Tuscany: La Culla Dell’Arte (The Cradle of Art), A Conversation With Gianluca Ricoveri by Dilshad C.
I first came across Gianluca’s work a few weeks ago on Facebook and I was immediately drawn into his photograph, which emanated beauty and poetic melancholy. There was something familiar, I could recognise the charm of places that I used to roam. I was intrigued by his photograph and while his work is reminiscent of works made by the Pre-Raphaelites, or the English Landscape’s painters, I knew that these could have only been inspired by the enchanted countryside of Tuscany. I also knew straightaway that I had to contact him and find out more about him, so I did and after a few skype conversation ad many chats I was sure he was perfect for an interview on Juxt and I think this has been one of the best decision that I have taken up to now, so without much ado lets find out more about Gianluca Ricoveri and his beautiful creations.
D: Dilshad G: Gianluca
D: First of all, thank you very much for accepting my invitation. I have to say, your photos have brought back so many memories from my past. I used to leave in Pisa, and I still can recognise many atmospheric places that you capture! Your work is truly stunning and I was, straight away, attracted by it. So tell me who is Gianluca Ricoveri?
G: I am 63 years old, I worked for a pharmaceutical company and now I am retired and I have much more time to dedicate to photography and to my countryside.
D: You live in Tuscany, and as they say, this is the birthplace of the Renaissance La culla dell’arte (the cradle of art), what does this mean to you?
G: I live near Pisa in Tuscany. I think that anyone who has had the chance to live here gets used to being surrounded by a series of artistic beauties, without being so deeply touched since it becomes part of the daily life.
If you walk around every town, you can admire and enjoy so many beautiful works of art, especially the ones coming from the Renaissance.
The beauty and the artistry of any landscape depicted in the many great works of art from the Renaissance, is deeply intertwined with the character of this region. Tuscany has a history that goes back 3000 years, where man has always tried to build a landscape by respecting nature as it was described by the painters of the Renaissance such as Piero Della Francesca, Masaccio, Leonardo da Vinci. In my Photographs I try to convey, besides the image of a landscape which I am familiar with, also the awareness of harmony that comes from a historical and cultural inheritance which is typical of the Renaissance, filtered through my photographic language.
D: How did you come across art? How important is art in your life and are you the artist of the family?
G: My father is a painter and an antiques dealer, so I can say that it’s a family tradition, I have grown up among canvas and colours. The other passion that I have is painting. I have always been between painting and photos: I have used my photographs as subjects for my work and I have altered my photos with paintings. Through Iphoneography I have been able to link the two artistic styles, create a perfect symbiosis between the two different processes. It is, indeed, a great pleasure for me to intervene with my editing to transmit that personal vision, that experience and interpretation, which comes from my background as a painter, and which very often, I would not be able to transmit only through photography or painting.
D: Are you more of a formal photographer or do you enjoy experimenting?
G: I have always used different cameras and different formats passing from B&W to film or slides, I have developed and printed the B&W and then worked on it with my painter’s tools. Later in the years, however, I discovered an hybrid system: by scanning the slides I altered it with my computer, then I would print on a watercolour paper, on which I used pencils and watercolours to improve it, so yes, I do love experimenting.
D: How did you come across Mobile photography and what device do you use?
G: I discovered Iphoneography thanks to my sister in law and a brochure of a fantastic exhibition of Roberto Murgia. Suddenly I started shooting photos with my iPhone, while trying to understand and learn the different apps and from that moment onwards I found a new creative world. I started with Hipstamatic, which I keep using. I then went on trying other apps more linear, less invasive. The next step was to improve the editing which is the most interesting aspect of the creative process. It wasn’t easy because I had to understand the different characteristics of every apps and the benefit of the editing process. The learning curve never ends because there are always new apps. From all the apps in my phone, I have selected a handful, on which I rely and I use most frequently. I took photos for many months with an iPhone 3GS and then I used an iPhone 5 and I am very happy with it, it has a good resolution, megapixels enough to produce fair enough enlargements and also the focal length in the phone satisfies my needs.
D: You have a very particular style, which is quite recognisable, this is truly a positive aspect of your work. Your photos have a particular painterly finish, very artistic and poetic. Your fields and landscape photos have that melancholic and solitary atmosphere, which makes me stop to meditate. However they are far from the classical Renaissance style, they remind me more of the Pre-Raphaelites’ way of depicting, there is that Victorian Avant Garde feel to it. If one were to look even more closely to your work, then one could also see hints of the English countryside, a touch of Gainsborough’s light palate and easy strokes, allusions from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s works, colours that reminds us of Turner, and at one point I could almost see Millais’s Ophelia floating out from your photographs. So where does your influence comes from?
G: Now that you have said this, I can see the correlation with the artists and those particular artistic movements that you have mentioned. In my photographs I try to interpret nature with clearness and meticulousness, I try to search for very particular atmospheric effects, which you can find in the artists you refer to. One of the main characteristics I try to include in my photographs is to include more than one layer or better strata: there is movement with the clouds and the sky, then the reflection coming from the water, all this blended with some sort of mystery.
D: Your photos are mostly of landscapes and of hidden little corners from the countryside, places that are not easy to find, and yet you have managed to find those secluded dwellings and its hidden gems, how do you go about finding such beautiful locations?
