Updated: Jun 29, 2018
Film photography has allowed me to get to know remote cultures more in depth and open doors that otherwise I would not have crossed, without the claustrophobic immediacy that digital provides.
Giacomo, mind telling us about yourself and your story on how you got into film photography?
Giacomo: I started taking photos around the age of 12. My father was a photographer and a master printer so film photography has always been a constant presence in my life. I have never chosen this path, I can say it has been a natural, almost inevitable, process. Year after year, photography has automatically grown to encompass an ever larger part of my life. I started to dedicate myself to photography in the '90s and I was immediately fascinated by the magic of the darkroom. And still today when I see an image come to life in the developing solution I can feel that thrill.
I have been experimenting with several techniques and fields of photography, and digital has never completely convinced me.
What type of film do you use and what camera do you use it with? Why do you prefer these?
Giacomo: I have quite a wide range of systems and formats that I use according to my needs of the moment.
I use some for simpler jobs and for the pleasure of using some cameras, while I use others whenever I have to get what I need without surprises. My photography is mostly portraiture and reportage. I work mainly with 35mm and 120mm, although recently the medium format is definitely the one I use the most. The cameras I use most often are Hasselblad, Mamiya7 and Leica, with different lenses depending on the occasion. They are extremely precise cameras that have never betrayed me, even if I’ve never used to treat them with kid gloves. Working without being tied to batteries is something I really appreciate, especially when I'm traveling.
As for the films, I've never been a great experimenter. Usually when I start to use a film / development combination, I continue to use it for a long time and for a certain project I tend to use the same combos, and this can mean even years. For a long time I used Kodak products, I've always been a big fan of Tmax and tubular grain. In the last few years I have also been using Ilford products and I find the Delta to be an extremely interesting product with very consistent results.
I shoot almost exclusively in black and white, but in my opinion Kodak films have no rivals for color photography.
What do you think film has that digital doesn't have?
Giacomo: Apart from the purely aesthetic and "ideological" aspects linked to the analog we all know, I find film photography to be more fun than digital. And since photography doesn't pay my bills, it definitely has to be fun.
Do you print your own photographs or are you comfortable having them printed in a lab?
Giacomo: For me printing is part of the game. The darkroom is key of my creative process. All the prints are dodged and burned, tone and contrast are changed to get my vision of that particular image.
It would be really difficult to get the very same result from a lab.
What motivates you to continue making photographs with film? Have you learned anything about yourself through film photography?
Giacomo: More than learning things about myself, I think film photography has allowed me to get to know remote cultures more in depth and open doors that otherwise I would not have crossed, without the claustrophobic immediacy that digital provides, which would not allow me to immerse myself completely.
Are there any photographers that influenced your way of making pictures?
Giacomo: My father, a renowned analog photographer, who introduced me to this wonderful art form at a young age.
Over the years, I realize I have a vision that is very similar to his. While maintaining my style, his influence has been decisive in my growth as a photographer. Next to him, I have my collection of photography books that I have been collecting over the years from all over the world and that now fill every corner of my home and constantly inspire me.
Somehow, also painters and artists of the past have influenced my way of making pictures. I am convinced that in order to train our photographic eye we need to know the great masters of the past and not just photographs. For example, the Flemish painters of the 19th century can teach us many important things about the use of light in photography. The compositional rules are not different from any other visual arts and this helps keep an open mind.
Do you see any value shooting with film?
Giacomo: I do not think that the average person going to photo exhibits or galleries is influenced too much by the technical process behind an image.
Both chemical and digital photography have now reached equally high levels and differentiating them is like choosing oil over coal to make a painting. If we talk about collecting, however, a chemical print should have an added value as a unique piece, given the impossibility to reproduce it in series.
In the end the merit or success of a photo always depends on the photographer and his or her vision.
What do you think your future is like with film photography?
Giacomo: Film photography is not dead at all. In recent years we have seen a huge come back of this medium, mostly helped by the fashion of the moment, but also by a return of many artists to film photography. You can see it from the large amount of new films put back into production.
Surely we will find all the materials we need for the next few years. My only fear is the lack of high-level equipment that is no longer produced and that is now to be found only on the used market (with prices rising every day).
What’s your dream photography project?
Giacomo: Photography-wise, India is currently my dream project.
Would you like to offer some good words to those who want to try film photography for the first time? What must they learn before venturing into this format?
Giacomo: A basic knowledge of the camera settings in terms of exposure etc. is key if you do not want to be disappointed by the first shots. Today you are used to get perfect photos on the screen of mobile phones so it is very likely to get discouraged by the first attempts with a “real" camera. Otherwise the only way to learn is to shoot a lot and learn from your own mistakes. A notebook for shooting notes can be very useful at the beginning. Rediscovering the use of a tripod can also be of great help.
Anything you want to add, Giacomo?
Giacomo: In parallel to the activity of photographer, in recent years I am also dedicated to curating exhibitions and shows. This year I have in schedule some exhibitions of my father's archive, which I personally follow, and I will continue to be part of the organizing committee of "FotografiaZeroPixel” an international photography event organized in Trieste (Italy), that is completely dedicated to analog photography. The 5th edition of FotografiaZeroPixel will start in November 2018 and we are planning several side events including exhibitions and workshops. During the festival all the showcased photos will be exclusively chemical, performed with the most disparate techniques (darkroom, off camera, polaroid etc.).
Excellent set of photographs! We can't wait to see more of your work, Giacomo.
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