As young as she is, Eleonora Furlan approaches her work with a mature bearing and yet this does not take away the energetic vibe that comes from her photographs. We were so fortunate to have her in the Magazine for a quick interview and again we are mesmerized by the talent and wisdom that we find in between the words.
Hello, Eleonora! Welcome to the Lomography Magazine! We’re so glad to have you. Please, introduce yourself.
My name is Eleonora, I am a 23-year old amateur photographer, currently based in Italy.
How did you start your journey with photography?
Four or five years ago I picked up one of my parents’ old film cameras and started experimenting with film. At first I took very few photos, maybe a roll every three or four months. However, I began to like film photography so much that I started shooting increasingly more. Now I couldn’t imagine not recording moments of my life on film.
How would you define photography?
I’d say that it is at the same time a way to capture a moment, to tell a story and to experience intimacy with someone. It’s the simplest and most effective way I know to express my feelings. Above all, it’s a way to expose or give form to things that are usually hidden or unseen. There’s a lyric by an Italian band I used to listen to, called Raein, which when translated goes about: “We’ll talk in images / to keep our eyes wide open on the invisible.” That’s what photography is about to me: looking for the things that are hidden under the ordinary surface of life.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
First and foremost, authenticity. There has to be sincerity, always. Even when I ask my models (which are always also my friends) to pose, I always try to capture the sincerity in their gaze or the moments of shyness, laughter or thoughtfulness. Even when there is a little bit of staging, it is always to capture something that is already there, an authentic feeling or look. What fascinates me about portrait photography is its ability to let me see something new and real about the people I photograph, so keeping everything as authentic as possible is one of my main goals. Photographing is to me a way to un-mask myself, the world and – hopefully – the models.
What’s your favorite thing about photography?
Photography allows me to communicate with the outer world and with my future self. The message doesn’t need to be clear to the viewer, really. I want some of my images to look mysterious or surreal. But they always portray life as I see it. Being an introvert, I feel like some emotions can only be portrayed through film photography – or poetry. Not very skilled in the latter, I think that photography is the best way I can express feelings or tell stories. There are some moments of my life or some ways in which the world appears to me which I feel need to be photographed, looked at again, remembered. All the photos I take – even those I don’t publish - are a way to give form to my feelings.
What’s your favorite subject?
Light and people, definitely. I like to play with the interaction between light and darkness. Seeing how light changes landscapes or details of people’s faces is one of my favorite things in photography. I also love to represent different concepts of male and female identity in my photos. I haven’t dealt with this subject as much as I wanted so far, but I plan on doing it more. The women around me all have different personalities and have different ways of representing the female identity. Same goes for the men who, despite often being stuck in a rigid social construction of what “being a man” means, each represent a different aspect of male identity. I think my future projects will try to explore these subjects.
What are the things that influence or inspire your style/images?
Natural light and nature itself are some of my main sources of inspiration. Other than that, people always inspire me. Sometimes, when I’m talking to a friend or I see a stranger passing by, I regret not having a camera with me. I think it is possible to find beauty in things that might look weird or unusual, such as a wrinkle, a serious gaze or a sun-lit building corner.
Which artist (photographer or not) had the most significant effect on your style/work as a photographer?
I am a great admirer of Lina Scheynius, Olivia Bee, Li Hui, Toby Harvard, Martina Matencio, Alex Currie, Ryan McGinley, Ryan Muirhead and Brandon Stanton. I find their work, for different reasons, extremely important and inspiring. They keep bringing beauty in the photographic work.
If you could have a dream collaboration with an artist/photographer/painter etc, who would it be?
I’d say Ryan Muirhead, Toby Harvard or Olivia Bee. It would be a dream come true to collaborate with them.
How do you stay creative?
I keep searching for beauty in everyday life. I also find inspiration on Instagram and Flickr. There are so many underrated film photographers who’d deserve more recognition. I find the whole Instagram analogue community, especially on accounts such as @thefilmcommunity or @shootfilm_ , extremely inspiring.
We noticed that a lot of your photos are taken with natural light. What draws you into making those kinds of photographs?
I feel that no artificial light could create the ethereal and natural effect of the sun lighting someone’s face. Sometimes I like to experiment with artificial light too, as I did in a series called “Vision” where I used a light projector. Yet, natural light is so versatile that it really creates the best setting for any photoshoot.
What’s the best thing about working with natural light?
It’s always unpredictable, dynamic and ever-changing. From the golden look of the mid-afternoon sun to the melancholic colors of dusk, natural light always provides great photography opportunities. Playing with light is one of the best parts of photography and definitely a very challenging one.
Your photos sometimes look like dream sequences and cinematic shots. Is this part of your style?
I wouldn’t say that I always have a specific look in mind when I shoot. Sometimes I want the photo to have a dream-like mood, but most of the time I just photograph whatever detail I find interesting. I sometimes see everyday life as filled with dreamy or epic details – and that might show up in my photos. There is such magic and dignity in the way sunlight changes a room’s colors, or in the way someone’s face looks when he’s talking about something that moves him. I usually try to capture those aspects of reality.
What look/aesthetic/s are you going for in your photographic work?
I guess I’ve developed a kind of dreamy/intimate aesthetic, but since I like to experiment, I bet this might change in time.
How would you describe your style in five words?
Honest, natural, dream-like, intimate, nostalgic.
How do you interpret inspiration and turn them into images?
I try to keep my style original. When shooting, the first thing that inspires me is the location and the model, the surrounding atmosphere, the light, and so forth. Prior inspiration is always somewhere in my mind and intervenes when I choose how to shoot, how to use the location’s features or what mood to achieve.
If you could replace photography with one thing, what would it be?
Maybe poetry or writing.
How does a perfect day look like for Eleonora Furlan?
I’d say it would be an early summer day, spent somewhere in nature with the people I love. Or a day spent travelling and seeing a new city.
What would you be if you weren’t a photographer?
I once wanted to be a writer. Maybe, in another life, I’d write books or poetry. Or I’d find another way to show how I see the world.
What song, movie, and book inspired you the most?
Among the movies with the most interesting cinematography I’ve seen so far, there certainly are Carol, The Tree of Life, Atonement, A Single Man and Love (by Gaspar Noé). I don’t usually link songs to my photos, but I sometimes draw inspiration by singers like Bon Iver or The Tallest Man on Earth. I feel that both of them depict a mysterious, nostalgic world in their songs, which sometimes inspires me to go a certain direction while shooting.
If you could have one camera/and or film to shoot with, what would it be?
I’m pretty happy with my Yashica FX-3, but if I could choose another camera it would definitely be a Leica. As regards the film, I’ve been using Kodak Portra 400 for a long time, but I also love the look of Kodak Ektar 100 and Kodak Gold 200.
How do you think people should handle failure and success?
I’m not sure I’m that good at handling both failure and success, so I might not be the best person to answer this question! Overall, I guess the key to handle both these things is staying humble and not giving up, but who knows.
Any last words for our readers?
I’m not wise enough to give advice to anyone, so I’ll leave it to a quote by Khalil Gibran to do it: “We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.”