G: My photos are mostly taken around a radius of 40-50 kilometres from Pisa where I live; the far and hidden these places are the better for me. I love that melancholic feel of loneliness that oozes from the countryside. Sometimes I return to the same places where I have already been to take photos during the different seasons of the year and in different climatic conditions andf of light. One of these locations is Massaciuccoli Lake, near Lucca, and its protected reservation areas and the other one is the hills from Pisa to Volterra via Cecina. They are ideal places for meditative walking and even if you have been there, you always find something that you might have missed before, or see it again with a different light, a new flourishing of plants which gives you the chance to create something different. I keep searching and looking for, always.
D: Italy, correct me if I am wrong, has a very formal and conservative look towards art. For example, if we take Literature, and Literary Theory or Criticism, everything backs to Dante and its Divine Comedy, and all the analysis passes through Benedetto Croce’s aesthetic. Based on this how do the Italians take into serious consideration Mobile Photography as art?
G: The development and prominence of Mobile Photography in Italy is becoming stronger and stronger, one can find the most important website sites dedicated to mobile photography made and run by Italians, such as: NEM, WIAM and Hisptamatic Sardinia. More and more mobile photographic exhibitions have taken place in Italy, and the critical response was quite positive too. Unfortunately however, the crisis, the recession of Italy and the “very formal and conservative look towards art”, as you have rightly said, doesn’t help to promote it as much as it would deserve, there is still a slight stigma attached to it.
D: You just mentioned NEM (New Era Museum) and I believe you are involved in this wonderful project, can you tell me more about this? How did you come across this?
G: NEM is an initiative owing to the creativity and engagement of Andrea Bigiarini who has created this project, something that is in its early days and is continuously evolving and bettering itself through the input of the many great artists that have become members of NEM. NEM is a platform for the most creative artists in this field, and it helps them to connect and share ideas. It is founded on a humanistic spirit and ideology: spreading this form of art which uses as a means of expression the new digital techniques, promoting both the development of new potential artists and the diffusion of new forms of creative processes.
D: Sounds amazing! I think I would love to organise an interview with Andrea or even a meeting, do you think will he be available and agree to this?
G: I am sure he will be delighted, and it will certainly be possible to arrange an interview or even a meeting whit him, this is a great prject that deserves all the notoriety possible.
D: Going back to mobile photography and to your photography, can you walk me through your process, from the very beginning to the end phase of publishing: how do you decide where to go? Once there what do you look for? You take your photo, then what? What apps do you use? How is your editing process? Which apps do you use?
G: My decision to go out and take photos depends basically on two factors: the quality of the light and the presence of clouds. The first one is the most important: without a good quality and temperature of light, photos come out to be flat, without life. The second are the clouds, if the subject I have to photograph is near, then I don’t mind if there are o aren’t any clouds, if, on the contrary, I have to portray subjects such as groups of trees or hills, then I need as many clouds I can get. After experimenting with many apps, I have chosen a group that seems to work fine for me. To take photos I use three different ones: 6×6, 645Pro, Hipstamatic and rarely Pro Cam and Hueless. My editing always starts with Photogene, which I use to move my photos to my iPad, then I use Snapseed, specifically the “Selective Adjust” tool, which allows me an accurate Dodge and Burn of specific parts of the image. The process varies according to what I want to achive: if I have to add some textures, I use Laminar, for grunging I use Vintage HD, Picture Grunger and Distress FX. If I have to paint on my images, I use Procreate. I haven’t a standardized workflow and an image often requires more interventions to achieve the desired effect.
D: If someone where to start now, what would you recommend them? What is the one thing that they should do or look for?
G: Without a doubt, I would tell them to experiment, to be curious! To make beautiful photos one does not need to go far away; subjects often are wonderful in your home or close to it, look with a different perspective. Do not be afraid to publish your work on the net and try to draw on the experiences of other photographers, one can learn so much from others, you can see the process of shooting and editing in the details by comparing works. I have noticed that people are willing to explain and share their own experiences in the different social communities, beside there are great sites that do a fantastic work from an educational point of view, Juxt to name one!
D: I have already said this, but I truly believe you have a wonderful eye, and your photos are testament to this! I would love to see you at work! If one day I decide to come around, will you take me into your enchanted world and show me the magic behind your photographs?
G: With great pleasure Dilshad, I would like to show you and share with you the beauty of the places I go to photograph, and I would also be curious to see what kind of feelings this places give you and what type of pictures you would like to take.
D- Thank you ever so much for taking the time, it was a pleasure catching up with you.
Suzana, an EyeEm Ambassador, is an artist living in Bucharest, Romania. She grew up fascinated by watching her father process photos in his darkroom. Since then she has never stopped looking at the world in a different way. While she experiments photographing different genres, her main body of work is based on a project which she calls A State of Nude. She has recently taken up mobile photography and she is involved in some very interesting projects that will hopefully come to fruition this summer. Her photographs have a resemblance to Natacha Merritt’s Digital Diaries, and I am sure that Suzana is one to watch, for she will go far! This interview is dedicated to the loving memory of her mother, who passed away when she was still a child.
D: Dilshad S: Suzana
Memories of You
D: So tell me a little bit about you? Where are you from?
