The days before the Palio of 2 July 2020
ALESSIA BRUCHI AND HER BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE PALIO: the colours, the shivers and the sweat of the shutters on the tuff
The Palio and what surrounds it is a world conjugated, by nature, at the masculine. It is made of an epic and impetuous aesthetics, of visceral and hot blooded passions which often result into expression of power, pride and a sense of belonging to a community. This may be the proof of a never forgotten ancient reminiscence of proud and invincible warriors. This complexity could be defined as a “masculine way of belonging to Siena”, a way of being which does not accept any compromise. Because in the Palio, as in life, if you come second, you are a looser.
The same thing happens when you are a Palio photographer. This is an almost-only-for-men world which is slightly sceptical towards the incisiveness of a feminine lens. In this world, a woman may be considered “not tough enough” to tell the growing epic of the three days preceding the Palio. A very long day charged with anxiety and emotions which starts, for the photographers, at six o’clock in the morning with the “Mass of the jockey” in an almost empty Piazza del Campo, it continues with the “provaccia” (the last trial) and the historical parade under the early afternoon sun, the race and finally the rejoicing of the winning Contrada. Perhaps the most demanding and physically wearing moment of the whole endless 96 hours of the Palio.
Actually, at the end of the race there is no justification, no time to change the lens nor to set again the camera, because when you are there, in the middle, you risk to be run over by people. At the end of the race, you must indisputably be ready. You have to be a sort of “battering ram in the Square” which means that you’ve got to have that typically masculine strength to keep your feet on the ground, trying not to be run over by people by waving together with the impetuous river of the winning people. When the fire-cracker bursts, the winners pour into the track running towards the horse and the Judges bleacher, two steps far from you, and continuing their way towards the church of Provenzano or towards the Dome. I assure you that it is not easy for a woman.
Nevertheless, to me this is the most beautiful challenge and it is a shiver which runs down my spine all the times. Pure adrenaline. The passion, the impetuousness, the emotions engraved on people’s faces ; the tears, the joy, the sweat and the smell of life, everything in a few shutters. They become unique as a result of this clear clash between the masculine impetuousness of the Palio and my well-rounded sensitivity shown through a feminine lens. And all this is probably more intimate and subtle than a masculine perspective. Excited shutters, often faulty, but dense and hot blooded. Laborious shutters, but unrepeatable ; shutters that, once at home, make me feel proud of the job I took : portraits and tales of the Palio which hold the spirit of Siena.
THE PALIO IN TECHNICOLOR
Generally, my photography of Palio favours the colour, the clear clashes, strong colours and recurring backlight. They impress on the photo a further degree of drama and spectacularity. In this kind of photography, post-production is reduced at the very least, because I do my best in order that my photos are already full of emotions and spectacular when I take them. I look after them almost in a maniacal way. Furthermore, my images of the Palio are generally very choral, always focused on the totality of the event that is interpreted as something extremely shared and of a wider scope. This is why I use a lot the wide-angle lenses, using a fix and not fix focal with a high F-number that ranges from 14mm f/2.8 and 14-24mm f/2.8, 17-35mm f/2.8 to the high versatile 24-70mm, always f/2.8.
This is because I believe that every kind of photography has already got in itself its own nature, with the exception of some shutters which, in my opinion, are better expressed in black and white. The photo feature of the Palio cannot be but in colour, because colour is the very heart of the Palio, the most important element. A colourless Palio would lose most of its intimate meaning. The Palio is an explosion of colours, of hot blooded passion mixed with heart and adrenaline. Something which is obviously hard to portray, above all for a woman who, at the end of the race, has to try to be up against the overflow river of the winning people who run all together towards the same direction. A touching and exciting situation where you have to know exactly how to move, what to do or not to do in order not to be run over by people, trying at the same time to shoot closely the emotions and the joy. So close that your sweating gets mixed up with the tears and the pride of the celebrating people of Siena. A touching photography, where the technique is surely important, but your heart and your soul will take over.
Born in Siena on November 1977, photojournalist, graduated in Communication and holding a Master in Marketing. Passionate contradaiola. She is deeply involved in photo feature photography, she cooperates at present with several local and national news headlines as a photojournalist. She also works at the FOTOSTUDIO SIENA, a lovely photo studio in Siena.