“You start photographing subjects with a precise idea of the pictures that you want to create. But in the end you are living a situation, you are in it and it is a kind of battle between the things that are happening in that precise moment and your desire to capture them with your camera.”
Lorenzo Masi (born in 1980) is an Italian photojournalist and documentary photographer currently based in Florence. He didn’t study photography, but graduated in Philosophy at the University of Florence. Lorenzo Masi is represented by LaPresse Agency.
“I’m essentially a documentary photographer interested in telling stories about people. The photography medium feeds my great curiosity about human beings, both when I do street photography, staying at a level of knowledge of strangers similar to the one experienced in everyday life, and when I do documentary, going deep in the knowledge of others.”
Lorenzo Masi, what was your first photographic experience?
My first camera was a Canon EOS 350d. My friends gave it to me as a present for my graduation, at the end of 2007. My first experience was taking pictures, a few days later, during new year’s eve.
Why did you become a photographer?
Because the idea of looking at something from a perspective that comes both from you and from the medium that you use, together with the possibility to fix that vision, has always fascinated me. Such as the idea of living – somehow, different lives.
What does photography mean to you?
It is a good way to express myself. It has the great advantage of being a very straight medium. You, your camera and the world out there.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
There are a lot of photographers that constantly inspire me, but the one who influences me the most is Jean Gaumy. There’s a sensible attention that you can feel in his works. Not important what he photographs, being it common people, big issues or nature, his pictures always show a great consideration towards the subject.
Your favorite photography quote?
“Making any statement of your feelings is risky. It’s just like making pictures.”
How would you describe your photographic voice?
I can describe it as series of spontaneous acts. You prepare yourself to engage a subject, learning everything about it or him or her. You start photographing subjects with a precise idea of the pictures that you want to create. But in the end you are living a situation, you are in it and it is a kind of battle between the things that are happening in that precise moment and your desire to capture them with your camera.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
It depends on what you mean by that. If something that distinguishes you from the others, or a sort of trademark that identifies all your work, or something that comes from your desire to have a voice. The discussion about that could be very long, but in all of the three case the hard work is to define the substance that generates the style.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work?
Technically, when I take pictures the thing that I care most is the research of a good light and of a good subject. When post-producing and editing, I define better the things that I considered a little less while shooting, such as the aspect of the single picture (color, hard or soft contrast in black and white, etc.) and the aspect of the pictures all together.
Conceptually, the axis of my work is the research of something not immediately present in the situation that I capture. Of course, that’s a matter of interpretation; someone could see in my images something that I can’t, but for me the important thing remains to generate questions in me an in the others.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
I don’t think there are special qualities that a photographer needs. In other words I think that a photographer needs the same qualities that, I suppose, everyone generally needs to achieve a result: desire, courage, perseverance.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
I am captured by a photo when I see something not placated in it. This sensation could come from the use of the light or from the presence of a particular subject.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
From what I see around me. From books, from news, from other photographers’ work. Sometimes it happens that in the real moment that I’m taking a picture, I figure out an idea for a project, so I continue to shoot following the faint of this idea.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Mostly a digital camera with a wide-angle zoom lens.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
What photography book would you recommend?
Magnum Contact Sheets. It’s a book useful to understand what the work of a photographer is all about. Great for photographers to learn about one of the cornerstones of the job, great for everyone to learn that a picture is not an “only one”.
Have a look at the photography book “Magnum Contact Sheets”
“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy”.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
I’m a professional photographer for a really short time, so maybe is better if someone else gives advice to me, instead of me giving advice to anyone…