S: My name is Suzana Dordea and I was born on a summer day, sometime in the ’80s on the shores of the Black Sea, in Constanta, Romania. Now I work and live in Bucharest, the capital of my country. Since I was a little girl, I was attracted to how my father processed photographs in a very small room, with red light, but photography became my true passion only 4 years ago, when I started taking it seriously, although I always enjoyed taking photos.
Who Are You?
D: Do you have any memories from your childhood that are close to your heart?
S: I used to enjoy simple things, just as I do now, and, of course, I remember when my father and my godfather used to take photos of us with an old film camera ; they had also managed to set up a dark room in the back of our house in a small workhouse, where they used to develop the photos. I think I was around 5 or maximum 6 when I fell in love with all that process of developing pictures in a small room, filled with red light. It was very captivating for a child to see how pictures took shape in there. Although my father tried to explain to me what was happening, I was just 5 years old and I couldn’t really understand. I simply loved to be in there all the time watching while they used to develop. For me, it was something magical that really captivated me . It was stunning how those photos took shape in that solution that looked like water.
S: While I was growing up, from my high school years and onward, I used to take photos of everything. At first, it was more like a game. I loved watching people, but the more I played with it, the more I realized how important photography had become for me. It wasn’t just a passion , but it was also some sort of therapy after my mom passed away. Photography helped me to get over my mom’s loss . I still think that it was photography that really helped to take my mind off of the pain that was in my heart . Actually, yesterday it was 9 years since she passed away. So I will dedicate this to her.
Visions Of Myself
D: You said that you were born in Constanta, what made you move to Bucharest?
S: My whole life has been like that ! I had to start all over again and again and again. I think I have got used to that, but it has never been easy . One needs to have a bit of craziness to start from scratch all over again, but to me it’s also a challenge and I love challenges . I loved my native city, but I decided to leave when I realized I did not have so many opportunities there. Being a touristic city it’s only active during the summer, but in the other seasons it’s like a ghost town. On a positive note the city offers many photographic opportunities too!
Time To Divide
D: Do you always keep a camera with you and which one is your favorite?
S: I am happy whenever I have a camera with me; it feels as if I am a complete person. Back then, I had a Canon A200 – this was my first camera . I don’t have a preference, in my opinion one can shoot with anything. To me, it could be just a wooden box with a small hole in it, for I think it’s the eye behind the camera that really matters. The best camera is the one you know how to use well and the one you have with you. I believe that it’s the photographer who makes the photographs in the end, not the camera! After the Canon I had a Benq C, and after that a friend of mine gave me another Canon as a gift. I still use it and I am so very grateful to him for everything he has done for me . Now I use an Olympus PEN and my iPhone, which I love, the Olympus was a gift from another friend of mine. I remember, once, someone offering me to exchange it for a cumbersome professional DSLR, but I refused it because it would be a pain for me to carry it around. I really cannot imagine carrying a huge camera at all time with me. Now I am enjoying my iPhone 4, but I am planning to buy a 5, as I kind of have started to use it more often than my normal one. It is very handy and because it’s my phone, I always carry it around with me.
D: Do you have a favorite subject to photograph?
S: I really love photographing anything, actually! Places, people , landscapes, however, now I concentrate more on the female body and the discovery of myself in a state of nude.
Requiem For A Dream
D: What do you mean by a State of Nude?
S: The whole concept about being in a State of Nude is that “Nude” to me means more than just a naked body. It is what the photo evokes to the viewers, it should stir emotions , and it does not have to be literally a nude photo, but it can also be just a portrait. I am naked in front of the camera; I have laid my naked soul for you to see.The aim is to remain true to myself.
D: Tell me more, when was the first time you took a self-photo?
S: I took my very first self-portrait in 2006 . It was October, I think. I remember I was alone at home and it all started with me playing with the camera. I had some earrings that were long and looked nice when they were moving, I loved the reflection of those, so I decided to give it a go. It was really difficult. You don’t get to see the framing or where the focus would end, but I am a creative person and that day I really wanted to come out with something. I think I have a good eye for composition, as I have never taken any photography classes nor I have been to any art school either. It’s all about trying to look deeply and use your imagination, keep an open eye and always try to look inventively.
S: You see, I consider myself more of an amateur photographer, nothing more. I am interested in a naturalistic and honest representation of what I photograph. I started with myself, because it was a great way to get to know myself better and to start rediscovering myself through my own eyes . Also, one of the main reasons was to overcome my shyness, to step out of my shell .
Letter To Myself
D: Has there been anyone in particular that has influenced how you look at the world and how you take photos? Has this person helped you to grow?
S: Yes. Back in 2009 I started following Cristian Crisbasan’s work. He is the best photographer of nude photography in Romania and one of the greatest photographers in the entire world. His work has been published in Taschen and in many other places. I so admire his work, so I wrote him, asking him an opinion on my photography. He actually wrote me back and encouraged me to keep up with what I was doing and never to give up photography. I was inspired by his reply and from that point onwards I knew that this was what I really wanted to do. He helped me to find my voice, and discover myself. We became great friends, and I also ended up being his muse for an exhibition of photos that he took of me called A-Muse. During all these years he has taught me so much and he is a never-ending inspiration.
State Of Dreaming
D: It is wonderful to find people like this, not only they are a true source of inspiration, but they challenge you and make you grow! You say that Cristian helped you to find your voice, so what is it that you are trying to express with your photography?
