TPL: Federico please tell us about yourself. How did you become interested in photography?
FQ: I was born in Trieste, Italy in 1966. My mother was Austrian/Italian and my father was an Argentinian career diplomat. Because of my father’s line of work I received at the time only the Argentine passport. My father was stationed in Indonesia. There was great political instability, so my mother came to Italy temporarily. Shortly after, my father was transferred to Beirut, Lebanon and so was I, at three months of age.
We stayed in Lebanon the first six years of my life and as a result my first language is French. From that point onward we continued to move around the world. It was two years in Moscow, two years in the Ivory Coast, back to Argentina under military regime and then Switzerland, when I was around eleven. I stayed in boarding school until the age of sixteen. My parents separated and my father returned to Argentina to follow his career while I ended up in Paris, France with my mother and finished my studies at the American High School of Paris.
At nineteen I moved to Arizona where I had friends and worked in construction while studying computer science at a technical school in Phoenix. I was already photographing a lot at the time with my first camera, an old Canon FT that my father had given me a few years earlier. My AA degree in computer science was from an accelerated program that lasted one year instead of two but during that time I had met the owner of an Aerial Survey and Photography company who offered me a job if I wished to return.
I also discovered that Arizona State University had one of the best Journalism Schools in the States in addition to being the only one offering a photojournalism emphasis program. I had at this time decided I wanted to become a war photographer, and at the same time I had also requested to the Italian government my birthright citizenship, so in response they called me back to Italy for military service. Because of my interest in war photography, I volunteered as Airborne and subsequently in Alpine Airborne Rangers 'Special Forces', as I wanted to get proper training for conflict situations.
After finishing my military service I returned to Arizona for my B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications and a Photojournalism emphasis. I worked my way through University with 'Landiscor Aerial Survey' in Phoenix, where I had every job available in the company at one point or another. Finally I returned to Italy for a short time before returning to the US to finish university and complete my degree. At this point I met the lady of my life who accompanied me back to Arizona for my last year and graduation. After this we married in Las Vegas, with only one condition on her behalf: “no war!” So would documentary work be okay, honey? Laura is of course still by my side. I wanted to move to Argentina and get to know my heritage... while growing up I had only lived there for two years and in the worst imaginable time of a military regime, which later culminated with the Falklands war.
We moved to Argentina in 1996, and the first thing I did was to travel to the Falklands for my first documentary work attempt, this resulted in an important exhibition at a major university in Buenos Aires where I met the owner at the time, of Lugares magazine. I soon started contributing with them and my photographic career began. After a year I decided I really wanted more knowledge in photography and returned to the US, this time in Santa Barbara, Ca. at Brooks Institute of Photography. I wanted a Masters degree and they had accepted my enrolment for two years. After six months, I had started at Brooks, the owner of Lugares sold the magazine to Argentine Newspaper La Nacion but remained as director and editor of the magazine. She offered me a position as staff photographer if I would return, so of course I did. Lugares magazine is a high level travel magazine inspired by Condé Nast Traveller, but mainly dedicates its coverage to the Argentine territory, although it also encompasses many world destinations. They do two special editions at opposite times of the year, one in Patagonia and one on the North of Argentina.
My first assignment as staff photographer for the magazine was the Patagonia edition. It lasted three weeks and Patagonia literally blew my mind and sunk in very deep. There are many similarities with Australia, so I think you might know what I mean. I just love the vastness, incredible beauty and intense loneliness you can experience in such places, it puts you in touch with yourself like nowhere else. I love the land, rivers glaciers and horses that play such an important role in that territory. I am also an avid fly fisherman and Patagonia never disappoints.
In the year 2000 my son Matteo was about to be born and the situation in Argentina was very bad, a terrible crisis was driving people away from the country and my position in the magazine was difficult, as the management had changed and they were requesting the rights to my images, which I could not accept. During a trip to Europe I went to visit SIPA/ PRESS - IMAGE in Paris, and they proposed a collaboration that I accepted.