Tony Nahra is an artist, product and furniture designer who has become very popular on Instagram with his tonyinseattle account. His first encounter with photography occurred while working as a journalist during college, but it is only with the advent of digital and smartphones that Tony is passionate about the process of image conception. As Tony tells:
“Years ago, after joining Instagram, I started to edit my photography with ever greater intensity; until the original images themselves were barely recognizable. I love to take imagery from many places and combine them into someplace imaginary or even surreal”.
His works are poetic surreal works, where the management of light and shadows at times reminds Caravaggio. Atmospheres are powerful and evocative and represent a world that comes to life only through this form of art, suspended between the real and the fantastic. The artist’s goal is to communicate through impact images that are able to tell a story.
In a society where everyone has a device that can take pictures, what is the future of photojournalism? It is a legitimate question when, every day, any news is related by photographs or videos taken by anyone. Should the smartphone be the photojournalists’ tool? It seems that, with its latest launch, which took place in Berlin last Sept. 26, Xiaomi wants to tell us so.
It’s called the Xiaomi 13T Pro the newest addition to the Chinese tech giant’s lineup, and this time it has put its money on the very feature that leads most consumers to choose a device, the camera. It didn’t do it quietly, though. It has decided to do so with Leica, which has been working alongside some of the world’s best-known photo reporters for years.
We were lucky enough to test its power in person, but to prove to everyone that the Xiaomi 13T Pro can really make a difference in the world of photography, Xiaomi called a photo reporter and gave him a challenge, to shoot an entire project with their new smartphone.
Giuseppe Nucci, an Italian photo reporter and Leica Akademie Instructor, took up the challenge and with his Xiaomi 13T Pro set off for the Maiella Mountains to tell the story of Abruzzo’s hinterland and mountains, their territory and the people who live this little Italian gem. He chose this place because “so many of my stories start from inland Italy, the depopulated one, almost forgotten, often inhabited by those who tend to survive rather than live. Coming from a country and knowing the dynamics of countries and territories like this one, I try to tell them in my own voice,” Giuseppe Nucci told us.
From the very first shot, “I was struck by the operational speed and the management of the dynamic range,” the photographer continued, “because it is not so easy for a smartphone to be able to manage scenes that in photojournalism are not set, always working with natural light, which sometimes is strong, sometimes is weak or there is a lot of contrast.”
A quick glance at Giuseppe Nucci’s shots is enough to perceive the level of quality. “We took on this challenge to show that you can have a narrative using a tool that everyone can have in their pocket. Obviously it is a tool designed for a professional audience, which has quality as an end point. The experience the photographer has is very similar to the experience one has while using a camera.“
It is at this point, after seeing the result that can be achieved with a smartphone that we asked the initial question, what is the future of photojournalism? Can everyone be a photo reporter? We asked this directly to Nucci who has very clear ideas on this topic, “the biggest difference is who is behind the camera, the man behind the camera, the difference is how you approach reality, how you capture images. What the photo journalist has is a difference in approach, he sticks to a certain ethic. Not everyone can be a photo journalist, but photo journalists can begin to think that they can work with the smartphone, especially when you have an object like this. The work that has been done by Xiaomi and Leica is of a higher level, there has been so much attention to the camera, the optics, the color to how black and white turns out.”
Giuseppe Nucci is equally convinced in saying that the camera will not become an obsolete object like CDs or videotapes, but that it can and will have to coexist with the most cutting-edge devices, opening up new possibilities for photo journalism.
In Berlin, the brand new wearables Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro and Xiaomi Smart Band 8 were also unveiled at the launch of the Xiaomi 13T Pro. Visit Xiaomi’s website to find out all the features of these devices.
When we start to be interested in photography and shooting, ambition leads us to want to make photographs that are beautiful to look at. It always happens, it happens to everyone. So begins the dogged pursuit of what is considered beautiful by definition. Some dedicate an entire career to this investigation and others need to go beyond the traditional concept of beauty to find new shades. Suddenly the question is no longer “what is beautiful?”, but “what makes it beautiful?”. A decisive question because it is here that a fundamental factor in photography comes into play, the sensitivity of each individual in capturing the beauty in a particular subject over another or, to return to the question posed earlier, in making one subject beautiful over another. And if you have picked up a camera at least once in your life, you will imagine how difficult it is to construct different levels of interpretation in a photograph, let alone if the subject in question belongs to our everyday life and is considered ordinary.
A challenge, but not for everyone. In fact, it only takes a moment to realize that for José Javier Serrano, aka Yosigo, it never was. This is because it is precisely in the places we have always lived and which our routine leads us to look at distractedly that he has found the ideal subjects for his artistic research. For him, it is La Concha beach in San Sebastián. A landmark for people like him who grew up on the north coast of Spain, but above all the place where it all began. It was there that Yosigo took his first steps in photography. And it was while remembering the poem written by his father that encouraged him to never stop and later inspired the name “Yosigo”, literally “go ahead“, that he realized that he had to end his career as a graphic designer and embark on his career as a photographer.
Today, that same beach and sea form the backdrop for most of his shots. This is because José Javier, with his photos, wants us to understand that it is not so much what we look at, but how we look at it, thus pushing us to change the way we see a place over time. Observing La Concha daily, he was able to deepen his investigation until he spotted repeating patterns: bathers on the seashore, children at play, swimmers, diving fanatics. That time then allowed him to discover that it is exactly where the land and the sea meet that people let go, showing who they really are and becoming more vulnerable.
