The sweetness of life is often present in magnificent Italian landscapes. With everything almost touched by sunlight, it’s easy to see why Italy is a paradise for any film photographer. Take a look at these amazing and vibrant photos of Central Italy shot by Alessandro Chiariotti with the Lomography Color Negative 400 films. Through his minimalist aesthetic and perceptive approach, the important details of the scenes are always highlighted in his work.
Hi Alessandro, welcome! Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of our Online Magazine?
Hi there! My name is Alessandro Chiariotti, I'm an amateur photographer from Rome. I'm 29 years old and I work in the mechanical engineering field. I've always considered photography much more than a weekend hobby. Surely, the next answer will explain my background better, but I must say that photography, along with music, are my great loves since ever.
Tell us about your background. When did your journey into photography begin and how did you get into the analogue world?
For as long as I can remember, there have always been cameras in my house. My father has always been a big fan of photography, and I can hardly remember trips where he wasn't busy taking pictures of me and my mother, or hikes in the mountains where he wasn't up at dawn with snow on his knee trying daring double exposure experiments. At the age of 18, I started to get interested in his cameras and tried a few timid approaches to photography, until I bought my first camera, a very used Nikon D80 with a 50 mm lens. During my university years, I got deeper and deeper into this art: I documented trips with friends, graduations, and outings. It was only by experimenting that I was able to acquire a certain technical mastery of the medium and a better understanding of composition.
Analogue photography came into my life quite recently, thanks to the discovery of some films in the freezer and the undoubted fascination that analogue mechanical cameras have always had with me. I would be lying if I said that the first photos I took had any value: most of them were badly exposed and completely black! I had absolutely no idea how to approach expired films. With time the situation improved considerably and I must say that thanks to analogue photography I really learned how to expose correctly a frame. On that note, I would recommend everyone to read "The Negative" by the great Ansel Adams, whose zonal method is still extremely useful and up-to-date (especially when it comes to black and white film).
These photos were taken with Lomography Color Negative 400 films: which camera did you use and what are the pros and cons of this film?
The photos are taken in both 35 mm and 120 formats. For the 35 mm I used my father's old Pentax Mz with a Pentax 50 mm f 1.7 lens, whose versatility and performance are now historical. All the medium format photos were taken in 6x7 format with my trusty Mamiya Rz67 and a 90 mm f.4 lens. When I travel I always prefer to have a few lenses with me and stay true to the "one camera, one lens" formula. All photos are taken on a Lomography Color Negative 400: I think that, especially on medium format, a sensitivity of 400 Iso allows to have the maximum versatility, especially towards the evening hours. I found the Lomo 400 absolutely perfect for a road trip, as it allows you to shoot without problems during the day. It renders extremely pleasing colors, with the perfect balance of soft tones and saturation. Most of the photos required very little editing and the colors, after the films were developed, were very well balanced. I used it mainly in the central hours of the day, obtaining very consistent results, thanks to the dynamic range absolutely able to capture at best also very contrasted scenes. On medium format, on a large negative like the 6x7, it has a remarkable sharpness and a perfect rendering even of fine details.
If you had to choose one format to use all the time, which would you choose between 35 mm and 120 and why?
If I had to choose, I'd probably just go for the 120: the smaller number of shots allows a more thoughtful and reasoned approach which, in my opinion, is great fuel for creativity. The medium format also has an incredible level of detail, not to mention the gentle progression of focus through the image, allowing you to capture even the most delicate tonal transitions. The shallow depth of field you get when you open up the aperture also makes for very punchy ambient portraits. I'm not a great expert in chemical printing, but I believe that the large size of the negative makes it possible to get very large prints.
Many of the photos we can see on your Instagram profile are decisively minimalist: where does this aesthetic taste of yours come from?
Since I started shooting analogue I've noticed how my aesthetic vision has changed (which of course is also reflected in the digital world). In particular, my attention has shifted a lot over the years towards shapes and colors, which has led me to focus on simpler compositions, whose message is conveyed through the combinations of these. I try as much as possible to observe what's around me in my daily life, which is often where most of my compositions come from. Also, my great passion for documenting empty places, whether abandoned or momentarily devoid of people.
What camera do you always take with you on your travels?
I usually try to take at least one camera with me: usually it's a 35 mm with a 50 mm or 35 mm lens, or a digital compact, but if necessary a smartphone will do. It's impressive how many interesting scenes we can see even on the most mundane commute to work, so I always want to be ready, because you never know when something might catch your eye and become a potential shot. When it comes to traveling it's a different story and I'm always happy to bring my Mamiya medium format with a sturdy tripod to support it because I want to get the most out of the 120 film.
Where do you draw inspiration for your shots?
Some great sources of inspiration are definitely photography books and exhibitions: I think that in photography it is extremely important to confront and discover the work of both masters and contemporary photographers. I find that inspiration and staying inspired are the basis of photographic research, to be able to generate new ideas and think of new projects. When I travel or I am out with my camera, I always try to stay alert and attentive to my surroundings, to be able to capture the moments when something catches my attention, be it a shape, a color palette or an atmosphere. I think, in the end, my style of photography is more about capturing on film (or on the sensor!) all those moments when I look at something that somehow resonates in my mind, to try and capture not only the scene but also the feeling that it provoked in me.
Who are the photographers you follow?
In the past years, and in general in the first years of my approach to photography, I started, probably like everyone else, to be interested in the great masters of the past (Steve McCurry, Henry Cartier Bresson, Elliot Erwitt and all the Magnum photographers). Later on, the photographers who revolutionized my way of looking at things were Joel Meyerowitz first (especially his large-format work which really opened my eyes, Cape Light is still one of my favorite books), William Eggleston and Stephen Shore then, for their incredible ability to tell through images the banality of everyday life, finding unexpected corners. Currently, I follow with great interest the new school of American film photography (extremely influenced by Eggleston): I think is a very large and extremely active community, so it would be complex to name them all, but among the many, I believe that Willem Verbeeck, a photographer in my (modest) opinion extremely valid and interesting, stands out for example.
Do you have any interesting projects or collaborations in the pipeline?
Not at the moment, but in the near future, I would definitely like to dedicate myself to more long-term projects, maybe even trying some timid approaches to the world of printed photography, for example, I would love to start thinking about the creation of a zine that allows you to combine the media between analogue photography and paper. I'm still thinking about the idea, but in general, I think it's a path I'd like to take, even if just experimenting with it. As for collaborations, I don't have anything planned yet. In general, I would like to make photography a collective opportunity to compare and shoot.
Follow Alessandro in his Instagram profile to see all his photos.