S: I think, as Diane Arbus used to say, that photography is a very perverse way of expression. Since last year, I started to document and explore my body, my sexuality, and photographing other models for a project called A State of Nude, as a form of saying who we really are. This is why I believe that the nude, as a means to expose one’s soul, is the most complete, vivid, free, open and honest form of human portraiture – the ultimate expression of body and spirit. My work is about the freedom to express the way I see the human being, day by day, in its natural state. I want to be true to myself, I want to capture the inner self, that little something that makes us all unique . Hence, being my own model works the best so far. That, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t photograph other models, on the contrary, but instead of having someone to photograph me, and because I know myself better than anybody else I feel comfortable to pose for myself freely without the fear of being judged . I would love my photographs to be a sincere expression of the female body. These should convey, simplicity, honesty, kindness, sensuality, and femininity; all these simple things. I hate hypocrisy. To me, it’s not about the technique, it’s about what the image transmits to the viewers. Also, with mobile photography and social media’s immediacy I can connect with my viewers so easily today, and can instantly receive feedback and see if those emotions that I trying to inspire are felt by my viewers!
D: That’s a very good point! You are EyeEm Ambassador. What do you think about the way they censure photos of nude and also can you tell me how you became an Ambassador?
S: There is a thin line, I think; this is only in our heads to decide what is art and what is not. To me it is all about the limits and the blocks that we have in our heads! I want to be different and I want to look at the world in a more open way. I cannot decide for the creators of IG or EyeEm, but I think there should be more open-mindedness coming from the users of these social platforms as they are the ones who flag and report photos.
S: In regards to how I become an Ambassador for EyeEm, well I was a fan of Instagram but when they came up with those privacy policies I wanted to delete my account . That was when, similarly to the other users, I felt betrayed by them. So I tried PicYou, but I did not like it one bit and wasn’t sure what to do. By that time I came across EyeEm and I fell in love with it from the very first time I used it. I, actually, became addicted to it straightaway to EyeEm. So I started learning more about what they did and at one point I noticed that there were some members who had an EyeEm ambassador logo and wondered what that was all about? And as I am a very curious person by nature I went to their blog to find out more. That is how I discovered that they were looking for new ambassadors, I filled in the online form , but unfortunately I received a message back saying that for the time being all the positions were filled, but that as soon as they will restart the process they will let me know about this. A few days later I received an email from EyeEm’s representative, Stephanie, saying that they were looking for ambassadors again and if I was still interested then we could go forward. She asked me a few questions and then a few days later I got the pleasant news that I had become the proud ambassador for Bucharest, funnily enough there areno other ambassadors in Romania, this would make me the only one for Romania. I will be organizing meet ups and I am thinking about a great exhibition so keep watching this space!
D: Is there anything else that you would like to add? Maybe on mobile photography?
S: Mobile photography is something that I have just discovered along with EyeEm. Since this discovery I barely use my digital camera and Hipstamatic is my favorite app for taking photos on my mobile! I think that taking photos with my mobile is even harder, and I am always challenged to better myself. This is mostly because it’s a complete different way of shooting and composing, but as I have already said I love challenges and it is not about what camera you have, but how you look at the world. I love all the apps and the possibilities that my iPhone offers me. I use camera+ and Hipstamatic mostly for taking the photos, and I edit these in Snapseed, Kitcam, Swankolab, Dramatic b&w, Blender or iColorama. I have become an addicted app buyer and I keep looking also for gadgets like lenses and tripods and battery chargers too, so that I can have always my phone ready to take a photo whenever I feel the need to do so.
Thank you very much for your time! You can Find Suzana here:
I came across Andy a few weeks ago, when by chance I’d notice on Twitter that a certain Mobiography website had published my photography walk video from Barcelona. I felt well chuffed and very flattered, so I decided to write, as one does, a thank you mail. I think our friendship started from there.
From that day onward, we have exchanged many emails, phone calls and I have been lucky enough to be featured in his wonderful E-Magazine, which I truly recommend it to everyone (and if you want to be featured, keep reading)! Even more, I all heartedly suggest you to go and have a look at Andy’s photos, which have that romantic melancholic feel that draws you in his stories!
Photography never stops to surprise me, I have met more incredible people trough this medium, than anything else, and this is exactly why I love being part of this amazing community! But without further ado let us dive into this interview.
D: Dilshad A: Andy
D: Let’s start with the classic one: Tell me a bit more about yourself and how mobile photography has changed what you do?
A: I live in Lancashire in the North of England with my wife and 2 boys. By day I’m a web designer/developer, internet marketer, around web geek and I rarely switch off. I’m always on the go which frustrates the hell out of my wife.
I’ve always had an interest in photography ever since an early age. I remember playing as a child with my auntie’s old box type camera. In later years in photography class at Art College I loved the post production dark room work, developing film and exposing prints. I suppose this is where my love of dark, contrasty black and white photography started.
Several years ago I bought myself to a Nikon DSLR digital camera. Thinking back I think I was seduced by its large size, knobs and dials. Whenever possible I was out taking pictures but often found a bulky DSLR awkward to carry (especially on days out with the family).
