Verità e Fotografia

18 Settembre 2018Fotografia, Twitter threads, 🇮🇹 Italiano

Molte fake news si basano sulla distorta interpretazione di una foto. Diamo per scontato che la fotografia sia oggettiva: del resto, noi crediamo innanzitutto “ai nostri occhi”. La mia storia preferita, quando devo spiegare questo tema, riguarda una foto di Joel Sternfeld.

1º livello (la foto): Joel Sternfeld, McLean, Virginia; December 1978. Un commento che lessi una volta a questa foto la interpretava così: mentre i colleghi rischiano la pelle per domare un incendio, un pompiere si compra incurante una zucca.

2º livello (la storia): Sternfeld sta passando nei pressi di un campo di addestramento quando assiste a questa scena. L’incendio è finto, il pompiere inquadrato è in pausa. Questa informazione supplementare cambia completamente l’interpretazione dei fatti.

3º livello (la storia della foto): Sternfeld racconta anni dopo che non aveva idea si trattasse di un addestramento. I livelli di realtà e interpretazione si rimescolano ancora. Ancora più emblematica quindi la scelta del titolo: vago, generico.

4º livello: Quando ho raccontato questa storia ad Augusto Pieroni (docente a Officine Fotografiche), mi ha risposto che probabilmente – conoscendo Sternfeld – egli avesse visto soprattutto “l’arancione” (zucche-fuoco). L’incursione nello sguardo del fotografo apre un altro piano di lettura. (altro…)

My troubled love with Lucca Comics

29 Novembre 2017Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

Lucca Comics is the largest comic-con in Europe and arguably one of the three or four most important events of this kind in the world. It started as a niche, nerdy gathering hosted in a parking lot, only to grow so much that the old town hardly holds the average 100k daily visitors inside its walls.

It’s a very peculiar mix between a publishers’ faire, a gaming convention, a cosplay gathering and a classic comic-con with international “A-list” guests: all in the unusual setting of an ancient town with a medieval look, dungeons, old walls and green areas blended with the yellow and orange colours of Autumn. And a crazy, totally unpredictable weather.

Cosplayers are pure gold for the shy photographer

My first time in Lucca was in 2012: when I started to reconnect with photography I thought it would be an ideal destination for a shy photographer who wanted to include more the human figure into his pictures. I was quite right.

Cosplayers don’t just agree, they crave for their picture to be taken: it’s an acknowledgement of their work. They are welcoming, kind enough to give you all the time you need, very forgiving and they often know exactly how to pose (and gladly follow your directions if you plan to give them any).

Rejection in Lucca is just not part of the equation. Everyone is polite and happy.

Say “cheese”

As an annual event with more or less the same audience and the same characteristics, Lucca gives me a year-over-year check on my approach in an almost experimental environment – which is quite weird.


The SPi Workshop in London

23 Agosto 2017Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

When I re-joined Instagram few months ago after a five years long gap, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I started following people randomly, according to few mostly unconscious rules: contrasty black and white (or interesting use of colour), urban/street photography, good composition and geometries. In less than one month, I had unwillingly selected most of who are still among my favourite photographers – not just on Instagram but generally speaking: people I now follow on other social media, whose personal website I’ve browsed and for whom I’d book a plane ticket to attend an exhibition. In this, Instagram was indeed a surprise.

The very first one of these people was Craig Reilly.

After him, it was a matter of days before I discovered the rest of the Street Photography International Collective (→ website): Alan Schaller, Walter Rothwell and, last but not least, Emily Garthwaite. And it was love at first sight.

Stagnation and timing

After my first timid attempts at street photography last Summer – at the cost of an incredible amount of stress – I retreated to more comfortable experiences. It was an interesting year but my push was fading, comfort was increasing too much and as a result I fell in total lock down. I needed a spark and couldn’t find any. In the meantime – as I often do when I’m in lock down – I kept devouring images (and, inevitably, SPi photos).

When I discovered that a workshop was planned in London for those very days when I was supposed to be around, I joined immediately. I’d never attended a workshop before (nor I received any “formal” photography education) and I tend to be uncomfortable in unpredictable social situations: joining was an impulse, an internal voice telling me: you need to catch this train now.

Here is how it went, why this was the best thing that could happen to me and why you should really keep an eye on their next workshops.


“Project:Home” and the comfort zone

5 Aprile 2017Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

The most common advice given by photographers (and creatives in general) is probably: “Get out of your comfort zone”. I’ve seen it countless times on blogs, books, interviews and articles. It’s difficult to disagree with this statement, whose implications are largely obvious. Nevertheless it may raise some issues.

