Luca Galavotti is a freelance photographer based in Ferrara. A tireless traveler, he investigates the relationship between places and human beings and especially how these elements impinge on each other in a sort of symbiosis.
Every day people live and interact with the environment that surrounds them. The relationship is very close, sometimes conflictual, most of times precarious, but both affect each other.
Which is your first photographic memory?
The first pictures that I keep in my mind are those taken by my dad: he has been photographing too for a short period of his life, and I remember especially those Arabian desert landscapes and those black and white portraits that he took during his travels with a Nikon F2; the same camera that is still my shots companion.
Could you describe yourself with a book, a song and a movie?
It’s always hard to choose just one title, because I think the choice may depend from the moment and the mood. Considering the actual mood and what I’m doing in this period, I will say: a book: “On the road” by Jack Kerouac; a song: “Postcard from Italy” by Beirut; a movie: “La science des rêves” by Michel Gondry.
Which of your pictures would you choose to introduce yourself?
I would probably choose that one of the sea, taken on a boat somewhere among France and England.
A famous person you would like to portray.
I think all the people, famous or not, have specific inner and outer characteristics that deserve to be portrayed. For this reason, I don’t have a specific person that I would like to portray more than others.
A famous picture you would have liked to take.
Any of Luigi Ghirri’s photos.
In your photography a strong relationship between human and landscape emerges. They seem to interact, to tend one to the other as they were connected. How do you reach this effect? Is this done on purpose?
Every day people live and interact with the environment that surrounds them. The relationship is very close, sometimes conflictual, most of times precarious, but both affect each other. Both concerne tangibles and intangibles things, including the mood. Since often we do no notice this, what I try to do is to make this symbiosis visible, and make people be aware of this.
Staircases, airports corridors, empty chairs in waiting rooms are the main subjects of your series “Nonluoghi”. Here, people meet, people cross; they run, they wait, almost unaware of the surrounding environment, a place characterized by constant transition and temporality, as Marc Augée refers to with, “that anthropological place of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as place”. However, it seems that your “Non-places” are primary to the human presence. In your shoots, it is the environment to be the main subject, whereas the human beings are blurry, almost absent, fleeing. Do you think our interpretation is close to your art? What does attract you about such ambiences?
Yes, your interpretation is right.
What attracts me about these ambiences is that they are also big containers. I think that each non-place is also a container; a container of humans, but also a container of stories. A place where everyone can live their story and leave the sign of their passage. When I portray those places, I leave humans voluntarily in the background, blurry, almost absent; in this way who look at the picture can create a personal story to associate with that place. My intention is to give to those ambiences a soul, stopping for a moment the “constant transition” and the perpetual precariousness, typical of our age.
We know you are a tireless traveler. We can’t blame you, really! Travel means to widen horizons; it opens our minds; travels are kind of revelatory epiphanies sometimes. What does travelling means to you? Could you tell us one of the most meaningful travel you have done, so far?
I believe that the definition of travel is very wide. You can travel physically, by moving from a place to another place, but you can also travel with your mind, from a feeling to another one. No matter the way you look at it, traveling is a source of growth, often inner.
I think that the photographic instrument becomes a necessary tool to capture the important moments of the trip, to tell stories, to sculpt thoughts. The same importance as the pen to the writer. Travel and photography are intertwined, indissolubly linked.
What attracts me about these ambiences is that they are also big containers. I think that each non-place is also a container; a container of humans, but also a container of stories.
Everything in your landscapes is composed and balanced, as in a geometrical system. Where does your inspiration come from while taking pictures?
I like the clean and linear photography, without frills, almost minimalist. This style comes from my passion for lines and for symmetry. We live surrounded by lines, they are everywhere, they give a shape to everything, but often we do not notice them. I like to give them importance. And most of all, I think that especially as far as landscape photography is concerned, keeping a clean style could help to create a kind of balance between the author and the subject portrayed, as each of them would have something to say. Like in a conversation.
Speaking about your series “Homeland”, as well as “On the Road”, most of your pictures are taken outdoor, in the fresh air; they catch flying sparrows, wild fields in flowers or covered by the snow, winter skies and endless horizons colored by seasonal tones. Which is your relationship with nature?
I have to say that my relationship with nature has grown over the years.
Nowadays this connection is very strong and I think I could not live without nature, both on a personal and professional level.
And with your homeland?
I have always had a conflictual relationship with my native land. It’s a flat land, and it can be also very boring. When I started the project homeland, I wanted to represent it better and more beautiful than it is in reality; and I have to say that this project helped me – and it’s helping me still – a lot in making me appreciate what I see around me every day. From a photographic point of view I find it a very stimulating activity; I can assure that trying to take nice photos in this area is not as simple as trying to take them on the Dolomites or on a tropical beach, for example.
“What makes photography a strange invention – with unforeseeable consequences – is that its primary raw materials are light and time”, said John Berger. It comes to our minds while observing your photos. Is this true for you?
Thanks. Definitely yes. Aside the technicalities, lights and time are strongly connected. By the light that leaves its footprint on the photosensitive material, we know something’s “been there” in front of the camera when the shutter button was presses. And for a brief moment, a split of a second, there is harmony between the physical subject and the material on which its representation is formed (film, paper, sensor). But soon after that the connection no longer exists.
I like the clean and linear photography, without frills, almost minimalist. This style comes from my passion for lines and for symmetry. We live surrounded by lines, they are everywhere, they give a shape to everything, but often we do not notice them.
You love analogue photography. Why? Where does your fascination for analogue photography come from?
I think that analog photography is a sort of way of life and thought. In a world that goes so fast, photography included, I like to think in an analog way, slowly. And analog photography helps me to do it at my best; especially for the choices I have to make in advance. For example, by choosing which film speed I have to use in a certain situation, or by choosing to shoot in black and white instead of color. I like to live the feelings behind each shot, and the curiosity to see the result days or months later. And most of all, I like to live those moments in the dark room, where I see my thoughts becoming images.
Your next project.
I still have to decide. But it will be certainly something about landscapes.
Your main flaw and quality.
Uh! I have a lot of flaws. One of them is laziness. As far as qualities are concerned, I could say that when I do something, I try do it at my best.
Make a wish.
Keep doing what makes me happy.
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