In a world where people are connected 24/7 to social media and where people take more and more photos, it is difficult to find a marked division between photographers and social media users.

Photography, especially photojournalism, has changed over the years thanks to all the new technological devices, like smartphones, but the purpose behind the work of a photographer has never changed. While people take pictures to showcase their lifestyle and all the “cool” things they do, photographers have been working on meaningful pictures that represent the reality we live in.

I talked with Camilla Ferrari, an Italian visual storyteller and photographer who has been nominated by Artsy as one of the 20 Rising Female Photojournalists, she has been nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass and selected as one of 2019 PDN’s 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch, for the Nikon-NOOR Academy Masterclass in Turin, Italy, and for the Eddie Adams Workshop XXXI.

Her profile on Instagram show a mixture of still and moving images, taking advantage of the multiple tools of this social media.

When did you start getting close to photography?

When I started taking photos at 13, I didn’t know what my path would’ve been. What was certain was that the variety of creative possibilities, through which you can approach photography, is endless. I knew I wanted it to be my full-time job even though I didn’t know what form it would have had.

At the beginning I spent entire days in my room with a small light taking self portraits and modifying them digitally by copying and pasting me in far, surreal sceneries. I think that in the beginning photography has been to me an unconscious act of confirming my presence on Earth. At that time I wasn’t a sociable, extrovert person, even though I tried to be one. So photography was a way of telling the world “I’m here!” and creating a sort of visual legacy of my passage.

Sanlitun at night, Beijing, August 2017 – Camilla Ferrari
The streets around the area of Sanlitun are really fascinating. The Main Street is full of lights and people and noise everywhere but as soon as you turn the corner, the little roads become pitch black and the only things you can see are fleeting lights in the distance… little gems waiting to be discovered

What is photography to you? What do you want to express with your work?

I have always been attracted and curious about stories that in some way are close to my personal experience, either because they were directly connected or because they created the same feelings and emotions.

My approach to visual storytelling has instead changed completely in time, from being based only on photography to moving towards a multimedia approach, where images are combined to videos.

I think that the combination of still images and videos can really help the viewer to have a richer and deeper understanding of a story, thanks to not only the still images, but also sounds and moving images.

I have also realized in time, working on my practice and studying other photographers’ and artists’ work, that to me it’s very important to have an element of kindness and delicacy in my work. In a world where pictures yell at the viewer, I believe that there is a dignified power in silence. That is what I want to express through my work.

Seller in Panjiayuan market, Beijing, August 2017 – Camilla Ferrari
Panjiayuan market is easily one of the most crowded and chaotic places I’ve ever experienced. People are selling the most different kinds of things and clients spend hours and hours observing the stones, admiring their shape, feeling their texture in their hands. I saw a woman trying each and every single stone laying on the stand to find the perfect one. And sellers wait for the bargain to start

You are considered one of the female photojournalists to keep an eye on. How do you approach street photography and photojournalism?

We live in a period of great changes in the way we intend photography and the creation of images in general. The role of a photographer has evolved very quickly during the last years, especially in photojournalism, where the idea of photography changed from “absolute truth bringer” to “one of the million truths possible”.

I agree with what Max Pinckers said in an interview for American Suburb X last year: he said that he is “tormented by a crisis of faith in his authenticity. The documentary genre tries to reposition itself in relation to the excess of a post-truth ideology and confused idea on realism.

How can we rethink the documentary genre conceptually, formally and methodologically in the eye of uncertainty, contamination and perpetual and constant criticism? How can we be inspired by the paradox of trying to get close to the reality with a documentary behaviour while it transforms and it dissolves continually?”

How can we face the fact that there is no absolute truth and the inevitable acceptance of our role and influence of human beings in the act of creating images?

I really hope that the debate on these subjects can be easily helped by the world of photojournalism. Doubting our role of photographers is the first step to free the practice of photography, to create new ways of telling stories and to raise deeper awareness on critical and contemporary issues and phenomena.

Guomao, Beijing, August 2017 – Camilla Ferrari
Guomao, it’s lunch time. People get out of the buildings in a continuous flow, a river where the human beings are the drops of water. Looks almost like a mechanical behavior, like their bodies need air so they rush to get out and finally breathe.

Photographers often use Instagram as a window on their work or just as a personal profile. How do you use this social?

I am very fascinated by how social media have the power to enrich the act of storytelling and to influence the way we create and consume visual content.

When Instagram launched the Instagram Stories in 2016, the whole sharing panorama has changed deeply: from the speed, to the immediacy and intimacy. To me it has been very interesting trying to understand how to use this new tool in my photography practice, so I learned how to use IG Stories to represent and meditate on everyday life and afterwards as a new element to the stories I wanted to tell.

The evolution of the medium influences the vision and practice of those who produce images. In my case, the thought behind the presence of IG Stories as a fundamental part of my work couldn’t have been possible without a smartphone.

Personally, the immediacy of a smartphone makes me feel free and lighter, both on a physical and psychological level.

Civita di Bagnoregio lies in the middle of the Calanchi Valley, in the centre of the Italian peninsula. Surrounded by a sea of mist, the village is crumbling 7 cm per year due to the erosion and is currently populated by six people.
Tony is the only inhabitant of Civita who can go through the footbridge, (which connects the village to the mainland) with an Ape – he struggles walking up and down that steep climb everyday.
On Tuesdays, at 9 am, he takes his small car and leaves the village to go grocery shopping.

On one side we have technological progress in photography, on the other we have people who use old film cameras. What do you think of this trend opposed to the use of social media?

I think that the choice of the photographic medium to use shall be thought of based on what you want to express with your work. Shall be film or digital, it has to have a reason, a purpose, not just a trend.

Rossana warms up by the fire while preparing lunch for Antonio, before restaurant service starts. The couple owns one of the most famous restaurants of the village.

At the end of the story, in your opinion, how shall the perfect photograph be?

I don’t think there is a precise and final answer to this question. To me it’s important that a photograph expresses the right balance between power, delicacy and silence. The image has to become the access point of the beginning of a reflection.

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About the Author

Carmen Mc Intosh has studied Foreign Languages, Publishing and Journalism. She lives for coffee and writes about whatever appeals to her.

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