This is how many of us would depict it:

Picture 1

Getting out of our circle of safety forces us to access unexplored areas and experiment with techniques, styles, tasks, interactions. To do so, we usually identify a specific goal and/or give ourselves a self-assignement. In my case for example, I identified the lack of the human figure in my photos as a limit and decided to experiment with street photography. I went out more, walked around the city, dared to shoot when I usually wouldn’t. It worked, for a bit. Then it didn’t work anymore: I felt less and less motivated and at some point I discovered I was photographing monuments more than people (in my defense, it’s easy to be distracted when you live in Rome).

The fact is, sometimes we think we are working as in picture 1, while this is how things are actually going:

Picture 2


29 Gennaio 2017Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

This was supposed to be the first post in a series, covering in english the first year of monthly assignements for BombaCarta. Unfortunately, I was devoured by a number of issues and time constraints, so I couldn’t keep up. If you can speak italian, many reports about the year 2016-17 (including assignements and workshops) are on BombaCarta‘s website. This assignment was given on November 2016 and terminated on December 2016.

Choose your medium

Choose your medium carefully: you will stick to it for the whole year. For writing and photography a clear path will be provided but you are encouraged to experiment with any other form of art as long as you accept the duty to “translate” the assignment accordingly. Some forms of art work better in a group: if you have one, you could consider cinematography or dance for example. This is less obvious and more challenging as it may seem: if you do it, I’d love to know how it goes.


Gear does matter

31 Ottobre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

The first myth of photography is that good cameras take good pictures. The second myth of photography is that gear doesn’t matter.

Experienced photographers often tease amateurs because they would do anything for the latest and possibly most expensive camera, chosen after a careful, methodical comparison of all the technical details. After a recent and widespread brainwashing, most people seem now to agree that pixel count is not so relevant (the fact that 24MP cameras became relatively cheap helped a lot), but only to move the discussion towards similar topics like gaining a stop of speed, 5-axis stabilization, vignetting, fps burst, 4k video. And that subtle purple fringe that appears on the edges while shooting towards the sun – isn’t it outrageous?

Fun fact, experienced photographers often use equipment valued around 10.000 €/£/$ and it’s hard to believe that gear doesn’t matter when you’re told so by some bloke holding a Nikon D5 with a 70-200mm f2.8. Maybe they should just say: “gear doesn’t matter so much“, it would be less disorienting.


Permanently at the crossroads

17 Ottobre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English
Bert Hardy, 1940

Take a look at the above image. What if I ask you: “What is this”?

Not “What’s in this”, but “what is this”. I’m pretty sure the most likely answer – at least the one I would give – is: this is a photograph.

Let’s go through these now:

They all are photographs as well. This doesn’t sound like a very bold statement, nevertheless there’s something intriguing under its surface that becomes clearer when we switch to (mostly) any other form of human creativity.


The thin line between the camera and a mirror

19 Settembre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

It happened again.

I was reading a post from La Noir Image – specifically this one (paywall) about the photography of Marcello Perino – when I saw a brilliant photo that caught my attention. After a few seconds, my finger moved toward the middle of it and tapped on the trackpad without my brain knowing.

A short conversation between my Brain, my Eyes and my Finger took place shortly thereafter.

Brain: “Hey, what are you doing?”
Eyes: “Mate, I’m watching, can you please be quiet?”
Brain: “It was him, I was paying attention. Finger! What the heck?”
Finger (ashamed): “Er… I was clicking… the ‘like’ button…”
Eyes: “There is no like button, you idiot!”
Brain: “There is no like button, you idiot!”
Eyes: “Can we go back to the photos now, please?”
Brain: “Let’s discuss the Quintessence of the World and other Bigger Issues instead”
Eyes: “Oh, get lost…!”

That made me think (as this intriguing dialogue should prove).


Can a monkey take a picture?

12 Settembre 2016Fotografia, 🇬🇧 English

It definitely can, according to what happened to David Slater. The events are well known and date back to 2011 but for some reason their effects keep following each other.

The facts are pretty straightforward: photographer David Slater’s camera was seized by a cheeky macaque that happened to press the right button at the right time, taking one of the funniest and most expressive selfies a monkey could ever shoot. Not unexpectedly, the photo became viral and everyone was at peace with it until Slater claimed the copyright for that very image.

All of a sudden, the Interwebs went bananas (no pun intended).

A number of issues was raised and still remains unsolved:

  • Can Slater claim the ownership of a photo for the sole reason that it was taken with his equipment?
  • Can a monkey be the rightful owner of a product of creativity – or of any object at all?
  • Is the owner of a picture the one who presses the button of the camera?

Let me disclose my opinion on the matter straightaway: David Slater has the full ownership of his picture and his claims are absolutely legitimate1. Unfortunately, most arguments used in favour or against this statement are pointless and at times even ridiculous:

  • Can monkeys have a lawyer?
  • If we agree the monkey owns the picture, how do we assess its licensing preferences?
  • Are we giving a monkey rights, only to exploit them by putting the picture into the public domain realm?

The fact is, this is not a matter of copyright at all.