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Artist of the Week — Andrea Benedetti: “There’s just too much to see to stay in one place my whole life!”

August 24, 2009 by · 7 comments

An interview with Andrea Benedetti by Ani Vasileva

Andrea Benedetti

Andrea Benedetti

He was born in Italy in 1970 but he doesn’t feel like a citizen of any country. He was very lucky to have adventurous parents and because of them he grew up all over the world. He spent his childhood living in Africa, first Ethiopia, and then Ghana and finally in Kenya, and when he was a teenager he lived two years in Bangkok and another two years in Rio de Janeiro. When he was 18 he left his family to study in the USA at the University of Colorado in Boulder. After he received his Master’s in IT he moved first to New York and then to San Francisco. However, after 14 years in the USA he decided he wanted to live in Europe and moved back to Italy in 2002. He have been there ever since, but not forever. “There’s just too much to see to stay in one place my whole life!”

He started photography when he was 20 years old. He bought a Nikon 6006 camera with a cheap lens, took a beginner course at the local photography school and eventually set up a dark room at home. In his head he could always imagine rainy Sundays spent inside the darkroom making prints, but the reality is that he used it less than twice a year because of time constraints. For this reason he stayed at a very mediocre level for many years, often not taking any photos for months at a time. When his girlfriend bought a digital compact camera during a trip to New York, he made fun of her, telling her that real photographs were made with classic cameras and Fuji Velvia 50 slide film. Two days later he was leaving his Nikon at home and shooting everything he could with her little compact camera. What he discovered is that digital brought all the fun back into my hobby, leaving him free to experiment and train my eye, without worrying about buying film, development times, etc.

Now he shoot with a Nikon D90 (and yes, he still use his girlfriend’s compact camera) and his passion has grown exponentially every day. He can’t even go to the movies without bringing a camera! To this day, what he loves most about photography is experimenting. He doesn’t have a style because he purposely try to get as much diversity as he can from my work. He love street photography, light painting, long exposures, underwater, candids, still lives, and basically everything except HDR. “That’s the best part of being a photographer: there’s beauty everywhere and it’s up to us see it and capture it forever”.


Wow, you really have an amazing culture experience. What have you learned
from your trips, that helps you in your work and in your lif

The best part of starting a life in a new country is the first six months of living there. It is really an incredible sensation, everything is completely, utterly, fantastically NEW. All of your senses are continuously stimulated by new sights, new sounds, new smells, new food, new language, new everything. It’s like being born again and all your senses of perception open up again. You can fully appreciate the new world around you and, believe me, it is very beautiful. I’ve been doing this every 2-3 years of my life since I was a child and I believe it has really contributed to my vision as a photographer.


You said that you love to experiment in photography. Is there anything
that you want to try but still haven’t done?

I would like to try underwater photography with off-camera flashes. I love the way light is transformed underwater. Even the most common objects become extraordinarily beautiful when photographed underwater. So it would be fun to take it one step further and try doing some “strobist” experiments underwater. All I need is a big swimming pool and some waterproof flashes, no problem, right?


Which is the most favourable place/country for taking photos?

Paris in the winter. Preferably in the 1960’s. Because Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson are some of my very favorites. I also love shooting in New York and I would probably go absolutely crazy in a city like Tokyo, or Ulan Bator, or Zanzibar, or, well, everywhere… there’s too much to see!


What is the most unusual place that you looked to find the perfect place for a picture?

Inside my kitchen sink pointing up at a pile of dirty dishes. I thought it would be an interesting perspective but I nearly ruined my camera.



Which is harder and why – to take pictures of landscapes or people?

People of course. I’m actually very shy and I’ve had to force myself to take pictures even in situations where I don’t feel comfortable. Also, I don’t have much gear (my longest lens is a 50mm) so I need to get very close and that makes it even more difficult. However, lately I’ve become much less self-conscious about using my camera, even in unusual places, because I’m so focused on getting the shot.


How does your dream picture look like?

Black and white. Fog or possibly rain. Soft creamy light and very dark moody shadows. Like something out of Citizen Kane or a French film noir. Unfortunately I live in Rome which has no fog and very little rain, so my photography doesn’t reflect this style…. for now.


What gives you inspiration, ideas and influences?

This photograph by Yevgeny Khaldei is my favorite of all time.
I remember seeing it many years ago in the Leica gallery in the New York. It was a huge print that took up a whole wall and the moment I saw it I fell in love with photography. For me it represents the very essence of our art. Documenting such a powerful and unique moment with such amazing light and composition, it never fails to move me.


As far as ideas and influences, those are unpredictable. Often an idea pops into my head from nowhere and I quickly write it down, hoping to one day find the time to make it come true. The list is quite long and so far I’ve only been able to do two or three of them. Hopefully someday I’ll find time for all of them, but for the most part my photos are born on the spur of the moment. I enjoy photography that is spontaneous and reactive, and I rarely know beforehand what I’ll end up with.



You are showing emotions with your photos. Which is the most difficult “to catch” in a shot and why?

Probably surprise. Nowadays, everyone is so jaded that being able to capture genuine surprise is the hardest thing I can think of. It seems only children are capable of it, and even then it only lasts a second.


How does life look like through your lens?

Infinite. Because there are so many ways to capture the world around us, so many possibilities, that really the only thing that limits us is our own imagination. Very clichè but also very true.



As a successful person and photographer, will you share with us your recipe for being good in your work and in your everyday life?

I think when you have a real passion for something, be it work, love, or a hobby, everything becomes more interesting and, in some ways, easier. But it’s also very tiring because passion doesn’t let you rest. I haven’t watched TV for over two years because I would rather work on something useful during my spare time. Occasionally, I can’t sleep because my mind is so full of ideas and projects that it’s impossible to go to bed. It’s exhausting because I also work a full time job and have a two year old daughter, but the exhilaration of creating my images really makes it all worthwhile.


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