It's been said that creativity thrives in limitations. This certainly holds true for Chantal (@crazy_little_red_riding_hood) in Merano (a small town in the North of Italy) and her cousin Margherita who lives in Turin. While they're only 5 hours by car from each other, the circumstances brought about by the pandemic kept them apart. They decided to work on a project—a photographic dialogue— "to keep in touch through photography, improve our skills, have fun, and see how we interpret the same theme differently."
For the month of April, they agreed on a quote from Leo Tolstoy:
"Though men in their hundreds of thousands had tried their hardest to disfigure that little corner of the earth where they had crowded themselves together, paving the ground with stones so that nothing could grow, weeding out every blade of vegetation, filling the air with the fumes of coal and gas, cutting down trees and driving away every beast and every bird - spring, however, was still spring, even in the town."
Here's a quick chat with Chantal about this project!
Please tell us a bit about yourself and about your cousin, too.
Hi, I'm Chantal. I have always had a passion for stories, without any difference between photography, illustration, narrative in motion, or written words. My creativity allowed me to explore unknown lands and find unexpected ways to reveal the beauty surrounding us. A while ago, I discovered how alluring the obvious and the boring is, and now I'm trying to catch the ordinary every day. I love taking pictures since I can remember, and I've always preferred shooting analogue. I constantly try to improve my photographic skills, but most of all, I love experimenting. It is two years now that I develop my films at home and I love it.
Margherita, my cousin, has ever shared my passions in many ways and has the same fondness for stories. She lives in Turin and is in continuous search of spaces of unexpected beauty that a large city may offers. My cousin loves the woods and trees yet always has the sea in mind, stirring up her thoughts and widening them. As soon as she has some time to spare, Margherita reads or draws. She also loves to travel and paint walls.
Does Margherita usually take photographs, too?
Margherita was the first person to introduce me to self-made pinhole cameras. She loves taking pictures, as I do. For her, photography is training her eyes and mind to go deeper into things and not simply stop at the surface. To photograph is to cultivate the attitude of stopping and approaching small things, looking for traces of beauty. That is why she often looks for details that have stories to tell: the marks on a wall, the uneven surface of a door, a half-open window; Margherita also likes everything that belongs to nature, like plants that can live in inhospitable places, but she also loves portraits, although she hasn't shot any for a long time.
In what ways do your aesthetic styles and tastes differ? And in what ways are you most similar?
We are grown up in two completely different places: me in the small town, and her in the big city. By contrast, she is more attracted by the simplicity of things while I am more intrigued by people.
How did you come up with this themed collaboration?
She asked if I was interested in doing a project with her, where we take turns to decide on the month's theme. It can be anything: a word, a song, a sentence from our favourite book, or inspired by a painting - and we have to interpret it in our way. There are no limits to our creativity. At the end of the month, we share our works on the Instagram account Dialogo fotografico. Since we have only one month to develop a narrative idea or concept and shoot, we are pushed out of our comfort zone.
Your series for April turned out well--what advice would you give those who would like to do film swaps?
It wasn't a film swap since I shot my film roll twice. I loaded my Olympus OM10 with a 100 iso film, shot first the background at 400 iso and then the subject at 200 iso. For the background, I would recommend shooting subjects with vivid colours. As I shot the main subject, I paid particular attention to the dark and bright areas in a picture. In the dark spots, the pattern or texture of the background shines through, while in the bright areas, it is almost invisible. I sometimes also choose to underexpose the picture lightly.
To see more of Chantal's photos, please visit her LomoHome!