This is why mobile photography has captured my attention so much. The freedom it offers me and the simplicity of the equipment that’s required is like a breath of fresh air. Combined with its integration into social media platforms is what makes smartphone photography so accessible to everyone. I love it. Now I solely shot with my phone, I find it much more convenient, instant and less obtrusive than the Nikon.
This is why this year I decided to set myself a personal 365 project, where I take a photo a day for a year. This is where the power of mobile photography really comes into its own.
D: How did you discover mobile photography?
A: It was last year. I have an Android phone, a HTC Desire, although very soon I’m changing to an iPhone. I had heard about Instagram and had previously searched for the app in Google Play but as it was an Apple only app it wasn’t available at the time. In May 2012 I was sat in the garden enjoying the sun when I had another look and bam, there it was. It had been released for Android and that was the beginning.
For the rest of that year I played about with Instagram but it’s only since I recently got back into using Flickr (thanks to the Instagram TOS fiasco) that I really started to take my mobile photography more serious.
D: You mentioned that you were undertaking a 365 project. Can you tell me more about this and the why’s behind it?
A: At the start of this year I came across an article about undertaking a 365 project. I’m not fully sure of the origins of the 365 project but I know there are many people and websites out there devoted to the concept. Basically it involves taking and publishing 1 photo a day for 365 days and is an excellent way to help you discover more about yourself and your photography, what makes a good picture and what doesn’t.
I had often thought about doing something like this before but had never managed to get past day 2 or 3 (mainly due to the impracticalities of carrying a bulky DSLR about and a busy lifestyle). This time it just seemed like the right time. It was the beginning of a new year, a new start; I was starting a new job and was planning out a website about smartphone photography so it all seemed to click into place. I have found it to be an excellent way to quickly improve and hone my photographic skills and style.
D: What day are you on now of this project and do you manage to take a photo every day? Is there a story that has touched you?
A: I think I’m on about day 104 and I have to say it’s a lot harder than I first thought it would be. Some days you finish with a selection of photos to choose from whilst other days you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. It’s a project that requires commitment and I’m beginning to question which is best, to keep to the schedule taking a photo a day or miss a day or two in favour for producing better quality images?
Story wise, if anything the killer photo opportunities have all been missed due to the time lag on the shutter, incorrect exposure, blurred images or not having the camera to hand. Some harsh lessons have been learnt.
One story that does spring to mind is a photograph titled ‘Texting Solitude’. I was out on one of my lunch time photo walks and heading back to work when I spied a man at the end of the road. He was standing against the wall of the town hall totally engrossed in his mobile phone. I guess he was either texting, surfing the internet or maybe even checking photos he’d taken that day – who knows.
I got to the road junction praying that he’d stay as he was, not move and that no one would encroach on the shot and my luck held out. I love the simplicity of the shot and I think the space around him really helps to convey the solitude of the man.
D: How do you keep up with your inspiration and enthusiasm?
A: I have to say it’s tough. There are days when the weather is bad, which in the UK is most of the time. There are days when I have commitments with work or family and other days when all I want to do is rest.
That said there is nothing better than the feeling of coming back with a photograph that you are proud of and I think that is what drives me.
Inspiration wise I follow several photographers on Flickr and twitter including Thomas Kakareko, Mark T Simmons and of course Dilshad Corleone. I do a lot of reading on sites like wearejuxt.com and theappwhisperer.com. It’s the human stories and the views of other photographers that really interest me and I suppose this gives me a standard to aim for.
My enthusiasm comes from the fact that I’m pushing myself every day. I try to explore new areas of the city around me. I’ll walk down alley ways that many people pass by without even noticing. I look up above, through gateways, arches or doorways. The main thing that mobile photography has given me is a renewed sense of my surroundings. It has changed the way I look at the world.
Walking on by
D: What subjects fascinate you and how would you describe your style?
A: My first love is landscape photography, I love the outdoors but don’t get many chances to really explore the subject as I’d like. I tend to get a bit self-conscious shooting in public environments but as I work in a small city and have tasked myself with the job of taking a photo a day for a year, it is forcing me out of my comfort zone and into street photography so urban locations are a prominent feature in my work at the moment. I think this is a good thing.
I love black and white photography but I don’t necessarily set out to specifically shoot black and white as the end result. Maybe it’s a subconscious thing or the fact that it’s often dull and grim up north as they say round here. I love dark contrast in a photograph. I tend to burn in the edges of my images and add a hint of blurring as I find it gives the images a moody, old feel and helps draw the viewer’s eye into it.
Station Life #2
D: You mentioned you use an Android phone, what apps do you use?
A: I’ve tried several camera apps but have never been satisfied with them for one reason or another so I just use the native camera on the HTC to take my pictures. I’ve used Camera Zoom FX for a while but I never gelled with it. Others apps I use are Instagram and I’ve tried Eyeem but I am limited on memory space on the phone so have to be selective with what I download.
I prefer to do my editing on the ipad and I mainly use Snapseed as my weapon of choice. I have played about with Blurfx, Filterstorm and a little experimenting with Procreate.
I prefer the iPad for editing due to the larger screen size. It feels a bit more tactile editing this way.
At the end of the month I’m going to be changing over to the iPhone which will allow me to sync my workflow better between the phone and ipad as well as opening me up to other apps like Camera+ and Hipstamatic. There seems to be more available for the iPhone so it seems to make sense to go that way.
