This interview is part of a series in which Olaf Willoughby talks with Leica Meet members about their photographic projects, stories, goals and learnings along the way.
Gianluca Federighi, an Italian photographer based in Lucca, Tuscany, injects new energy and drama into the eternal theme of ‘the elements.’ He has taken a serious interest in landscape photography since 2012, and discovered The Leica Meet through Facebook.
Q: To start, can you give me an overview of your project, its title, and its main themes?
A: Like every photographer, I have my dreams and goals. Presently, I am focused on a project that I’ve been working on for a couple of years, potentially titled “The Three Elements.”
The Earth, Sky, and Water. Those three elements in every shade of color, and every change of texture, including both their wilder, and more civilized aspects, as seen within a city.
Years ago upon returning from a beautiful journey, I came to realize how I much loved photography, particularly the natural world; pure and uncontaminated.
It was as though I had been blind before. From that moment on, my eyes were opened. I felt that I had to undertake this project, so that through my images, others could also have the same experience.
In this work, I entered into a symbiosis with the surrounding atmosphere. I want to reproduce it at its best; becoming part of it, feeling its breath, its heartbeats… To remain seated on earth, yet to swim in its waters, and to fly in its skies!
For me, this is the meaning of landscape photography. This is the starting point for my travels in the world.
Q: And how does that theme develop as a story throughout the project?
A: The Earth, Sky and Water are an endless story. There are magnificent places where these elements are amazing, and offer truly incredible shows- Especially at sunrise and sunset, through particular weather conditions, or during specific times of year. The organization and planning of my journeys are a critical part of this project, as is the need for flexibility and the spirit of sacrifice to wait for that unrepeatable moment to get the right shot!
Q: Is the project purely for yourself, or do you have an alternate cause or goal in mind?
A: I take my time to properly research the best locations so that I can tell their stories. Therefore, I feel that this is very much a personal project. However, at the same time I am also dedicating myself to teaching through www.workshopontheroad.com courses. Here I can work with students and also visit beautiful places, which inspires my own fantasy and creativity.
One such place is Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, Spain. There I have found nature in its essence in the wild beaches, pristine water, and fantastic skies.
In the future, I am planning a project about Tuscany, between Florence and the Chianti region, one of the most beautiful places in the world. But my work will always be related to the Earth, Sky and Water.
Q: What photographic choices did you make for this project? (color palette, composition, use of flash, etc.)
A: I commit a lot of time to choosing a location. It is very important for me to know what kind of light to expect, and the ideal position for making the shot. This helps determine choice of camera. I love bold colors, and I like to use the best equipment, so I shoot Leica in medium format, generally with a tripod.
I use a series of neutral density filters to slow the shooting times, giving movement in the clouds, and a silky effect on the water. I also use polarizers to emphasize the colors. To get the composition right, I often try different angles, working around the scene to get the shot that makes the difference.
Q: What is your vision for the project, and how will you judge if you’ve been successful?
A: We live in a very stressful world, we always have to be on time, life is full of deadlines and targets. I think that sometimes we should stop for a moment, take time to think, and raise our environmental awareness. I hope that in this project, I can create images which will growingly become a representation of our planet. A place not polluted, but respected and preserved for our children. If I can step towards achieving this, then I will have been successful.
Q: Did any particular person or body of work influence or inspire you?
A: Honestly, there are many photographers and many works that I love that influence me. However, I think that it’s my personality that gives me the feeling to shoot in a specific moment, in a particular place, and with this process, I have developed my personal style.
Q: Not all projects are smooth sailing. Have you had any setbacks? If so, what did you learn from them?
A: I’ve had some difficult moments for sure, but so far I’ve stayed focused and haven’t encountered too many problems. My next big challenge will be true panorama photography with my Manfrotto Professional Head which I’ll receive soon. I also want to experiment with a new type of landscape shooting style using a portable lighting system (perhaps Elinchrom or Broncolor). Exciting times ahead.
Q: What Leica equipment do you use, and how is it suited to the needs of this particular project?OK
A: I mostly shoot with a Leica S (Typ 006). I love the faithful reproduction of its colors, and I think that it is the best camera I have. I use three lenses; 24 mm Super Elmar-S, 35 mm Summarit-S, and the 70 mm Summarit-S. The Super Elmar is my favorite- it is incredibly sharp!
I also have a Leica M, and recently I bought a Leica Monochrom. Used with its famous M lenses, they show an incredible personality, and immediately recognizable shots that only a Leica can guarantee. My M lenses are the 24 mm Summilux and a Noctilux 50 mm. The Noctilux is especially wide open and sharp.
Thank you for your time, Gianluca!
– Leica Internet Team
Connect with Gianluca on his website, Instagram, and Flickr.
Olaf Willoughby is a photographer, writer and researcher. He is co-founder of The Leica Meet, a Facebook page and website growing at warp speed to almost 8,000 members. If you have an intriguing project or body of work that we might feature, completed or in progress, contact Olaf at: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.olafwilloughby.com.