Creating Characters in Rome

Creating Characters in Rome

Over the past few years, I have become increasingly comfortable when traveling and exploring new places. As a photographer, traveling has allowed me to see any city through a creative lens, thus enhancing both my artistic awareness and my ability to communicate the unique aspects of each place and moment in time through my work.

The moment I arrived in Rome, I understood it to be a city of colour, culture, and community. My first morning walk took me through old cobblestone streets, where I realized just how overwhelming a city could be for a photographer. The overwhelming facades of ancient buildings to the bright walls of each passing block. Each street seemed to exist solely for the purpose of being captured in photographs.

I immediately felt a mass of self-inflicted pressure, worsened by generic ‘what if?’ speculation. The possible failure of doing justice to the city’s beauty across my photographs, impelled me to believe that my experience there would have been a waste. In order to overcome this frame of mind, I am actively working to deconstruct, understand and evolve my rationalization of these situations. The relative value of traveling is dependent on an individual’s distinct experience, and I am ultimately certain that my photographs complement mine.


Walking the streets in Rome I began to notice the unique characteristics of every vehicle. They were consistently small, colourful, and cute. This observation gave me the idea to chronicle as many unique cars that I could find and create a photo essay on these small Italian cars. I stopped at every corner, scouted the surroundings, waited, observed some more, all with the intention of photographing any car that stood out to me.

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As I continued to shoot, the self-inflicted pressure wore off. Not only was I able to see more of the city, but I was also effectively capturing its spirit in a way that was exclusive to my style. The cars I had photographed became the subject matter and eventually the characters in my Roman story. The experience was analogous to working on set with fashion models, in that Rome itself was a ‘set’ and each vehicle had the power to intensify its surroundings.

Do not underestimate the creative process while traveling. Allow yourself to become fully immersed in the energy and atmosphere without worrying about getting from point A to point B. Let the city reveal its splendor to you in a way that only your perception can allow.

Words & photography by Sean Pollock