Valentina Sergi (1997) is a fashion photographer with a passion for pastel colors, bold contrasts, and the vibrancy of images. Her professional work has led her to photograph a variety of subjects in exclusive locations, and her photographs have become a constant presence in many well-known fashion publications. However, what truly sets Valentina Sergi apart is her ability to craft an emotionally compelling narrative through the lens of her camera. Colors, the interplay of light and shadows, patterns, people’s hands, the warmth of an embrace, places steeped in nostalgia, and the hidden stories behind a wrinkle are all elements that Valentina Sergi seeks to capture in order to create a pure aesthetic composed of images that oscillate between the real and the surreal.
The A-Mors Series: A Deep Exploration of Love
One of Valentina Sergi’s most significant projects is the series titled A-Mors. This series delves into the theme of love in a profound and provocative manner. It revolves around genuine love, a love that has been eagerly anticipated, yet so strong that it overcomes the fragility of a tender heart. The intriguing wordplay in the title, where “A-Mors” appears to derive from the Latin “a-mors” (without death), underscores the eternity of this sentiment. In this series, Valentina Sergi explores the concept of an eternal love that transcends temporal boundaries. Her photographs capture moments of passion and affection, while simultaneously evoking a sense of transcendence.
Sergi’s works are emotional and surreal, with a strong conceptual underpinning. Valentina understands that photography is not merely the recording of an objective reality, but rather the presentation of stories, concepts, and worlds as she perceives them through her personal experiences, culture, and sensibilities.
Her connection between cinema and photography is evident, and this cross-pollination of the arts allows her to bring innovation to her work. The photographer leaves us with a famous quote by Vincent Peters, who states, “A photograph is not just made with a camera; it is brought to the act of photography with all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.“
Valentina Sergi will present one of her shots at the Collater.al Photography exhibition at the Matalon Foundation in Milan from Sept. 22-24, 2023. Courtesy Valentina Sergi
In the series Delle Delizie Tarantine, a tribute to the city of Taranto, its history, and its hidden beauty, we find Luca Imperatrice behind the lens. A photographer active in the fashion world, Imperatrice also pursues personal projects like this one, aiming to portray his more personal side. This series draws inspiration from the 1771 Latin work by Tommaso Nicolò D’Acquino, celebrating the city in all its splendor, often concealed by the obscurity of time. The history of Taranto blends its ancient past and myth, a story seemingly destined to fade into oblivion. However, in Imperatrice’s project, Taranto is brought out of the darkness and comes to life in the photographs of Luca Imperatrice.
In the series, Imperatrice’s shots become a kind of guardian of Taranto’s history. Each image is a vivid memory of the city’s past, a testament to the extraordinary offerings of this land. Through Imperatrice’s lens, Taranto is reborn in a new light, and its neglected beauty becomes visible to all.
Each shot is a journey through time, an invitation to explore Taranto’s millennia-old history through the unique perspective of Imperatrice, who seeks to capture the essence of the city. Thanks to the images taken by Imperatrice, Taranto reveals a mythological and imaginative side waiting to be discovered by all.
You can find more projects from Luca Imperatrice here is his Instagram profile.
Damon Baker is famous for his celebrity portraits, but the English photographer doesn’t like to associate his photography with celebrity culture. The famous personalities he portrays are nothing more than human beings, friends, and people with whom he establishes a genuine connection. It seems that this is Damon’s gift: to read into the souls of his subjects and bring out their authenticity through the empathetic power of his shots.
Every project shot by Damon Baker is a story. The photographer’s strong communicative force is coupled with a true vocation for storytelling. «I dance with my subject, metaphorically,» says Baker, referring to the genesis of his work, to obtain two versions of the same story within his shots. Even the photographer’s experiences and struggles related to this painful theme find their place within the shots – starting from the dark atmospheres we find in the background of many photographs – sending a message of rebirth and openness.
In the series “There’s Something Beautiful,” one of the most powerful shots is the one where the subject sleeps embraced by a mohair sweater, an item that Damon says comes directly from his own closet, a piece of clothing that makes him feel safe. It is in this photograph that the photographer’s empathetic strength is fully recognized, unfailing in conveying the emotions of his subjects, whoever they may be.
In the photographs, there is also a lot of Damon himself, especially when he seeks to express himself through his subjects. First by capturing the subjects in moments of euphoria or elation, and then in moments of vulnerability. His quest speaks to the way he sees the world and mental health through the lens of a photographer capable of looking within himself and at the world.
