Was the poet John Donne who said "no man is an island". Well, with all due respect... I disagree. Men and women are islands as individuals and - even more - as groups.
I am also conviced that being an island is not bad per se. Perfection would be living in a nice and warm tropical archipelago!
No man is an Island by John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
Yes We Can
Cairo is a wonderful city, Egypt is a wonderful nation... wonder is the one word I can choose if you ask me to define my journey with just one word. Then, if you ask me to show you some of that wonder, I believe this picture captures very well many aspects of that feeling: youth, faith, hope and a bit of recklessness.
In spring 2013 I was there and I shot this frame from a speeding cab. While during those weeks on the Egyptian streets I had to redefine my idea of "traffic jam" I also understood once and for all that Egypt is where Egyptians live their normality. A visit to Tahrir Square tells you nothing in comparison to a one-hour ride through the city!
Into the cloud
I always loved architecture photography, but for quite a long period I shot just people. Since a couple of months I went back to architecture and I felt I had a completely new approach, less analytical and more interpretative/comunicative.
I took this picture while I was visiting my old aunt, who was in hospital in critical conditions. That evening's landscape was surreal: the two hospital's towers (20+ floors) and the whole hill were lost inside a big white cloud. The building has a great impact by itself and even more if we consider its "therapeutic" purpose. The atmosphere was extraterrestrial and my mood very sensitive to such a scene.
Before leaving home to get there I "felt" I had to carry the camera with a certain lens. I was right.
Never Ending Summer
This is my favorite summer shot for 2013. I captured it in an unexpected epiphany. I used my iPhone and the result is pretty damn good.
It was late August, just few people on the beach and a gentle constant wind (which was much stronger in higher parts of the atmosphere, as you can guess by the cloud's shape). The sky is superlative: so blue, so crossed by fantastic clouds... so September-ish already!
Now ask me why I have a smartphone in my pocket!
Look above you
In our daily life we always look in front of us, sometimes to the sides, rarely behind.
As a photographer I learned that we all live on a sphere - the earth - immersed in other spheres. Air, woods, buildings, rain, crowds... we are constantly immersed in a three-dimensional environment.
There are infinite directions and perspectives and, as a photographer, I have to learn this the hard way every day.
Even if you are not photographers do something good for yourselves, look in a different direction, with a different perspective.
You can start looking above you.
The Evening Show
Schöneweide, Berlin - July 21, 2013
Walking around with my camera is a great act of faith. I carry this piece of metal and glass hoping to see something to capture.
Usually nothing shows up, but the other day my daily hassle of carrying a camera paid back. I saw this smoke, this couple and saw the picture. I went to them asking permission to take some pictures and I gave contact informations asking also an email for sending the shot afterwards. All this, hoping for the smoke not to disappear!
The smoke didn't stop rising in the sky and I took one picture that pays me back weeks of unproductive camera-carrying.
I have faith.
We are in Wien, near one of the bridges on the Donaukanal. Two people are walking fast in a chilling winter morning.
I like the equilibrium I was able to achieve in this picture.
The empty space is dominating the scene, enriched by the clouds' wonderful shades of grey. The subjects are in a marginal position and this seems to put the shot out of balance attracting the viewer attention.
Looking closely we notice the cables and the light which are counterbalancing the previous momentum, attracting the eye for a second glance and adding a subtle detail to the sky.
The final result is a composition that - in its kind - represents one of my favorites.
In Homer's epic poems gods live on high peaks like mount Olympus, surrounded by clouds. Gods love to look at us from their homes, having fun of our disgraces. They are like us and sometimes they descend to our cities melting between mortals, experiencing the joys of mortality.
I took this picture at the end of September 2008 in Venice.
There is a whole category of things that goes under the name of "things you see every day and you never notice". Unfortunately "not noticing" is one of the biggest sins for a photographer. We have to avoid the fascination of the exotic location that makes us forget about what is near. In fact, we must face every scene with the same attention.
I often drive by this chapel which stays between factories in the crowded Italian countryside. I don't always carry my camera, but I take notes on a list: "photos to take". That list is a promise to come back to take a picture I already have in my mind. So I kept the promise and took the picture.
Never underestimate the near reality looking only for the exotic. It's a good exercise and you know that constant efforts are key for growing your skills. I don't mean taking pictures compulsively. Just stay on the lookout and slice down views into frames... once in a while you will see something that is worth being photographed.
Nile delta, Egypt
April 2013, women walking on a path near the railway.
Traveling by train offers a unique view on Egypt. In fact there's an incredible life and humanity that coagulates near the railways.
The track's steel seems to be like a magnet for people.
April, 18 2013, people waiting along a motorway.
On Cairo's streets and motorways there is always someone waiting. They are waiting for a friend, a relative, a taxi or... who knows! In this picture the woman and the man are waiting for a collective mini-bus. Note that they stand far from each other. In Cairo happens that in some public spaces, such as metro wagons, women and men are separated.
Mini-buses are very popular. In fact, taxis are far more expensive and the Metro doesn't reach every location in this huge city. That's "public transportation" in Cairo: private buses with no license carrying people from point A to point B. No regular stops, no "lines". They are stopped anywhere and asked to stop wherever the passengers need. People get on and off while the vehicle is moving and that's one of the many "chaos factors" in Cairo's traffic.
To Others Than You
Some years ago I was supposed to participate to an exhibition. The topic was "Water", very tricky indeed. In fact, I did want to USE water, not simply to depict it. After some weeks of mumbling and some attempts I came up with something.
This composition made of six frames is the metaphoric representation of a poem. It is Dylan Thomas' "To others than you". The subject of this poem is the betrayal of a friendship. The friendship described in the poem fades away violently. I represent this feeling and this process with 6 pictures in which the poem - made of ink and paper - is being dissolved and destroyed by water.
The composition size is 150x75 cm, about 115 megapixels... pretty big. The final B/W result is printed on Hahnemühle cotton paper with carbon pigment ink and full-blood mounted on a panel.
Making it was very tough and I never brought it to the exhibition. Life's path is unpredictable!
Let some of my pictures and the stories behind them welcome you.