Born in the KSA

A good walk with friends, enjoying  the warm weekends that the Eastern Province offers in March. A good chance for street shooting.

The Eastern Province is famous for its oil-rich soil that attracted thousands of Western Expats to work for the major Oil&Gas or Engineering companies. Local people here are used to see us walking around in trousers and shirts: they are friendly and open still proud of their own costumes and cultures.

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On the so called Corniche, people interested in physical activity can find a nice place were to walk or jog freely: the green grass to one side, a huge beach to the other. Open air physical activity is not that popular compared to our home country but is not forbidden either: there has been and still is an awareness effort on the benefit of a more healty lifestyle and we could appreciate a strong increase in the number of joggers since the last three years. Of course all these activities are carried out in full respect of the Islamic laws: men and women, or better, families and singles, are separated and carry out their activities independently.

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One last word about taking pictures and specifically street photography: you can easily read on the net about punishments for whoever takes pictures in Saudi Arabia, cameras confiscated and so on. I was prepared for the worst and very concerned whenever I had my camera in my hands. As you can see there’s nothing like that as long as you behave correctly and in a polite and respectful way: I have never been confronted and many times I have been invited to either shoot or take a photo with other people. Always check whatever you read on the net. Including my words!

 

 

The Secrets of Photography

While reading  ‘The Art of Photography’ from Bruce Barnbaum I was forced to think once again at two aspects that have always intrigued me: what does each photographer like to capture and how each of us reacts to our own interests in order to take the picture.

This process started my personal self analysis extended to my own experience and I think I understood just a bit more the Secret of Photography.

I forced my memory to go five or six years back in time when I first joined a photoclub. At that time I considered myself more a kind of street photographer while my new photo-friends were mainly experts and talented landscape photographers. Of course there were exceptions but most of them are well known naturalistic semi-professionals and expert amateurs.

Secret 1 : What do you like to capture?

In the process of taking a photo, there is something that happens and is very deep: we react to what we see, point the camera and shoot. The result is something unique: the more you feel it being ‘your photo’ the better this process has gone.

I am deeply convinced that the fact that some of us like shooting landscapes while others choose, as an example, to capture people or buildings or portraits, is not random: it is rather the result of  external elements (the place we live in, the people we meet… ) and internal factors (how we have elaborated the education we received, how family experiences have changed us, the status of our mood, were our hobbies bring us, active or passive approach….).

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Tuscan photographers are known for their green sweet landscapes while the majority of the pictures projected in a photo-club of a big city will have the city streets as main subject as well as maybe glamour, fashion, commercial or other genre. Try it yourself with google and search for Turin photographers. And yes Turin , or Torino, is my hometown: a rather big city in the North of Italy while Tuscany is where my home is now, when I am not in Saudi of course!

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Secret 2: How do you react to your interest?

How do we move to action and, pushed by our interests, we eventually make the picture. How we react and make the picture dictates the difference between just another photo and our own personal masterpiece.

I am talking about a mix of technic, creativity, purpose and overall vision that the photographer must have developed and have it ready in order to express that compelling vision that is in front of him at that specific time.

Secret 3: How do we become better photographers

To improve in whatever the field there is one sure way: hard work.

I personally work on the two previous secrets and keep on asking myself:

  • Today, what do I want to photograph, what am I truly interested in ?
  • What is my reaction to that interest and how can I convey my reaction?

I learned to ask myself these questions systematically as soon as I grab the camera and step out of my home: today what do I want from my pictures? I ask the questions again once I am in front of my interest: what is striking me, how technically can I render my emotions?

And when everything else fails… I just go and buy a new lens ! (I am joking!).

Let me know your thoughts: how do YOU do to improve your pictures, have more fun, feel happy ?!

 

 

 

 

Dubai is Not Venice

How can a photographer find inspiration regardless of the place where he lives in? It is easy to think that the environment shapes our photography and, actually, this is the truth most of the times! Photographers from the beautiful Tuscany, Italy, are well known around the world for their wonderful panoramas. Not only that: if you are lucky enough to become friends with one of them, they might even tell you some of their secrets on how to capture the perfect picture, what lens to use or which place and what time is just the right one.

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Being away from wonderful panoramas is what happened to me when we decided to leave Italy almost 3 years ago. I wanted this event and all the related stress not to stop me from taking pictures.

Here below the 3 tricks that I tried myself to find everywhere and anyhow a reason not to stop shooting:

  1. Go out and shoot every day for  1 year. Practice makes perfect and this one is rule number 1: I kept a camera always with me and dedicated some time every day to photography. I forced myself to a daily click regardless of the theme. Everything became my Daily Picture Project.
  2. Shoot with a Prime lens. Using a Prime lens instead of a zoom and sticking to it consistently had at least two positive effects: I ended up mastering that lens and I gained consistency in my portfolio. Mastering a lens means to know so well how things look like when using that lens that I could see the final picture even before taking the camera out.
  3. Find one or more theme and work them out. I found some themes that I wanted to develop and I forced myself to look for pictures matching the themes. For example I wanted to describe the life of Expats in Saudi Arabia, describe how certain segregation concepts work here (male, female, family, singles etc…). This helped me to be always in ‘search mode’ while out in the street and, eventually, I ended up with over 2500 selected pictures, many of them falling into one of the desired themes. Having a portfolio already set up according to themes gives to my work a purpose and a deeper breath.

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