17 AUGUST 2017

An Interview with MICHAEL NOVOTNY

An Interview with
MICHAEL NOVOTNY
by Anastasia Tsypkina

An Unspoiled Spirit in GREENLAND?

Michael Novotny  © All Rights Reserved

Portrait of Photographer Michael Novotny © All Rights Reserved

Michael Novotny is a young photographer from Prague, Czech Republic, where he graduated from the Czech University of Life Sciences in 2013 receiving a Master degree in Landscape Architecture. He’s always been strongly influenced by nature and even more after the environmental studies what’s reflected in his work.
Living half-nomadic life Michael spent the year 2015 in Iceland, currently lives in Swiss Alps and travels whenever it is possible. He visited more than 40 countries in the last couple of years. Using only analog techniques over the years he developed a unique style and during his travels, he’s capturing the worldwide landscapes in its rawness with a dreamy and mysterious touch and joy of traveling.
In recent works „We lost the Sea“ and „Kalaallit Nunaat“ he‘s shifting his attention to a socio-environmental storytelling document. The one was shot in Uzbekistan and focused on an ecological disaster of drying Aral sea. The other one captures how today’s life in Greenland is involved by modern technology and the world and how the old unspoiled spirit of wilderness life and self-sufficiency is slowly being replaced by western lifestyle.

Copyright to Michael Novotny © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Michael Novotny © All Rights Reserved

It was a big luck to hear about the trip to Greenland in Michael’s own words and to just eventually chat with him. While traveling among the cold lands and the wild seas, they say it’s almost impossible to turn back a traveler to reality from romantic landscapes and to get him talking about our boring man’s topics.

Hi, Michael, your expedition to Greenland seems to be very successful. The topic about changing worlds is relevant now as it never has been before. We all observe pure civilizations are influenced by more developed ones. How is this process of influence shown in Greenland? In what spheres of life?
M.N. I tried to capture both the youngest and the older generation – there, the difference is most visible. While old people still hold on to their roots, keep the traditions and hunt for a living, young people mostly play football, listen to hip hop and dress like their internet heroes. It seems they’re completely losing connection with what they ancestors used to be. And the internet (which is relatively new there) is to blame for sure.

Copyright to Michael Novotny © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Michael Novotny © All Rights Reserved

Which of your photos reflect this idea? (Like, I really think of the photo of a boy holding a gun in his hands – one of the main in the series, mainly because it shows this western influence).
M.N. First of all it’s needed to be said that the series works best as a whole. But even though the complexity is very important, there are some photos which could work as a representative. For example, the portrait of a young boy with his „Greenland“ hat, pointing the gun at me. It was a very spontaneous shot – he was holding the gun against me, so I approached him, while he was still pointing at me and took a quick photo of him. He looked and acted like a real American ghetto boy, which is pretty ridiculous, because when you look around your shoulder you can see unspoiled nature and an ocean full of icebergs. Or the football goals in most absurd landscapes.

You could also describe me how did you feel about the natural Greenland, did you find it? Where?

M.N. On my second visit to Greenland couple of months ago, I was in much more authentic place than the first time. People still hunt there for living on a regular basis. I had a chance to go hunting seals with them – that was probably the most natural and authentic thing I‘ve ever seen. And it completely changed my way of seeing my own way of life and made me even more sad about what is happening in bigger Greenlandic cities. I mean it’s not that bad, but you can still see the Inuit spirit is disappearing. There I also decided to change the whole concept of my Greenlandic work – instead of trying to capture the social shift, I will go back some more times and capture the disappearing until it’s possible. Or maybe both and then make a comparison.

Copyright to Michael Novotny © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Michael Novotny © All Rights Reserved

What was the most shocking and hard-to-understand thing you’ve met there?

M.N. The most shocking part was when I found out, that they shoot polar bears for meat and furs. They actually shot one, when I was in the village (Ittoqqortoormiit) and I saw its intestines just laying in the snow and being eaten by dogs. But if you think about it, it’s not that hard to understand – there’s no way to grow any plants, so they have been hunting what was around. And the number is limited to 35 polar bears per year. The funny part of it is, that when I was leaving back to Iceland, some lady handed me a big bag of frozen polar bear meat to smuggle it there for her friends.

How did these trips to Greenland and series change your views over photography or people or way of life?

M.N. It moved me forward a lot – in terms of technique and my career as well. And it changed my way of how I look to western society now. We’re doing so many meaningless things and are just focused on material happiness. Over there in Greenland, you just go and catch or hunt your food, don’t own much and are happy anyway. A simple life is a happy life.

 

Read the full interview on Lens Magazine Issue #35

 

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17 AUGUST 2017

March of St. Nicola by Allan Kliger

March of St. Nicola
by Allan Kliger

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

“I’ve never actually met David Alan Harvey.
We came to know each other several years back. I had become familiar with his work and the agency he works for, Magnum. He’d been an accomplished National Geographic photographer, leaving them to beat to his own drum. His style of photography engaged me. Different than mine, to be sure, but one can’t argue with his success. He seemed “all in”, even living with a family to truly document and photograph their lives – his “Tell It Like It Is” story. We had planned to meet in Rio de Janeiro where he was going to run a workshop. He and I would shoot together for a few days so I could “see” what he sees, add another arrow to my shooting quiver and push my creative eye.
My bags were packed, camera batteries charged, hotels booked. I was excited about the trip and made my way to the airport. October, 2013, as I recall. As I was checking in and handing the airline counter agent my passport, she asked for my Visa. “Visa”, I replied…”I don’t need a Visa, I’m Canadian and heading to Brazil”. She looked at me, knowing the storm to come which was as yet unseen by me. “As of recently”, she explained, “All Canadians require Visas for travel to Brazil. I’m sorry, but without a Visa, you will be refused entry when you land.
Can you change your travel plans?”. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say, which, if any of you know me, is something that pretty much never happens. I just looked at her, thanked her for her time, picked up my bags and walked away. “C’est la vie”, I thought. Wasn’t meant to be, and so back to the office, I went, stoically trying to process how this could have happened.

