“I think photography is a personal way to show your own vision. Photography lets me see things the way I imagine them, I can make other people see a world that is just mine.”
Manfredi Pantanella (born in 1985) is an Italian photojournalist living between Rome and Paris. He attended the “Centro Sperimentale di Fotografia” in Rome and the “Ecole Superieure de Photographie et d’Audiovisuel” in Paris. Manfredi Pantanella is available for assignments worldwide.
“My work is focused on social issues and documentary photography.
During my time in Paris I have worked as assistant for Reza (National Geographic Fellow). He taught me to respect the subject I’m working on, and made me understand that there is a person on both sides of the camera.”
A project of Manfredi Pantanella and Lavinia Parlamenti, exploring the consequences of Cypriot never-ending political deadlock on the geography and topography of the island, who remains nowadays the last divided country in Europe.
The work has been exposed in the Photobook festival on the occasion of the “FotoGrafia – International Festival of Photography” in Rome and recently in “Photo Off” in Paris. The project “Roundabout #Cyprus” can be seen on Issuu.com as well.
Manfredi Pantanella, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My first camera was a Nikon fm2, a camera that I still love a lot. The first experience I can remember is the first time I got into a darkroom, that sharp smell of the chemicals that you can’t forget.
Why did you become a photographer?
I became a photographer when I first started to seriously look around me. It all started as a simple passion, but I immediately understood that photography could give me a different point of view on things and I felt like the lens could help me get closer to people. Then, a few years ago, I realized that it was more than a passion and that this could actually be the basis of a career. Since then, I try every day to make a job out of this passion.
What does photography mean to you?
I think photography is a personal way to show your own vision. Photography lets me see things the way I imagine them, I can make other people see a world that is just mine. Despite the personal and intimate nature of images, I definitely think that are a medium to understand the photographer’s feelings while shooting them. Everyone is a potential photographer, especially now that one can easily access the world of photography just through any smart phone. It’s just about being inspired.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
In a human way Reza, a person I’ve worked with when I was living in Paris. He taught me to respect the subject I’m working on, and made me understand that there is a person on both sides of the camera. Technically I can’t focus on one photographer in particular.
“In the Picture with Reza”: National Geographic Fellow Reza presenting his publication “War + Peace: A Photographer’s Journey” at the Frontline Club London.
Watch also: Reza talking about and showing images from “War + Peace: A Photographer’s Journey” (published by Focal Point), a 30-year retrospective of his photography from Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, China, South Africa, and other places – video.
Your favorite photography quote?
Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.
How would you describe your photographic language?
I work in a very instinctive way. I just choose a subject and I usually get to the technical details only once I am on site. Every place is different and so are the people, this is the reason I always organize the work adjusting it to where I am.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
Images are everywhere, we are surrounded by them every day. It is difficult to find a distinguishing style, and one can easily find photographs that are similar both in the style and in content. I think time and practice are the only way of creating something original. Nowadays, technical skills are not central, and I think that the most important issue in photography is what you want to use it for, what you want to achieve with it.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Patience first of all, and knowing how to adapt to different situations and avoid the many problems this can bring. But it definitely depends on the type of photographer you want to be.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Once again, it depends on where I am. I am fascinated by details and I look for them in the people I meet. I sometimes find myself staring at strangers in an attempt to find my inspiration in them. It is not a lucid or rational process.
How do you keep up to date with new developments in photography?
Sharing with friends and colleagues – and the Internet – are the fastest way to keep learning and find new ideas.
Digital or analog?
I think that it is not necessary to choose. In a commercial sense digital is better, meaning that it is more adapted to a fast-moving job but shooting in analog is always a good exercise. Also, in my case, analog gives me a thrill that digital cannot produce when you are waiting for your work to come alive, it builds up expectations and desire in anticipation.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I shoot with a Canon 5d, a Nikon fm2 and my Rollei 35S that’s always with me.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
I would just say: shoot, shoot, shoot – and never give up. At the end of the day you are someone who is passionate about photography rather than a professional photographer, and passion should always be nourished. Start nourishing it.