D: Do you have any incredible encounters or a story that really is part of your photographic journey that you would like to tell us?
A: Not so much encounters as I tend to prefer to observe subjects rather than interact with them. As I mentioned the 365 Project is really shaping my photographic style and approach but I suppose the biggest stories or lessons I have learnt relate to missed photo opportunities. The couple in McDonalds holding hands across the table (missed because I didn’t have my phone to hand), the child running to her granddad at the train station with arms outstretched (missed due to a 5 second delay in the shutter going off) and the monk in full habit walking towards me in the high street (again, camera in my pocket and taking too long to get it out and fire it up).
The lessons learnt here is always have your camera to hand as you never know when a photo opportunity will present itself.
I recently took a portrait of my son sat on a bench. At the time it seemed quite ordinary but it wasn’t until I had edited the image and was about to post it to Flickr under a different name that I noticed the plaque on the seat. It said in loving memory of someone dearly departed. It was then I noticed Luke was looking down to a spot next to him and it struck me that to a stranger this raised the question, is the child looking at the place where a loved one once sat or does the ‘loving memory’ subject line relate to the child. When you look at the photo with these questions in mind it takes on a whole new meaning.
I think it’s this ability to capture a snapshot of time and tell a powerful story with it that is the crux point of photography. To be able to tell a story in a single moment is something very special but also a difficult thing to do.
In Loving Memory
D: Have you ever gone into an artistic slump? This is something that I am interested in for I keep fighting the downs, sometimes it’s really hard for me and I have to force myself to come out from it…
A: There’s no other way but to force yourself out of it. I think everyone goes through a slump sooner or later. It’s only natural. As I mentioned before such things as the weather and busy lifestyle commitments can be draining and don’t help.
My advice would be to get up and get out. Try using different apps or explore different environments from that which you’re used to. If you shoot street go for a walk in the country, if you are a landscape photographer go urban. I am setting myself a series of projects based on different themes such as public transport or urban decay. I think having a focus is essential as it gives you a sense of purpose and direction to what you do.
D: I read, I think, one of your tweets on this, I was really interested reading maybe more about it… Have you thought about writing an article and discussing the whys behind inspirational slumps and how to get out from them? I think a lot of people; I firstly would be really interested to find out more!
A: Yes, it was a reply to a tweet from @wearejuxt asking about people’s thoughts on getting out of a slump. I think an article on the subject would be an interesting idea and it’s something I have been discussing recently with a friend.
I can only speak from my own experience and I guess there are many others out there far more experienced than me but I think the key really lies in pushing yourself, getting out of your comfort zone, exploring the world around you and above all enjoying what you do.
D: How has social media helped you to connect and meet new people or to develop new ideas?
A: Social media is a core part of my daily routine. It is a fantastic tool that enables me to keep track of what is going on in the world of mobile photography, share things that I find and above all it has enabled me to make friends with others around the world who share a common interest.
It’s such a major part of everyone’s lives these days its truly amazing how fast it has developed, how it is shaping the way we live our lives, and how we consume information. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Eyeem, Flickr, Google+ the list goes on.
It’s also something that has enabled me to build a small following to my website, www.mobiography.net. It’s been a key ingredient in its rising popularity.
End of Platform 4
D: As well as your website, you have just launched a new ipad magazine about mobile photography. Tell us about it, what made you decide to publish on the ipad?
A: The magazine is an ipad only mag which for the time being is bi-monthly.
Last year a friend told me about the idea of producing a magazine app for the Apple Newsstand. It was something he was looking to do himself for his legal careers website. I was impressed by the interactive nature and tactile feel that the platform offered. Also when I saw the high definition quality of images on the platform, especially with retina display, I immediately realised the potential for using this medium to showcase photography.
These days’ people are consuming content in so many ways and it struck me that both mobile photography and the ipad tablet market were both growing areas. The ipad has revolutionised the way I work and it just seemed like a logical progression that could help raise the profile of the subject and the work of other mobile photographers and artists.
D: I have to say your Mobiography ipad magazine is absolutely wonderful, well designed and such a great resource for mobile photographers. What is the magazine about and what would you like to achieve from it?
A: Thanks I’m glad you like it. It was an honour to have you agree to do an interview for the debut edition.
With the magazine I’d like to use it as a medium to connect with and showcase the work of other iphoneographers and artists out there and tell their story. I’m also looking to feature interesting insights, tips, tutorials, photo essays as well as accessory and app reviews. Basically, too build a good resource of inspiration and information.
It’s the human aspect of mobile photography that interests me. I’m in awe of the quality of work being pushed out on sites like Flickr and Instagram. Its sites like these that are giving photographers a world stage to showcase their work which is fantastic.
But the one thing that really fascinates me is the fact that by day these talented people live ordinary lives. They work in the local bank; they are housewives, college lecturers or IT professionals. Ordinary people doing ordinary jobs but thanks to mobile photography and social media are producing extra ordinary things. I think this year’s Mobile Photography Awards is testament to that.
Mark T Simmons Mag Spread
D: If someone would like to be featured in future magazine issues, what do they have to do?
A: First thing I would say is the magazine is open to everyone. I would encourage people to join in at the Flickr Group; I do a weekly roundup of the best submissions to the group so I’m always looking for new people and interesting work to showcase. From here I’ll also be featuring a selection of photos in the magazine and inviting people to be interviewed for it.
