Interview with Thomas Stierhoff - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Thomas Stierhoff – Interview Transcript – 3.21.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Thomas Stierhoff on 3.21.2013)

Bio:

Name: Thomas Stierhoff

Age: 22

Hometown: Bucyrus, Ohio

Occupation: Engineering Technology Management Major at Ohio University

 

Question 1 – What is your personal connection with firearms?

Thomas Stierhoff: “Honestly, it started when I was pretty young just because both my parents were cops. So by the time I was born, my mom was taking care of me and my dad would come home everyday and he would have a gun with him, so honestly it was pretty normal for me just to see a gun every day, like no big deal for me. I started shooting when I was pretty young, just a BB guns for the most part. My dad was very cautious as to exposure, so I didn’t really shoot a whole bunch [of] –I don’t want to say real guns—but I didn’t even shoot a 22mm until I was in late elementary school maybe, and that was only with my dad. Safety was always the most important lesson instilled upon me at a really young age. Knowing that it’s something that could be potentially dangerous if you do it irresponsibly.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you choose to have firearms?

Thomas Stierhoff: “The interesting thing I find about firearms, like, ever since I was young I was fascinated by the science of it. I thought it was interesting. Like, a round of ammunition and just the energy, and if you do certain things to it correctly you can have a projectile travel a thousand feet per second, and you can still do that 100 times and have it still be accurate. I found that part fascinating and how it works: all the mechanical parts, and I am an engineer so I kind of like that stuff. After I joined the [Ohio University] 2nd Amendment Club, I started getting into the actual shooting parts of it, which – I was always shooting, but I never really did it correctly. So then, I started shooting correctly, and after a while, I kind of got into teaching other people how to shoot, which I found out I actually like doing that. It’s always neat teaching other people new things and seeing them get better. After being an officer of the club I kind of started getting into the politics of it which I never really liked, but it’s kind of interesting seeing how two people can see something happen and have two completely different opinions on what should be done.”

 

Question 3 - What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

Thomas Stierhoff: “I wouldn’t say there is much of an aspect I take pride in as a firearms owner. I don’t know, honestly, it isn’t something I want to walk down the street and be like ‘Hey look at me, I own a gun ‘cause I am born and raised all American’ or whatever. But if I can say there is anything I am proud of as an individual it can be that being a responsible firearms owner is something I can be proud about. As an American, it’s something to be proud about just for that fact that not all countries give their citizens rights to own a firearm. We have a lot of freedoms we take for granted.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner for you personally?

Thomas Stierhoff: “I’d say the thing I am most concerned about as a firearms owner is discretion. I feel like that’s a big part. It’s not apparent, ‘cause you know I am getting interviewed right now. But it is always a good idea that you don’t want anyone to know that you own a gun, if you can help it, unless you trust them. I am doing this [interview] just because I am in the [2nd Amendment] Club. I feel like a lot of people, if they have no exposure, or have never shot a gun or might have had a bad experience…it’s kind of easy to label. I guess a lot of irresponsible people kind of ruin it for a lot of us. My brother doesn’t really actually believe in guns, which is interesting because both of my parents do. But my brother, he lives in Chicago, so you can blame the city. But it’s interesting seeing how – he always says, like, ‘I don’t know why you go out with your redneck friends and you’ll got shooting,’ and I tell him it’s what I enjoy. If I want to do it, why not?”

 

            Q - You brought up the point about discretion and I have never heard anyone talk about this, can you elaborate?

Thomas Stierhoff: “Yeah. You could say that a lot of gun owners are misrepresented because a lot of people don’t want anyone else to know that they have a gun. Like my father, he really keeps to himself. He told me a story randomly about how so-and-so from work were talking about guns. They had a similar interest as my dad. So I asked him, “What did he say when you told him you did this?” and he told me, “Oh, I didn’t join the conversation because I don’t want them to know.” I feel like nothing good can come from other people knowing that you have guns. I don’t know, one thing at college I am really concerned about is obviously being able keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have access to them. I have a gun safe in my room; if I can’t fit it in the safe I put a [trigger] lock on it. I will take out parts of it that will make it impossible to fire. The only people that do know it are my brother and my roommates, who I tell because I feel like the have a right to know. “

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

Thomas Stierhoff: “I feel like one of the things that get a lot of people in trouble is always remembering how important a lot of these [safety] things are. The way I try to be reasonable and help teach other people in my club to be responsible gun owners, really as a large part, just know what you are talking about; having the knowledge to back up your standpoint, your beliefs. I feel like a lot of people might like to shoot guns or like certain aspects of guns, but if you ask ‘Why do you believe that way?’ they might have no reason, like, ‘oh it’s fun’. I feel like if you have a little knowledge as to why you do what you do, you might be able to have a better conversation with other people. You will always meet other people who don’t have   similar beliefs as you, and if you don’t know what you are talking about, you will get run over.”

