IN CONVERSATION WITH ORNELLA LATROFA
Ornella Latrofa was born in Rome and graduated from the Art institute of Rome. As a child, she was interested in photography, instilled by her father who captured their family memories with his video camera. When she was 20, Ornella bought her first Reflex camera and started to experiment. After a few years she acquired a digital camera and attended photography classes, and with her new knowledge, Ornella's passion began to embrace a new power, an interest in conceptual photography.
In the project "Assonant Differences", Ornella wanted to focus on the harmonious and elegant link between biological shapes and the evocative nature of the human body, stimulating our inner vision by association. These diptychs give the viewer a short escape from reality to reflect on the interaction between both images, as Ornella describes, "our World and Nature...and the similarity between Nature and Human Body."
"It is truly amazing how nature resembles us. Humankind constantly seeks contact with nature. A primordial necessity from which we cannot escape."
Ornella, firstly tell us something about yourself.
I was born and grew up in Rome. When I was a child my father used to paint. He also had another creative passion; he loved to record videos to capture family memories. I’ve always been fascinated by this passion. Later on I attended art studies and I graduated from the State Institute of Art in Rome. The art school taught me the concept of aesthetic sense. At 20, I bought my first reflex camera with which I started experimenting, developing the taken pictures by myself.
Nowadays I still live in Rome where I work. I have a family that has absorbed my time over the years, photographing occasionally.
What draws you to photography and art? How did your journey into photography begin?
Some years ago, having more free time, I’ve decided to resume my passion in a more demanding way. Attending various schools and studying the famous photographers’ works.
In my opinion photography is a form of art, the language I use to express my feelings, to communicate my way of seeing reality. In photography there are different languages that arise from one's mood at a given moment. The moment I take a picture I feel a sense of satisfaction, concretising in the shot what I want to express with my feelings. I like to experiment my creativity with the photographic differents techniques.
In your project "Assonant Differences", your photographs blur the distinction between the human body and nature. How did bringing these together first manifest for you? What is the full story behind the project? What was the inspiration?
My project "Assonant Differences" started by chance. I had photographed the sand with its shades. In the following days, I asked a friend of my daughter if she would allow me to take pictures of her. I took several pictures and when I took the one with the hair down I immediately noticed the resemblance to the one I had taken days before of the sand.
Then, associating the two images, I thought that there could be other similarities between nature and human body. The more I thought about it, the more these associations came to mind. I thought: "It is truly amazing how nature resembles us. Humankind constantly seeks contact with nature. A primordial necessity from which we cannot escape."
Why was it important for you to incorporate both images together as a diptych for the presentation of the image as a whole?
I’ve thought that a diptych with the two images associated together would have been very powerful and with a strong evocative impact for the viewer.
How does your project "Assonant Differences" differ from your previous work? Is this type of visual storytelling something you would like to pursue again in future projects? What do you think is your next chapter in your exploration with future projects?
Starting from situations and events that capture my attention my idea of representing reality develops. I prefer intimate themes with which I can express my personality.
When I was on a London trip to visit my daughter, I walked around the city and started taking pictures in “The City” District. The buildings with their mirror reflections inspired my previous project: "Between dream and reality"; Peace, silence and reflections": Another project I created, describes the relationship between man and sea. While I was shooting on a cliff, I realized how powerful is the sea. Later on I developed my project: "You are strong"; by associating pictures with poems written by me.
In the future I still don't know where my creativity will bring me, I have some projects in my mind but I still need to focus them clearly. For sure the relationship between poetry and photography is a theme that fascinates me a lot.
Is there any advice that you would give yourself if you started photography all over again?
Yes, to start over shooting earlier!!! Don’t waste time overthinking and get into your passion. Don’t be afraid of your inexperience you’re going to build your style by shooting.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers?
A photographer who inspired me at the very beginning was Luigi Ghirri with his images that represent places with a new perception of reality, bringing us to reflect on the way of seeing our surroundings.
If you could just choose one photographer to shoot alongside for a day...who would you choose? And why?
I would love to be able to shoot with a photographer who has more experience than me. I can't tell exactly who among the many masters of photography, but I think such an event would enrich me. The discussion with people with my same passion is always very positive and engaging. I would certainly be very happy about that.
Do you have a favourite art inspired quote or saying?
I quote the phrases of these famous photographers:
“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” (Ansel Adams)
“To photograph is to place the mind, the eyes and the heart on the same line of sight." (Henri Cartier Bresson)
"The desire to discover, the desire to move, to capture the flavor, three concepts that describe the art of photography." (Helmut Newton)
“It is in man’s heart that the life of nature’s spectacle exists; to see it, one must feel it.” (Jean Jacques Rousseau)
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? (What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length? How much post-processing do you do?)
I started with a Nikon D7000 and during some years I have been using a Fujifilm XT-4 with a focal length of 18-55, 18-135 and 55-200. I don't like manipulating the pictures I take, so I do very few post-production.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
...I am a very curious and creative person. When I am not photographing, and this is not very frequent, I go to see exhibitions, photography meetings, concerts. Everything is related to art fascinates me."