Greg Ferro is a successful Italian film director. Other than his work, mainly in the field of advertising, Greg is currently working on his second full-length movie and on other personal projects.
Being a long-time instant photography lover, he took the Lomo'Instant Square along with him when traveling at Venice Beach, as the beloved eccentric atmosphere of the unique Californian location particularly inspires him. Time here seems to stop, people are relaxed and happy: the perfect subjects for taking some quirky instant snaps!
Hello Greg! What are you working on at the moment?
A lot of things are going on...
This year I am finally going to finish a documentary which I started more than 10 years ago. It tells the story of Thay children who practice Muay Thai. Beyond that, I am working on a fashion movie filmed in Japan, the script of my new full-length movie, and my latest photography project, Threesome (shot with the Lomo’Instant Wide). I am also working on several commercials for which, fortunately, I get commissioned every month.
What is the most important project that you have worked on so far?
I am a film director: this is my primary vocation and passion. Between the 2014 and 2017, I worked on my first full-length film, "Family Girl", an experimental road movie, filmed between the US and Thailand. This is the project I most proud of and I really hope that an important international festival will choose it as one of its selected movies.
Which are your professional goals for the future?
From a cinematographic point of view, I aim to get my new full-length movie to production by a year. For photography, I hope to finish two exhibitions by next spring: Threesome and another one focused on street photography.
Is there a moment of your career you would like to share with us?
I have been studying music for almost my entire life. One morning, I woke up and found that I had failed everything. What did I do then? I started again from scratch … I quit playing music that day, and since then my life has been encapsulated in images and movement.
How did you get to know Lomography, and what does it represent for you?
I am lucky enough to have started filming movies when only the analogue medium existed. I love the noise and the smell of film. When I took up photography, I started with digital cameras, but after a short time, I realized that something was missing. A digital camera produces only binary sequences of 0 and 1, but with a film camera there is a mutual relationship between yourself and the world outside, and the challenge of capturing the right amount of light. I started with the Lomography toy cameras, then instant cameras and finally the 6x6 format — my favorite. Lomography has represented something important to me since it made me re-discover analogue photography in an ever-more digital world.
What did you shoot with the Lomo'Instant Square?
I shot at Venice Beach, one of the most important places for me from both a professional and personal perspective. Here, time seems to stop (in spite of the overpriced hipster shops that open to the detriment of the surf houses). It is a stunning and cinematic location, with human beings that actually not seem so human…It is like being on a movie in a no man’s land; on another planet where people come from everywhere just to relax and live in harmony. Maybe my vision is too romantic, but it really helps me to shoot and to live California at its best: a living dream, in every single moment.
How did you choose people to take photos of? Which was their reaction?
I have always been a street photographer, with a particular focus on portraits. I do not know how the alchemy with the person I want to take a photo of starts. I walk around relaxed, taking in my surroundings. When someone catches my attention, it is enough to smile at them and touch the camera. Nine times out of 10, the person is surprised and happy to be immortalized. Of course, this is not the case everywhere, but at Venice Beach, it is.
With instant photography, I have a particular way of shooting. Usually, I use the first film pack for testing to find the best settings. After that, I really start shooting, but without watching the film developing. I put the instants in a little box (always the same). Then, when I get home in the evening, I go through them all, taking my time.
Sometimes I am quite confident that I have shot a good photo, and then I discover that it was not that good as I thought… Luckily, most of the time, I also discover that a shot I was not satisfied with can surprise me hours later. For me, this is the meaning and charm of instant photography.
For you, what is the main advantage of the square format?
Square format? The answer is easy: FINALLY! Instant photography was born with the square format and I like that it has come back where it started. I really love the wide instant format, as it is extremely cinematographic, but the square format is perfect for portraits in the same way that medium-format 6x6 cameras are. It pushes you to compose the image in a different way: less naturally, as the field of view is limited. This involves a process of reflection: a practice that is getting lost in the digital medium.