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

Back at my desk, I called David to break the bad news. I was expecting him to feel sorry for me, to commiserate and share my disappointment and surprise at needing a Visa from one of the most civilized and respected countries in the world, to tell me how sorry he was that we wouldn’t be shooting together. No such luck. No sympathy there, I quickly learned…”You should have done your homework first” he said, “should have looked into whether you needed a Visa”. Felt like I was kicked in the head while already on the ground, but he wasn’t wrong. I assumed that I wouldn’t need one, felt ticked off that no travel agent alerted me to the need for one, that even Air Canada hadn’t said anything when I booked my ticket, but, hey, the damage was done. Live and learn for the next time I wanted to head to Rio.
We stayed in touch, emails and texts from time to time. We’ve still never met but seem to have established some kinship. Perhaps it’s the full head of hair that we both sport, or that we’re both mature, at least age wise. Be that as it may, We both share a love of photography, of capturing unique moments and emotions – each in our own way. From time to time, I’ll get a message from David commenting on one of my images. He thinks I shoot too much like Steve McCurry (I’m much better than McCurry) or that I seem to feel that the exotic locales are needed for great images (I do love to travel and the more exotic the better so guilty as charged), but one thing David mentioned recently on one of his Instagram blogs (i.e. not directed to me personally but to aspiring photographers at large) was why he was presently shooting an assignment at home, in his own backyard rather than some exotic locale.
“Follow your passions and interest,”
he wrote. “It will show in your work.
Editors notice these things. They also notice if you go running off to India or Nepal or Cuba to just shoot some exotic pictures because you think that’s what editors want. Wrong…

You need your own voice…What matters is the body of work…the meat of content over form and over time”. And so, David was shooting a story in his own backyard. Nothing exotic to be sure, but images no less striking. Lighting, composition, drama, characters, story. All the same thought, just don’t have to travel far to do it. So, here’s my story. Shot in my own backyard. Thought it would be fitting for this issue to go along with David’s work and message.

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

March of St. Nicola – Every year, late in June, a very special gathering takes place in Toronto. It’s not on any “Best To Do This Weekend” web site, in fact, if you’re not a member of the local St. Nicola Di Bari Parish in Toronto, chances are you’d never know about it all. I certainly wouldn’t have known about it I had I not been driving along St. Clair Avenue West one Sunday in June a few years ago when something caught my eye. I drive by the church almost every weekday on the way to work, and knew the relatively non-descript building, the church of St. Nicola di Bari, was there but today something was different. There was a large crowd gathered outside, even a band standing around seemingly ready for something, and, local politicians in their Sunday finery, with their medallions and ribbons, festooned all over their chests and shoulders. I pulled over, grabbed my camera, and went to check it out.
A parade was about to begin. Each year, about this time, rain or shine, the local Italian community, many of whom settled here after the Second World War, would gather to have a special mass and celebrate their patron saint, St. Nicola. Celebrate their past; celebrate their roots, their families, their coming to Canada and their great city of Toronto which had given them a place to call home. To give thanks to the present, and to look to the future. And so this community, many of whom were now elderly, were about to begin their celebration. It was a time for catching up, for warm greetings and embraces with their Pastor, perhaps an exchange or two about remembrances forgotten. A time for laughs among friends who had come from the old country so many years ago, and a time to pay homage to their patron saint. Proudly, and with reverence, this small community would each year embark on the tortuous process of removing the large effigy of their saint from their church, place it on a large wagon, and pull it through their streets, band a’playin, for all to see.

Read the full article on Lens Magazine Issue #35

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17 AUGUST 2017

An Interview with Mustafah Abdulaziz – Water

An Interview with
– Mustafah Abdulaziz-
Special Project: Water

Mustafah Abdulaziz© All Rights Reserved

Children journey to collect water. Sindh, Pakistan, 2013. Copyrights to Mustafah Abdulaziz© All Rights Reserved

The project Water (2012-2027) is a long-term photographic documentation of a resource in crisis. The focus of the work is on the intersection of culpability and ecology, where large-scale behavioral trends reveal how we exist within the natural world and ultimately how we imagine ourselves to be. Water, as seen from a global standpoint, is present in all aspects of human development and so is both defined by our behavior and in turn defines our potential.

The goal of Water is to build an overarching understanding of how humans and water interact at this critical juncture. If we are to see ourselves as one with nature—sustainable and not inseparable from it—then we must see ourselves in the reflection of our natural world.

When I set out to make this fifteen-year project it was only a dream—a dream to use photography as a means to study and reflect on the most critical element necessary for life. What propels me to pursue this work on water is the same then, at the start, as it is now: the belief that our resources may have limits but our capacity as a species to become better caretakers of our planet does not. We carry with all of us the potential to face the challenges of the 21st century, in the hope that we might leave a better world behind than the one we were given.

Mustafah Abdulaziz© All Rights Reserved

Mustafah Abdulaziz on Lens Magazine Issue 35

Mustafah Abdulaziz (b. 1986, New York City, USA) lives in Berlin, Germany. His ongoing fifteen-year project “Water” has received support from the United Nations, WaterAid, WWF, VSCO and Google. It has been reviewed by Phaidon, Monopol and published in Der Spiegel, The New Yorker, TIMES and The Guardian. Abdulaziz worked as the first contract photographer for The Wall Street Journal. In 2012, he was named one of PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch and in 2015 received the first prize of the Syngenta Photography Awards, allowing for the independent creation of new work on California’s extensive drought. His solo exhibitions include: Strandvägen, Stockholm (2015), The SCOOP, London (2016), Dumbo, New York City (2016), National Geographic Museum, Washington D.C. (2016) and Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver (2017) and Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney (2017).

Mustafah Abdulaziz© All Rights Reserved

Cholera education. Holy Trinity Primary School, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2012. Copyrights to Mustafah Abdulaziz© All Rights Reserved

Hello, Mustafah! Thank you for agreeing to this interview with Lens Magazine. Please introduce yourself to our readers. Where did you grow up, what is your background in photography and where are you based today? 
My name is Mustafah and I’m an American photographer working on a project about water around the world. For the last six years I’ve lived in Berlin, which serves as my base as I slowly build this fifteen-year body of work. My early background in photography was photojournalism, which I’ve now departed – and moved into something of a blend between conceptual photography and the documentary tradition.
Tell us a little bit about your photography journey and what motivates you.
I discovered photography at a bookstore, through the work of Richard Avedon’s magnum opus, In The American West. This experience left a profound impact on me; it led me to other books, to hobbies in other disciplines and interests in the lives of others. What photography symbolized was more than imagery. It was a way to reckon my own insecurities and questions about the world. It offered no guarantees but promised perpetual evolution. To this day, my personal feelings and creative process in photography are heavily defined by this sense of change and growth. A large part of my current work is, in fact, almost a direct extension of this idea.

Mustafah Abdulaziz© All Rights Reserved

Water point. Kroo Bay, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2012. Copyrights to Mustafah Abdulaziz© All Rights Reserved

Your Special project, ‘Water’’, focuses on a very disturbing issue – from the poisoned marigold fields of Kanpur, India, to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where just two polluted rivers provide water for 21 million people. Since 2011, you have travelled the world, highlighting the impact of the global water crisis. Please tell us more about this series of work; what drew you to document this subject? 
There’s an inherent problem in the way in which people discuss environmental crisis and visualize it for the public. Even the term “global water crisis” implies a certain concept that is at odds with the way we actually exist within the natural order, just as the word “drought” implies an end to a condition. What is more critical—and what made me conceive of the overarching nature and concept for visualizing it— came from this idea that words and images were failing us. I felt there needed to be something ambitious done. A photographic telling of epic proportions that would flow towards new ideas and concepts, building itself until a new way of discussing the topic existed. This would place water at the topical center and Mankind in its orbit. It would also take time and what I now know, after 6 years of working on it, ambitious scope wherein the true nature of the work is slowly revealed as it is created.

