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AN INTERVIEW

Fragments of interviews by Riccardo Polini for the Italian magazine Tutti Fotografi, by Frédéric Polvet for Chasseur d’images and by Giovanni Marangon.

Your favourite photographic themes?
Much of my work involves nature of course and specificately the plants’ universe. I’m interested in abstraction but I don’t use multiple exposures or complicate post-production techniques as people may suppose. All my pictures are pure.
I make an extensive use of colour working for nature and travel magazines, but black and white pictures are really unique. You’ll probably find the following expression excessive, but some powerful b&w pictures give to me a strong emotion, it probably touches some hidden chords of my mind and imagination. I know of course that color is a fundamental component in nature and its absence brings to a non-existent universe: b&w pictures are real and unreal at the same time.

Do you prefer digital or gelatin silver process to deal with b&w?
I have some experience in the classic darkroom techniques and printing but I began using black and white extensively with the digital event. Although I focused my attention on plants during the latter years, I shot also wildlife in black and white.

A “quality” that every photographer should own.
Culture of course…

Let’s talk about art and photography.
The term art is a huge container, a very spacious box. I’m just trying to say that the concept of art is extremely difficult to define. Boundaries between art and no art, if we can say, are so fragile. Regarding natural subjects and the plants in particular, during my first steps in photography I became fascinated by the work of Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). Leafing through his book Urformen der Kunst – the first edition dates back to 1928 – it remains wonderfully disoriented: is it a scientific book or an art book? The subject and the creative vision of the photographer coincide perfectly and the result is images of extraordinary harmony and beauty.
This concept led the whole work and style of my recent book Chloris with the text by Alessandro Minelli.

The greatest influence on your photography?
Different artists have influenced in different ways my work. I wrote artists and not photographers, because also some abstract painters and even writers influence my mood, my way of thinking and consequently my pictures. These connections may appear distant and strange but they aren’t.

What about equipment?
A good photographer with a bad camera is always better than a bad photographer with a good camera, wrote Tim Clinch…

If you hadn’t become a photographer, what would you be doing right now?
I would have been a short stories writer. Who knows…

What’s your inspiration?
Photography is a never-ending creative process. After almost 35 years of profession I need to experiment, to explore new ways of expression, to shoot the same subjects through innovative techniques. You learn always: from another photographer, from a painter, even from an error.
The Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri once said that pictures presume thinking.

Do you apply heavy post-production adjustments in your pictures?
It may appear strange but I apply just the necessary adjustments. I’m not a Photoshop specialist. On the contrary I try to be extremely accurate during the shooting process. I’m not the guy who says, ok, never mind, I’ll correct it later on the computer. For my photograph Falling leaf I shot 174 pictures in order to obtain the result I had in mind.

What’s a successful picture?
It’s a nice question because there isn’t an univocal answer. A specific picture may be perfect for a magazine or book, but the same picture isn’t suitable, let’s say, for a photographic competition. On the contrary, a creative shot will be probably excluded in another kind of book in which documentation is required. Pictures have to be analized through different keys. So the answer is it depends.
There’s a infallible criterion about pictures and it is time: if a photograph is capable of stirring up emotion after so many years, it’s probably a successful shot.