Back in the day, I was an aspiring amateur photographer with a crappy camera and nowhere to go.
Then, in the fall of 1999, I flew to Italy—my first-ever trip to Europe.
I was 27 at the time, armed with a backpack, a travel guide, some money and little more. I flew into Milan with little plan, and within a few days caught a train to Venice. It remains one of my two or three all-time favorite cities.
Anyhow, during my journey I was taking pictures of absolutely everything. Old people and restaurant tables and water fountains and signs and the beautiful pastel buildings, most of which came with an extended, stocked laundry line. One day, while minding my own business, I was standing near one of Venice’s seemingly infinite canals when I spotted a woman encouraging her young child to piss in the water. Without anyone looking, I grabbed my camera and caught the above scene. For the first (and, I’d say, only) time in my life, I knew I’d caught a truly unique shot. It’s hung in our bathroom for years.
I’m not sure whether it’s weird (or not) to photograph a kid taking a pee. But I love the photograph (the look on the mother’s face; the baby strapped to her body), and I love the moment, and I even love the memory of finding something so unique to capture on film.
Somewhere, I imagine, there’s a 17- or 18-year-old Italian kid who has no idea he has been immortalized in such humiliating fashion.
To this day, it makes me laugh.