 

            Q – What are the irresponsible people doing to ruin firearm ownership for you?

Thomas Stierhoff: I feel like some people who do conduct themselves in an irresponsible manner – honestly, it always starts with some basic safety thing. You might go to a range and someone is doing something you know is wrong, [and] even if you ask them to stop but they still keep doing it, it shows disrespect to other people and it makes everybody look bad.”

 

Question 6 - What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner? Looking towards the future what would you change?

Thomas Stierhoff: If I could change anything, other than the prices right now, I’d say it’d be nice if it was more common. Like right now usually when I talk to someone they’re like, ‘Oh you shoot guns? That’s cool!’ I don’t know. I wouldn’t say it’s uncommon, but not maybe at my age group [is it] the most popular thing right now. I couldn’t tell you why that is. If I could really change anything I would have gun safety in school, it’s kind of off topic, but basic safety courses when you’re younger, so it’s not so foreign. Exposure. I feel like a lot of people are not exposed, so it’s foreign, so they might just draw a conclusion without any knowledge and say, ‘Oh I don’t like that,’ or ‘that’s bad.’ I feel like some positive exposure [would do] a lot of people some good, ‘cause not everybody is a gun nut. Just because I have a gun doesn’t mean I am gonna shoot somebody, ‘cause I am a pretty mellow guy.” 


Interview with Kaitlyn Cedoz - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Kaitlyn Cedoz – Interview Transcript – 4.6.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Kaitlyn Cedoz on 4.6.2013)

Bio:

Name: Kaitlyn Cedoz

Age: 19

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio

Occupation: Undergraduate student at Ohio University

 

Question 1 – What is your personal connection with firearms?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: “My personal connection with firearms is that I think it’s a huge equalizer. So I am really into handgun competitions. So you go out there with the boys and it doesn’t matter if they’re 6’ 7” - you are equal, you have nothing against you, you are equally just as skilled if you work hard at it. No matter what: doesn’t matter the size, how high they can jump, or anything; it’s an equal platform for everyone. ”

 

            Q - What was your start? How did you get Involved?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: “While growing up my dad and my brothers would hunt, but I had always been separate and I never worried about it. And then I got to Ohio University, and for the most part the campus has very different views on stuff. So I got here and some random kid in a cowboy hat [Wes Gilkey] asked me to join this club. So I joined [Ohio University’s] 2nd Amendment Club and started shooting and I fell in love with it immediately. I love the confidence it gave you, because you instantly have this power, you feel so safe and so protected once you get to fully use and understand and be safe with a firearm.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you choose to have Firearms?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: “I choose to have firearms mostly for protection. You always feel safe with it ‘cause I have used them many times, so I am not scared of them at all and I understand the power that they have. So they keep you safe if you know how to use them and use them properly and you are safe with them, then you are definitely protected by using them.”

 

Question 3 - What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: “It’s just the small group of people. You get to know them and everyone is so willing to help everybody, and you just really get into this little clique with everyone and you just feel so comfortable. There is always room for improvement so you never get bored with it and there is always somewhere to go with and become more and more comfortable with them.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner for you personally?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: “Just the lack of education forums for the general public. People tend to fear the unknown, and I feel that firearms for the most part are very unknown to people, so they are just scared naturally. If there is one thing I can change about it, it would be the lack of exposure that everybody has. Because once you get out there and you shoot it and you understand it and you are the master of it and you don’t let it master you, it’s completely safe and completely comfortable.”

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: “I would say a huge thing with being safe with firearms is you have to be safe with them. You have to realize that it’s a tool and you are the one with the power with it. And that it’s just there to assist you if you need assistance or you need to be protected; and just keep them away from people who aren’t exposed to them, who don’t have the knowledge for them. You know how to master it, and if you know how, make sure you keep going out there and shooting and keep understanding and learning as you go.”

