Blognotes from a photographer life...

Jan 22, 2011


I have been repeating for years that the greatest luck of my generation was to live the Millennium passage, not for the numerical factor of course (having this value only for Christians), but rather for the possibility of having had a foot in the world of cultural differences and the other in the beginning of the globalized culture. The decision I took when I was eighteen, to dedicate my life to explore human and geographical differences on earth, would have much less sense today, if any at all. From the photography point of view this was even more true: if it had a sense and worthiness to show the beauty and differences on the globe twenty years ago, we can now only search for contemporary matters that are common to the largest part of humanity. Photography became my way to analyze things, to offer my interpretation, and, ultimately, to make a living out of my continuous traveling.
Coming to Sri Lanka now is confirming this view of mine. I wanted to come here long time ago, attracted by tales and images. I wanted to come when I was working on the book on Buddhism. And again I wanted to come when I was in Tamil Nadu, just across the sea. But for several reasons it never happened. What I found nowadays, finally here, is what I expected: a nice country, a great natural environment, a historical heritage well protected by UNESCO. All within a modern nation of proud people, with poverty and problems of course, but who doesn't at this latitude? But original culture is gone, dresses are modern, cars are increasing in number and cellphones are for everybody. My iPhone is well connected to the net, Internet cafe are closing because obsolete. That's good for the people living standard, much worse for their culture and identity. But how can we criticize, us who were the first to be globalized?
Only in religion I still see a peculiar identity, and this probably why I have concentrated on this anthropological subject in the past ten years. Here Buddhism is a national matter, non just a belief. A Buddhism that has very close, obvious but still strange interconnections with Hinduism. A faith that is deeply embedded in the social structure.
This is the new world we live in, the glimpse to the future. We are definitely on the second foot on our life walk. Still an interesting journey, don't you agree?
(See a gallery of iPhone images from Sri Lanka on this facebook gallery)

Jan 6, 2011


I love India (what photographer doesn't? I keep saying that shooting people there is not easy: if they see you they start combing their hairs and smile...) and so I was pleased and honored to be invited as president of the large Global Photography Talent group ob Facebook that has been started there. Although like all presidents in the world, I'm afraid I'll be a very absent (due to duty, no intention) representative figure, I feel like to give some indications to the fellow members of GPT.
Let me offer a general consideration that may be difficult to resume shortly. The positive thing is that photography in Asia is, as a mass accessible expression media, a relatively new opportunity. What I see here is the popular enthusiasm that we had in the West in the 80s, and this is great. I see also the generalist approach to the visual language we experienced though: going beyond the obvious is a task possible for those with a real vocation, not for everybody. It's in the nature of human beings: don't ask me to sing..
So, while in the West photography is undergoing a deep rethinking due to a wide crisis that wiped away many of the media where images were the core, (see many recent posts in this blog) and also by the fact that everybody today has a "camera" in his pocket, here the road is wide and long. What a great opportunity.
But to take real advantage of this global historical situation the new coming photographers must be wise. The advantage of the fast-growing cultures is to learn from the history and the mistakes done in the past by others: Africans will not wait for a telephone wire to call, they'll have cellphones instead!
So, to finalize my idea, a suggestion: look at the images done in the past 40 years in the West, at the magazines that made photography great, at the work of great photographers. Understand, absorb and digest this mass of cultural history. Then just forget it. This is the past. Will be part of you visual DNA, but nothing more. You task is to start now, from here, to develop your visual language, your expression, the future of photography. Your photography.

Jan 2, 2011


                                    an Holga like picture of Moskow, shoot with a Nikon D3

Now that we all live the Digital culture and Photoshop is our definitive guru I feel it's time to move on. Most of you will know by now what a Plug In (PI) is and what is offered in the market. Practically, to make it simple, a PI is just a shortcut for functions already existing into Photoshop. If you wish to recreate a cross-process color cast to your image you could do it regulating the curves (actually there is also a preset in CS5). But commercial PIs are coming in many forms that will make the job for you. Of course they have gone a long way further: now you can have a Holga looking image, which is a combination of several regulations, in one single step. And the list is long.
But it's here that I have a lot to discuss. The vast majority of popular PI are offering a range of regulations that will recreate the results of traditional photography. From B&W as shoot on several type of films, to slide or negative film tonalities (and even grain), to vignetting and chemical alterations. In short, they are looking back, not forward. In doing so they answer the desire of photographers to perpetuate their style with the new digital media but jeopardize the potential wish for a stylistic evolution. Digital is offering a great freedom of expression (shooting at low light, shooting a lot, seeing what you are getting on the spot): why aren't we using it do develop new potential forms of expression? Why we keep looking back?
The reasons are obvious, having to do with our visual culture and history. But I keep saying that if photography does not evolve will be condemned to oblivion. At least that photography that wishes to express itself at a higher level, representing a message and not just a visual chronicle of something.
We hope we will not need "third party" tech help to develop these new ways. In music, video, art in general, the evolution is clear. Sometimes controversial, but unmistakably underway. Photography needs new visionaries with great ideas..