Interview #26 - Francesco Sambati

Francesco Sambati is a photographer, residing in Lecce, Southern Italy. He first approached photography as an autodidact three years ago. Francesco only started publishing his photos about a year.

What’s happening with you lately?

I started to publish my pictures because a friend of mine who owns a gallery, convinced me to make a small photographic exhibition with my pictures and from that moment I started to take seriously what began as a hobby

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

In my portraits, I try to just show what I see at the time. Sometimes I have the impression that photographers strive to portray something hidden in a face when in fact the beauty and already there, before their eyes. We are surrounded by the beauty of every person close to us.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Of course! Although a little banal, my first picture was of a girl on the beach, watching the sea. I liked it so much that I continued with photography.

How’s the photography scene over there in your perspective?

I must admit that in south Italy there is a decent attention to photography and a lot of activity and movement. There are many good photographers although I must admit that there is often a lot of competition and so I try to stay out of the environment: I photograph to relax, not to compete

What are your challenges being a photographer?

I do not have challenges to overcome. I just want to take pictures as a matter of personal well-being. Perhaps, the only challenge is to find out how I can continue with photography.

How does the environment you’re living in influence your photography? 

I'm very influenced by the land where I live - a land surrounded by the sea, which during the winter months, it gives me a strong sense of melancholy. Here, where I live, beauty and melancholy would not exist without the other, and I would not exist without them    

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I have no particular methods, the only important thing is the spontaneity of the subject that I have to shoot. I do not like too much the pictures made from or posing. So, spontaneity and quiet are the only things I need to photograph

Is your approach to taking images minimalistic? 

Absolutely, I never liked the photographs too full of details or "heavy", so I try to keep a minimalist style or at least that shows only the essentials. I think that too many unnecessary details distract too much from the real subject of the picture.

How do you compose your photos using available shadows? They look amazing!

I know I might sound trite, but all I do is take advantage of shadows that I find ready. I'm very lucky because where I live there is always an excellent natural light so it is easy to find areas with interesting shadows and slowly I learned to use them in the way that I need.

Some of your photos are taken using 35mm film or Polaroids. Why analog?

For two reasons - the first is that analog photography is absolutely more exciting compared to digital photography, it's like a challenge. The second (and for me the most important) is that I believe that the essence of photography is mainly in the instant. With a Polaroid, it really captures the moment without being able to add or remove something at the time that I wanted to stop, however with digital photography the temptation to correct errors is strong.

Why do you think shooting analog is still relevant now?

The analog photography is now more important than ever, in this world of continuous streams of images that become the past after a few minutes instead of many years. Now, the physical photo, printed by analog, holds together the past, present and future.

Describe how do your approach your work

First, I try to take new pictures as soon as I want, then start asking what friends are available. Next, I ask if they'd like to do some particular photo and try to find some common ideas to be developed

During the shoot, most of the time I like to make conversation, as if we were not there to take pictures, and when I see a gesture, a movement, an expression that I like, then immediately shoot a photo. I do not like to pose the people and it is something that I can not do well: first of all, spontaneity!

When I finished, I begin to select the photos (and even ask an opinion to the models) and started the post-production. When I finish, do not use right away my pictures, sometimes I keep them for future use, it depends on the amount of photos that I have kept in archives 

What’s your post-processing like?

Not much use in post-production, I do not like to change too many photos. The only programs I use are VSCOcam or Lightroom for any small changes. The only thing I like to change (without exaggeration) are the colours, sometimes the fun is in finding the right shade of colour that fits the picture.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

I have no particular preference, although I prefer to photograph my friends, when this is possible. In this way it is already part with a good dose of confidence and much of the work is already done so.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

There are two photographers that I follow with pleasure. The first is Aëla Labbé: was one of the first photographers I've discovered, and that made me involuntarily to continue with photography. The second is Greta Langianni: I think that despite being very young has a style and an exceptional technique and I am sure she will become someone and I'm anxious to see what will be able to do in the future.

Do you value quality or quantity?

I would say the quality, although I think everyone would like quantity and quality together

In what ways that camera gears or cellphone apps matter to you in producing the work?

The cellphone is fundamental for me, because it was thanks to it that I started taking pictures and still can not stop using it. I also use it for post-production, often I transfer photos taken with my FujiX100T on the phone to change with my favourite app, VSCOcam

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

Well, I do not make pictures to win then, having no expectations, and when I happen to sell the pictures it seems anyway to have gained much. Soon after I spend everything in photographic equipment

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I'm still trying to figure out. My photos are published on a variety of sites, from the commercial sector to the more "artistic" field, then I cover different areas but still do not know where I have to aim to enhance my pictures to the maximum

How much you think people will value your work?

I do not know, but when those who appreciate my photos, write me to congratulate me, I feel I have done a good job and I want to continue taking pictures.

How do you cope in getting the attention through social media or word of mouth?

Word of mouth helped me a lot at first, but then, of course, I switched to using social media, and I realized what can be powerful if used in the right way, in a targeted way, without exaggeration

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

Currently often I look cine-comics - these are the films that we all expected from children and now that technology allows to achieve them, are to be seen all! As for the music, I'm listening to a lot of my favourite band, The Flaming Lips. Unfortunately, it has left little free time for reading, but after the summer I will try to make up the time to read.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

In the future, I'm waiting for two publications of two analogical photography magazines and partiolare. I'm waiting for the release in spring 2017 of a novel in America that has a photo taken by me on the cover

Any last words?

I hope that my photos will be able to bring any kind of emotion to those who observed: I think this is the purpose of the photographer

You can find more of Francesco's work below: