The photograph I couldn't take by Maggie Hegarty

The photograph I couldn't take by 

To escape the crowds of tourists in Venice I headed to the offshore islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. When the ferry docked at Burano the church bell was tolling. I wandered around for the next hour or so with my two cameras; my trusty old medium-format Yashicaflex loaded with black and white film and my SLR loaded with colour transparency film. It was a sunny, crisp morning in autumn, perfect weather for taking photographs. I sat on a seat deliberating whether I would take the next ferry to Torcello or spend more time on Burano.

At that moment the double doors of the church opened and a coffin was carried down the steps and placed on a bier. The bell had tolled relentlessly throughout the service. As the people filed from the church they formed a line behind the coffin which was being wheeled along a narrow path. They were heading toward a timber bridge to cross to a small island where the cemetery was located. Most of the mourners were either teenagers or people in their early twenties; it was obviously the funeral of one of their friends.

A hush came over the bystanders waiting for the ferry. We all stood with bowed heads as the procession passed by. It was like a scene from a black and white Fellini film as they crossed over the bridge. This was a very moving experience and one I will never forget, but it was a scene that I could not photograph. After they had disappeared from sight I photographed where I had been sitting.

Yashicaflex 635, medium format, Delta Professional film 400 ISO.

Top ten in the ‘Italian Benches’ in The Other side of Italy group.

I always wanted to be an architect, but instead did several art degrees, taught in schools and universities around the world and retired a few years ago from the University of Melbourne where I was Head of Photography. My photographs are of things that interest me. My real love was medium format, black and white photography, but I have come to love my digital camera and the power of colour.

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  • diLuisa Photography
    diLuisa Photog...almost 5 years ago

    what a beautifully moving story Maggie…….well done! xx

  • Thank you for your beautiful comment Luisa.

    – Maggie Hegarty

  • Andrew Bradsworth
    Andrew Bradsworthalmost 5 years ago

    A great story Maggie and a beautiful image to go with it ;-)

  • Much appreciated Andrew :-)

    – Maggie Hegarty

  • diLuisa Photography
    diLuisa Photog...over 4 years ago

    Congratulations on your TOP 10 placement in our Italian Benches Challenge!

  • Thank you very much Luisa!

    – Maggie Hegarty

  • Adrian Paul
    Adrian Paulabout 2 years ago

    This is an incredibly moving story, Maggie. Beautiful work.

  • Thank you very much Adrian, it was one of those unexpected things that happen when you travel, and one I will never forget.

    – Maggie Hegarty

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