Collection: Limited Edition Prints

"Mysterious Rome"

Rome can be a very mysterious place. I think Marisa coined it something like "The City of Cops." However, I've named it Mysterious Rome." But little did I know just how mysterious it was. There are things I won't go into here, but let me tell you this: Things happened on this trip that were extremely bizarre and led me to believe that we were possibly being targeted or followed.

If you've ever been to Rome, you know it's always so crazy busy that you can barely move, and there are always police everywhere because of the security of historical sites. But what you don't know is that there are undercovers everywhere else as well.

How do I know this? Well, Marisa and I were both arrested earlier on this trip for my photographing her naked in front of the Vatican. We were taken back to the station and interrogated, and despite my warnings to not let them into her phone, they separated us and convinced her to open it, where they found all of her photos, and then, of course, they Googled her. At that stage, they accused us of being activists and not just tourists, as we had said earlier. They knew we had been arrested in Egypt in 2016 and also saw the media coverage in Turkey.

The whole police station then proceeded to raid our Airbnb flat. Inside, I refused to open my laptop; luckily, otherwise, they would have found the crucifix shot and taken the hard drive, and who knows, maybe all of our gear. We were held for the whole day in a small jail cell and then released with a warning that if we were caught again, it would be jail, and they would confiscate all of our gear. For Marisa and I, it was nothing; we laughed and joked the whole time in the cell and then walked home drinking expressos. It was just another day for us. I remember the review the guy gave for his apartment: "Host Marisa and his friend Jesse were a new experience; they left the apartment tidy and clean." Goodbye!

The very next day at 8 a.m., we were at it again for another naked shoot in front of another historic icon, the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II. I was lying on the street, shooting Marisa naked in a taxi, when a plainclothes police officer began banging on the window. He was demanding our passports in Italian and radioed in to the police, who within literally a few seconds came tearing down the highway toward us, sirens blaring. We could not get caught again; we would have been toast. I nodded to Marisa and said, Are you ready? 1, 2, 3: run. We ran as fast as we could across the huge main road. I remember a Vespa skidding so close to me as we bolted over all the lanes, and then, through the small back alleys, we hid in a small cafe for what seemed like a very long time. Later, the police did turn up, but they hung around outside and thankfully never came in. It was an extremely close call. After this, I started to notice all the undercovers; they were everywhere.

This picture was shot on my trusty Canon 4D Mark 111 with a 24-70mm lens. We were staying right next to the Pantheon in this tiny little apartment and got up super early at about 5 a.m. to shoot it. We ran downstairs in the dark and did a few very quick test shots to get the exposure right while Marisa was still clothed.

In the piazza, there are shops, cafes, and restaurants everywhere, so we had very little time, and it would only take one passionate Italian to pull out their iPhone for evidence for another arrest. I'd say we had the whole thing done in five minutes flat.

Marisa left Italy a few days before me, and I remember walking through customs and handing the officer my passport. He typed my information in and just stared at the computer and then at me, in total shock, for what seemed like a while. I swore I was going to be arrested at the border. It was a strange moment, and he eventually stamped it out. As I walked through the gates and into the terminal, Marisa called me. I told her what just happened, and she said, "I'm so happy you're through; it's all over the media." People had been filming us and putting it up on Italian blogs; it had gone completely viral: a photographer and a naked model running around Rome and shooting in front of all the major icons. It was an incredibly wild trip, and we again made global headlines.

Each photo is being sold as a limited edition, signed print.