Lavinia Parlamenti (born 1981) is a documentary photographer from Italy currently based between Rome and Marseille.
She studied photography at “Scuola Romana di Fotografia” in Rome.
One of her most recent works is a collaborative project with her friend Manfredi Pantanella called “ROUNDABOUT #cyprus”.
“Like a musician, you have different instruments and a bunch of notes and it’s up to you in which way you mean to combine them.
Depending on who you are, and the way you like to interact with the others (or with yourself) you can perform the same thing in one million different ways.
Even in photography, you can be extremely rock, rap, or blues. I guess most of the time I play a sort of disco funk.”
Interview with Lavinia Parlamenti
Lavinia, what does photography mean to you?
Photography is to me a good excuse to stop and think.
“I would love to share my thoughts and imaginations with everyone who cares.”
Then it’s an efficient way to communicate with people when I don’t want or don’t have the opportunity to use my voice. I would love to share my thoughts and imaginations with everyone who cares and this is what I do with the people who bump into my life and that I like, but of course one cannot be so close to everyone in the world.
As books and movies, photographs have the chance to reach a wider public, even strangers, at the time that they prefer, and when they are most ready to get your message, because in that moment they have chosen to look at some pictures, watch a movie, or read a book.
Why did you become a photographer?
My very first approach to the technical world of photography was at the college, in Rome.
I had asked to my mother to attend a public school, after 3 years of a catholic one. She said yes, and in the new school you had the opportunity to choose if study religion or photography.
I already had catholic skills, so I picked out this new religion, and I still practice it.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
“When I reach to combine a good story with an original idea, then I’m happy.”
First comes the interest for a subject, then the research, then the idea and the story. Then, research again. Last but not least, the tools to execute it.
Of course there are stories who stand alone without having a particular idea behind, as well as there are brilliant concepts that can give really interesting sparks even to an over-treated argument. When I reach to combine a good story with an original idea, then I’m happy.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I have always been fascinated by Simon Norfolk, for the lucidity of his work and because he chooses to face the most serious arguments of the modern world without screaming, but whispering in your ears the effects of massacres and wars.
I find it very powerful. I have also enjoyed the “remix” he has made of unknown Burke’s job in Afghanistan, that’s a brilliant way to make documentary.
I am right now fascinated by Taryn Simon’s works.
That doesn’t mean at all I would ever do what they do, but I find it very interesting to explore the photographic suggestions that came from their brilliant minds.
Yet, of course the very first one who talked to me by pictures was my first mentor, photographer Massimo Mastrorillo, who, first among everyone, showed me the meaning of visual storytelling, promoting in our photojournalism class any kind of language and stimulating each of us to transfer our personalities in our pictures.
Other great photographers whose work captured my mind when I started to take photos and that I still love a lot are Alex Webb, Christopher Anderson, Martin Parr, Trent Parke.
Meeting Yuri Kozyrev has been an inspiring experience, too, he has an involving way to share his experiences and no fear to show his human side.
Among the young photographers, I am at the moment enjoying impressions by Devin Yalkin and Rafal Milach.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” Robert Frank
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
A 5D, my friend the flash, transmitters, non professional lamps and disposable cameras. More, I hope, soon.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
TIME Lightbox, GUP Magazine, “Self Publish, Be Happy”.
What book about photography would you recommend?
In general, I prefer to read things that don’t attempt photography.
The project I did in Cyprus was born while I was reading “The Laugh” by Henry Bergson. It’s not about photography, it’s about comic in life, but it was very inspiring.
If you want to know more about photography, I suggest to go out and shoot or go to exhibitions.
You will have the opportunity to meet lots of professionals of photography.
Then if you absolutely need a book about photography I’ll suggest “La camera di Pandora” by Joan Fontcuberta.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Ask yourself why you do it and if you’re satisfied by your answer go for it, by studying and practicing.
Repeat it every time you feel bored or confused.