I don’t care if you’re a veteran or a newbie. I’m looking for interesting work, people who have a story to tell, something that’s maybe a bit different. If someone has an interesting idea for an article, a project they want to talk about or review which they’d like to contribute then get in touch via the website or email I would love to hear people’s ideas.
The debut issue of the Mobiography magazine features interviews with you, Dilshad Corleone and a guy called Mark T Simmons who is currently doing a 365 project of his own themed on the London Underground. I really do urge people to check out his work. There are also contributions from other writers about the Camera+ app, and the Olloclip.
Flickr Group Mag Gallery
D: What are your plans for the future of the magazine?
A: Its early days at the moment, but my hope is that this will build up a community of like-minded mobile photographers and help showcase their talents, to get people to share their experiences and knowledge. God knows where this will go; I mean just look at what ‘We Are Juxt’ has achieved, exhibitions, worldwide 24 hour photo projects, a network of mobile photographers and bloggers. The sky is the limit if you have the ideas, time and a community behind you.
How to Use This App
D: How can someone get a copy of the magazine?
A: The magazine is in the Apple Newsstand for the ipad only. It’s under the Arts and Photography section (search for the keyword mobiography). Although they can go straight to it here then install the app. Once open they can either buy a one off issue or if they become a subscriber they get a 7 day free trial plus a 20% off the price of the normal single issue price.
This will sound so cliché, but it really seems just yesterday that I sat down in Richard Gray’s iPhoneography class and I watched Koci’s video! I was so inspired, goose bumps all over and all the rest. The only thing I wanted to do when that class was over, was to go out and photograph the world in all its beauty, and this is precisely what I have been doing for the last year or so!
So many things have happened, but the most important of all it’s meeting and getting to know so many amazing people! The community is what makes this so special! I really love taking photos, I love the story behind and even more to have fun doing what I do, but without all of you this would not have happened, and I thank you for a great year and for all your support!
What I have learned during this year is that anyone can do it (I told you it would sound cliché), and yet it is true! I never had a camera and I still don’t have one, but, as they say, the best camera is what you have in your hand. If I were to give you one piece of advice, then it would be go out and start photographing, just shoot and keep having fun! Everything else will fall into place by itself!
Well, without much a do, sit back, relax and I hope that you will enjoy watching this as much I have enjoyed it making it!
“O fair, false city, thou gay and gilded harlot! Wo for thy wanton heart, wo for thy wicked hardness! Wo unto thee, that the lightsomeness of life, beneath Italian suns, Should meet the solemnity of death, in a sepulcher so foul and fearful!” – Martin Farquhar Tupper
Naples is an incredibly lively city, its beauty and charm has been described and praised often, and as they say, “Vedi Napoli e poi muori!” See Naples and then die! One can’t blame the Neapolitan for never wanting to leave this city, nor its poets singing its praises in lofty hyperboles. The name of Naples brings back memories and images of Dean Martin singing That’s Amore, it also reminds us of white-t-shirt-wearing pizzaioli throwing pizza dough’s in the air and mandolin players chanting the secret love affairs of this city.
My story, however, is about the unsung people, it’s about those that tend not to be mentioned, it’s the story of those who roam the streets unnoticed and live an ordinary life of solitude.
Naples is also Camorra (the local criminal cartel), which truly is embedded in the daily life of everyoneand for those that haven’t seen Gomorra, an astonishing movie by Matteo Garrone, go now and watch it!
Naples is made of thousands of colours and of the many market-places’ bustling sounds, Naples is about the kids that wiz through on scooters and the lady that shouts from the window, Naples is also about Maradona the god and its football team and this story is about all this!
My story begins here, at the Stazione Centrale di Napoli, where people come and go and rest and carry out dubious business, here, Maradona the god, from high above the station’s main gates, looks after its people and the caption below reads: Lui è il mio Dio (He is my God).
This is the story of the squatted S.K.A. a place where the disadvantaged social groups, the unemployed, the homeless reunite and where protests are organized. Today they are remembering Gigi, a juvenile killed in the turf war erupted between the various Camorra gangs, and fought largely by young street boys. Ciao Gigi (Hello Gigi)and Gigi Vive (Gigi Lives), one can read on the many graffiti around the city, and Gigi will live forever in the memories of those that loved him.
Bang, Bang My Baby Shot Me Down
This is also the story of Tonino, who hangs around the S.K.A., he is an ex Camorrista (member of the Cammora), or so he boasts about and as proof of his claim he shows me the many tattoos that he has. I’m not too convinced and I beg to differ with him, so angrily, he says: “This” – pointing towards his elbow – “is the spider web, sign of who has killed! And of those who have made it out of jail!” I sense a bit of pride welling in his chest, then pointing his cigarette at me says that the next time he will see me around he will shoot me dead…
I’ve Got A Knife In My Pocket
So I think it’s time to move on, I really don’t want to abuse his kindness and generosity… Talking about kindness, I end up in a local market place, where I am approached by a lovely old man who, in a whisper, asks me “vu n’iPhone?” (do you want to buy an iPhone?), and opens his vest filled with many memorabilia – I cordially decline his offer. I was, however, fascinated by his face and his dubious ways, so I decide to immortalize him. This, unfortunately, doesn’t go down so well with him and he pulls a knife on me, well I guess it’s time to move on again and this time a lot quicker then the previous one. Ah the joys of being a storyteller…
I ran and ran… it was a hot summer day and I wondered why I had actually decided to come to Naples? One with some sense and better reason, at this point, would just take the first train back and move on with his life, but I really wanted to capture the soul of this city.