How many countries are in the project? How did you choose what areas of these regions to document?
Currently there is something like 12 countries in the work. The ultimate goal of the work will include somewhere between 30-40 countries. These are simply the places where the topics and themes are found, but this really belies an important idea that readers should appreciate: water is not limited to the borders we create. Where one issue or crisis occurs, so does it continue on. A river may flow into the lands of our neighbor and that which we do in one place may affect us all. It’s very important to me, particularly in interviews where I can slightly control the narrative, to impress upon viewers a more challenging viewpoint from which to see this subject.
Tell us about the countries you were most attached by.
I would like to talk, rather, about the countries in which exhibited striking behavioral trends touched on larger themes of existence and importance towards human beings. There is, during the course of creating a work like this, a risk of the photographer or creator becoming too much of the story. My personal attachments matter to my process but they are also that: personal. What I did notice, and that I think is valuable for anyone to hear, at risk of redundancy and preaching to the choir, is that we are one family. Our behavior with water and the natural world defines and reveals the ways in which human beings see their place on Earth. Through this prism, one can see the refraction of our excesses and disconnections with our own history and evolution. We are living in irrational ways, regardless of the countries I visit, and it is this observation that forms a fundamental concept of the work.

Read the full Interview on Lens Magazine Issue #35

 

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Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved
17 AUGUST 2017

Special Interview with GIOVANNI CAPRIOTTI

Special Interview with
GIOVANNI CAPRIOTTI
by Catalin CROITORU

Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

Giovanni Capriotti on Lens Magazine Issue 35

Giovanni Capriotti is the recipient of the 2017 World Press Photo’s 1st Prize – Sports Stories. His work has appeared in the Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, Globe and Mail, Canadian Press, MacLeans Magazine Postmedia Network, UNHCR ( United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), National Geographic Italia, Spiegel Online, Tetu, Corriere Della Sera, Il Post and several other publications and Media outlets. Giovanni lives between Montreal and Toronto and juggles photography, video production and multimedia.

Born in Italy, he moved to Canada back in 2009 and ever since has established himself as one of the finest documentary photographers of the country. He started his learning process by using vintage film cameras because at the time he could not afford newer gears to support his passion. Attracted by the vibrant 90s, he moved to Amsterdam, and, eventually, to London, UK, prior to returning to Italy to serve his country.

 

 

 

Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

Abdullah Ramallah, right, trains a young boxer at Sully’s Boxing Gym on Monday June 24, 2013, in Toronto, Ontario. Sudanese born Ramallah was an olympian in Seoul 1988, when he was only 16. From the series: “It’s Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men” Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

Lens Magazine: I will start this interview by bringing you back in time to somewhere in the middle of your career as a photographer. There was a moment when you were hired by an airline company; tell us how did you manage to get that job? And how did that job change (or improve) your view about the world and about photography?

Giovanni Capriotti: I went to school in England, back in the 90s, at the London College Of Communication, where I studied traditional photography. After my graduation, I went back to Italy for the mandatory National Service and once I was done I took a year off traveling through Europe. At the time I was trying to put into practice everything I had learned in school. I thought I was a photographer, however, I was not.
After my sabbatical year, I had the opportunity to get employed by a major Italian airline, for the joy of my parents that considered me set for the rest of my life. I started at the bottom as a booking agent and I climbed up to the Revenue Management, which is basically the core business of an airline. The airline job was not for me, however, the cheap tickets to travel worldwide kept me there for over 10 years. During the second part of this decade I spent as a white collar I started shooting for the in-flight magazine of the airline and I contributed to introduce into the magazine more reportage oriented content.

Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

Performers are photographed in the backstage as they get ready for their exhibition at the Festival de Mode & Design on Saturday August 22, 2015, in Montreal, Quebec. From the series: “The Circus” Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

L. M.: Back, at home, you have a wife and a daughter that are waiting for you. How is your family perceiving and accepting your work and these periods of time when you are missing from their side?

G. C.: I live between Montreal and Toronto and I enjoy being part of two different realities. I am a documentary photographer, I shoot editorial assignments and I am a multimedia image and video producer for the University of Guelph-Humber, I am always on the road. I was recently in Montreal to shoot the CD cover and booklet of a Japanese artist who performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival. My wife, Meredith, is pretty used to this lifestyle. I met her in Tibet back in 2009 while traveling and shooting. What can I say? She knew what to expect. My family is pretty used to me being away, working on projects or assignments, and I must admit – they are pretty supportive. I would not have won the World Press Photo without Meredith’s and Lulu’s (wife and daughter) support.

Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

Muddy York Rugby Football Club players Michael Smith, left, Devin McCarney, centre, and John Paul Markides are photographed during a rehearsal for their performance at the annual team’s fundraiser drag show on Saturday November 5, 2016, in Toronto, Ontario. Fundraisers, along with sponsorships, play a major role for the team’s season budget. Each player pays an annual fee to the club, that covers the uniforms, practice facilities and Rugby Ontario fees. Muddy Yorks helps or provides players who can’t afford the payment, with an exemption. From the series: “Boys Will Be Boys” Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

L. M.: Let’s get back to present time. This year, you were awarded by World Press Photo for your documentary called “Boys Will Be Boys”. How did that project get to the attention of the WPP Jury? Tell us the unknown story of this prize and of that project…

G. C.: I have to tell you a little bit about the story itself – how I started, how I ended up with the subject… I believe that in photography, and especially in long-term projects, slow-visual journalism has different steps of understanding. I have started chasing this story back in 2010, at the time I had just arrived in Canada. On a Pride themed weekend I decided to take part in a 5K run. Right before the start, I spotted a few guys in rugby uniforms handling flyers. I reached out to them mainly because my intention was to join the team. However, at the time, I was trying to establish myself as a photographer in a new country; you don’t want to get smashed and injured when you are a freelancer.
Anyway, I kept the flyer and revamped it when I was at Loyalist College studying photojournalism as part of an assignment. Then, eventually, I started shooting the story in June 2015 after pitching it to the Globe and Mail. The story got published by the Globe and gained a discrete success. On December 2015, Pedro Marcelino from Muddy York RFC got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to continue to tell the story of his team, as the club was headed to Nashville, Tennessee for the Bingham Cup, often labeled as the LGBTQ rugby world cup. I accepted and traveled with the team to Nashville in May 2016. That’s when I gained access to the life of the players on and off the pitch and got accepted as a presence in the locker room and in their lives. I believe the World Press Photo was able to understand through the month long process of judging, that technically this is a sport story, but rugby is just the frame of the whole issue. Throwing the macho stereotypes of the game out of the window was the first step of a long process, then eventually the concept of deconstructing and re-describing masculinity through the sport’s performance took over. After I got awarded, I realized how the whole story was, indeed, a very feminist one. Recognizing the value of femininity within any individual, no matter the biological gender, that was the purpose of my project. I believe the jury was able to grasp all this even before I did.

Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

Muddy York Rugby Football Club’s player Danny Perez (standing) and his partner Jonathan Buckley cuddle on the balcony of their condo on Monday July 4, 2016, in Toronto, Ontario. Perez is one of Muddy York Rfc’s best players. He marched, along with his teammates, in the pride parade the day before. The past month was an epic one for Muddy York Rfc. The club, for the first time ever, participated in the Bingham Cup with a full side. Muddy York Rfc is Toronto’s only inclusive rugby side. The team primarily competes against “straight” sides in the Toronto Rugby Union and is affiliated with the International Gay Rugby Board. From the series “Boys Will Be Boys” Copyrights to Giovanni Capriotti © All Rights Reserved

L. M.: In one of your documentary projects, the subject said “singing is a gift from God”; Do you see your pictures as parts of a song that you are singing?
G. C.: I like to look at my pictures as songs, parts of an album, or – if you prefer to see it that way – as a symphony. Music is an association of notes and keys. Visual narratives are the same thing done through visuals.

Read the full interview on Lens Magazine Issue #35

 

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17 AUGUST 2017

Exclusive Interview With Ami Vitale

Exclusive Interview With Ami Vitale
By Anne Pinto-Rodrigues

Ami Vitale on Lens Magazine Issue 35

Ami Vitale on Lens Magazine Issue 35 Photography by: Sarah Isaacs, Ami Vitale© All Rights Reserved.

Ami Vitale’s journey as a photographer, writer and filmmaker has taken her to over 90 countries, where she has witnessed civil unrest and violence, but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. She has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria and donned a panda suit – all in keeping with her philosophy of ‘living the story’. She is an Ambassador for Nikon and a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine. She has garnered prestigious awards including multiple prizes from World Press Photo, the International Photographer of the Year prize, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting and was named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association, among others. Vitale now comes home to Montana in between making films and shooting stories about the planet’s most pressing issues, including wildlife on the edge of extinction, climate change-precipitated migration, and the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit. She lectures and teaches workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and her work is exhibited in museums, galleries and private collections worldwide. She is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of scientists, writers, photographers and filmmakers with the mission of creating powerful stories illustrating the very specific issues women in developing countries face.

Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

Ramla Sharif roasts coffee inside her home in the village of Choche, Ethiopia. Legend has it that this is the birthplace of coffee. The region is home to the largest pool of genetic diversity of coffee in the world, more than all other coffee-producing countries combined by a huge margin. Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

After more than a decade covering conflict, Vitale couldn’t help but notice that the less sensational – but equally true – stories were often not getting told, like the wedding happening around the corner from the revolution or the triumphs amidst seemingly endless devastation. As a result, she recommitted herself to seek out the stories within and around ‘the story’, and remaining independent, so that she would have the freedom to shoot what she believed deserved to be shared.

Hello Ami! Thank you for agreeing to this interview with Lens Magazine. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your photography journey.

Growing up, I was very introverted and shy. I found that the camera became my passport to engaging with the world around me. By putting attention on others, it empowered me. What I never imagined was that by empowering myself, I would also be able to amplify voices and stories. Photography became this incredible tool for creating awareness and understanding across cultures and countries, a tool to make sense of our commonalities in the world we share.

Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

Photography has the ability to create change and remind us of the best of humanity, and what we can achieve. I use photography to focus on what connects us. There is a universal truth that we have more in common than we often realize. And it behooves us as journalists and storytellers to give a broader vision of what the world looks like. Stories of love, courage and those that inspire empathy exist. We must work hard to tell stories with a multitude of narratives. We have become attuned to thinking that the things that give us joy and connect us, the things that everyone can identify with, are not worth publishing and not worth showing. Imagine what would happen if we chose to illuminate the things that unite us as human beings rather than only emphasize our differences?

The Guardian Warriors of Northern Kenya Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

The Guardian Warriors of Northern Kenya Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

In your photography, you focus on the relationship element as much as you do on the technical aspects. Could you elaborate on that?

A lot of my work involves traveling to foreign countries and living in remote places. My job is to become invisible and get close to people and wildlife, so I can bring their stories to life. So whether I’m in my home state of Montana or in a country 5,000 miles away, for me, the intimate moments matter the most.
I’ve realized that if I want to tell a story, it takes time and patience to understand it. I can’t parachute in and hope to do justice to anyone. I have to spend time understanding the complexities. I have to go and live in a place and commit to understanding beyond the headlines.
The easiest way to make compelling, real photographs of people is by being authentic. Making candid images of people is not a trick. It’s a skill a photographer can develop, which requires respect for the subject and building a relationship in the time you have together. Successful pictures of people almost never happen from a distance. You need to become a part of the moment.
My advice to aspiring photographers is to talk to people. It could be a nod of acknowledgment, a greeting, an explanation of what you’re doing, or a long involved conversation – connect with the people you are photographing. Remember, we have more in common with each other than you might think.

Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

An Egyptian man rests his head on his beloved camel in the desert near Cairo. Climate scientists and geologists have been warning of the danger of saltwater intrusion in Egypt’s Nile Delta for decades. Copyrights to Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

You’ve worked in over 90 countries, documenting both the horrors as well as the triumphs of humanity. What has been the most challenging photo story you’ve worked on to date? Why?

Ironically, one of the more challenging stories was the panda story (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/08/giant-pandas-wild-animals-national-parks/)

For starters, it was a matter of how could I possibly create something that might surprise our readers. The panda may be the most recognized and the most photographed animal alive on the planet. It is not that anyone hasn’t seen a picture of a panda. We all have. Zoos pay millions for these panda ‘ambassadors’ on loan from China and they never fail to attract a crowd. After going to China multiple times, getting to know the people, getting to understand the pandas and learning to really think like a panda, this story blew my mind.

Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

Taking a nap with the sweetest little boy named Ringo, an orphaned baby southern white rhino at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. He was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth and now Ol Pejeta is taking care of him to ensure that he has a long and happy life. Ol Pejeta is East Africa’s Largest Black Rhino Sanctuary and the only place on the planet to see the last three Northern White rhinos. Photography by: Corey Rich Ami Vitale © All Rights Reserved.