 

Question 6 - What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner? Looking towards the future what would you change?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: If there is one thing I could change it’s definitely if people haven’t shot, then people aren’t exposed to them, so they tend to be offended or upset with them. So if you just take people out there and get them to use them and experience what it is like to shoot a firearm and the purpose they’re there and to educate people towards it, that would definitely be a great direction for firearms and that’s the only thing I would change.”

 

            Q – As we have been sitting here talking about this is there anything else you would like to add about your personal connection with firearms?

Kaitlyn Cedoz: “I think firearms are excellent for women because anyone who goes out there, you might feel uncomfortable in certain situations and this keeps you safe. If you are living alone, I mean you hear so many horror stories of, like, girls in a house together. So it keeps everyone safe if you know how to use it properly. And that’s [the] main thing, you have to shoot constantly and frequently so you know what you are doing and you don’t make mistakes and you are trained properly.”

 


Interview with Corey Bland - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Corey Bland – Interview Transcript – 3.22.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Corey Blandon 3.22.2013)

Bio:

Name: Corey Bland

Age: 21

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Occupation: Reserve Deputy for Athens County Sheriff’s Offices

 

Question 1 – What is your personal connection with firearms?

Corey Bland: “The way I got started with firearms was basically just with friends, friends who taught me how to shoot. Eventually I took some Concealed and Carry classes, took some training and stuff like that. But originally just got into it with friends.”

 

            Q - How old were you when you got started?

Corey Bland: “Probably about 15.”

 

            Q - Was it hunting or target shooting?

Corey Bland: “Target shooting with shotguns was how I started out.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you choose to have Firearms?

Corey Bland: “I have firearms obviously for my job; it’s something we have to have. I also like to hunt and love to target shoot, I get a lot of fun out of recreational shooting. They’re just great.”

 

Question 3 - What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

Corey Bland: “I take pride in being able to protect myself and my family. Shooting firearms is fun, but you still always have to think about having to protect yourself, and that’s what they were originally built for. I just take pride in being able to protect the people I love.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner for you personally?

Corey Bland: “I believe the hardest part about owning a firearm definitely is the stigma of it. A lot of people, you know, if you have a concealed and carry permit people will say, ‘Oh you’re paranoid. What do you need to carry that for?’ Mostly that’s just people who don’t understand firearms and I think are actually afraid of them. I think people just need to learn more about them and they would be more accepting of firearms.”

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

Corey Bland: “There are responsible people out there. The right steps need to be taken for firearm ownership. I think its definitely a fun hobby, I would like to see more people get into it and I would definitely be okay with more training too.”

 

Question 6 - What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner? Looking towards the future what would you change?

Corey Bland: “I would fully support having more background checks. I don’t think certain weapons need to be banned, whatsoever.  There are responsible people out there who could own any weapon. The first weapon I ever bought, I would have no problem with waiting longer to have a more extensive background check. So I definitely would support changing that in the firearm community.”

 


Interview with Andrea Adams - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Andrea Adams – Interview Transcript – 4.2.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Andrea Adams on 4.2.2013)

Bio:

Name: Andrea Adams

Hometown: Nelsonville, Ohio

Age: 20

Occupation: Student in Civil Engineering at Ohio University

 

Question 1  - What is your personal connection with firearms? How were you introduced to them?

Andrea Adams: “With firearms, I started out with a family thing. My whole family hunts, they all target shoot and all that stuff. I started out at a young age of about three; I started with BB guns.”

 

            Q- You have been target shooting how long now?

Andrea Adams: “17 years. I have been shooting BB guns since then, just target in the yard, then moved from that to actual, like, pellet guns to 22mm-Rifles to trap shooting starting at about [age] 15.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you choose to have firearms? Why is having a firearm an important factor in your life?

Andrea Adams: “I mean, shooting firearms in part of my heritage, so it’s something that’s really dear to me. It’s something that I share with my family. Along with that, I find great enjoyment in shooting, like, it’s a very good stress reliever. I deer hunt as well as shoot targets, so when it’s in season it’s cool to go out and shoot a deer and then bring it home. And we do eat our own deer; we don’t just throw it away or anything, so we actually use that. We have a lot of Indian in us so it’s kind of pulling that [aspect] in.”

