PHOTOGRAPHING TIME – AN EPIPHANY

Reynisdrangar, Iceland

SOMETIMES WE NEED AN EPIPHANY TO CLARIFY THINGS WE KNEW WITHOUT KNOWING IT. I AM PHOTOGRAPHING TIME!

Today, it hit me: I am a time photographer. What I mean is, while I don’t actually photograph time – photographing time would be a hard thing to do! – my work has always revolved around the concept of time and of its visual representation through the photographic medium. That’s a mouthful, so if I had to say that in just a couple of words, “time photographer” would be a fitting definition.

The Dolomites Photography Workshop

This is not completely news for me, of course; but I didn’t see it so clearly until now. Since 2010, when I started doing landscape photography full time, I have been on a path of constant discovery. Along the way, during the last decade I kept cumulating bits and pieces of knowledge about myself and my work. These have been the building blocks not only of my work, but of myself as an artist. I always knew where I was going and how to get there, and I kept walking on my path without worrying too much about defining what I was doing.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like today I sat down and decided “today is the day when I’ll define myself”. That’s not the way it works, at least not for me. It was an epiphany, a moment of self-clarity: and, as it often happens in life, that moment has been brought about by two events completely unrelated to the work I do. Before getting there, however, we need to go back in time for a minute.

Since the beginning of my journey with landscape photography, I have never been interested in documentary landscape photography. From day one, I wanted to go beyond a landscape’s exterior appearance; instead, I aimed at creating images expressing my vision of the landscapes in front of me. I wanted to create my interpretation of a place and a moment in time. From day one, I knew that to do so I had to go deep inside myself first.

Cinque Terre & Tuscany Photography Workshop

While I started photographing when I was a little kid and photographed all my life, professional photography is my second career. I started late, at 35; back then, I was photographing people, mostly musicians and artists. As a landscape photographer, I started even later – at 40! – when the love for landscape photography hit me with a fury I didn’t expect. Therefore, time for me has always been a very real, very present companion and a fierce adversary as well. I simply didn’t have the luxury of time – I had to move fast! So much to learn, so much to do, and so little time.

To find the experience that most deeply defined my relationship with time, we need to go back even further. When I was 25 years old, I had a near-death experience – a classic motorbike accident – and that was the first time I knew, in a very real way, that time was not only limited and finite, but that my time here could end way before I would ever have expected. When I recovered, my whole approach to life had changed profoundly. Most importantly, I became very aware of the importance of time.

Last, but not least, is the genre of photography I love and do. Landscape photography is heavily based on time – time to get where you need to be, time to wait for the right light, time to wait for your long exposure to be done, and so on. Definitely having a good relationship with time makes it much easier to be a successful landscape photographer.

Perhaps, that – together with both that near-death experience years ago and my late start with landscape photography – are part of the reasons why, since the beginning of my landscape photography career, I worked on exploring the effects of time on the world around us. Definitely, both my late start and my awareness of how time is finite made sure that I worked very, very hard on developing myself, my photography and my career as fast and effectively as I could.

So, throughout my career, time was both a very important part of my photography, artistically speaking, and a great motivator for me to give photography all I had. To arrive at today’s epiphany, however, I needed two more things to happen.

The first of the two momentous events I mentioned at the beginning of this post is, perhaps not surprisingly, Covid-19. When the pandemic hit, I had to stop traveling, of course. I had to stay home. Suddenly, at the same time, I had plenty of time and yet I felt I was running out of time much faster than I normally do.

During this year spent almost entirely at home, I worked on my Portfolio, on my Fine Art prints and – fundamental for today’s epiphany – on a new website celebrating 10 years of landscape photography (WONDROUS LANDSCAPES).

To build the Portfolios for the new website, I went through all my catalogue, and I ended up reworking over a hundred images, to various degrees. While some ended up on Wondrous Landscapes and some did not, that gave me a chance to examine all my work in one go, something I never had a chance to do before.

The second event that brought about this epiphany, as bizarre as it might sounds, is the advent of NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens), a new way of selling art on the Internet. I will go into more details about NFT in my next post here on the blog; for the purpose of this article, let me just say that entering into the world of NFTs made it possible for me to create and market a completely new kind of work I was thinking about for quite some time.

Thanks to the advent of NFTs, I started creating short videos fully and purely based on Fine Art still photographs with different exposures, moving seamlessly from a representation of time as we can perceive it to one our brains cannot perceive (see VIERI BOTTAZZINI ON FOUNDATION for my NFTs). Doing that, gave me a chance to explore even further the concept of time in still photography, pursuing an avenue that I wouldn’t have developed as much without the NFT channel.

Back to today now. Daytime, interior. I am in my kitchen, chopping onions to make sauce for my pasta – of course, I am an Italian after all! –  thinking about my work. “I am a time photographer!” I said out loud – suddenly, everything clicked into place, all the pieces I collected during these last 10 years found their perfect position, their meaning. My work revolves around exploring the concept of time, and therefore of movement, both in traditional still photography and in animated still photography. It explores the effects of time over matter, but most importantly the effect of time on us – on me. It does so by expressing my vision of a place and a moment in time, and it does so by pursuing beauty, be it the serene beauty of a sunrise or a sunset, or the terrible beauty of a storm. More importantly, even if that might not seem immediately evident, it does so whether I am using long exposures or not.

Normandy & Brittany Photography Workshop

That’s what I have been doing since day one; it hasn’t been a straight path, it never is in art. I deviated, took detours, went back to it, got into dead-ends and back. It took me the time it took, plus Covid & the advent of NFT, for me to put a name on it – but I did, and now I know.

I am a time photographer.

The Isle Of Arran Photography Workshop

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