Of course, the biggest challenge was getting access to one of the world’s most endangered animals. This is a very rare, finicky endangered animal with teeth and claws. With only a few thousand in the world, the Chinese treat it as a national symbol, and each panda is closely guarded and watched. They are multi–million dollar bears that everyone treats with kid gloves, and they are highly vulnerable. Getting close, without interfering with their biology and conservation, and in a way that is acceptable to its very protective minders, was challenging. It was not just about getting access and gaining local trust, but also about being able to work with a wild animal.

People forget the ‘wild’ in ‘wildlife’. We forget that a giant panda bear is actually a bear. The temptation is to get up close and personal with wild animals but these interactions can have lethal consequences. The most important way to learn about wildlife is to keep your distance and be respectful. I did push the boundaries though on getting close to these animals. I had to be suited up in a panda costume which was scented with panda urine, like the staff, in order to blend in.

 

Read the full interview on Lens Magazine Issue #35

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6 AUGUST 2017

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2 by Guy Geva

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2
by Guy Geva

Photography became a very significant part of me at the beginning of the 90s, when I was an Art freshman. Naturally, back then I had to use manual lenses. I did use autofocus lenses every now and again, but even then it was always my preference to focus manually. I like to focus manually; it allows me to “feel” the photograph I shoot, the lens, and the work I put into capturing the right frame. As a beginner photographer, it took me some time to find the path I like – landscape photography and art photography – and I shot various animals and birds, among other things. I used manual focus even when taking these pictures, including mirror lenses with a focal length of 500mm! If you know this lens you certainly know how difficult it is to focus it manually, and yet I always managed to do it, and to do it quickly.

This is why when I first began using the Zeiss lenses, the manual focus not only did not interrupt me, on the contrary, it became easier to use than ever before. The focus ring has a wide range of movement in the Zeiss lenses. Unlike lenses by other manufacturers which lose focus with every millimeter movement, it is easy to focus accurately and quickly with the Zeiss lenses.

One other feature that makes it easier to focus is the sharpness of the lens – the relation between resolution and contrast. The lens is so clear and sharp, the image is flawless, and the whole focusing process is easy and quick. Thanks to this, even the focus verification mechanism of the body works better, and it seems that the lens facilitates that to a great extent.
Prime lenses have a different focal length each and it feels natural for me to use them, since it is similar to our everyday vision. Wide angle lenses, such as 18 mm or 21 mm, are equivalent to our vision when looking at the open scenery. Our eyes quickly scamper to both sides so that we can see and appreciate the whole scenery. The 50mm lens is equivalent to the vision angle of anyone with a pair of eyes in his head, The 85mm lens is equivalent to our focused gaze when looking at a face. The 13 mm would also serve the same purpose while it is also equivalent to the width of the angle and to how we “zoom” when observing a distant object in the scenery.

What would the 28mm lenses and the 35mm lenses be good for? They are best for urban photography or indoor photography. When we walk about in the city our gaze is blocked by buildings on both sides of the street. This narrows our angle of vision, and this is the exact angle of vision in these focal lengths. The same happens within a church or inside any building. If we don’t turn our heads to the right and to the left we “see” with a 35mm lens, which is why it makes it logical and natural for me to use the 35mm lens. This way I can shoot what I perceive in reality.

Lately, I’ve been getting headaches from too much color being everywhere; it disrupts my sight and creates a visual mess in the picture. I cannot say it is like that in all cases, however, in most cases, I prefer to use monochrome. When shooting inside churches, which usually have a limited spectrum of colors, I don’t see a good reason to use color. Especially when it comes to very old churches, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Church covers the area where, according to Christian tradition, Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected. Much of the Church remained the way it was when it was first built, during the 4th century AD, especially the walls in the bedrock.

Hundreds of visitors enter the Church every day – tourists, worshipers and archeology lovers arrive from all over the world. So, while shooting there, it must be taken into account that the place is crowded. When shooting in a place with so many people, it is important to include them in the picture. It conveys the uniqueness of the site, especially when people are constantly moving about. What is also unique to this Church is that it is poorly lit. It actually enhances its beauty, which is why it was my choice to let the dimness be in the pictures.
Not only is it naturally dim inside the Church, it is not possible to use flash there. Therefore it is essential to use high ISO and low aperture speed, and no tripod of course. When shooting without a tripod, a lens that is a little heavier that the plastic lenses on the market is only an advantage. It helps keep the balance between the weight of the body of the camera and the weight of the lens, while allowing me to remain stable even at low speed, as can be seen in the pictures taken there.

Read the full article on Lens Magazine Issue #34

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5 AUGUST 2017

Being Authentic by Aviram Bar-Akiva

Being Authentic
by Aviram Bar-Akiva

Aviram Bar-Akiva on Lens Magazine Issue 34

Aviram Bar-Akiva on Lens Magazine Issue 34

 

“My name is Aviram Bar-Akiva. I am a native born Israeli living and working in Tel-Aviv. The passion for photography was always within me, but it was only when I turned 42 that I grabbed a camera and went down to the streets of Tel-Aviv. Everything I learned about photography is from the streets, never took any professional course or workshop. It was the asphalt roads, the concrete pavements and the glossy windows that showed me around and it was the people of the city who were my teachers. In my daily life, I am an Electrical Engineer, designing power to the cities and their mega-structures. It is during the weekends and the late hours that I enjoy walking the busy streets and monumental buildings, passing by the lively coffee shops during the day or the noisy bars and colorful clubs at night. The city’s heartbeat becomes my own, as I watch the city and the people that make it, trying to capture all of that which comes into my sight.”

Being Authentic

Copyright to Aviram Bar-Akiva © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Aviram Bar-Akiva © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Aviram Bar-Akiva © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Aviram Bar-Akiva © All Rights Reserved

“Street photography for me is all about capturing emotions. A street scene without a sense of emotion is like street food without spice. This is what I look for when I walk the streets downtown.
The gesture of a loved one, the passion of a dance, the empathy of faith, the excitement of youth, the comfort of the elderly or it just might be the simple joy of living at the moment. Being in the streets and capturing these special moments requires me not only to keep my eyes open, but also to keep my soul free and my heart open, as I do not know what will come in front of me next and if this spice that I look for will reveal itself through my viewfinder. These moments reflect invitation to be a silent participant in a scene unfolding in front of me. Ted Grant once said “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls”, this is why I shoot mainly in black and white. ”
– Aviram Bar-Akiva

 

Read the full Article on Lens Magazine Issue #34

Copyright to Aviram Bar-Akiva © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Aviram Bar-Akiva © All Rights Reserved

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4 AUGUST 2017

A MEMORY – by Dafna Yosha

– A MEMORY –
by Dafna Yosha

Dafna Yosha,  45 years old, living in Israel.

