Medium format photography is a timeless method to produce perfect and seamless photos. Recently, Italian photographer Piero Galastri shot some warm, sunny scenes of the streets with the Lomography Color Negative 400 (120) and Color Negative 800 (120) films. Learn more about Piero as he shares his thoughts about medium format photography, his newly-opened Youtube channel and his plans for film.
Hi Piero, can you introduce yourself to our Online Magazine readers?
Hi Lomo! Let me introduce myself: I'm a young (lol) 37 years old guy from Milan and I work full time as a graphic designer/art director for a big international hotel chain. Let's say my main dish is graphics, but photography is always part of the side dish.
Tell us about your background. When did your journey into photography begin?
My father has always worked in the world of design and from a very young age, I used to hang out in the offices of his communication agency on a daily basis. I still remember how in the first office, there was a small room used as a darkroom for developing and enlarging the photos that would be used to create the mock-ups of the advertising pages. In short, photography, as well as design and art, have always been part of my professional and personal path. My very first serious camera was a digital SLR, the legendary Nikon D50.
What cameras did you use for these fantastic photos?
All the photos were taken with my trusty Zenza Bronica ETRS. It is my first ever medium format camera and I bought it very recently, in April last year. It was also the only medium format camera in my possession, but recently I also got—spoiler alert—a Mamiya 6 MF that I hope to use as soon as possible.
Why the choice of medium format?
I had been pondering the upgrade to medium format for a while, mainly to work with larger negatives that provide more resolution, but also to pursue even more of the analogue process that forces you to slow down and be more cautious and intentional with the images you want to create. The only problem was that I had recently sold my Epson flatbed scanner to get a dedicated 35 mm scanner (the Plustek 8000-something) because I was not satisfied with the quality; so I found myself without a scanner suitable for medium format. But then I finally got to know the fantastic world of DLSR scanning and I decided to take the plunge and buy the Zenza Bronica (at a bargain price, by the way).
You have used our Color Negative 400 and 800 120 films: what are the features you liked most about these films?
I love your Color Negatives 400 and 800. First of all, because I think the price-quality ratio is really unbeatable. Moreover, I think that, compared to the Kodak Portra films, these are films that have a little less latitude to play with, but have a more decisive and defined character already from the negative. I definitely prefer them in some situations where I want to have a rougher and more analogue look, without compromising the final quality. An example is the photo of the mountain at sunset, taken with the 800 that allowed me to shoot handheld without setting the tripod, during the return of a shooting session I did last summer on holiday. I think the grain and the cut of red are so defined and saturated gives a really immediate emotional feeling.
What makes you decide whether to shoot on film or digital?
By now I've divided my photographic equipment into two separate and, I would say, diametrically opposed areas. I own a Google Pixel phone that fulfills all my digital photography needs: taking lots of pictures quickly and reliably, without thinking too much, especially when I want to document my 3½-year-old son Davide's ridiculous expressions (he takes after his father). Film, on the other hand, has become the only photographic medium I use for everything that is intentional and thought out. Right now I can only appreciate my photographic work through the timing and workflow I have managed to find through film. Going out with an intention, a limited number of frames, not being able to see the result of the shots until after I have taken the negatives out of the lab and converted, digitized and, if necessary, printed them.
Who are the photographers that have shaped you?
As far as my education is concerned, I think in general I have been more influenced by the world of design, art and cinema, because of my career path. But I find myself emotionally very close to the photography of Ghirri, Guido Guidi, Alec Soth, Eggleston, Franco Fontana. Recently, I have become quite lost in the work of Piero Percoco, who does not shoot in analogue, but communicates with a raw realism that is truly hypnotic. Another photographer whose skill I appreciate, but above all his incredible workaholism and versatility is Mario De Biasi, whose exhibition I recently saw in Venice and whom I recommend to everyone.
What equipment do you always bring in your travels?
Well, without a doubt my beloved Peak Design photo backpack that I fill like a cream puff is as needed. I always tend to bring a medium format (the Zenza) and a 35 mm camera, usually my Pentax ME Super. If I know that I'm going to focus on medium format then I bring my little Yashica T3, just to have a fast camera to document the less scheduled situations with. Lately, especially for medium format works, I don't go out without putting in my backpack my external exposure meter, a Sekonic L-758 that also integrates the very convenient spot function.
A few months ago you created a very interesting YouTube channel: can you tell us what prompted you to open this channel focused on photography?
Well, let's say that "Film Stories" was the result of my thought on the current state of the Italian analogue "scene". I noticed how analogue photography on YouTube abroad has been producing, for some time now, really interesting and varied content. I had the feeling that even here in Italy the interest in analogue is growing, but there is a lack of, let's say, "modern" Italian proposals that use media and a language that is close to those who are the architects of this analogue renaissance, namely the young, and "more or less" young people like myself (I like to believe this).
Given my background as a graphic designer and as an early internet blogger, I decided to combine it all and produce a YouTube channel where I mainly talk about stories through analogue photography with a language somewhere between an informative vlog and the irony of a "Twitter joker" (like someone who wanted to do stand-up comedy but didn't make it). The immediate goal is to share my journey in the world of analogue photography, entertaining and sharing doubts, mistakes, and discoveries with those who follow me and who can perhaps draw inspiration and advice. In the long term, I'd like to make "Film Stories" a sort of community that can be a reference for those who want to talk and maybe meet physically, to converse like healthy film nerds. For example, like how we can't wait to try the LomoChrome Turquoise film!
Do you have any interesting projects or collaborations planned?
Yes! I'm going to New York for a week for work (don't hate me) and I won't miss the opportunity to document a brand identity project for a bar for which I took care of its graphics and art direction and that I managed to match with analogue photography. I will document this through my Film Stories channel. I am also planning to create a series of episodes together with young photographers and creators, with the aim of sharing with their public experiences other than those I can only experience through my work. Nothing has been organized yet, but the first meeting should be with a young fashion photographer I met by chance in the Navigli area of Milan, while I was shooting the second episode of Film Stories. In general, to keep up to date, I suggest you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (pieromod) where I publish updates in a very compulsive way.