 

Question 3 – What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

Andrea Adams: “Wow, that’s a hard question. Probably when I see other people coming to it or see other people I have introduced to firearms and really enjoying it and breaking stigmas from them and, like, showing them how to do things properly. And that there is a lot of enjoyment to it and that it’s not just something people just want to do versus…like it’s kind of one of those things that after you get doing it you want to do and it’s not always bad thing.”

 

           Q – Can you just say again what you take pride in, like the intro part, because you sort of rushed into it.

Andrea Adams: “I take a lot of pride in showing other people firearms and getting them interested in it, and I take a lot of pride in shooting well as well. Like, honing a skill, basically.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner? You had mentioned yourself that there is a stigma, so is there a stigma or negative association that you wish was different?

Andrea Adams: “There is definitely a stigma and there are definitely negative associations depending on who you are talking to. I think the hardest part about being a firearms owner is people - who don’t have the knowledge and aren’t there - that have this like, ‘big redneck, you’re just going out there shooting everything and tearing things up’ and the media also portrays that as well. And you have all these people throwing out things like, ‘It’s a semi-automatic assault rifle.’ Well, the shotgun I was using is a semi-automatic but it doesn’t have the capacity that, you know, an AR-15 has. So I think just false information and people think they know what they’re talking about or hear the things from media and just go crazy with them without realizing [that] what they mean is a big part of it. And the stigma - it’s basically a stereotype, you know? You have to introduce people to it, and then make them realize that it is a stereotype and that it shouldn’t exist.”

 

            Q- So how does that make you feel when you feel like you get pigeon holed?

Andrea Adams: “It really offends me and really upsets me when people are using things, like the ‘semi-automatic’ term for example, and are like ‘all semi-automatic weapons should be banned.’ It’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa! Like, you clearly don’t understand what the term semi-automatic means and it should be… you know, some people think that AR-15s should be banned but again referring back to my 12-gauge shotgun, it is a semi-automatic weapon, but it only holds 3 shells when it has a plug in it. So, it obviously does not have the same capacity. So it really upsets me and really offends me when [people] jump straight to conclusions. From being around this area I also still have the stigma of being the redneck person who is just going out shooting guns like crazy and that is just not me. I try to refrain from getting really upset about it, and talk to people and be like, ‘Hey look, you know, this is what this is, and if you ever want to go shooting sometime…’ You know just try to be informed and not just jump straight to conclusions.”

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

Andre Adams: “To be a responsible gun owner, I think spreading knowledge is extremely important, trying to break that stigma, trying to get people more involved. And if they are not interested in being involved at all, [then] trying to make them realize that while they don’t have to be involved (because that is a choice), but they shouldn’t just jump to conclusions. If they don’t want to be involved and they want to be an advocate against it, then they should have all their facts right. So just, you know, being a person that you can come to and talk to about it and if you have question[s], I will answer them honestly and then you can use that against me in the argument if you want, but that’s how I feel.”

 

Question 6 – What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner? Looking towards the future what would you change?

Andrea Adams: “That’s a hard question because I don’t feel like there’s anything that I would personally change significantly other than maybe just having more of a positive light on it, like, having the situations where you have the school shootings that have been happening recently, not putting such a negative connotation on something that expands way past there to legitimate things. Like, there’s a lot of people, not necessarily around here, that have scholarships from shooting, trap shooting and stuff, and there [are] a lot of legitimate sports that are involved. Shedding light on that and getting that out of like an underground culture would be something I would like to see happen.”

 

 


Look Back - Exiled in Florence

April 10, 2014

Leather, leather and more leather. That's what you will find on display in all forms in Florence.

 

I am stuck in Florence, Italy. Some would say I have arrived, but to me I feel like I have been exiled here. It's not that this place devoid of historical and cultural significance. It is. It was the seat of the Medici clan. It’s home to the Uffizi museum. Michelangelo's most famous sculpture of a naked boy, David is here. And the marble-encrusted cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, completed in 1436 after 140 years of construction, still stands. But now Florence is also a place lousy with tourists and chain department stores offering what amounts to expensive crap you could buy in any other European city. This makes me feel like a grumpy cat. I contemplate why anyone would want to spend their money to be in this den of commercialism dressed up as historical and cultured. “Aha!” I exclaim to myself. “It's like Boston: people like the idea of it, but in actuality it just sort of blows.” It’s one of those cities with a rich history, but lacking in true, modern-day character when compared to New York, Rome or London. Florence just doesn't impose a feeling that people really live there. Rather, I get the impression, they’re moving through it.

