Milan-based photographer Andrea Wyner on how to capture one of the most-photographed monuments on earth.
Rome, on the cover of Travel + Leisure May 2019
Credit: Andrea Wyner

May is Travel + Leisure's annual Europe Issue, and for T+L subscribers, its cover depicts perhaps the most recognizable structures on the continent.

Photographing the Colosseum is no easy task. When your subject is visited (and photographed) by 4 million tourists every year, how do you make your shot is special? And, more importantly, how do you do justice to one of the world's greatest examples of human achievement?

T+L recently spoke with photographer Andrea Wyner, who managed to do just that for our subscriber cover — and whose images accompany writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner's feature story about her family's first trip to Rome. Here's how she approached the assignment:

T+L: Do you spend a lot of time in Rome? What's your overall impression of the place and the subject matter?

  • Andrea Wyner: "I'm currently based in Milan. It's so centrally located in Europe, and allows me to travel easily throughout the continent — and more recently, the Middle East. I go to Rome often. It's a popular destination. I think of Rome as an outdoor museum. Each time I'm there, I seem to find something new."
  • What was it like shooting at the Colosseum? Is there anything particularly difficult about photographing monuments, or places that might be very busy?

"At first, I thought, how can I make something that's been photographed so much look special — especially a monument. I had a few ideas in mind. But on arrival, I saw the construction around the Colossem (they are building a new metro line). So all I could do was wait for the right light. I think that constraint was what made the shot interesting."

Can you describe where you were when you took the cover photo? What was going on around you?

"I was surrounded by construction and crowds, so to avoid that and get a nice perspective, I found an angle that was higher up."

What time of day did you take the picture? What type of equipment did you use?

"The cover shot was taken right before the sun was going down — around 6 p.m. Since it was winter in Rome, I was very lucky there was any sun on the day I shot. But I wanted to avoid too much direct sun, so I went to the Colosseum a few different times during the day. I think winter sunlight gives a nice warm cast that's also a bit cool.

I used my Nikon D700 and 23-70 lens. When I had to get a digital camera, I asked a photographer friend who I totally respect about which camera I should get — I'm so happy I listened to him."

Do you have any other cool projects in the works that you’d like to share?

"Friends, and friends-of-friends, are always asking me for travel advice on everything from villa rentals and restaurant recommendations to best cities to visit, etc. So I recently decided to start a side project called tomorrowhere — it launches very soon — where I provide personal service for travel itineraries and insider tips."