For centuries, Carnival in Venice has been a celebration of the mask. When masked, the boundaries of gender and class disappeared. With the anonymity of the mask, there was freedom to do anything, to disappear, to behave without constraint, to reveal perhaps fantasy, perhaps reality, who would know?

And so it is still, in the beautiful and mysterious stage that is Venice, in that lively time before Lent. The grey mist of the Venetian winter is interrupted with masks and costumes that can be gorgeously colorful and ornate. Some hark back to historic characters, while others are simply figures of artistic fantasy. But as was the case centuries ago, each mask begins as a simple, plain white shell, often papier mache, that is transformed into a beautiful work of art.

The mask is the artistic heart of Carnival. But one more step is required. The mask must be inhabited by the soul of a person, sometimes called a "Masker" and thus art is brought to life.

Maskers and the photographers who delight in making their portraits come to Venice for similar reasons. We all love history, creativity, artistry, mystery, Venice. We love play and theater. We are enticed by the joy of what is seen and the mystery of what is hidden.

Often, I have never met, and perhaps will never meet a Masker unmasked. The mystery of that is compelling. But in moments of engagement, when our eyes do meet, the Masker and the Portrait-Maker, the mask comes alive, and there is a lovely moment of relationship.

Some think that Carnival in Venice is all about the mask and costume and so focus on full-length photographs. I do some of this sort of portraiture, but mostly I concentrate on a closer view. Because for me, it is all about the mask and the eyes.
This gallery is empty.