Photographer Stefano Catalani (Italy)
Can you tell us a little about you? Hello everyone! I'm Stefano, class 1986. I am a fellow photographer based in Milano.
How and when did you get into photography? I bought my first “good” camera in 2009. I have been a musician since I was 14 years old and I loved (and still love) going to concerts. I was unhappy with the results of the photos I could get with my small compact camera so I decided to upgrade to a dslr. That decision led me to learning the basics of how to operate the camera, but most importantly it made me realise how much I enjoyed taking photos. I actually ended up collaborating with an online music magazine as their live concert photographer, so it paid off in some way. What does photography mean to you? It's a tool for creativity, with endless possibilities regarding all of its components: themes (fashion, landscape, reportage), supports (digital, big prints, zines, books), approaches (b/w, colour). It has also been a great way to meet and connect with a lot of interesting people. I'm quite a shy person, so photography more than music allows me to work in an intimate environment (if it's just me and the model for example), or alone (I love exploring new places by myself) but it's also super fun to work on themed fashion editorials with models, makeup artist, stylist, assistant etc., the energy level and the mood of the team really helps to get the work done in the best possible way. Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers. At the moment my main interest lies within portraiture, heavily influenced by fashion. I shoot mostly digital black and white, but I've been experimenting with colour and film (120 and 135). My main focus is the person's face, with the character set in a context that matches the mood of the photograph.
Where do you get inspiration from? In regards of the visual aspect of the photograph I look for inspiration looking at the work of some of the best photographers in the world. I attend exhibitions, buy books and fashion magazines. Regarding themes I tend to get inspired by my own mood: I love and enjoy shooting dark intense moods, with winter clothing. A few times tho I got ideas from books, songs, or even conversations I had with people. My brain is constantly working, so sometimes I come up with ideas out of nowhere just because now I do see something under a new,different light. Think you in advance what you want in the picture? I plan in advance who, where, and the theme. I make sure I get the picture I already had in my mind, but then I let the other person's mood, way of moving, or the location and the light surprise me with something I haven't thought of or I haven't noticed until that moment. And it usually works out well.
Studio, on location or both?
I love shooting on location, as I said I get inspired by places and how light sculpts the scene. But I feel at ease working in a studio as well, it depends on what I want to go for, and if I can rely or not on the weather. Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I do not get my main income from photography, so I wouldn't call myself a paid professional. But I'd like to get to the point where photography is the only thing I do in life.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work? My will to learn new things and to get better at what I do is always fuelling me and pushing me to move forward. As an external source, the beforehand mentioned Peter Lindbergh is my number one name on the list. His visuals and his approach to fashion and photography is one of a kind. What has been your most memorable session and why?
It is for sure a set I shot in 2016. It was my very first editorial with a full team: a model from an agency, stylist, makeup artist, assistant. I scouted the location a few weeks in advance with a friend, did the casting for the model, everything was planned and sorted. The theme was inspired by Peter Lindbergh's Vogue editorial with Kate Winslet, a cloudy windy day on a beach. It resonated very well with the visual I love and with my own mood. And there I was in February, eager to shoot an editorial where I thought I wasn't going to have enough light to actually get proper exposures, only to find myself during the hottest winter day I've ever witnessed. 20°C where it should have been barely 10°C. Clear blue sky instead of low dark rolling clouds. I didn't let that discourage me and I managed to work my way around that and I think I got very good pictures out of the shoot.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
For my digital work I use Nikon, but only because my first camera was a Nikon, it felt good and I stuck with the brand. For my film work I use Nikon f100, Mamiya 645 and my “travel camera” is an oympus rangefinder 35mm. My favourite lens has been the 85mm focal lenght for the last few years, but the 105 macro I started using a while ago is surprisingly interesting.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Study, shoot, learn from mistakes. Repeat. What do you think of our new magazine?
It's great, I think you're doing a great service to the industry!
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