So, day after day, those people who usually go unnoticed have become fundamental elements in Yosigo’s poetics and have found a place in his meticulous shots – undisputed children of his past as a graphic designer – where the balance between solids and voids is perfectly studied. Filmed alone or in groups, we see the bathers intertwine with the landscape they are momentarily invading, becoming spots of color in the blue of the sea and the ochre of the scorching sand.
What further characterized his photographs are the pastel colors that emphasize the formal qualities of the subjects and the use of light that transforms the La Concha beach from time to time. This mixture of colors and lights then gives rise to suspended atmospheres, beyond time, which lead the observer’s eyes to discover, hidden in the most common landscapes, an unseen beauty. The same that on the one hand faithfully portrays contemporary society, and on the other allows itself to be shaped by its personal perception of those spaces. And who knows, perhaps it is for this reason that the Spanish photographer confessed he could not get away from that beach, that sea.
When talking about Evil, one cannot help but also talk about Good. An antithesis explored since ancient times. From a metaphysical perspective, philosophers like Plato and, much later, George Wilhelm F. Hegel, considered Evil as the complete negation of Good. Other schools of thought, such as that of Thomas Hobbes or Immanuel Kant, instead introduce subjectivity, placing Good and Evil within the realm of human experience. They are not independent realities but develop based on human will, or rather, human desire. From a literary point of view, it is significant in this discourse to mention the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi and his assertion that “Everything is evil,” meaning everything is ordered by Evil. Even more extreme, Ugo Foscolo provides proof of this in The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis, where the protagonist reacts to Evil by denying it any possibility of Good. Suicide becomes here a positive act of extreme freedom.
If philosophers, writers, and poets have attempted to concretize in written form two entities as abstract as they are tangible, the photographer Marta Blue, on the other hand, seeks to capture an image of them, more precisely, an anatomy. Her obscure and surreal language, at times esoteric, reflects on the relationship between life and death, love and pain, and even more so, between nature and the occult. It is evident how Marta Blue chooses to explore an anatomy of Evil, one that does not disregard the existence of Good but rather accentuates its very negation. Through a series of photographs in which she often appears as the protagonist, the photographer obsessively pursues the nature of Evil, seeking it within the substance of the body, in oxymorons, and in symbolism. According to Marta Blue, Evil resides in the intimate, in the pains suffered and inflicted, which constantly cradle human existence. The impassivity of the subjects, sometimes pierced, sometimes marked by previous pain, contributes to creating a strong contrast that communicates a widespread atrophying in the face of Evil. Immobile, indifferent, the subjects observe the flow of pain, ready to embrace a new dose of it.
Marta Blue contemplates the concept of Evil as darkness. “Literally, it means the absence of light,” reflects the photographer. “Over time, I’ve come to realize that I can’t come up with a better concept than this. I can’t work on the joy of living if I know that there’s a limbo in our minds, a shadowy area that contains all our fears. An indefinite zone between darkness and light, where all our worst nightmares blend together.” The series Anatomy of Evil becomes a kind of emotional, intimate, and personal archive in which Good and Evil coexist, touch each other, almost court each other, until they merge into a single image. “Loneliness, death, and fear engage in a dialogue with innocent themes like youth, occultism, and seduction.” The boundary between pleasure and pain, love and hate, becomes blurred. The flower, often recurring in Marta Blue’s photographs, best exemplifies this concept. On one hand, the stem of the rose pierces the belly, as seen in Forget me not, or the lips, as in Circle of Love. On the other hand, its strong positive connotation and its symbolism of rebirth “break” the role it usually occupies, becoming an extension of the body, an act of liberation.
Nelle opere di Marta Blue il Male va ricercato su due piani, spesso inconsci. Il primo è astratto, intangibile, dalle molteplici manifestazioni, come l’assenza e la non-presenza, che diventa percepibile solo attraverso l’anima. Il secondo invece è visibile, materico. Emerge dalle viscere e si esplicita attraverso innesti sottocutanei che l’artista tenta di rimuovere, inserendo strumenti chirurgici. In entrambi i casi, Marta Blue tenta di trasporre, e allo stesso tempo di liberare, timori e ansie intrappolate nella psiche umana, creando segni e anatomie tanto surreali e oniriche quanto reali e condivise.
“But what will you do with all the photos you take of me, one is enough for the cemetery, you know!” comments the grandmother of photographerAlessia Spina, who has made her the undisputed protagonist of her latest project. Nonnetta is the title of the photographic project that marks the transgenerational bond. An exploration of intimacy led by a granddaughter armed with an analog camera, rooted in her family and traditions. In Alessia Spina’s photographs, Nonna Elvira embodies the essence of all grandmothers, and through these images, we witness a tapestry of glances, laughter, gestures, tastes, acts of care, and daily rituals, each imbued with an emotional depth that challenges capture. Spina’s project will be on display in Milan from October 1st to 13th as part of the PhotoFestival at Via Laghetto 2.
Nonna Elvira represents not only herself but all grandmothers. She seizes life with both hands, savoring its joys and laughter. She is a safe harbor, much like her beloved San Benedetto del Tronto, her hometown. She is a drawer filled with goodness, to be opened when needed, when it’s cold outside and the world inside aches. She is a repository of memories, brimming with the unique flavors of her cannelloni and a fragrance that fills the mind and heart, soothing even the deepest wounds, much like Proust’s madeleine.
In the frames captured by Alessia Spina, we witness the eternal beauty of the transgenerational bond, a tapestry woven from the threads of love, memories, and the essence of family. Nonnetta is not just a photographic project; it is a testament to the power of love and the timeless connections that bind generations together.