November 23, 2020
LAST LIGHT IN BOLOGNA
Photography by Gregorio Paone
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Gregorio Paone was born and raised in Calabria, in the South of Italy. He moved to Bologna in 2005 for university studies, graduating in Economics and Marketing and Social Communication as a second degree. Photography helps Gregorio understand his place in the world while observing those aspects of society that spark his curiosity. For him, scenes from daily life hide the secret of life.
Gregorio shares with us a series of photographs from Bologna that he intends to evoke a nostalgic feeling. It is an introspective journey that syntheses the relationship between the photographer and his city over a twelve year period. He has turned many contemplative walks into an opportunity to narrate his relation with this place: a story of lights and shadows, created by the characteristic arcades of the city centre, and colour games: the warm tones from the “cotto emiliano”, the yellow, the red and the orange. Gregorio sees the people in the photos as "background" to complete the scenography that illustrates Bologna's atmosphere, which is the real subject of these shots. Gregorio's Bologna is characterised by a suffused languor: just like the mood during the last light of day.
"If I knew how to tell stories with words, I wouldn't bother dragging a camera all the time."
IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGORIO PAONE
TPL: Gregorio please tell us about yourself. When did you start getting interested in photography?
GP: I was still just a little kid when I started playing around with my father's Minolta. I later got my very first camera by the time I was ten. I only thought of photography as a simple recording tool for memories. I only realized and got interested in the true expressive potential of photography while studying at the University of Economics and Marketing. I received a book about composition in photography (The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman) and it was like entering a totally new world. For seven years I studied on my own. In 2017 I decided to take a Master in Photography Storytelling with two World Press winners, the photographers Fulvio Bugani and Giulio Di Sturco.
TPL: Talk to us about your series of images. Does it have a name? Tell us about when and how the idea started? Is it an ongoing series? Explain your process behind the series.
GP: The name of this series is 'Last Light in Bologna'. It was conceived as a farewell to the city that has been my home for 12 years. The idea started while getting lost in my contemplative walks during my last year in the city. I wanted to capture the spirit of the place and hold on to it. So I focused on what I feel are the main features of Bologna: the lights and shadows created by the characteristic arcades and the colour games played out there, the warm yellow, red and orange tones, all of which blend everything together. To capture this atmosphere I would only go out and photograph during the last light of the day.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?
GP: I like to find inspiration in books, both novels and essays. Reading guides my vision towards new directions, new stories, new questions.
TPL: Is there anything particular you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
GP: Something never missing in my photographs is some form of human presence. I try to express how people feel, move and live within their environment, and how modern society makes reality look like. I believe that behind simple daily life scenes hides the secret of life.
TPL: Do you prefer to photographing alone or with friends?
GP: I think that photographing is a very personal and intimate moment for self introspection. But sometimes, when I'm out with friends, I like to use them as cover shields.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us?
GP: Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank, Koudelka, Anders Petersen, David Alan Harvey, Marco Pesaresi, Cristina Garcia Rodero, Martin Parr, and Nan Goldin.
TPL: Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
GP: When I started using a reflex I was shooting mostly black and white, the photos looked quite classic, since I was influenced by the photographers from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The way I photograph has been evolving ever since. The more I studied the history of photography, the more my style became much more personal. Now I look for specific light moments and colours and the frames have became wider.
TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
GP: Wherever there is life going on.
TPL: How does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
GP: In 2010 I started with a SLR, but I always thought it was too heavy, and mostly I felt it was too intrusive. In 2014 I bought a 35mm mirrorless and it was love at first sight. Very light and easy to carry, it doesn't scare people away, it really helps me to become invisible.