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Interview: Photographer Salvatore Montemagno (Italy)

Can you tell us a little about you?

I was born in Gela, in Sicily, but for many years now I have lived in Montichiari (BS) in Lombardy. I have been taking photographs for more than 30 years, but I can say that I have only recently been making "my photography". For me, year zero was the encounter with digital, it allowed me to be able to have total control of my photos, from shooting to printing through post-production which I consider a very important step ....... fundamental for my photos, on the contrary: I consider it a real creative act.

How and when did you get into photography?

My encounter with photography took place many years ago. I still remember when I took my first photo with a reflex, a Cosina CT1 lent to me by a work colleague, we were in Rome, from our office window. A very banal photo but very important to me. The zero point of a great passion that has never abandoned me since then, albeit with ups and downs. I still have that photograph.

What does photography mean to you?

For me photography is art, it's the way I investigate my emotional world, my inner world, my past. After all, my photography speaks only of me ....... it reproduces scenes that I have inside my head and inside my soul, made up of memories, details, memories. Before taking pictures, I wrote a lot. For years, however, I have preferred to tell myself through images. Still using metaphors, syntax, finding the "right light" instead of the "right word" to arouse a particular emotion.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

I could define my style: pictorial!!. It's really my approach to photography to be purely pictorial.. As paintings my portraits are constructed scenes.. ..starting from the location that I personally choose with great attention. The poses that I suggest to my models are not poses from true photographic portraits but poses that are very inspired by Renaissance paintings. Then like a painter I obsessively take care of the color combinations, the shades on which I act through targeted post-production. The colors and tones play a fundamental role in all my photos they have the task of arousing emotions!! I use them as a real element of the story.

Where do you get inspiration from?

One day a girl asked me what my photos mean. I replied I don't know!

I photograph my dreams and dreams I am not able to interpret them Others can do it very well.

Not me I only know how to photograph my dreams But no, I don't know what they mean.

Here: yes it happens sometimes that I reach a location with an already established project, but most of the time (almost always) I don't respect that project... and I abandon myself completely to improvisation. I look at myself around and I let my unconscious guide me and help me compose the most effective scene to suggest the most evocative props present there on the spot. Yes sometimes I already start with ideas and maybe I realize them but almost always the best shots are always those born from improvisation.

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?

No. not always. I think it may happen that the meaning of our photos precedes us. There is always a reason that pushes us to press the shutter button at a certain moment, choosing that instant that shot and excluding all the others in an amen, but we are not always guilty of it, the invisible thread of the mechanisms of our conscience leads us to snap, but we don't know why yet. It happened to me and still happens often, I press the button because I feel that this is a moment that touches me inside, then the shot is there to keep a meaning: waiting for me to reach it sooner or later.

Studio, on location or both?

I have rarely shot in a photography studio, I love to shoot in a location, both indoors and outdoors. The location in my photos is an important part of the story, in my works it is often like a mirror in which the soul of the person photographed is reflected. This is why I always use humble, troubled, not particularly beautiful places. I love places that are able to represent the restlessness of the ego and so here I choose abandoned villas , banks of rivers burned by the sun, swamps and marshes. Then I don't like artificial light, in fact all my works have been created using only natural light, no flash and no lamp, even indoors my models are always illuminated by the only natural light that I have available and which is often little , in fact for this I only use fixed focal length and very bright lenses with an excellent aperture.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

Photographer as a hobby or rather: for passion. I practice photography as a form of artistic expression. But I do not exclude the possibility of becoming a professional photographer in the future.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

Surely I will never forget the first time I had to invent a shooting. At the time I was a generic photographer, I didn't have my own genre, I photographed landscapes, I took portraits, I photographed on the street, I was also dedicated to photography sporty then one day a friend who was studying fashion asked me to help her in presenting some clothes she had created so I found myself organizing a shooting for the first time, as a location we chose a ruined villa near us and as a model we convinced a friend of hers to pose.The result was not amazing ... but at least it was sufficient but that set was fundamental for me because made me understand what I was good at. what I liked to photograph what "I wanted to be when I grew up"!!

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

Neither Nikon nor Canon.. I've always shot since the analog days with Pentax. My current camera is a Pentax K1 (FF) which I mainly use mounted on a lens that is not brand new but which I love very much for its sharpness, its bokeh, for its brightness and also for its lightness. I'm talking about the PENTAX SMC DA 55 mm f/1.4 An excellent focal length for ambient portraits.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

Find your unique voice. Don't chase approval at all costs; focus on what YOU are on your photographic passion. Dedicate yourself intensely to this: find out why you are so interested in photography. Don't be afraid that people might not like it. I've never met an artist that everyone liked. The rejections you receive will serve to shape and reinforce your unique style.

What do you think of our new magazine?

I recently discovered it and I must say that I liked it immediately, I find it very interesting and well done, I find it a great thing that it gives the possibility to make yourself known. Really a nice magazine.



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