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Manarola Moment

Elliott Chau


Behind the Shot

Manarola is the oldest and second-smallest of the Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy. Manarola and four other nearby villages, the surrounding coastline, and their hillsides make up Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since the 11th century, residents have built houses, churches and forts on terraces on the cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea. In the 16th century, the area was important as a first line of defense against Turkish invaders. Today, tourism is the main industry of the region, although traditional industries remain, including fishing, farming and winemaking.

Elliott is in love with Italy. It is one of his absolute favorite countries to visit and photograph.

“We were on vacation. This wasn’t an assignment. We weren’t under any pressure. We rented a car, toured around and just relaxed. I wasn’t prepared to shoot this evening. The day had been cloudy, and clouds were still hovering over the area. I was focused on enjoying my meal.

“I looked out and saw how the sky was changing. I saw that the light was becoming really beautiful, and the sun was breaking through the clouds. I honestly didn’t expect to be shooting this evening, but once I saw the light, I had to go. I politely excused myself and raced from the dinner table, sprinted up the narrow cliffside path and captured this unexpected sunset photograph.”