Birgitte Brøndsted fell in love with Italy when she visited for the first time at age 14. Later, she tried living in Paris and Madrid as well as her home city of Copenhagen, but Italy kept pulling her back for periods of both work and study. Eventually, it dawned on her: ‘I just knew I had to move to Italy permanently.’ She has been here ever since.
Brøndsted worked in Rome for seven years, and the city still has a hold on her heart. However, after years of travelling back and forth because of her boyfriend in Florence, she moved her life to Tuscany two years ago after the birth of her daughter, Matilde.
She observes, ‘Florence is more liveable than Rome. I can walk around here. I can use my bike. The distances are so small, and this is especially important when you have a child. Now, whenever I go to Rome and return to Florence, I realise how quiet it is here. It feels a lot more calm. However, I still think Rome is more beautiful than Florence.’
Six years ago, Brøndsted discovered her great passion, photography. ‘It actually started here in Florence, although I wasn’t living here then,’ she recalls. ‘I was here with the embassy for the Festival della Creatività at the Fortezza da Basso, and there was a Florentine architect who had some photos of architecture in Denmark. They caught my attention, and after that I started very slowly, with my tiny, very bad pocket camera, to take a few photos of the city. My mum gave me my first good camera five years ago, and it’s still the one I use now.’ She currently focuses professionally on portraits and children’s photography, a talent she discovered when photographing a friend’s son in Denmark.
Her love of photography soon found expression online, in her blog, A Dusty Olive Green. Here, she chronicles life in Copenhagen, Rome and, of course, Florence through beautiful photos, travel tips and a wealth of suggestions for places to visit and cafés to enjoy.
She notes that ‘One question I always receive is, “How do you give your photos that dreamy look?” People may be disappointed to hear the answer, but usually it is all thanks to Photoshop, which I use for editing. That said, you do need to take the photo before and make sure that the light and colors fit the kind of editing you want to make afterwards.’ Brøndsted usually shoots with a very open aperture and her love for a blurry bokeh effect is evident.
Brøndsted is also known among the expat population of Florence as the co-founder, with Sara Amrhein, an American jewellery creator in Florence (see TF 189 at http://tinyurl.com/SAmrhein), of the Facebook group ‘Creative People in Florence.’ The group is open to all and brings together similar-minded expats, including artists, writers, illustrators, jewellers and fashion designers, allowing them to exchange ideas, network and arrange aperitivi and events.
As just a glance at her blog will show, Brøndsted’s photographic subjects are broad—her daughter, food and cats are just the tip of the iceberg—but perhaps the most dominant subject is urban life. As she explains, ‘I think cities are so special; they are not just places. I very much believe that a city is itself, and not made by the people who live in it. I think it has its own way of being, its own “soul.” I love to photograph the details of every city. I do a lot of bicycles, which are all over Florence. In Rome it’s mainly Vespas!’
All it takes is just a few clicks of a mouse to enter into the beautiful world of Brøndsted’s photography. Find her blog at www.adustyolivegreen.com or visit her website at http://birgittebrondstedphotography.com
What is a place in the city that inspires you?
Practically everywhere in the city in the early morning, especially around the Arno.
What is the biggest difference between Danes and Italians?
Danes are not as spontaneous as Italians. We like to plan everything ahead. Italians are better at living in the moment.
How have you changed by living in Italy?
I have definitely become very Italian in a lot of ways. I have learned to live in the present without worrying about the future, probably because the future is so uncertain in Italy that it’s not worth worrying about.
Advice for budding photographers in Florence?
Don’t worry about the equipment; just take the photos. First of all, it’s the eye that ‘takes’ the photo, not the camera. Also, use online communities such as Flickr to look at other people’s photos, not because you need to compare yourself but because you can learn so much from it.
Advice for the newly arrived in Florence?
Explore the city and walk around a lot. Find the local places. You can meet lots of other expats through the online communities, and there are also some really great ones for people with children.
Where’s the best place for young children?
The Pettini Burresi park and playground [in the Le Cure neighbourhood].
Photos by Birgitte Brondsted