Blognotes from a photographer life...

Oct 17, 2010


It's a common assumption that your camera will determine how you photograph. Your Leica will let you interact with your subject. The wide angle will push you closer. A medium format camera will force more attention to composition and details. A square frame will pull attention to the centre and give you more focus. As a consequence many photographers decide to use certain equipment on which to base their vision: but is this the right approach?
I think it should be exactly the opposite. The author should develop an idea and then make a decision on what equipment is more suitable to obtain the desired results. Yes, I know, this is the Utopian world where you can afford the (very expensive) cameras and lenses you want, but I'm talking principles here. Why you can't envision a square frame image in your 35mm digital camera and you think you need a Hasselblad?
In today's photography the lack of original ideas is pushing the search toward any possible shortcut and diversion, including giving the precedence to technique over idea. Nothing is more self-deceiving then this: your camera is, or should be, the extension of your mind, the instrument to realize your vision, to put into a bi-dimensional frame your idea. This is true also with post-production techniques, of course: the implementation of color and exposure transformation (still based on the chemical precesses, and why, I wonder why, we don't explore new expressions) cannot cover the emptiness of weak images.
Let's keep creating, starting with the strongest instrument we already have: our brain. And it's still free!

Oct 11, 2010


I find myself in total agreement with the comment left by "Art Sediments" on my latest post that I have decided to publish it, hoping this will give more food for thought!

"I have no doubt that this is a period of self-analysis and transition for photography. As you rightly point out, everyone has a cheap fool-proof camera in his pocket. Does this means that I see more interesting pictures around? I would say no. Kitsch is the dominating trend, meaning that digital photography most of the time is trying to emulate Kodachrome or B&W in the same way photography in the XIX centuries tried to emulate paintings.

I believe digital photography has still to find his own voice, as photography did many years after its started with Weston or Strand. Is conceptual art the path? I don't believe so. Art can be conceptual, but does not need to. But it is mandatory for art to create real emotions. From what I see around, the emotion created by digital photography are based on the mimicking of traditional photography. As I can be moved by Ingres, but not by an arty photograph of the XIX century, I can cry in front of a great B&W print, but not in front of a Photoshop creation copying Cartier-Bresson. Is not about being purist, is about moving forward..."

Oct 10, 2010


Contemporary art is conceptual. This means the idea behind the artwork is more important then the technical skill. You can be an artist, say a painter, without knowing how to use a brush, or a sculptor just making a drawing that will then be carved out of marble by a capable "scarpellino" in a Carrara workshop. Even more contentious is the installation world, where an empty environment, pieces of materials, blinking bulbs or static videos are considered as artistic as a Michelangelo's Sacred Family. Many people refuse to accept this art (I always remember the fantastic movie with Alberto Sordi and wife visiting the Biennale in Venice!) but it has too long a story to be labeled as a cheap trick.
The question is how this culture is influencing photography, the most technical of modern arts. Since everybody is talking of how the Photographer should identify himself in this world where everybody is owning and carrying a camera in his pocket, style and ideas become crucial. Should we go concept?
That a photo just depicting a place or event without a personal interpretation has no photographic sense or monetary value nowadays is common agreement. But how far the personal touch and interpretation of the artist should go in this conceptual panorama is everybody's guess, or madness. Let's leave photojournalism aside in this path: the need to report the truth -even if with a personal eye and approach- has (or should have) the precedence on any artistic ambition. The fine art world is completely different, though. Honestly I'm really fed up with photos of cypress trees and empty country roads ant dusk printed extremely large on grainy papers. This is just concept conceptualism, food for marketing critics that will make a lot of money out of certified smoke. But an image that can transmit you a sense of loneliness, longing, that makes you think and wonder even without a clear subject depicted, is something that we have to appreciate. Probably a visual language that we should learn, develop, introduce to our vision.