 

I am roused from this contemplation by the fact that I am wandering across the ever-popular and crowded Ponte Vecchio bridge. This is the famous span where shops sell all manner of jewelry and other forms of bling. This is the bridge so striking and iconic that the master of Evil and tragic facial hair, Adolf Hitler, decided not to bomb it.

 

 

I am trying to find a cobbler. I am excited to be shooting someone instead of something. I have been in Italy for a week and have only been snapping pictures of places, rather than telling stories of people. It's what my client wants, pictures of notable places, culture and food. "Make sure people are not identifiable," myself and my fellow photographers have been told. Womp, womp, I say.

 

I manage to extricate myself from the throngs pouring off the Ponte Vecchio and make my way down a less-traveled side street. I find my target, a small shop with large glass windows and a work bench facing the street. "Mannina" is emblazoned on the door in gold lettering in a classical sort of font that harkens back to the 1940's. I exhale deeply and wonder if these people are in fact expecting me, or, if I am walking into another "appointment" arranged by my client where no one has any idea who I am or what I am talking about. This wouldn’t concern me if I spoke Italian, but I am terrible at learning languages, and now find myself trying to recall the Italian word for “shit.” I can't think of it and conjure up the only profanity I do know, "stronzo." Yes, Italian for “asshole.” This seems fitting for what I feel like at the moment.

 

I open the door and find a few people hard at work on making shoes. There is a middle-aged Asian woman and a classically Italian old man. This is Francisco Mannina, the fabled cobbler who has been making shoes here for almost 50 years. I introduce myself and explain that I am here on behalf of my client and that I was hoping to make some photographs. He listens, giving me an understanding look, smiles and nods thoughtfully, and then replies in Italian. I stammer that I know very little Italian, in Italian, an exercise in futility itself. He disappears and comes back with the Asian woman I had seen moments before. I explain myself and she informs me that Mr. Mannina doesn't speak English, but his young assistant does, and will act as translator as soon as he returns. A small victory for me, and therefore America, I think to myself.

 

A man in his twenties bustles in through the front door. He moves quickly to a workstation to grab his apron and is informed by Mr. Mannina why there is a strange and somber looking man-child in the corner armed with a camera. I smile like an idiot while this exchange goes down, trying to look friendly, but not too friendly. The assistant does in fact speak English! I go through the same song and dance once more about who and am and why I am here. He relays this back to Mr. Mannina, who agrees to let me shoot while he works.

 

Shooting craftsmen and artists is especially fun because it's very easy to show up and immediately fall into picture-making. They have things to do, you have things to photograph, and for me it's always a lot of fun to observe people as they ply their own trade.

 

Cobblers that will make one a a kind shoes from scratch can be found in tiny shops across Florence, crafting a pair of shoes just for you.

Mannina was indeed deserving of his mythical status as a man who can make a fine shoes for both men and the ladies. Each pair is built from the sole up, so no two pairs are truly alike. These shoes are made mostly with hand tools. The only electric-powered tool I saw Mannina use was a shoe buffer. I spent just a few hours watching Mannina and his assistant create shoes from raw materials, and I became transfixed. Just a short hundred years ago shoes were made by craftsmen just like this, but on a much larger scale. Our shoes were made with more elemental and tangible materials, crafted by skilled hands. The process seems so basic. Take this cow, tan its hide, use that skin to make these shoes.

 

As the day nears its end, the assistant tells me: "Mr. Mannina wants to know if you would like to get caffè with him before they begin work tomorrow morning." I was surprised and flattered that this man would want me to come have coffee with him, so I accepted and go on my merry way.

 

 

I enter a perfumery and am confronted by opulence and an oppressive smell of hundreds of different soaps and perfumes. It stings the nostrils and makes my eyes water. I am grateful that people are no longer allowed to smoke indoors and in restaurants in Italy, because I am fearful a loose spark or open flame will cause the place to explode like a car crash in a Michael Bay film.

 

I find the manager, Andre, and during the course of our odoriferous chit-chat, notice one unsettling detail: He smells very strongly of B.O. Either that or he has just crushed some amazing Mexican food. I decide my initial assessment of body odor is more plausible.

 

After a formal tour by my smelly companion, he says I am welcome to shoot my heart out. I begin to work an old room with patterned marble floors, walls with amazing stucco work and a high ceiling adorned with old frescoes illuminated by a crystal chandelier. Around the room are various stations, behind which tall Amazonian women loom, ready to show off fancy scented oils or soap. One woman is manning an impressive circular podium lined with large bottles of colorful, back-lit perfumes. As a photographer, I am naturally drawn to shiny things, so I don't really have a choice. I move closer and begin shooting this strange shrine to perfume with its solemn caretaker.

 

After working with a few customers, the lady of the many scents beckoned to me from behind her perfume-laden fortification. I assume she will ask me to stop photographing, thinking that I was a creepy and lonely man who roams perfumeries. Instead she asks me who I am working for. I explain that I am working for a travel guide and she seems hopeful. She is curious: do I know anyone in fashion in New York City? Could I make sure she was put into the publication? She seems to think she has discovered some well-connected photographer that will help her break into the modeling career she has always dreamed of. I consider knocking a bottle of perfume to the ground in order to create a distraction and make my escape.

 

 

Apparently my chat with Andre went well, for when I make to leave, he gives me a bar of soap made right there at ye olde perfumery. This is a thoughtful gift, but I find myself thinking, "does he think I smell worse than him?" I take my bar of soap and bid Andre and the perfume lady farewell.

 

That evening after some wining and dining with my associates we return to our rented apartment. We must prepare for the much-dreaded night shoot. It’s not that I don’t like shooting at night, but when you have been shooting all day and running around the city like your hair is on fire the last thing you want to do was carry around a tripod. The upside is that in Italy it’s totally kosher to drink in public areas. This means you can walk into any corner pizzeria, buy a beer the size of your head, and then carry it around and imbibe as you prowl the streets with a tripod slung over your shoulder.

 

Florence at night is a much quieter and more lonely place. The rush of people and din of their talk is replaced by a dark and ominous calm that can make one feel uneasy after being up to your armpits in rolling waves of humanity.

 

We make our way across town, shooting the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, lit up and reflecting its visage across the river below. We travel down the main promenade, via dei Calzaiuoli, where shops are closed and caged up. Mannequins imprisoned behind their protective gates watch our procession with lifeless gazes as we march towards the Duomo Cathedral, our final destination of the evening.

 

The cathedral is the epicenter of Florence, and many of its main arteries flow towards this massive structure. It is a mammoth site to behold, and at night appears on a much more personal scale. The space around the cathedral is no longer crowded with passersby and tour groups, crashing against its exterior in an ebb and flow. There are only a few people who pass under its shadow while couples linger in its proximity. We work to set up shots that incorporate the whole building in a manner that conveys its massive size.

 

 

As we work, I notice an impending change in the weather. Like storm clouds signifying the deluge, umbrella merchants began to materialize. These men are migrant workers, living a world away from their own home countries. They come to Europe with aspirations of better wages and steady work. Many of them end up on the streets selling toys, knock-off purses and utilitarian objects like umbrellas and mini fans in highly touristed areas. I like to imagine that these umbrella merchants have some sort of union. Their leader, who has an old knee injury, feels a storm brewing when his joint begins to ache. He notifies his men, who fan out across the city and provide cover for those in need of this most useful of devices.

 

As predicted by the presence of these umbrella merchants the rain begins to fall, and people begin to approach, barter and buy. I decide I am in need of an umbrella and approach one man. He is running dangerously low on product. I ask “how much” and he tells me something that seems a little steep, I offer him a much lower number and he refuses. He offers a higher one and I refuse. It appears we are at an impasse. The main issue is I don’t have many euros on me. I express this by pulling out the euro coins I have, showing him my small sum. He seems to understand and decides that my seven euros will suffice. He takes my coins, I thank him and deploy my defense against the rain.

 

As we pack up to leave I notice my umbrella salesman has managed to sell all of his umbrellas and is now umbrella-less. He walks into the dark downfall of the rain and, as he fades away, takes off his stylish leather jacket and props it above his head for cover. Here is a man in the shadows of opulence using his leather jacket to shield himself from the storm, not saving an umbrella for himself when there is money to be made. “It’s a living.” I think to myself.

 
Florence: where fashion and opulence are always at the forefront. A Mercedes Benz touring race makes a pit stop in front of the Pitti Pallace where onlookers ogle super cars and rare vintage cars cruising by on a tour through Europe.
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