. But, it promised to be a clear day, and an ideal setting for early morning light. When we arrived around 7:15 a.m. the market was pretty sparsely populated – save a few well-bundled customers determined to beat out other customers for the best the fish the market had to offer. The offerings were beautiful and plentiful. Simone, who is an accomplished chef when it comes to choosing and cooking seafood, remarked several times that the quality and prices were hard to beat.

Scampi, Italywise

Scampi – © Jed Smith 2017

And, lucky me, I was invited behind the counter.

The guys who work at the fish market are no strangers to cameras and photographers (amateurs and professionals) lurking behind every corner. They’re relaxed, and they’re definitely not shy.

The Friday morning light had just come up enough for me to begin working with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. It was paired with my Canon 5d Mark III body. This is a great combo in lower light, though I had to crank up the ISO a bit. When I whip out this sizable lens, it’s hard not to be noticed. When I started shooting (mostly from the shadows) the gentlemen above in Scampi approached me, asked me if I spoke Italian, and then invited me behind the counter to capture them, more intimately, hard at work. There were several men at this particular counter, and they couldn’t have been more accommodating.

Fresh fish, Italywise

Pesce Fresche – © Jed Smith 2017

As the morning progressed, and as I wondered around, exploring the plentiful angles and different stories unfolding, several other people materialized with their cameras. Watching how everyone worked, and what they zeroed in on was fascinating. The funniest thing, to me, was how each person quickly would size-up one each other’s equipment. And, several times, after I had framed up a shot, taken several images, and then moved away, someone else would step into “my” spot to see what I might have been seeing. I can’t say I blame them, because I’d probably do the same. Ultimately, everyone is attracted to something different, and that’s when I get really excited – seeing how different eyes experience the same scene.

One of these days I’d love to host a small photo workshop…

I’d love to head out, with four or five people, and spend a day in Venice experiencing three or four distinctly different areas – starting the with fish market. Hmmm….something to think about. Let me know if any of you think it’s a good idea, and maybe I’ll put something together!

Well, that’s the story for this week’s post. I hope you’ve enjoyed stepping behind my camera with me and seeing the scenes and faces that speak to me!

Morning Cigarette, Italywise

Morning Cigarette – © Jed Smith 2017

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By |2017-01-24T11:49:33+01:00January 24th, 2017|Photography Posts|21 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. royane January 25, 2017 at 2:19 am - Reply

    This posting and photos are just fabulous Jed…and good idea to take a little group around to learn from you and to share Venice with you. Thanks for this posting.

    • Jed January 25, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Glad you like Royane! Perhaps, if I take a group around, I can do a post sharing the different perspectives!

  2. Tom Fong January 25, 2017 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Awesome! My favorite is the man carrying the octopus. Love the lighting. I can smell the fish market just looking at the photo/s. You have a great eye Jed.

    • Jed January 25, 2017 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Mine, too, Tom. I’m so glad you were “transported” to the scene. Come visit and we’ll go take photos together!

  3. Nancy January 24, 2017 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    What a gift these folks gave you to generously invite you into their world. And, you returned their kindness with sensitive, beautiful images of their hard work. Of course, a workshop is a great idea. I am confident the “teaching” gene is in your DNA.

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Nancy! I’d love to know that my mom passed onto me the ability to help people see the possibilities in creative expression. Maybe a workshop will indeed come about!

  4. Rae Pfundt January 24, 2017 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the trip to the market 🙂 Great shots, absolutely capture the moment(s)

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Grazie Rae! I love these chances to take the viewer behind the scenes!

  5. Mark January 24, 2017 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Loved Pesce freche

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      Thank you my friend! That man was a marvel to watch – not only how he handled the fish, but how he worked with customers!

  6. Kit Williams January 24, 2017 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Jed,
    Your photos take me right there…
    A workshop is a wonderful idea, I’d be happy to assist!
    Actually planning a late Fall trip & would love to run some thoughts by you.

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      Well, I hope to take you “right there” in person – soon! I owe you an email – so look to hear from me in the next day or so!

  7. Linda Dini Jenkins January 24, 2017 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Wonderful, as always, Jed. I’ll have 9 or 11 people (final # TBD) in Venice in October. Maybe I can offer a half-day photog option? Let’s talk!! Linda

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda! Yes, let’s talk. Would love to explore this possibility with you and people from your group! Jed

      • Kathy Freise January 24, 2017 at 7:38 pm - Reply

        Linda, I like that idea a lot.

  8. elizabeth wholey January 24, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Again, everyone has his or her own perspective. In your workshop it will be interesting to see how different people treat the same subject.

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      Elizabeth, you know this so well, being a fellow artist, and graphic designer. Would love the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of perspectives! Baci!

  9. gloria January 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Wow, great shots. Capturing the moment and light is an understatement. You are very good behind the camera. The commentary, of course, adds so much more, letting us into the head of the artist. Wonderful. Don’t think you’d have any trouble doing a workshop there. I think people would be interested. Go for it.

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Gloria, I’m glad you like the images – many more to come!

  10. Jill January 24, 2017 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    I love fish markets, have photos from all over the world. But unlike you, my focus is not on the human element. The stars of the show for me are definitely the fish. x Wish I could post some photos

    • Jed January 24, 2017 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Jill, I’d love to see your photos, and help you start posting them! Jed

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