I ended up in Spaccanapoli, the main street that traverses the old, historic centre of the city of Naples. The name is a popular usage and means, literally, “Naples’ splitter”; this is derived from the fact that it is very long and from above it seems to divide that part of the city in half. Historically, the street is one of the three decumani, or east-west streets, of the grid from the original Greco-Roman city of Neapolis.
Here I see Pulcinella, or I would like to call him like this. He was walking down in a dark alleyway with very little light and buildings on both sides. I remember I was talking to a jeweller about the history of the city and it’s particular vibe. While I was conversing with this quite extrovert jeweller, my eyes fell over Pulcinella. His characteristic and unusual way of walking had caught my imagination and my interest, he truly was such a particular character, making peculiar gestures, hence at that point I had to cut short the conversation and I went for the kill.
Pulcinella’s mannerisms reminded me of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte characters, thus the title name Pulcinella. After taking a few shots of him, I asked the people in the area about him and they all knew who he was: an actor in his younger years, not famous, but he made people laugh, they said. After his short-lived career, he started roaming the streets of Naples, playing his character and stopping at local coffee shops (Bar) for an espresso. For each espresso he drinks, he pays for a second one for whoever comes after him. I think I have enjoyed one of those coffees myself!
The Football Fan
My journey towards the discovery of Naples was becoming more of an Odyssey. Lost in the meanders of the old city I decided to go where no tourist ever dared going: in the Quartieri Spagnoli (The Spanish Quarters), the poor area of Naples, suffering from high unemployment and strong influence of the Camorra, this area of the city is plagued with petty crime and it’s a no-go-zone for tourists. The Quartieri were created in the 16th century to house Spanish garrisons, hence the name, whose role was to quench revolts from the Neapolitan population. Soon they became an infamous quarter with a high rate of criminality and prostitution.
Here I had the pleasure of meeting 11 years old and 14 years old Ciro and Nino, two football fan, who were getting ready for the local match, and Nonna Pina, their grandmother, who was enjoying the sight of them playing with a Molotov bottle.
Selling My Life
My story continues and now the main characters are the immigrants, the tailors, the street vendors and the miracle seller: Habib has been in Naples for the last 5 years, works 7 days a week and the little he earns goes all to his family in Kashmir. His red beard is one that he is proud of; it took him 2 years to grow it and twenty minutes a day to take care of it. Indeed, happiness is hidden in little ordinary daily life gestures.
Life As A Taylor
Reanto’s tailoring laboratory is also his bedroom; the door is always left open for anyone that wants to have something stitched or wants to pop in just for an espresso and a chat. Renato has been there for as long as his memory can recount it. He has seen the many facades of this strange city, which, he says, every so often is reborn from its own ashes, like the phoenix so that it can raise itself high and might again only to fall better and harder.
In The Name of Berlusconi
Naples is also about its street vendors and their colourful shops. There are hundreds of these around everywhere selling anything from Santini (small figurines of local saints) and statues of those classical characters that originated from the Commedia dell’Arte. So I asked him why together with the saintly figures and theatrical characters he also had for sale the statues and photos of Berlusconi? “Ah, he is a bit of both” he replayed, carelessly.
I Sell Miracles
Naples is about the story of the miracles sellers, it is truly a serious business here and it is not to be messed with. The Santo Protettore or patron is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. Patron saints, because they have already transcended to the metaphysical, are believed to be able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special ones, obviously for a little charge, or as we might call it “Donation”. Hence, people are more prone to make donations in exchange for solved issue. I wanted to come back alive from my visit to Naples and of course with some good photos out of this day here, so I approached him and made my donation… You decide now if you should believe in a patron or not.
Naples is beauty and solitude and its stories are made of lost souls who wanted to be like Liz Taylor all their lives, and do look the part at 9am of an ordinary and average day. They roam the streets, window shop and stop to sip coffees and converse to their local greengrocer. Liz would have probably done the same too had she had born in Naples.
Til Life Do Us Part
Naples is about the story of those that have stopped talking to each other because of a card game gone foul or of a football conversation that lead to a never-ending argument, well at least till the next coffee break and then they will start again, it’s a strange beautiful vicious circle that goes round and round…
Naples is about the story of those that apologise and swear on their grandfather’s soul that they never intended to do what they did; and yet some people will never change, similarly to their listener that do not care anymore and are not bothered, they have seen and heard it all.
Grown Old Together
Naples is about the story of those old ladies that have been friends for a lifetime and grown to like and to support each other in difficult times and meet every day, at the same time, in the same place for the past half a century and discuss family matters and the odd gossip. These ladies are the true patron of the story and the history of these streets, they have seen Naples change and raise high and mighty and fall and then pick itself up and raise again. They are the true gatekeepers of this beautiful city.
This is also my story, the story of my reflections in the many rear-view mirrors and windows of this city; this is the story of me looking through dark alleyways in search of the light, in search of another story to tell.