What kind of equipment (camera body, lens, filters, flash, tripod, cleaning equipment other) do you use?
Right now, my main camera is a Nikon D600. I worked with the D300s until May 2013, and then I felt the need to move on to a full-frame camera, and the D600 is wonderful. When it comes to lenses, I work mostly with a 50mm f/1.4 for self-portraiture and a 24-70mm f/2.8 for weddings and photoshoots. I also own a 50mm f/1.8 — which was pretty much set aside when I bought the 1.4, and a 35mm f/1.8 (all of them Nikkor) that I still keep on the body of my D300s, so that I have it at hand whenever I need it.
As for other equipment: I have a Manfrotto tripod that I swear on, since it’s incredibly sturdy, and a set of studio lights (with soft boxes) that offer both flash and continuous light, which I’m working with more, recently.
What do you like and dislike about your equipment, especially your camera, and how would you improve it?
I adore the D600. I read a lot of reviews before I bought it and even though a few photographers thought it would be pointed at a more amateur-ish kind of buyer, I have to say that it works wonders for weddings and photo shoots, so I don’t see the problem at all. It’s not too chunky, it’s light and portable and wonderfully comfortable to shoot with. I keep recommending it to people, because I think it’s truly amazing. Other than that, I would probably like to invest in a better quality set of studio lights, but it’s not urgent, since mine still work pretty well.
What is your favourite lens, and why?
I have a favorite lens for each function. I love my 50mm f/1.4 for day-to-day work and for self-portraiture. For weddings, I definitely like the 24-70mm — it’s very versatile and sharp.
When you travel, what is in your essential photographic kit bag?
I’m mostly a light traveler when it comes to gear, so I only take my camera (and all it requires, such as batteries, charger, etc), a couple of memory cards and the 50mm f/1.4 lens. I could take the 24-70mm with me as well, but it’s a very expensive and heavy lens, and I would probably be constantly worrying about losing it or having it stolen. I also like to travel with an analogue camera, so I normally bring my Pentax Spotmatic with a couple rolls — and the photo meter app it requires, on my phone. Oh, talking about my phone, I am completely dependent on it when I’m traveling, for photos. It’s not uncommon to see me taking a photo with the camera and right away taking the same photo with my iPhone. It’s a strange addiction, but I just like having both perspectives.
What kind of software/tools do you use for post-processing, if any?
I use Lightroom 5 for the first processing and then export in JPEG to Photoshop CC, where I do heavier work (manipulations, expansions, skin correction, deep color correction, etc). On my phone, I use VSCO Cam and Afterlight.
How long have you been taking photographs? How do you find inspiration? How do you take your pictures?
These are big questions on their own, so I’ll address them separately.
I started taking photos as a kid. I got my first camera when I was 10, my own thing, that no one else could touch — it was a Canon Ixus that worked with APS film and which I took with me everywhere. It was quite an expensive habit for my parents to endure! And my first instant was a Polaroid Spice Cam with Spice Girls stickers on the side, when I was 11 — which I still have. I’ve been pretty addicted since then. Amongst my friends, I was almost always the one with the camera. I got my first digital camera when I was 16 and my first DSLR (a Nikon D40) when I was 21, and it completely changed my life.
My inspiration can come from books, from day-to-day experiences, from dreams or from art. I used to be a lot more prolific with my production (and with my inspiration) when I based a lot of my aesthetic sense in Mannerist and Baroque artists. At some point, however, I decided I was going to start building my own aesthetic notion, and to be honest I’m still working at that. I don’t think I’ll ever stop, it’s something that grows with me. But the inspiration itself can come from just about anything. Sometimes it’s just looking at a prop and the idea will jump at me. The ‘Orange, or the Return of Lady with the Butterflies’ picture, which is probably my most widely known piece, came to me when I was putting away the butterflies and realized that they were the same color of my shirt. That’s how simple it can be.
My method is rather simple. I don’t like photographing concept pieces with other people, unless it’s my significant other, in front of whom I’m completely comfortable. I work better alone than I do with company, even of other photographers — but to be honest, the latter is not an experience that I’ve had regularly enough to be able to evaluate properly. But my photographing moments are basic — if I have a specific idea, I’ll take ten or twenty shots and it will be done. If not, if I’m just wanting to express something and not exactly knowing how (which is the most common mood for me, recently), I get the props that I relate with the subject and start trying things out. The story sort of comes as I go. I enjoy the process of creating different versions of myself immensely, so I also enjoy the time it takes me to get to a story, through props and images.
Which style of photography do you like the most, and why?
I’m very partial to self-portraiture. Not just because it’s my main theme, but because it’s where I can sort of glimpse into the life of the artists, into their minds and how their themes relate to me, at the same time. I’m terribly voyeuristic, in that sense. I like knowing what people are feeling, and self-portraiture, whether intended or not, can give me a peek at what’s inside that artist.
What goal are you working towards within your photography and when will you know you have reached it?
I think my goals are always changing. There was a time, when I was starting out, when I worked for Explores, on Flickr. I worked for the recognition and I reveled on that. And then I grew a bit, and that stopped mattering. I started to enjoy more quality than quantity in my feedback, started to pay more attention to who looks at my work, instead of how many of them. Right now, my goal is to have a solo exhibit somewhere. And most of all, to have enough material that I’m proud enough to want to exhibit. My constant goal is to always be better than the previous photo — which isn’t always possible; my relative goal changes according to where I am in life and in my craft.
Looking at your own work, which piece is your favourite? Why? Please provide a link to the picture.
I have to be cheesy and to say it’s the Lady with the Butterflies. It’s a very emotional piece for me, and I think that’s why it touched so many people. It came out of a horrible period of my life, the first time I put down the camera for a month, after having done a 365 project, a 52 weeks project, and being halfway through my second 365. I had a bit of a breakdown and needed to stop — this shot was the first thing that came out of my brain after that pause, and it’s still the piece I like the most.
Does your work fit into any one or more distinct genres (nature, landscape, long-exposure, black-and-white, infra-red, urban, artistic, macro, vintage, vernacular, social, street)? If other, please specify.
Most definitely ‘Artistic’. Maybe artistic self-portraiture?
Are there any photography websites that you visit regularly?
This one! Quite a few of my friends have been featured here, and I started to look at this site whenever I wanted to find new photographers to look at. It’s wonderful.
I also visit the recently created but hugely successful “The Portfolio” (http://tpgconversations.tumblr.com/), on tumblr. It has some great work and the interviews are very interesting. Other than that, it’s mostly Flickr and 500px.
What is the one most important lesson that you have learned since you started taking photographs?
That I can create my own world. That’s the greatest power my photography has given me — to imagine whatever I want and to make it happen on my computer. And that gave me the will I needed to never stop dreaming, never stop imagining silly and inconceivable scenarios. They can come true, even if it’s simply as a photograph. Oh, and don’t try to make yourself fit into small suitcases. You’ll end up bruised and limping for a week.
And finally, what other interesting photographers would you like to see in this blog?
Elle Moss, who was my biggest inspiration when I first started to photograph. To this day, I think my style sort of branches out from hers, and I hope to one day achieve her level of quality.