Blognotes from a photographer life...

Aug 28, 2010


I just finished an assignment through the Norwegian Fjords (you can see some iPhone images in this Facebook gallery). The nature is still awesome, powerful, immense. The weather is really dominating your destiny here, and you feel overwhelmed by the light even in a rainy day!
But the country, the humanized part of it, has changed a lot. Even with this population, probably the European one whose life is the most depending on nature, and therefore very mindful of it in habits and sensibilities, modernity has traced changes. Behind the red huts reflecting in every fjord shoreline, there is a technological evolution that has completely changed the way of life in the vastness of the countryside. Maybe alcohol is still a stigma, but internet goes well with it! And Oil is pumping money!
But my thoughts are going to a much larger point of reflexion then the Norwegian life. Is the condition of the European continent in this century that is really interesting me.
We, the modern Europeans, are part of a living museum. From Greece to Italy, from France to England, we were the cradle of western civilization. Art, philosophy, industry, social order were born here and then given, or imposed, to the world. Of course the past century has seen the passage of power to the American continent. Still today are the United States the place where ideas are born and developed. Asia is still only the large factory to these ideas: nothing really new is coming from there, yet. It will come, eventually, in a few decades.
But Europe has lost for good. It's is a good place to live. Probably the best in the world. From the fjords here to the Greek islands; from the art cities of Italy to the Highlands of Scotland; from the vineyards of France to Andalusia.. and endless gallery of beauty and social peace and wealth that fears no comparison. Or it does?
If you are a young European with ideas, do you feel you are in the right continent? Or you feel like innovation, creativity, inventiveness are escaping you? The world is shaping up somewhere else, and I feel like we lost the train.
But the entire humanity is globalized and connected. It's easy to get off. If you feel like you want to be part of the changing, with an active role, don't sit in this comfortable chair overlooking ancient beauty. Go where the heart is beating, be part of the big game, do something good.

Aug 20, 2010


If you are passionate with bricolage (Do It Yourself) generally you don't wish to become a carpenter! For years I have wondered why this is different in photography: whoever has a camera thinks that the obvious way to evolve is to go professional. Nothing is wronger then this, of course. First of all if you are a pro you must photograph not only what your client wants rather then what you like, but also in a way that responds as close as possible to the client needs and not to your personal creativity. This is the exact opposite of any photographer wish and dream.
I understand very well that the idea of earning a life through traveling and taking pictures is a great attraction to many, but this possibility is long gone (see the recent posts on the crisis of travel photography) and the opportunities of something similar are fewer and fewer as the days passes by. We, my generation and few others, were lucky enough to have some of these opportunities, but time have changed for good (for bad, actually!).
So, why would you want to become a professional photographer today? If your passion is photography, go for what you like to do and forget the business side. If you are good that will be the natural consequence of your evolution, eventually. If travel and/or documentary are what you like (as it is in the vast majority of cases) use photography as your way of interpreting and going deeper into the situations you find. Leave the thought of a possible publication: it's a far possibility that will spoil your true expression. Instead free your creativity and vision into a personal and innovative way of reporting: if you are really good success will find you.
Going professional is a though choice, a difficult way to follow, especially nowadays. Business matters will be well prevailing over aesthetic ones, and few people have this in mind (or are able to face it). I think that if you are really willing to do something in this life you can achieve it. But this is true for a few, capable and determined guys. If you think you are one of them...

Aug 16, 2010


Another follow up to the ongoing discussion on the Travel Photography crisis/changes in the world. Some friends suggested that publishers should be the principal actors in the evolution of the market. They should create publications (on paper or on the web) that answer the changing expectations of the public, still pointing to a quality that should give reasons to search for something else (e.g. better) then the avalanche of images freely available on the net. Yes, they should: if they were still there. Unfortunately real publishers are gone from several years!
Big good publishing names are still there (Time Inc, Newsweek, NYT, Gruner, The Time, NGS and others) but they represent only a small portion of the Travel Publishing world market. And the problem in basically on quality evaluation.
An long experienced editor, Luciano di Pietro, that just retired after a life spent in reporting and publishing, pointed out the essence of the drama. He said that real publishers had gone leaving their companies in the hands on managers with no attention at all to contents and quality. The Italian story is emblematic. We had really great guys who started a florid season of media evolution in the 60s: Mondadori, Rusconi, Rizzoli created little empires still prolific. They were entrepreneurs, looking for profit, but recognized the value of quality and would not renounce an author they considered valuable. They have been replaced today by managers (the dreaded CEO) that come from different industries and go to others with only numbers in their minds. There is only the cost of a photo in proportion to the page-filled space, the quality of it is insignificant. Their major attention is to their personal careers, determined by the profit realized in the few years of activity in this industry. Why they should worry if they'll be selling burgers in a year of two?
Of course this is not always the case, but it is for the vast majority of the market, and this trend has compromised not only the quality offered but the public expectations as well. The real question is, in fact, how many people will appreciate quality over fast-consuming quantity in the near future? Will the young generations still appreciate good images over mobile snapshots? The multinationals wish, work and push for a massified, low requiring market, and they are strong. But we can resist, resist resist....

Aug 6, 2010


I expected some reaction to my post on the crisis of Travel Photography, but I was surprised by the quantity of mails and feedback I received. I did some clarification with another post, but I have obviously thrown a heavy stone in the pond, or should I call it the swamp, given the situation.
Fellow photographers posted some comments on their blogs (Bob Krist and

Aug 1, 2010


 (photo © Igor Boscolo, TPW 2010 student)

The recent conclusion of my TPW workshop gave me reasons to think about the meaning of a (serious) workshop nowadays.
For years I have been repeating that photographers teach when they don't have to shoot (any photographer prefers to shoot over anything else..). People that teach a lot have very few assignments, is my guess. But this is partly true. The experience is an enrichment for the teacher too: discussing ideas with young students, browsing the pattern and experiences of other great teachers, and above all vampiring the enthusiasm that we tend to lose after some professionally-troubled years. And, yes, also the wish to pass on some personal knowledge.
But why should people become students in a workshop? There are some good reasons to do it, and some not to: depends who you are and what you are looking for.
A workshop cannot teach how to photograph in one week; neither can give (not existing) tricks to accelerate the process to go pro. These are the dreams of dreamers, of people that give photography a superficial approach not appreciating the long way this art-profession has already gone through, and even less, the crucial radical changes that we are living today. Indeed these are the times of a revolution that we need to ride, not the comfortable re-run of past experiences (I mean, nobody will have the story and experiences of photographers that worked between the 50's and the 90's: that way of life is gone forever).
On the other end a workshop can give you a lot of useful time-saving indications. If the student is willing to listen (not an easy assumption) can obtain from a (honest) teacher useful informations on how not waste time and energy in useless, but generally wrongly perceived, ways of growing. Can rather learn how to focus her/his creativity in realistic and contemporary projects, professional trends, artistic perceptions. This is a priceless support that only a workshop can pass on.
Therefore the workshop today should be open to people willing to enhance their perception of photography, developing their personal focus and style, regardless of professional intentions they may have. Actually I think photography, the "real one", will be more for non-professionals in the future: the freedom from monetary burdens and subject requirements will give creativity and inventiveness a rare opportunity.
I posted the final results of my students in Facebook, as well as my personal presentation. Just follow the links to see. Till the next teaching... Thanks guys!