Il Cuore Siciliano By Colin Steel

Il Cuore Siciliano

By Colin Steel – His website is here

(From Steve: Here we are again with another superb set of photographs from Colin Steel, one of my favorite photographers ever. His work is always quite special and I am happy that he chooses to share much of it here. Thanks Colin!)

I recently returned from my second visit to the amazing Easter celebrations in Sicily and I wanted to share some thoughts that have been forming in my head around photographing and making sense of the rituals and place itself. Firstly, Sicily is a very unique island and its cultural development is complex having been subject to a number of different and varied influences over the centuries. For this reason I think it’s extremely challenging for an outsider like me to get to grips with and to really understand the depth of what is going on. As a result of this most photographers, particularly first timers, get caught up in the cliches and more obvious shots that are more superficial in nature. I have done this myself, not only in Sicily but I well remember my first trips to places like Bali and Bagan in Myanmar where I thought I was taking the most incredible and vibrant images only to discover on reflection that, although well composed etc. they were very obvious and had been done many times before , and indeed, had been done much better by more accomplished photographers who knew the locations better. The reason I am saying this is that I now believe that you have to keep visiting places and themes that interest you again and again to get really deep into yourself and your emotional reaction to what you see and feel. Only then can you begin to sensibly translate your view and vision.

As I said, this is only my second visit so I consider myself to be at the very beginning of a long and hopefully fruitful relationship with Sicily and its people. I had a very difficult time this year with editing and sequencing my work as I believe my thinking and photography has changed and matured a great deal in the space of a year since my last visit but I have combined last year and this years work and with my friend Jay Komuda come up with a pretty tight edit that is I believe moving in the right direction.




















    • I am with you. It is not darkness, for me it is pure nerve and tension. You can like them or dislike them, but Colin’s photos remove always something inside me and I can recognize them a mile away from other brillant contributors. Even the set from Brazil, which was not dark at all, was different from anybody else’s photos. Colin photos have soul.

      • +1

        Unlike many other images seen previously on the site that others, more generous guys, have judged beautiful but that I quite frankly found trite and uninspiring, these are truly stunning.

  1. I absolutely love this stuff! However, I would like to know how to take shots in intimate scenarios like that and not have people giving you dirty looks, or just plain telling you to get the heck out? If anyone can comment on that, maybe it could help me get over my fear of shooting people — I would love to try that kind of photography. Thanks!

    • Hi Ibraar, you know the site very well 🙂 what I was trying to do is deepen the work though so, as I said in the post, I have blended this years pics with last years and hope that I can continue to strengthen it in the coming years.

      Many thanks for your appreciation though, Colin

  2. Thanks for your very succinct reflections. Number three here is the most amazing “group portrait” I have ever seen and number 16 (6faces) has much of the same quality. The semi-abstract vegetation shots are beautiful. And I think all of the photos are marked by intense attention and are incredibly evocative.

  3. Many posters on Steve’s website use words like “stunning” and brilliant” a bit too loosely for me. In my opinion, many of the images that receive such hyperbole simply don’t warrant such compliments. Not these, however.These images by Colin Steele truly are brilliant and stunning.

  4. Colin, these are so great. I really love the grain and the sometimes, very much against the flow, “flat” look of some of these, and the emotions they convey. And, in response to an earlier comment, I don’t feel drawn into a dark space; I do feel moved though.

    And I have to commend your accompanying narrative: a very refreshing absence of gushing,”awesome”, “wow!” etc etc descriptions of the camera and lenses used!

  5. Gorgeous images. You do love your cameras! I looked at the exif of 4 images, and each one was done with a different camera. How do you decide which camera to pull out of the bag when on a trip?

  6. Wherever your images taken are always ‘haunted’ and so inspiring, thanks for sharing, I’m curious seeing bali in your shot.

  7. Lovely and haunting images, Colin. Well done.
    I lived in Italy for 4 years (near Venice) but never had the opportunity to see the ‘Sicilian Heart.’ After seeing your images I need to get down there.

  8. So I am looking at these shots and hoping that Sicily is a happier place than depicted. So you pulled me into a darkened corner and left me feeling–dark feelings. Colin your captures are great, very dark, tinged with a hint of impending doom–it would be great to see a series where your very considerable skills show a set of hands holding a smiling new born, a beautiful beam of light hitting a café filled with many hopeful faces…then juxtapose those with these…such a contrast might make these images even more powerful a lift me from the gathering gloom…Help! Powerful…thanks.

    • Mark,

      I couldn’t have expressed it better. As I was panning down the images I couldn’t help an increasing feeling of impending doom, the dark feelings you refer to, no one was smiling or seemed even to be happy at all, and this is despite these images being taken at what is obviously a religious event.

      One or two “dark images” interspersed with those in a lighter vein, perhaps?

      No doubting the photographer’s skill, but not something one could feel an urge to keep coming back to, IMHO.

    • While I agree that all the photos have a dark feel to them and some lighter photos would help with some tension and release, I think the darkness is just part of Colin’s style. Just based on his past photo essays, he seems to be making a conscious decision to find the “darkenss” in the places he goes. For example, I’ve been to Rome and the Rome photo essay he presented a while back was much darker than the Rome I saw. But I like Colin’s Daido-esque approach of finding the darker images that we don’t normally see.

      Just my 2 cents. Really enjoy the artistic discussions!

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