Photographing the Vatican

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I must admit that there are very few places where a photographer would have a field day taking pictures than in the Vatican and its surrounding sites.

Not only are there many exquisite museums, beautiful architecture and fountains but there is vast amount of historical locations worthy of being captured in photographs.

If that is not enough, then there is the Papal residences and Vatican Square along with possible views of the Pope himself and the many emissaries of the Catholic Church.

There are also many local cafes and restaurants that provide beautiful sites to be photographed too alongside with many of its beautiful inhabitants.

In the old and elegant city there are many cultural sites such as St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. They feature some of the world's most famous paintings and sculptures by many of the world renown past artists such as Michelangelo.

The unique economy of Vatican City, similar to the city of Monaco, is supported financially by the sale of postage stamps, tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications as well as monies donated by the Catholic masses to the Church.

Vatican City , officially Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano; pronounced is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of around 840. This makes Vatican City the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population.

"Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the Bishop of Rome—the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergymen of various national origins. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope's residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace. The Popes have generally resided in the area that in 1929 became Vatican City since the return from Avignon in 1377, but have also at times resided in the Quirinal Palace in Rome and elsewhere." Wikipedia


Ever been to Vatican City?

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Planing a visit will take some careful planing as you will probably not be able to take in all the locations in just a few days but even if your stay here is limited you can rest assured that you will get to visit and photograph plenty of sites.

Taking a trip sponsored by any of the many guided tour companies is always a good idea since they take care of many small details, including accommodations and you always have some free time to explore on your own.

Make sure to take plenty of film or memory and a variety of lenses that will allow you to capture close ups, long shots or panoramas and regular ones.

There are also many spots, like water fountains, that lend themselves quite well for night shots so a good flash unit and a tripod to stabilize your gear are good tools to count among your photographic arsenal.

Vatican City

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(CC BY-SA 2.0
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The city itself is also full of life and the night life is just as exciting as can be found in any of the major cities of the world like New York. Count on doing some street photography but be mindful of asking permission or at least capturing shots from a distance so that you do not interrupt the activities of the regulars.

Although you may be there for the sites, including shots of regular life and local places ads that much more charm to the theme and should always be included no mater what destination you end up choosing to record.

For street scenes that include local eateries, try to include some shots in close up mode of the dishes, the service and the quaintness of the place so that you photograph's audience can get a better "feel" of what it is to be actually there.

Another good technique is to capture images that depart from the usual tourist typical scenery. Often taking side streets and seeking more local spots where there are not that many tourist attractions can lead to more in depth shots that are more representative of the city life than to simply fill a memory card with architectural, artistic and other "expected" images.

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Your images represent your own view of the scene and its components. But your view may be one that is surprisingly pleasing to the eye and thus, may be used towards a commercial purpose like submitting them to publications that offer travel to Italy or travel in general, calendar publications and depending on the subject matter and how well it is shown, fine art galleries.

Let say for example that you are writing a book, or E Book which is easier. If you are writing from a first hand experience about your own experience with a country, in this case Italy and Vatican City, then it follows that your images should follow the writing closely and be good representations of the written scene.

Indeed, many photographers go on photo adventures with the main purpose of recording images that will be used in books and taking on such an adventure as visiting Vatican City can not only be an educational, and entertaining venture but a good business decision as well.

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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez

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11 comments

ziyena profile image

ziyena 3 years ago from Southern Colorado

Though I am not Catholic, I did have the incredible opportunity of visitng the Vatican, and taking part in open mass with Pope John Paul ... wonderful and enlightening experience. Voting up ... Thanks for your meaningful hub :)


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

ziyena: Thank you


kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 3 years ago from California

Thank you for this nostalgic mini-trip to Vatican! I've enjoyed it like all of Italy, too bad I didn't have my Canon Rebel back then :-) Voted up!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

kalinin1158: Thank you. Glad you liked it!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

Interesting one here, Luis. I've been to St Peter's (1980) - which probably qualifies as a visit to the Vatican. Went with Kath before we were married and she had ideas of converting to Roman Catholicism. Swiss Guardsmen were 'dinky' in their pantaloons and half-moon helmets, but outside of the Vatican area every statue was smothered in graffiti. Well the Italians invented that one, didn't they.

Bit of a job getting across to the Colosseum over the pedestrian crossings, though, getting yelled at by motorists for having the cheek to want to cross the road.

I found the Castel St Angelo interesting, where the Borgia pontiff was holed up whilst he negotiated an exit with the German Holy Roman Emperor. The German mercenaries made a mess of the defenders after he got away, and left some of their own graffiti on the castle walls.

Most importantly the place was very photogenic. Looking at the blocks of flats that backed onto the site of Ancient Rome, you wonder why they don't cave in or keel over backwards into the void (there must be a 20 foot difference in height between the road in front of the blocks and the ground behind)!


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 3 years ago from Central United States

It is amazing that the Vatican city is a country unto itself. It is a beautiful place.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

alancaster149: Thank you. I am still amazed at your knowledge of everything. Thanks for the lesson!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

wheelinallover: thanks


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

I'd fight shy of saying I knew 'everything'. It's what I've got a computer for, to find out the bits I don't know or haven't seen and knit them into the ones I do. In this case I've been there, done that, got the 'T' shirt (and the memories - 33 years ago).


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I really enjoyed all the beautiful pictures and the general information. I would love to visit there. I am not Catholic, but I think the Vatican would be a wonderful place to see. The food looked good also! Voted up!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Pamela99: Thank you.You are right, it does look yummy....

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