 Dafna Yosha on Lens Magazine Issue #34

Dafna Yosha on Lens Magazine Issue #34

I learned the basics of photography 4 years ago in a short, basic course, and all the rules of photography in another, more advanced one, and since then I found myself playing with them and breaking each one of these rules according to my mode and the scene atmosphere.
Photography takes every minute of my free time: whenever I am on the street or in front of my computer. Since I started photographing I see the world in a different way and frame it in my mind according to the angle of the light and the movement of the subjects.
I feel photography is something that has become much more than a just hobby for me; it has a big part of my life today and takes every minute of my very limited free time. Photography is my way of life today, who I am and what I’ve become because of it, it is my dream, my future, my strength, my biggest passion and its surrounds me and I can never leave its comforting embrace.

Copyright to Dafna Yosha © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Dafna Yosha © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Dafna Yosha © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Dafna Yosha © All Rights Reserved

“20 minutes after my Man collapsed into my arms, looking at me with a horrified look, without the ability to speak, suffocating, my silent pleas had no avail – “hang on, I still have much strength in me”…
20 minutes of waiting until the ambulance team arrived. They moved the empty shell of his body and placed it on the living room carpet and started the resuscitation, which I knew was futile. And me at his legs, massaging his swollen feet, I am already in the next phase. Understanding lucidly that for the past 20 minutes, I am now existing in a different reality. Suddenly, all the repressed thoughts of the “day-after”, are exploding, taking over and logically aligning themselves hierarchically by order of importance of execution. At that moment, all I wanted was to take out the camera and hold it. I knew I couldn’t use it with my trembling hands, but I had to hold it, so it could strengthen me and hold me like it did in the past year; In the examination rooms, the X-rays, the endless waiting, the chemotherapy, the long hours of gawking, meandering the streets not taking any photos, just walking wolking walking restlessly, with restlessness that couldn’t find any refuge anywhere.
I wanted to hide behind my camera during all those moments, in which I could not look and see what was transpiring. I only peeked through it, as though I am not really connected to what I was observing. I wanted it to hold me, to wrap her tether around the palm of my hand, as if to transfer to me the strength to cope. I am only the photographer. I wanted her to be with me.
I wanted that somebody really be with me.
I knew that if I went and held the camera, in that moment, everyone would think I had completely and utterly lost my mind. That is why my thoughts and gaze fluttered over the reality, in which there is a body lying on the carpet, and the vision of me opening the cupboard, where the camera is laid, waiting, beckoning to me, even by just doing that, it managed to take my mind off the harsh reality that was brutally thrust on me; an ominous and absolutely illogical reality.
We were married for 18 years and going steady for 4 years before that. Later, he had confessed that he fell head over heels for me already during our high school years. Countless years together, collecting experiences, growing up, growing older and changing. Raising 5 children. For better or worse. When we got married he asked me where I wanted us to build our home. I reply to him: “the place doesn’t matter as long as your warm and big heart is with me”.

Copyright to Dafna Yosha © All Rights Reserved

Copyright to Dafna Yosha © All Rights Reserved

Ironically, aggressive cancer struck him at the place most dear to me, the cavity of his chest.
Very few pictures were taken during the illness. Every day my camera accompanied me and at most parts was not taken out of the bag. At certain moments, when I needed protection and support I just held it in my hands even if not taking a photograph. At times I felt it was taking photographs by itself, for me.
The series entails pictures that can be shared.
Dedicated with love to a dear and special man, my best friend, that was supposed to celebrate his 48th birthday this June, 2017.

Read the full article on Lens Magazine Issue #34

 

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3 AUGUST 2017

An Interview with Tomas Nossek

An Interview with Tomas Nossek
By Anastasia Tsypkina

Tomas Nossek, Interview on Lens Magazine Issue 34

Tomas Nossek, Interview on Lens Magazine Issue 34

    Tomas Nossek is the young photographer from Czech republic. A few months ago he went to Guatemala to take some photos and I managed to catch him on his exhibition and asked about his trip and photography on the whole.

Hello! Congratulations for your first serious exhibition. How do you feel about this exhibition?
T.N. Hi! It’s a huge step in my photography career and I’m very grateful that I could show my work to people. It was my first exhibition and I’d change a lot of things now. I have a motivation to improve it in the future at least!

Tomas Nossek, Interview on Lens Magazine Issue 34

Copyright to Tomas Nossek © All Rights Reserved

Tell us about the concept of the exhibition?
T.N. The idea was to show the work at the coffee farm, which is totally unknown for most coffee drinkers. I wanted to catch the whole process, it’s like a story!

Why have you chosen this place to travel to?
T.N. It was a spontaneous decision. The only thing I knew about Guatemala was the coffee industry. After we bought the flight tickets, we started to organize the trip.

What was the most emotional moment you’ve experienced there?
T.N. We came to the ruins of Mayan city during the sunset, we were the only two people in it, that was breathtaking! Another great experience was the sunrise in the middle of the jungle near to ancient city Tikal, you could really feel how nature wakes up! Also seeing the daily life in Guatemala was very emotional.

How you came up with an idea to be a photographer?
T.N. I’ve been riding a skateboard since I was young, which very close to photography! That was the main purpose at the beginning, to shoot my friends on a skate. Two years ago I got two cameras – the digital and the analog one. Today I’m trying to use both types. I can say that I like analog more because of the feeling when taking a photo.

Where do you get an inspiration for your photos?
T.N. I’m enjoying the light which goes around different shapes and creates shadows. I’m a passionate shadow-hunter! I’m also searching for pure situations of human’s life which we can find in the streets.
Have you got any guru photographer whom you’d love to follow or who might have been somehow a teacher for you?
T.N. At the time I started taking photos I lived with Gavin Smart in Edinburgh. He is such a wonderful photographer, he is the one who introduced the world of street and documentary photography to me. My heroes are Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Erich Hartmann or French Fred.

Tomas Nossek, Interview on Lens Magazine Issue 34

Copyright to Tomas Nossek © All Rights Reserved

How to create a successful photo?
T.N. Just keep your head on and eyes widely open. You can also study some great photos and use them as your inspiration.

Tomáš Nossek would never take pictures of…
T.N….something I wanna enjoy straight and not through the camera. Something like a music show or the waves of the sea.

