Frames of Karl, Milano, August 19, 2017 [FujiFilm X30]
Frames of Karl, Milano, August 19, 2017 [FujiFilm X30]
A friend of mine, Gian Paolo Daldello, actually my fine art printer, is offering an interesting and tailored service to see photographers note down their thoughts, ideas, technical schemes, sketches directly on a special journal while capturing images from a reportage (street photography, travel or landscape, etc. etc.).
The same diary will tell their stories through words, drawings and… pictures. Yes, you can buy just this special handmade leather diary (antique black or brown) with fine and exclusive paper sheets or have it at a special price if you’d like to add a pre-order of 4×6″ (10×15 cm) prints. It’s up to you to decide the number of prints to be placed in your diary and the quality of the same: waterproof sublimation, carbon pigment ink on alpha cellulosa paper or even 100% fine art cotton.
This will become a real photo reportage instrument, handmade by the photographer, nothing to do with a photobook, something totally personal.
I began to see photography in a professional perspective in 2006.
Before, I had used an analog camera when traveling and as a university student in Milan, at parties, to document fragments of time in a wild and disorderly way that is still appreciated, however, by those friends who had never thought to immortalize such moments.
In March 2006, in Paris, I could match in a single experience my professional interest in history and my passion for photography, which in fact I discovered around the age of eight with an old Zeiss Ikon AG Symbolica. I followed for several days the students’ protests against the bill on employment known as CPE, because I felt the need to document history as it was happening. I did not consider the technical satisfactoriness of my gear a problem, and I have not changed my mind about this. I used a cheap Kodak Easyshare C300. All in all, mistakes would not cost much with a digital.
On March 10th, when the student occupation of the Sorbonne started, I shot a picture of a girl who looked strangely familiar even though I was certain I had never met her. I did not stop thinking and went on shooting to document the various political demonstrations that seemed at the time the beginning of a new 1968. Later, going back home in the Marais, I discovered that the same girl I had run into with the tiny lens of my Kodak had been selected for the pages of the daily Le Monde three days before. This was a pleasant surprise, a single morsel that nourished both my pride as a historian of counter-cultural movements and my photoreporting artistic fancies.
If I were to choose a snapshot marking my passage from hobby to profession, I’d say it is that b&w photo. From that day, I went hunting in the city – in cities – not just for historical documentation, but for a framing so effective that it would speak by itself and tell the story I had experienced without necessarily needing the help of words.
B&W had been an unconscious choice, partly due to all the time I had spent looking at family photo albums and my father’s old geography books, with Ansel Adams images. The main factor, though, was my passion for graphic novel art, Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese and Frank Miller’s Sin City in particular. My pursuit of professional framing was necessarily influenced by years of drawing China ink plates for comics when I was a college student. The ambition to obtain extreme – or hard boiled, if you like – b&ws passed through the distorting lens of comics, which allowed me in time – so they tell me – to develop a taste for paradox and surreal situations…and for challenging the rules of “good photography”, as I stick to low ISO even in precarious lighting conditions.
Entering “professional” photography only gradually – I think it’s best to keep a taste for play – I familiarized with the medium, preserving a curiosity to experiment with any sort of camera – new and old, second-hand or loaned. My idea is that the most important medium was given to me by mother nature, and it’s my eye.
I am a lover of street photography, though I prefer to call it straight photography. In fact, though, the first pictures I sold were rock concert photos, accompanying my articles for various music magazines. I still do that, but at a certain point it felt natural to move from the big stages to the streets, taking shots of buskers. Then my vision broadened, embracing the whole teeming life of Italian, European and North-American cities, without gender or ethnic distinction.
The rise of digital cameras and devices has obviously brought advantages – easier filing and indexing of materials, for example – and I have certainly never been inclined to entrench myself in the analog fortress. New camera technology has spurred some people to experiment to extremes; others have just tuned in to the new millennium, welcoming technological improvements and more and more portable cameras, this second aspect being the most important to me when I make my choices. I am adamant on one thing: print. I have always put my trust in professionals, in fine art printers like my friend Gian Paolo Daldello, to turn my visions into physical, tangible objects. Printing is definitely not one of my skills!
SIGNES/SEGNI, November 10-24, 2015
Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca
Building U6 – Floor S
Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano.
Opening, 10 November, h 14:00
A photographic reportage around the Place de la République monument in Paris, focused on the numerous tags, drawings, graffiti and visiting people commemorating the January 11, 2015 victims of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly magazine and kosher supermarket massacres. The series of 12 raw b&w shots – the fine art print is Gian Paolo Daldello‘s – was taken not only in a photographer’s perspective but with a historical documentation purpose – soon all these signs/evidence will disappear! There is no judgment by the photographer, the will to record prevails. The November 10-24, 2015 exhibition – curated by professor Tatjana Sekulić – is organized in collaboration with the Università degli Studi Milano Bicocca and linked to an interdepartmental series of seminars on the contradictions and conflicts of today’s plural society.