So...I've been trying to write this little item for half of today, and I'm afraid I'm not doing very well. I have to watch what I say. It's a real tragedy, and a man is dead. I don't want to make light of that. But what would you think if you came across a headline that said, "Sicilian Wedding Party Accidentally Kills Wedding Photographer"? Something to do with a certain white vegetable that makes your eyes water when you slice it?
I'm sure there have been wedding photographers, in the throes of some particularly trying job, who've thought, "please, somebody just shoot me." But nobody means it literally.
Unfortunately, it's what literally befell Sicilian wedding photographer Calogero Scimeca, who was accidentally shot in the head while he was photographing the nuptials of 25-year-old Ignazio Licodia and 22-year-old Valentina Anitra, in Palermo. Details are sketchy. Scimeca might have been posing a shot—er, a photograph—of the couple holding loaded hunting rifles. Is this a tradition? A special request? One hopes the photographer wasn't actively improvising props, as metro.co.uk has it. It's unclear who was actually handling the offending firearm when it went off. It's possible some party or parties could be charged.
One of the great peculiarities of human nature is that once something becomes a "tradition," it becomes almost impossible for people to simply let go of it and just...change. Even when the change would obviously be...uh, what shall I say—sensible? Logical? Urgently indicated? (I don't want to anger any Sicilians.) Anyone who has ever watched more than ten minutes' worth of wedding-video bloopers ought to know that loaded firearms might not be a good element to add to that general mix. Yet, in Sicily, according to writer Corky Siemaszko of the New York Daily News, which reported this story, "It's...a tradition for guns to be fired off at family events and not unheard of for partygoers to get hurt."
So, stop bringing guns to weddings maybe? Does that make too much sense?
To make matters worse—assuming such a thing is possible—Scimeca was not even supposed to be photographing the Licodia-Anitra wedding. He was covering for a friend.
Let that be a lesson to you the next time one of your friends asks you to cover a job for them. Come to think of it, has any good ever come of covering a job for another photographer at the last minute? I've had at least one absurdly bad experience I can think of. None to remotely rival poor Calogero Scimeca's, very fortunately for me.
I'm completely winging this next bit, but I'll speculate that the fatal prop mishap probably happened after celebratory alcohol had started to flow. It has that vibe.
According to their Facebook pages, Licodia and Anitra are now married.
Calogero Scimeca was 45.
(Thanks to Bob Zimmerman)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by John Krill: "Why was Robert Capa in Vietnam when he was killed? He was covering for another Life photographer, Howard Sochurek, who had to go back to the States for family reasons."
Featured Comment by Luigi Caponetto: "Mike, I perfectly agree with your argument...but I happen to be Sicilian...and mostly concerned not to create another example of 'how information takes on a life of its own' (citing Alex Vesey's comment on the Norsigian case you reported about).
"From what I can read from Italian news agencies, Scimeca (that was his correct name: not Scimea) [Thanks Luigi—I made the correction in the post —MJ] was video recording the party when 'someone' (apparently Scimeca himself) came up with the idea that having a rifle as a prop for his own video would be cool.
"A horrible mixing of lack of skills in handling a weapon, negligence, and of course complete irresponsibility killed Scimeca: the owner of the rifle is now charged with manslaughter.
"Game hunting is a quite popular activity in Sicily, amongst other various weird traditions which are still followed there...but shooting with weapons during parties is definitely in vogue only among fools."
Featured Comment by John Allen: "I was in Sicily when this happened, staying not far away in Trapani, and from reading the coverage in the Giornale di Sicilia I can confirm that this incident did not take place during the wedding itself, but in a video/photo session during the morning before the wedding, with the groom and the groom's parents. The photographer was making a video at the time. The gun was apparently taken out because the groom's father is a keen hunter and liked the idea of being filmed with a gun in his hand. Weddings are a major activity in Sicily during the summer and it is common to encounter couples being photographed in places that make good backgrounds. I am not aware of guns being a normal feature of Sicilian weddings—this was just a very, very sad one-off accident."