Interview with Fabrizio Fornasiero – The New Ones #2

In this interview of our column “The New Ones“, we discussed with Fabrizio Fornasiero (aka @fabri_forna) to share with us his vision of the world and his style of photography. If you’d like to have a look at the opening article on Fabrizio, click here.


Hi Fabrizio! Tell us something about yourself and how you got into photography

Hi! Thanks for having me, my name is Fabrizio, other than an engineering student, I’m also a scuba diver and an amateur singer. My journey with photography started when I was 17, my sister received her first DSLR for her birthday, promising she would learn how to use it. She never did, but the mysterious numbers in the back sparked my curiosity, and before I knew it I started reading and learning. I still am to this day.

Are you an analogue nostalgic, or do you believe in new technologies?

I know it’s kinda cliché as an answer, but I must say, I am both. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive because the thought process and the workflow are so much different that if you didn’t have to click a shutter and obtain a picture as a result I’d say they are a completely different hobby. As for new technologies, I think it’s way too easy to get lost in technical specifications and loose prospective about what’s really essential. That’s why I think that every photographer should try analogue photography, their limitations force you to be creative and work around them. You have to acknowledge that the beauty of a picture does not lie in sharpness or in the resolution, but in the intention of what you wanted to create. Moreover, most analogue cameras are very simple in their operation, just set your exposure (usually once or twice when the light changes) and shoot what you like. I must say it’s refreshing, it makes you feel in control. Nevertheless, digital (and especially smartphone photography) it’s just so much convenient if you travel or intend on shooting more than 36 exposures. Autofocus is mostly seamless, and the raw file is already in the SD card at the end, no scanner needed

What photographic equipment have you been using?

Even though it’s easy to say that gear doesn’t matter, I think it does in a way. I’ve come to know the cameras that accompany me very deeply, so much so that I gave them names. I know it’s silly but they are present with me most of the time so why not? Bonus point, the googly eyes on my cameras makes smile whoever I am taking a picture of.

For digital, I shoot a Fuji film X-E3 named Maryll and a 35 mm equivalent lens for that classic field of view. My analogue choice is a strange one, a Super Ikonta 530/2 named Olimpia. It’s a folding bellows, 6×9 medium format rangefinder camera from the 30s. It’s old, not that sharp, it flares catastrophically, expensive to run (8 shots per roll) and it’s clunky in some areas (like remembering to manually advance the film) but I love her so much. The results are dreamy and hazy. Contrast is rendered softly, and the look created feel like what a memory should be like. It couldn’t be more unique. I often just put it in my jeans pocket as I go out without care about impracticalities or weight.

 Have you ever processed photos at home?

You can bet I did! Actually, developing film at home was one of the reasons that brought me to analogue photography in the first place. Chemistry has always been one of my favorite subject in high school and the idea that images could be created on the emulsion out of what seemed to be thin air was hard to believe.

It’s safe to say that’s a rewarding process to say the least but also a very frustrating one, chemicals can go bad from oxidation, film can curl while drying and drops of water can stain the emulsion if not dried correctly. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, however It’s can help with the expenses of analogue photography, and it can be a zen-like moment of relaxation and music after a day of shooting

Photos by Fabrizio Fornasiero – ©All rights reserved

Would you like to try some special printing techniques? If so, which ones? Have you ever tried any?

I would certainly like to try, I’m not yet embarked in the rabbit hole of analogue printing, but I’m collecting materials to experiment with basic cyanotypes and salt prints. My future objective would be to try (or at least be able to reproduce) the effect of Gum bichromate as used in the gumoil or photogravure techniques, I doubt I’ll be able to try something like that in my darkroom because they are very complex, not well documented and used highly carcinogenic substances to harden the gelatin used in the process. Fortunately in the last years new gelatin hardeners like Diazo appeared on the market, that helps, but the learning curve is still steep and that’s intimidating.

Which style of photography suits you best?

I’d like to say to you that I am the most dedicated landscape photographer that races long hikes in the dark looking for that perfect light at sunrise, but I’m not (yet) that kind of guy. I like to document my everyday life. It helps me remember places that I visited and the people that I came by while doing so. Nevertheless, I guess landscapes are my favorite subjects. I had some experience with paying clients, but I guess it’s not my gig, I think that everything creative that I do has to come naturally. Sometimes an idea or a previsualization cames but most of the time it does not, and I think it’s better to wait and have the satisfaction of creating with intent. I also do some macro, but it’s very technically challenging, from the lighting point of view, exposure settings change with focus distance, the closer you get, the lesser the light through the lens, tripods are not always viable for a moving subject and flash risks blinding what you are shooting or create a hard light if not diffused correctly. Nonetheless, my favorite subject are eyes but not having ugly reflection is tricky and so is getting the iris to shine with the light.

Have you ever had a ‘muse’ for your works?

I’d say that I have a lot of people that I look up to, from painters to Instagram accounts. If I have to name a few, I’d say painters from the Dutch impressionist school and Pre-Raphaelite movement. My favorite photography by far is the work by pictorialist photographers Robert Demachy and Léonard Misonne, I absolutely adore the texture of the individual brushstrokes on the prints and the tonality that scream premeditation and meticulous scrutiny. They are able to merge intent and craftsmanship in a stunning way. Thanks to those models, I feel often inspired to create something new or to try and challenge myself to recreate some particular lighting or composition. Other day I don’t need anything to compel me, the enjoyment and the meditative state of mind when I’m shooting is something I feel actively looking forward to. I’m sure the reader will know what I’m talking about.

Do you consider photography your greatest passion?

Certainly it’s my biggest timesink, film photography as a hobby it’s an emotional roller-coaster, but It’s the beauty of it. It’s an incredible feeling coming home after a shoot that you are satisfied with, developing film in a hurry being conscious that nothing may come out, or that it may be completely different from what you remember. All of this creates expectations that gives you the chills when everything goes right. Meanwhile, I love the digital work flow of having hard disks full of memories. I like from time to time relieving those emotions and based of those redit to images, sometimes they can change drastically. A story of “Recollection in Tranquility” if you will.

 Do you have a favorite shot? What does it communicate to you?

I think I do, it’s a very simple, almost cliché, shot of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud I’ve taken with Olimpia almost three years ago. I’ve spent an incredible amount of time dodging and burning, but I really love how it came out, so much so that it now hangs proudly on my wall in a pretty big print. Furthermore, I don’t think it expresses much other than the incredible beauty of the architecture. I must say that the process from the shutter fired to the print has been long but an  enjoyable one, from the development of the film to the meticulous retouching I feel like I’ve built the chapel myself.

How influential do you feel your online image is?

It’s no secret that most of what I do I share on Instagram. I’m not judging, I think It’s a great way of connecting with other people and be inspired. I hope that from what I’ve shared so far my images show a sense of austerity or authority, the silent and mysterious power of what’s around us and has been for millennia. Not only that, but I like to create contrast with subtle colors or highlight shape through black and white. Furthermore, I don’t like describing too much with words because it’s highly subjective, one could easily not agree, and I’m ok with that. If the purpose of a picture is to tell a story than I’d hope that mine is a cryptic one, yet to be told

We really appreciate Fabrizio for this amazing interview. If you want to check out his profile on Instagram, click here. If you loved this article, please share it and support our magazine.

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