Welcome to the rubric of mine where I spot interesting people and am lucky enough to interview them. The photo course I'm taking gives me the chance to meet so many talented people. One of the firsts I came across was Marco, one of the instructors of my group.
He recently got his Masters Degree in Naval Engineering here in Trieste and is now approaching his Doctorate. In the meantime, he keeps mentoring students development each step of the way at the Circolo Triestino, whose is an enthusiast member.
What impressed me about this guy was is competence in camera knowing. Then, the fact he had a lot of hands-on time during our outings. His later acute critiques and commentary to our assignments made me brave enough to want to know him better. He's got me so intrigued.
Let's read what he has to say and share about his passion. I'm honoured to have him on my blog and if you enjoy the interview, let me know.
1. Hi Marco, tell us something about yourself.
Well, I'm a 26-year-old Marine Engineer with a great passion for photography, Classical Music (especially Mozart and Beethoven) and History. Besides, over the years I became very keen on the English language and the culture behind it, which has prompted me to visit Britain many times, thus providing me with plenty of inspiration for my photography. I occasionally help some kids with Mathematics and Physics to earn a little money that I then mostly spend on photo equipment.
2. The first question is a must: how did you come across photography?
When I was 9, my parents bought me a 35 mm-point-and-shoot camera that I used for some years, until I became curious about my dad's reflex (he had a Nikon F3 at the time). So, when I finished Secondary School with distinction, I got a Nikon F70 of my own as a present and with that, I guess I built most of my photographic culture on my own.
3. Are there any experiences that influenced your approach to your artistic activity?
Strange as it may seem, I never attended a photography course, nor did I have any particular experience that influenced my early years as a photographer. After my father taught me the basics, I guess I built most of my photographic culture on my own.
4. Helmut Newton says taht "the desire to discover, the wish to move and the taste to capture are the three concepts that reassume the art of photography". What is your philosophy of photography?
For many years, photography has been for me mainly a mean to capture snapshots of the places I visited, thus sometimes resulting in somewhat postcard-like results. I'd say that, over the last 5-7 years, my approach has gradually changed towards a more personal approach, yet remaining a way of bringing something back home to remember the places I've been to.
5. What are your favorite things to photograph?
Architecture, animals and flowers.
6. What photographic equipment do you normally use?
I own a Nikon D700, my old F70 (which I have kept), two old rather cheap lenses (a 28-80 and a 80-200 mm), a fabulous 105 mm f. 2/8 Macro lens and a superb, incredibly sharp 24-70 mm f. 2/8; I use a tripod when the necessity arises. Oh, and sometimes I borrow my dad's 70-300 mm lens for some extremely long shots.
7. Is there a photo you're particularly attached to? And why?
There is. When I visited Tuscany in 2003, I spotted a small grove of cypresses alongside the via Cassia, near a village called 'San Quirico d'Orcia' and casually I took a shot, but without much confidence. The result was impressive and for this particular picture I was even awarded a prize in a photographic competition held at school the following year.
8. Does the eye with which you capture the world change depending on the subject, or do all of your photos reflect your personal vision?
Yes, and it's probably not a good thing. Many photographers can find inspiration also in desolate, dilapidated subjects, while I can't. Likewise, the weather tends to deeply affect my vision of the world through my viewfinder, therefore I love taking pictures on sunny days, but I often find it difficult to get good results on rainy days and it's almost impossible for me to take a decent shot on cloudy, white-skied days. That is when I find trustworthy ally in HDR photography.
9. Do you do much editing?
Not much: just some minor cropping and saturation/white balance adjustments. This is partially due to my poor knowledge of Photoshop. I occasionally do some HDR.
10. If you had to photograph a celebrity, whom would you choose?
This is a tough question. I would say a famous orchestra conductor.
11. What do you capture better and what would you like to improve?
Flowers and architecture are okay, but I still have to improve landscape and animal photography, as well as night and low-light photography.
12. Which photographers of the past, or still alive, have influenced the way you photograph? And whom do you admire in particular?
Unfortunately, my knowledge about photographers of the past is rather limited. Anyway, I have recently come across pictures by Jim Brandenburg, an American nature photographer who has worked for National Geographic for over 30 years and I found his work particularly inspiring. I also saw some extraordinary shots by Dr. Mike Maloney, an English photographer, who has recently had the privilege of being allowed to produce a photo report about the British Houses of Parliament.
13. Which books and magazines published your images? And where can we view your photos?
The previosuly mentioned picture of the cypresses was published in a book called "Gran Tour delle colline" some years ago. So far, no other shots have been published. You can view my pictures at my Flickr photostream (please note that this page also contains several images of my father and that almost all captions were written by him, so please don't hold me responsible for any mistake ...)
14. Woud you like to choose a shot from your portfolio and tell us 'what is behind' it?
Of course. When I was in Provence, back in 2006, I visited a small village called 'Le Grau du Roi' and I spotted a young lady reading a book on a quay with her bike lying on some rocks next to her. The light was just perfect, as it formed a beautiful reflection on the surface of the sea. But, as I discreetely approached to take the shot, a cloud obscured the sun. Well, I was so determined to capture that image, that I waited for a good half an hour until the sun finally shone again and I could carry on with my intent.
One more? When I was in London in December 2010 I was wandering around St. James' Park when I spotted as quirrel that had just dug a piece of an orange out and was eating it and I stopped to take a picture of it. Suddenly a hooded crow landed nearby and tried to steal the food from the squirrel, only to be mercilessly beaten up by the angry rodent.
15. Finally, leave a thought or some advice to those approaching the world of photography today.
Don't approach photography with the idea that "It's' digital, therefore I can take random shots and then edit them later". Photo editing is great, but it works on a garbage-in-garbage-out basis: if the input is lousy, you'll never have a first-class output.
Thanks, Marco, for being with us today. Wishing you luck in your career and keep shooting, constantly experimenting and loving life!