Interview: Photographer Niki Barbati (Italy)
Can you tell us a little about you?
I was born in Naples, but for years I have lived in Rome where I work as a journalist. For 37 years I have lived in editorial offices dealing with crime news first, and then with entertainment and culture.
How and when did you get into photography? I got into photography in my teens, when, like many others, I enjoyed developing rolls of film in the darkness of a room filled with basins, acids and improvised ropes where I would dry my first prints. So, when all is said and done, it has been almost 50 years that I have been 'trying to focus’
What does photography mean to you?
I have always liked images in all their expressions, from paintings to films to the thousands of colours that nature can take on in its beauty. Photography is the way I have chosen to cultivate this passion for images. Then, with the discovery of Photoshop, I understood how to modify photos according to my canons of beauty. But always respecting reality: Photoshop, I believe, should never be used to manipulate, only to retouch. And in fact the best retouches are the ones you don't see. Lighten a shadow, soften a wrinkle....
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I have not attended any schools or courses specialising in photography, I am self-taught. My style? Definitely classic and black and white, I prefer b&w because it distracts less attention from the subject of the photo. I don't like over-elaborate pictures where there are a thousand disturbing elements. The subject must be one and the subject must be in the centre of the photo. Then I started my own website, www.nikibarbati.com, and discovered that many people think like me.
Where do you get inspiration from? Inspiration comes to me in a thousand different ways: from the lights of Veermer's paintings or Hopper's night visions, or from a film, or simply by watching how the light filters through the shutters of a window ajar. The problem is not inspiration but being able to put it into practice! Needless to say, it is necessary to periodically go and study in detail the photos of the masters, from Capa to Kértesz to Fai Ho just to name a few.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?
No, I usually never prepare anything. Whether I'm walking around taking street photos or with a model I always let it all come out natural, spontaneous, without forcing anything that might ruin an otherwise beautiful photo. It is difficult, unless you are a professional actor, to match the beauty of a spontaneous smile.
Studio, on location or both?
Definitely location, preferably with natural light, even a little but natural. I am not very familiar with flashes and panels, I prefer to master the lighting offered by a simple window perhaps using a reflective panel.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
Photography for me is just a hobby, a beautiful hobby
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Almost every set remains in the memory for one or more unrepeatable details. Then there are others where the particular light, the predisposition of the model or the simple feeling that is created makes it all memorable, like a sunrise at Lake Albano with Simona Scalia... it was 6.30 a.m., it was very cold (for her who was undressed even more!) But we managed to make the most of the famous blue hour
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
Nikon, I've had several. Now I use the mirrorless Z6 and if I mount the 85mm 1.8 I hardly take it off, especially if I am doing portraits.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
Leave aside mobile phones with all its filters and look at the masterpieces of the past. Study lighting, compositions and so on.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I really like the care and attention given to the photographs and their rendition once published. No compression or flaws.