The concept of home and how people relate to it keeps reappearing in the work of Eleonora Flammini. She believes her Italian origins are part of the reason for that. As a professional photographer she also enjoys analogue photography and the limitations that are part of its system. Read all about her interesting opinions on photography right here!
Many of your photographs are analogue, what role does film play in your career? To what extent do you use it professionally?
Analogue photography has a big role in my work. I almost always shoot film when working on my personal projects. When I work on assignments, most of the time, I shoot digital for obvious budget reasons and time constraints.
In an age of digital photography, what makes you keep shooting film?
It’s the process, I guess. Shooting film is totally different than shooting digital. It’s much slower and thoughtful. You have to really think about what you want to achieve before you press the button. Analogue photography gives you many more limitations than digital does. I like limitations. They make you think harder about a solution. It makes you come up with great things without even knowing it does.
Also, I love shooting square medium format and sometimes, when I have access to it, large format. And yes, you can always crop the image in post-production, but I’m a strong believer the photograph has to happen “in camera” and composing a photo in the view finder in front of you subject is a totally different thing and has a different feeling and approach than doing it in front of a screen in your studio, alone.
What one piece of advice would you give someone entering the photography industry and likes to shoot with film?
If you have the resources and passion for it, do it. Although, you need to have a reason for it.
In your project My Way Back Home, you mention the push and pull for people living away from where they come from. How do you think Rome (friends, family, home) influence your work? What about New York?
I’m Italian, Roman, we have a great sense of family and we are very attached to our city. That’s part of our culture. I believe part of my struggle living abroad comes from that. Looking back at the work I’ve done while I was in New York, I realize it always had something to do with home in one way or the other. In “River To River” I explore the relations between a place and its inhabitants. In “Let it be Home” the dynamics of a group of young artists in an apt in Bed-Stuy and in “My Way Back Home” my feelings about Rome. I’m very much in love with New York, “the city” for me represents an energy. What really impressed me, from the very first time I moved there, when I was 18, is the mix of culture and different people you can meet, and, of course, the focus New Yorkers have working towards their goals. All that translates in an energy that spreads out, and being part of that, it’s an amazing experience.
You studied architecture at the Università di Roma Tre, how does your study influence your photographic style?
I think the way my studies influence my work as a photographer is mainly in the way I experience space. Architects have a different way at looking at it. I’m still figuring that out, but I believe that’s also why I tend to favor the square format since it’s very geometrical and abstract, the way the eye bounces on the image it’s very different to 35mm, and I love that about it.
You also studied at the International Center of Photography which focuses on both fine art photography and documentary photography. Do you think there is a difference between art photography and documentary photography/photojournalism? What is the difference?
I think there’s a very fine line between documentary and fine art photography. I feel it has to do with “intention” and “context”. I doubt that someone would argue that the work of Walker Evans, Nan Goldin or Henri Cartier-Bresson could be seen as art as well as documentary photography.
Some people make a distinction between documentary photography and photojournalism, the first referring to longer term projects with a more complex story line while the second is more about breaking news stories. Do you think there is a difference between them? If so, do you consider yourself more one than the other and which? If not, why not?
Another way of distinguishing the two, I think, is how in photojournalism you should always be very objective and shouldn’t come too much through in your image. Of course there is a very long discussion about how pointing the camera to something or excluding something else from the frame is already a statement, but that would be too complex to discuss. It also has to do with the structure of the photo story. You have specific rules to follow in photojournalism, which are easier to bend in documentary photography I feel. I don’t consider myself a photojournalist. I’m not that good at being objective!
You want to hear more from professional photographers? Check out the other interviews in our Meet the Pros series.