Filipe Malczewski ’16 is currently an AP photography student and recently returned from his Italian Homestay in Sicily. Many TASIS modern language students participate in homestays during an Academic Travel week to experience full immersion into French, Italian, or Spanish. All photography students are encouraged to take photographs wherever they are in the world. Upon his return Filipe said this was his best Academic Travel trip in his three years at TASIS. In addition to helping his Italian, his experience provided him with inspiration and photographs for his AP portfolio. Here is his story:
I was scared and nervous, at first! Two other TASIS students were also staying at the home of Goffredo Adragna, one student from Russia and the other from Brazil. So, we had three different cultures sitting at the table together, and I wondered, how are we going to get along? But I immediately had a great feeling in their home; I was hopeful! When I first arrived I noticed they had a lot of artwork and the colors of the walls were a rich deep blue. I noticed a Caravaggio painting on the wall. I think it was real, but he said it was a copy. The photographer in me loved the light!
The home we were staying in was actually a working bed-and-breakfast which our hosts own and operate. We were the first student group and homestay that they had ever hosted. For most of Goffredo's life he owned and operated a winery. I realized fairly quickly that he loved art, and so I would ask him about the many paintings he had in his home. One day he even showed us a precious book from the late 18th/early 19th century. We learned a lot about Sicily from them. We talked about life in Sicily, the traditions, and culture. Goffredo's wife was a good cook, especially of traditional Sicilian food – we had fish, meat, and lots of desserts made with ricotta cheese.
The light in their home was amazing, it was soft and indirect; I knew I had to photograph the rooms and also these people. The living room was a deep rich blue, and I knew right from the first night that I wanted to try and shoot their portraits in this room, but it would all depend on the relationship with the family. I needed to make a connection, so I did not bring out my camera at first, but after a day or so I asked if I could take some photos. They thought I was only going to photograph the house, but I desperately wanted to shoot their portraits, too. Goffredo did not like me taking his photograph initially, but I simply kept shooting.
I am very happy with many of the photographs I took during the week in Trapani. My AP Photography requirements include a breadth (12 images showing an in-depth understanding of and engagement with photography in their concept, composition, and execution) and a concentration (12 images demonstrating a sustained and thoughtful investigation of a visual idea). My concentration is informal portraiture of people with whom I have made a strong connection. These include my mother, my sister, my grandmother, friends, even a homeless man in Venice; I took his photograph only after I talked with him and gave him a bit of money, and made a connection. On this trip, I knew my hosts would make great subjects for my AP portfolio, but only if I made a connection, and happily I did.
Click on the photos below to see them in slideshow mode.