What is a border? A limit, a beginning, but also an end. A constantly moving (in)visible line that demarcates a “this way”, which we know well, and a “that way”, which is other than us and doesn’t belong to us. Characterizing this term has always been its changeable nature. This is how, over time, it has extended to many fields of human experience, changing form and substance. Just think how, each time the border concept has crossed spheres of creativity, it has achieved ever different shades of meaning. An evolution that in some ways would seem to be similar to that of mankind, and perhaps the reason is because it ideally represents that window through which we can observe our actions, that window that offers us the opportunity to get to know ourselves better. Consequently, every time we talk about it, we are talking about ourselves. Here, the shots of Viktoria Andreeva, Loc Boyle, Alessio Bucciero, Sara Camporesi and Gaia Caramellino investigate the elusive nature of the boundary concept from different perspectives.
The Bulgarian photographer Viktoria Andreeva explores in her series Relay the most primordial of boundaries, that of our skin. The project delves into the complex relationship between individuals, exploring themes such as identity, human duality and metamorphosis. Within each composition, the absolute protagonist is the body, which becomes the instrument to give life to a series of contradictions. In her photographs, the subjects can appear close and intimate and at the same time shy and distant. This is because Andreeva intentionally depersonalizes them, capturing their curves in an abstract and surreal way and hiding and revealing parts of their bodies each time. By distorting the figures, the photographer aims to cross the boundary between reality and illusion and, in doing so, makes us realize how this concept depends entirely on our perception and is therefore subjective and undefined, hence abstract.
The distortion of perception adopted by Andreeva returns in Loc Boyle‘s photography. In this case, the Australian photographer imagines new forms of the body and experiments with a different kind of boundary: the ability of a man to “be art”, framing bodies as if they were monolithic sculptures. They are covered in paint, trapped in lycra, stretched and sometimes even folded in on themselves; all the while holding abstract, dramatic or simply bizarre poses. The result is images full of contrasts: powerful, delicate, still, moving, abstract, human. Images that, at the same time, are able to intrigue and confuse the observer, who, stunned, asks himself “Is this a work of art, a sculpture or the essence of something as yet unknown?”.
For Alessio Bucciero, the border should not be understood as a synonym for separation, “For me it means getting closer to something”, says the Italian photographer. This is evident from the first glance in the photo of the two lovers caught in an embrace, which Bucciero makes appear as if they were two parts of a single identity. Here, that threshold that distinguishes – as was said at the beginning of this text – a “this way” and a “that way” is no longer posed as a line of inclusion/exclusion, but becomes increasingly rarefied until it disappears, creating something that has never existed and that must be explored. And so, unintentionally, we forget that ancestral need to feel protected within a delimited space, overcoming the more traditional definition of a border once and for all.
While Andreeva, Boyle and Bucciero investigate the concept of boundary in the body dimension exclusively, Sara Camporesi‘s research focuses on the definition of “presence” that the body occupies in its surroundings. So what the Italian photographer examines is the space that is created between the body and architecture, between fullness and emptiness. “The moment in which everything is still suspended, in which we are and are not, in which we hold something elusive, something that precedes us and without which nothing could begin,” says Camporesi. In the shot taken in the Metaphysical City of Tresigallo, in the plain of Ferrara, we see that border become the beginning of a shared journey to discover a new and unimaginable elsewhere. An elsewhere in which to immerse ourselves and be amazed by what it is able to reveal: something of us that we didn’t know existed, that helps us (re)know or rediscover.
Different, but in some ways similar to Camporesi’s, is the border understood by Gaia Caramellino. In her photographs, this concept suddenly takes shape, becoming that place where you can find yourself again and again. Therefore, it is not an unknown space, but one of which one has experience. A cradle or rather “a safe place, crystallized in time, in which one can be weak, open to blows, to falls. A kind of waiting room aimed at nowhere, a no-man’s land where you arbitrate on an equal footing with your own history”, says the photographer. In front of her shots, the observer therefore finds himself staring at a boundary that does not belong to him.
In the research of the five photographers examined, we have realized that the concept of a boundary is subjective and abstract. However much we try to delimit its perimeter, the result will never be definitive because it is nothing more than an idea that does not exist. An idea that we have constructed, with the sole purpose of narrating it.
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.