Read the full interview on Lens Magazine Issue #34

Copyright to Tomas Nossek © All Rights Reserved

Tomas Nossek, Interview on Lens Magazine Issue 34

Copyright to Tomas Nossek © All Rights Reserved

 

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Francesca Camino by Andrea-Marino
21 JULY 2017

Touching Moments Inside The Studio

Touching Moments Inside The Studio
by Catalin CROITORU

Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea-Marino
Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

A model in the fashion industry. And a highly rated photographer.
The two of them had met at a dinner and because of a divine principle. And ever since the model and the artist became a source of inspiration for each other, a “bouquet” of emotional moments shared between the two persons.
Francesca Camicia, an Italian model that lives in California, U.S.A., bonded with Andrea Marino, an Italian photographer living in California too; that happened in a split of a second, but what was next lasted for years. Lens Magazine brings the emotional and the amazing story of the two into its pages. You will make aquaintance with Francesca, a woman that was trapped until few years back into a male body, and with Andrea, the wizard that used a camera to make blooming the world around him.

 

Touching Moments Inside The Studio
– Between A Model and A Photographer –

Hello, Francesca! It is a pleasure to meet you! Please be so kind and introduce yourself for the readers of Lens Magazine.

I would like to introduce myself to the public. It is an honor to be featured in this magazine and to have the opportunity to share my story of life and my struggles and send a message to the world. I would like to start my story by saying thank you to Lens Magazine for sharing my story and giving me the opportunity to model for them. My name is Francesca Camicia, I am a British-Italian model. I am 22 years old and I will be 23 soon. I was born in Italy more precisely in Rome, and I grew up in Rome from an Italian dad and British mother. I have one brother and one sister. My brother is older than me and my sister is younger. My story is unique, special and complex because of my gender and my challenges in a society that hates diversity and doesn’t accept minorities. I went to high school in Rome and I graduated and then moved to London to start my bachelor degree in international relations and diplomacy for years. I studied at university in London and I was starting to feel that I had to make a change in my body because I always felt that I was born in the wrong body.

Francesca Camicia by Andrea-Marino

Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

I began informing myself on how it would be possible to start my transition to becoming a woman even for my body not only for my soul. I searched and started the psychological tests for years to start my hormone replacement therapy and male blockers to start changing my shape. The changes were evident and my breast starting growing and I was starting to feel the way I always wanted to feel. My life was and has been very hard because of the difficulties that transgender women face such as discrimination, lack of equal rights and other elements. I continued to study and I was thinking that modeling was something I would have liked and while I was studying in London I was scouted by an agent in a boutique model agency. I started thinking that it would have been impossible to model or to be accepted the way I was in an agency because of the usual ideas of beauty. My model agent in London started believing in me and I was put on the agency website on both men and women section as a unisex model because of my androgynous look and beauty. I wanted to risk and try even though I knew I would have received a lot of hate and not acceptance.

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to  Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

I wanted to show myself that I was equal and show the public that I was a model and I was capable as anybody else. I wanted to show the world that to be a model you can be who you really are and that your uniqueness is your treasure, not something to hide. I started to feel empowered because I was starting to feel that my life had a meaning and that I existed and the fact that I was visible being the only transgender model was a revolutionary act and it would have helped even other people like me to feel proud and not ashamed of what they are. I went to various castings and catwalks and many times I was discriminated and I felt powerless but I never lost faith. I was appreciated too by many people at the same time but the market was very limited because of the clients’ standards ideas of beauty. I continued to model for my boutique model agency in London and I wanted to do more surgeries to change my body and become who I always wanted to be. I traveled to Thailand in Bangkok and Italy and started doing various surgeries to change my body because the hormones were not enough. The pain was infinite but I had to make it.
I had no choice. I had to accept myself and my condition. After years of hormones, I have undergone sex reassignment surgery to finally become who I was: a woman. I was already a woman but that step to me was essential to carry on and live freely and without chains. The stress and pain and courage was a lot but I made it in the end.
When I finished my bachelor degree in the United Kingdom I moved to the United States in California and I continued studying law. I am now studying for my master degree in law in San Diego, California. I have traveled all over the world. I love traveling and knowing and seeing other cultures. People should learn that we are not labels but people and that the person should be judged by his or her actions, not for her gender or religion or race. The fashion industry is still very conservative and not very trans-friendly and still don’t accept transgender models or other models who have a unique look.
I hope this will change. I hope with my work and story to share awareness and to teach people that even a transgender woman can be a model or can be whatever she wants.
I am proud of who I am and I allow nobody to stop my dreams even though I have a harder life.
I love fashion. I love art. Art allows me to express myself. Art helps me to escape from reality and fashion is a way of art.

I wanted my body to be like a painting.
I wanted to express myself completely.
My family has accepted and supported me always all through my life but many families all around the world don’t accept LGBTI children and this is very sad and I hope that one day every family understand that being gay or transgender is not a choice. Happiness is a human right. Freedom is a human right. Denying to accept your own child because of what he or she feels is not right. I was very lucky. It takes time and it takes information to end ignorance. Schools have to teach that bullying is not acceptable and they have to promote equality. Society has to learn the lesson that hate kills transgender and gay people every day. I didn’t do anything wrong.
I studied law because I was curious about the laws regarding LGBTI people and I wanted to make a change. I love diversity. I love uniqueness. My inspiration was all those models that brought a different type of beauty into the fashion industry. I think that people should understand that love has no gender. Many men, unfortunately, don’t accept to be seen in public with a transgender partner and this is because the culture has put to shame and has destroyed the image of transgender women promoting hate and showing always negative aspects when we are actually just women like every other woman. I am myself not a label. I am Francesca. I am a human.
I can love or be loved by who I want.
We don’t have to put people in boxes. We must not divide people and even if people are different from each other they should hate each other. I hope people love me for who I am and for my beauty. Healthcare for transgender women it is not a choice it is essential. Transgender women are stuck in a body that is not what they are. Healthcare should be free and accessible to all transgender women. We need change. I had to fight especially in Italy to change my documents and passports into a female and I was so stressed out because they let you go through a very hard and long procedure to change your gender on your ID. All my struggles have made me stronger.

Read the Full Interview with Francesca Camicia on Lens Magazine Issue #34

Andrea Marino, Photographer

Andrea Marino, Photographer, Special Interview on Lens Magazine Issue #34

Touching Moments Inside The Studio
– Between A Model and A Photographer –

Andrea Marino, Photographer

Thank you, Andrea, On the behalf of Lens Magazine readers, for giving us some of your precious time by accepting this interview!
You have a long career in this form of Art named photography. Please tell us about it

Andrea Marino: understood, early on that pretty much everything is an image, yes a photograph branded in our subconscious or straight up in our conscious life… hence
the tremendous power that images hold. It was possibly consequential to that awareness that an almost absurd need to understand why images are so important to humans, and how they shape up our life and why we do oblige to that, was born. And of all images, of all photography, of course, fashion images, fashion photography. Yes, above all I chose early on to use fashion photography as a mean to understand or try to understand all that. Above all others forms of communication, fashion goes straight to the core of the human experience. I read somewhere a long time ago that the difference between the Neanderthal and the Homo sapiens namely when we transitioned from sub-humans into humans it wasn’t that the experts, the archaeologist found something big something monumental, it was actually the opposite they found something very small. The experts, the archeologists find something very small… buttons and what appeared to be brooches. They were used to adorn the skins that the Neanderthal wore….. now upgrade into a human by it. Yes, it was a fashion choice, an idea that made us human. I’m sure they would have consecrated the moment with a selfie but there were no cameras around back then… Pity! The need to appear bigger better more beautiful more powerful, important… fashion in a few words, is what has intrigued me and keeps my interest going. I use photography, fashion photography like a discovery tool. That keeps it always fresh.

