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A hole new world: Photographers reimagine potholes as surreal adventures

Feb. 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM ET

Remember when you were a little kid, when the best thing about rainy days was that they provided puddles for splashing in and daydreaming about? When you could float leaves across imaginary oceans and go fishing for underwater treasure?

Now imagine that you are fully grown and you're still doing that.

That's exactly what New York City-based photographers Davide Luciano and Claudia Ficca have done: They let their imaginations run wild in a conceptual photo series that transforms ordinary potholes into deep sea channels and rabbit holes to Wonderland.

Image: Baywatch recreated with a pothole instead of an ocean
Davide Luciano, Claudia Ficca
This image, which is Claudia's favorite, gave the team more trouble than it may seem. The prosthetic hand kept falling over when cars drove past!

The husband-and-wife photography duo began their "Potholes" project in 2009 after driving over an uneven road in their hometown of Montreal. They realized they could use their creativity as a lighthearted way to highlight municipal problems.

With props in tow and obliging friends and family as models, Luciano and Ficca set out to photograph their fanciful scenes during pauses in traffic.

Pothole pain: The cost of this winter's pitted roadways

"Some drivers would stop and laugh," Davide told TODAY.com via email. "One guy wanted our hot dogs and beer from the BBQ scene." (The photographers were gracious enough to comply, but only after they had gotten the perfect shot.)

Image: Two people BBQ over a pothole filled with ice cold beer
Davide Luciano, Claudia Ficca
What you didn't see: The props in this photo are completely edible, and one lucky passerby even scored a free meal from it.

The series, which spans streets in Montreal, New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, hasn't always been smooth sailing — er, driving. The first time the duo photographed in New York, Davide's brother Paolo was crouching on the street over a spaghetti-filled pothole when an impatient taxi cab started honking and a police car pulled up to question the team.

"Claudia ran over to the pothole, lifted the bag and spaghetti out, and the four of us walked away with the shot and a good story," Davide said. "Luckily the policeman let us go."

Image: A man sits down for a pasta feast on the streets of New York
Davide Luciano, Claudia Ficca
Before the commotion: Paolo Luciano poses for Davide and Claudia as a taxi waits impatiently to pass by.

Davide's colorful stories befit the elaborately surreal project. The photographers may have run into a few bumps along their road, but ultimately, their creative perspectives trumped all.

Photographers Davide Luciano and Claudia Ficca gather friends and family to model in this unique photo series that puts a humorous spin on an everyday municipal frustration: potholes.

Samantha Okazaki is a multimedia editor for TODAY.com.

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