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The Story Behind That Picture - 49
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The Palermo Situation

The story behind that picture: "The Palermo Situation"

By: Thorsten Overgaard


Last week I spent some days days in Palermo, Sicily doing the Overgaard Advanced Workshop with a group of Leica enthusiasts from around Europe. I hope to get possibility to show some of their great photographs of the city, the light and models later, but till then enjoy some of the few photos I got time to take in between

Playing at the Mondello beack outside Palermo.

The group in Palermo was for a great part people who have done the Overgaard Photo Seminar and Lightroom Survival Course and wanted more. So er did some more, and will do a follow-up in August where we will focus on more advanced photography, as well as working with the European Barista champion on our coffee skills (so if you're into coffee and Leica, hurry if you want to join that class). Ohter Advanced Workshops will take place in Los Angeles in July, New York in August and then Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing in September-October, and in South Africa and Dubai in February-March 2012 (send an e-mail to get more info).

The view from a mountain top above Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily. Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron-M F/2.0

Early morning light in Palermo is very strong and comes in from a low angle. Leica M9 with 90mm Summarit-M F/2.5

One of my own test shots of a model walking in Palermo late in the afternoon when the sun is low and the reflections in the cobblestone is really strong. Leica M9 with 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5

Adrian Hawkmoon working with a model in a very low light setup.

We also used Tue Juelsbo (and his splendid new Borsalino hat) for photographs. These eight Scandinavian girls acting as a crowd in this photo happened to be bystanders, so we asked them to step in and give Tue some of the admiration he truly deserves. And so they did. After the shoot they told me they have 47 kids all together, ranking from being mothers 9 to 3 kids each (not same husband though), and they had taken a week off from their kids in the nice five-star Hilton Hotel in Palermo. True story.

Part of the Advanced Workshop is enjoying each others company, good food and great coffee after a hard days work.

Oskar, Mark and Frank posing for me. Leica M9 with Noctilux F/0.95.

Michael, Hans, Friedl and Oskar of the Advanced Workshop at work in the streets of Palermo.

Roswitha taking the Leica M9 Titanium out for a swing in Palermo.


Palermo traffic
Nothing is more entertaining and scary at the same time as the Palermo traffic. For reasons to complicated to explain, every car has scratches and bumps. When you see one that hasn't you know it's somebody from somewhere else visiting Palermo.

They look extremely sexy in uniforms, and they know. When not working in the streets they drive Lancia, Alfa Romeo and BMW police cars. In my next life I want to be a police officer in Palermo.

Police discussing with demonstrators who had blocked the Via Roma main street. After two hours of yelling, laughing, explaining and chewing gum the demonstration had ended. Very charming and very Italian.

Small cars are all about, larger cars can't get about, less park anywhere.

Palermo traffic signs are clearly just for show. You may drive in any direction if you have to, and while the sign says your car will be removed by a truck if you park here, it's an art form finding space for your car among the ones already parked. We never saw any trucks remove anything, less parking tickets. Traffic lights exist, but more for bringing color to the city than to direct traffic.



When you put a model in a dress and let her walk the streets of Palermo it's good manners for men in groups to stop talking and admiring the woman. At least that's how it works, as a clockwork.


Many courtyards feature trees that seem to live as royals with lots of space and admiration.

From my morning walk in Tripani. Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0.

Scapello, Sicily
The last three days in Sicily I spent in this remote location, Scapello, without any real internet. Only coffee and views like this. Leica M9 with 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5


–  Thorsten Overgaard, May 31, 2011





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Above: A day on Mondello, one of the finest beaches in Italy 10 km west of Palermo. Leica M9 with 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5






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Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
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Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
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The Story Behind That Picture




Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten Overgaard is a Danish feature writer and photographer who contribute stories and unique branding to magazines, newspapers and companies through exclusive and positive stories and photos. He currently photographs for WireImage, Redferns, Getty Images and Associated Press.

Feel free to e-mail to for
advice, ideas or improvements.

Overgaard Photo Workshops

The Borsalino is one of the worlds finest hats, almost as loved as Italian children and almost as respected as Italian mothers:

Me with my new Borsalino!

Tue with the Leica R8 and DMR digital back, the 80mm Summilux-R f/1.4, and the Borsalino!


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