Lens Magazine: What do you feel when you are in a studio and you have your camera in your hands, ready to shot fashion or glamor?
A.M.: Lately I’m rarely in a Studio. I come back full circle, if you will, I went back to shoot outside. I started shooting outside early on in my career through the streets of Milan. Even when I was shooting for Italian Vogue I preferred to shoot fashion outside, that inside a studio. I would take models and crew to Sicily to shoot editorials there…. so much raw nature there. ones I spent almost two weeks shooting for Bazaar Uomo there. So much soo that the headquarters in Milan thought I had been kidnapped and feared for the worst, we were in such a remote location that couldn’t communicate for days. I can get lost outside… Nature, for better or worse, is everything. When possible I try to use daylight, sunlight, even for images that may need to have a studio setting. I don’t shoot glamor anyways and honestly since the big switch from analog to digital photography I feel less at ease when I shoot there’s so much post production to think about while you’re shooting, that it’s almost impossible to enjoy the moment, like I use to.

Lens Magazine: In the 90s you abandoned for a while the high standards photography and you have traded it for a “less fashionable side of the World”; what exactly it meant?
A.M.: It was at the beginning of 2000 really when I started to itch for something radically new…. The self-obsessed and self-proclaimed first world, “The West”, got a bit tight all at ones, I needed a break from it all, and traveled for 2 to 3 years straight, mostly through southeast Asia and North Africa. I wanted to learn, to understand, to observe something not familiar… what I discovered was that I felt so much closer, almost at home, in India that I thought possible, I am still trying to understand how that came about. To feel immediately at home in a foreign country not close to your culture it’s really an incredible thing to experience.

Lens Magazine: You have a special relationship with one of your models – Francesca Camicia. You both are Italians but you are living abroad, a thousand miles away from your native land. How you two crossed your paths?
A.M.: We met at a great dinner with great food, which is always a good thing, and we hit it off immediately. I could see so much of myself in her and I think she felt the same…. not just because we are Italians but because as an artist as a person that has questioned everything since the get go in order to create something, you’re attracted to people that have done and do the same, I love that in Francesca. I think she loves that I am that way too. I love that fearless way of seeing things that she has. To see the way things are and not see things the way they seem, take a lot of questioning; without it, you’ll always get someone else’s version of perception of the truth. You’ll be a recycled being. Questioning everything it’s our duty, artistically and personally. Accepting everything is they way it is told you without questioning the validity and the truth of it is, in my opinion, madness.

Lens Magazine: The main theme of Lens Magazine next issue is “Emotional Moments”. Did you two – you and Francesca – had such “emotional” moments?
A.M.: Yes we did… you have to, otherwise there’s no magic in the images there’s no energy, and you always want to project that energy that message to the observer, the viewer, you need to leave a trace of what it meant to shoot that image…. what it felt like. Francesca was transitioning “while we were shooting” in between photo shoots and I think it is obvious in the message, in the energy of the pictures the message…. what Francesca and I wanted to communicate is that ultimately there’s no separation, There’s no before and after, there’s no fragmentation. The energy is one there’s no duality, it’s a divine principle.

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

 Lens Magazine: Franco Moschino, Anna Piaggi and Gianni Versace – just to name a few – are names with a significant importance in your career; when you look back now what emotional souvenirs come in your mind when you think of those names?
A.M.: Well, to call them, “emotional souvenirs” it feels a little reductive to me. They feel more like imprints to me if not full at times. When I think of Franco, grace under fire, comes to mind immediately, tremendous talent and a lot of humor too. Last time I saw Franco he was near the end, it was at the Triennale in Milano for a retrospective in his honor and although he knew the time was near he was graceful and a gentleman with everybody, uil the end Franco kept his sense of humor and love for everything and everyone. He sadly was one of the first high-profile victims of AIDS in Italy. A shocking premature departure for the most gentle and funny and giving and irreverent person I knew. He got me my first job in Fashion, assisting Fabrizio Ferri at Superstudio in Milan. What a brilliant man. I think of him often.

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

Gianni was the American dream personified. A humble beginning in Reggio Calabria all the way to Milano’s Palazzo Rizzoli. He bought the palazzo in two stages setting Milan society on fire, they hated him for the rest of his life because of it. You know right…. that people from the south in Italy are called Terroni, is like the N word in America, now imagine if you can…. this is 1970 Italy, that a Terrone went all the way, in a short span of time, from Reggio Calabria to conquer Milano extremely exclusive fashion society and replace an aging view of what the status quo was, the image of a perfectly and boringly dressed woman of course from Milan, with a new one that depicted an extremely outgoing and 1/2 naked glamorous lady, labeled a “whore” That was how it was described, the woman that he was trying to dress, from the many detractors. The success was instant. His clothes his image, unprecedented, like the enormous wealth that came with it…. and he wasn’t shy about flaunting. It is, like it or not, a tremendous accomplishment. I think he felt that people did not really appreciate the enormity of the achievement for that reason I also think that Gianni was not an easy man to get along with or an “instantly nice” guy for lack of a better word. There was always a tension around him. I remember that he complimented me ones though, on what I was wearing. It was after the end of a concert, backstage, his muse concert, Ornella Vanoni and he called me and complimented me, “Ciao, mi place cost hair a does! L’hai messo tu insieme?” “I Like what you’re wearing did you put it together” I had layers and layers of clothes…. and a pair of jeans that to say that they were torn was an understatement…. I was very nonchalant about it, I said thank you and went back to talk to my friend. I think he liked that. He liked it so much that the same style if not a replica of what I was wearing came out the following year on a spring/summer main collection, of all seasons. And because of it, I think, I was one of the very few to be allowed backstage with a camera after each of his fashion shows I shot… without getting yelled at and escorted out, like the few that tried. Oh… we also had a dear friend in common, hum yes, this thing definitely reminds me of a souvenir like sort of thing, if you will.

 

Read the Full Interview with Andrea Marino on Lens Magazine Issue #34

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

Francesca Camicia, Model by Andrea Marino, Copyright to Andrea Marino© All Rights Reserved

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