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Online breakfast with Federico Ciamei

Picture from project "Light as light", Federico Ciamei

Federico Ciamei (Roma, 1974) ) lives and works in Milan and defines himself as an ironic and iconic photographer. This is how he describes himself on his website:

"I love to portrait people in slightly surreal and ironic situations, working with DIY or modified equipment, or browsing around with my scooter.

Iím interested in working in situations where some details are deliberately left undetermined so that the final result, usually a photo, contains a certain amount of unexpected. I think it is essential to start any project without knowing exactly what the final result may be: with this process something new and interesting is more likely to happen".

His work has been published on important magazines and publications and within his customers are le Magazine du Monde, Io Donna, LíEspresso, the Observer, Stern Magazin, Marie Clarie, Geo Germany, GQ, Vanity Fair, Traveller, Monopol Magazin, AltaRoma e líAccademia di Costume e Moda.

Fotoaplauso had a virtual coffee with Federico and asked him a few questions.

1. What do you see in the picture Iím not showing you right now?
A beautiful marine landscape, almost a postcard: a beach made of little stones, black and white, a calm, transparent sea pretty full of people, two small rowing boats, in the background a little road climbs a small hill and there a small building, a bar or a little restaurant with a panel in an unknown language, but that surely means: "welcome to the sea".

2. What is your first remember as a photographer?
My fatherís camera and a picture made at the school when I was a child. Itís me, masked as Frankenstein, sliding on a curler; the assignment we had was to do a photo novel.

3. In your work as a photographer what is the aspect of photography that you enjoy most, and what do you want to transmit?
I like to have the excuse to do everything: "sorry, Iím taking a picture". I enjoy discovering some details out of place in a picture I accurately planned. I donít know what I want to transmit, maybe nothing in particular.

4. Three photographers, or authors in other disciplines, that inspired you.
A photographer, a director and a writer: Christian Patterson, Terrence Malick and Raymond Queneau.

5. How do your personal project and your commitments enforce themselves mutually. What is they key to keep a personal and distinguishable vision like your in situations where, apparently, there is no space for it.
Itís not easy at all, I donít know. Iím not lazy, that for sure, I could do some commitments a lot easily and in a more normal way and make my life easier. Anyway, I donít put the works that donít represent me on my web, so itís hard to see them :)

Picture from serie "Tribute Bands", Federico Ciamei

6. How was born the idea of you last project "80s SWM seeks LTR" born, and what did motivate you with it.
I always followed the Web. I had a modem when there were still the BBS, in the early 90s, and what happens in that world always fascinated me. I consider the Web a place, not a medium.

With this idea in mind I made several photographic projects in which I tell some unique stories of that world.

The first has been "All your base are belong to us" on the Web heroes and mythology: from Star Wark Kid to Tekno Viking, to Double Rainbow and Sneezing Panda.

The second was "80s SWM seeks LTR" that was born when I discovered that a lot of over-70 people want to make a new life for themselves through announces on contact networks. The ways they present themselves, with pictures and description of their passions, strengths and lifestyles, conquered me.

The idea of becoming old clearly scares me, but the idea that at the end you can continue having a lot of passions and desires is definitely encouraging.

Picture from project "80s SWM seeks LTR", Federico Ciamei

7. In "80s SWM seeks for LTR" the photographer, the author, itís not who physically press the button but the one who gives a sense to the pictures, re-interpreting them. This idea is becoming more and more accepted, also because of the excess of pictures taken and the possibility (and necessity) to interpret the ones who take them. As a photographer, what do you think is the future of the craftsman of "good pictures", in a world full of megapixels and Instagram filters. Is the physical beauty of images becoming secondary?
There is too much to talk about this and I donít have a very clear idea to express for the moment. For sure, the traditional concept of author is obsolete. To me, moreover, the most interesting photographers are not those who make the prettiest pictures but the ones who turn the pictures into pieces of complex and intriguing stories.

8.How do you consider the audio-visual medium with respect to pure photography? An extension.. a contamination.. or a totally different language. What kind of language do you think predominates, or which one do you intend to use, between the one of photography and video. In general, no matter whether video is present or only pictures and music.
Video is not a language that I think belongs to me, even if I experimented a bit: some music video clips, a documentary some years ago. I think that photography and video are two radically different languages especially because video is linked to a linear narration with strict timing and as a consequence the stories that come out are much more focused, with thicker borders.

Things told with photography, on the other side, become much more indefinite. A reader has to put something of himself to turn them into stories.

Picture from project "Week of Life", Federico Ciamei

9. A place or a situation where to absolutely carry the camera.
During a period I always had a small automatic camera with me (see for example the project "week of life" on my website), now I prefer to take pictures when I can take some time for it. If I see something interesting I like to stop. If I can make a portrait of someone I prefer to talk with him/her for a while. Anyway, I was told of a man who is building a labyrinth nearby Parma, for himself. I would like to photograph him.

10. A place or a situation where to NOT carry the camera absoutely.
At meals :)

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