These are time of brain storming, coming changes, radical changes.. What I call a re-evolution of my job. The reason why I write this post is mostly for my own sake, to make a point. But is also a reaction to so called artistic experiments that I find empty and useless. I should say hopeless, as they are intended to find new professional solutions through superficial shortcuts.
Re-evolution starts from history. And here is my professional history.
Beginning of the 80’s I started my (five years) long pursue of a space in the travel editorial market. The photographers that most inspired me at that time were Ansel Adams, Ernst Haas, Fulvio Roiter. Being a traveling geographer by vocation, landscape was my main focus. I soon realized that my Florentine roots had impressed a strong (even too fixed) sense of Renaissance composition to the images I produced. I bought a Pentax 6x7 for medium format and a Sinar field camera besides my Olympus OM2 (then OM3 and OM4) 35mm cameras.
In 1985 I decided to jump into the full time profession. It was a gamble, but I succeeded. By the end of the 80’s I was working for Bonechi travel books (I published over 120 books with them in a 15 years cooperation) as financial support. But I also published 3 major books for the Italian Touring Club (New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa) among others, and regularly contributed to the major Italian and American travel magazines of the time. Massimo Morello, with whom I’m traveling in Asia most of my time today, was then the editor of Atlante. He pointed out how I had developed a very personal style, maybe even too refined as I was making even tragic situations looking beautiful. It was ok though, but I had the sad privilege of signing the last cover of this glorious geographical magazine on February 1993 (US Highway 1 driven from snowy Maine to sunny Key West).
Mid 90’s is when I started my digital exploration. Yes, it was over 15 years ago, when nobody was talking about the digital future: no digital cameras, basic scanners, bad printers. But I had the support of courageous editors. Andrea Scandolara, the editor of Weekend magazine, published very experimental stories. I did the Fiesta in Pamplona in red tones, the Bilbao Guggenheim museum in the same colors of the building, Oktoberfest in the tone of beer. Luciano Di Pietro did a special issue on Bell'Europa with photos I had transformed as if they were modern azulejos. And many more.. Travel was a matter of photographic interpretation: I was working with Leica or Nikon by now.
A selection of those works were published in “Back in Town”, in 1998, my first portfolio book. The book never went to the bookshops but was distributed by Nikon Italy and the Image Bank, in a number of copies that would be a dream today. It was good: I had made my point, in a way..
I also started with multimedia experiments: small videos and an interactive CD were produced but never published. The publishers called it “too new”. When they finally understood it the content was already too old, and CDs outdated by the web.
But for me was time of changes again. Probably it was a mistake from the professional point of view, but I wanted to follow my “traveling geographer” vocation above all. I had started discovering the human being in the years: the most challenging subject for any artist. I thought applying my experimental style to cultural reportage would have worked. And partly did. But the past decade was full of changes, doomed by continued crisis, uncertainties. Magazines were confused, had no idea of what the public wanted. Probably the public just didn’t want magazine at all: their time had finished.
But I published some interesting stories and books nonetheless. My project on major world religions started with 3 books by the Touring Club (Buddhism, Hinduism, Orthodox) and ended with Io Credo, a brick-size thick book on prayer throughout all major religions. The echo of the work was really strong.
In 2007 NAG (Not Yet Global) was published: my second portfolio book. For me the closing step of this “experimental reportage” phase of my personal journey.
And here we are.. In a middle of a mess that sees all the old editorial world crumble with the rest of western certainties thanks to a crisis that is not only economical. I made several posts on this: on how we need to reinvent not only our profession but the sense of calling ourselves “photographer” in times when every person has a camera in his pocket..
This time is different from the past. An adjustment will not be enough. A re-evolution is essential if we want to keep traveling with a camera, a real one, in our hands.