Ten questions with photographer Francisco Negroni

Sep 14, 2013 Comments Off on Ten questions with photographer Francisco Negroni by

By Verónica Sanchis, translated by Jessica Sequeira

In this month’s interview, we will be showcasing the work of a Chilean-based photographer who specialises in landscape photography.

Francisco Negroni began his studies in photography in 1999, graduating as Technician in Advertising Photography from the Instituto Inca Cea in Viña del Mar, Chile. After a period working as a photographer, Negroni dedicated himself completely to a career as a graphic reporter, working with diverse media organisations of the national and international press.
Following this, Negroni took another degree as an Adventure Tourism Guide, in order to complement his photographic practice with exposure to nature and to better understand the aventures awaiting him each time he embarked on a trip through the splendid Chilean landscape.
Some of the newspapers in which Negroni has published his work include El Expreso, El Mercurio, La Tercera, El Llanquihue, Austral, and Revista Enfoque. His work has also been published by international press agencies such as Reuters, EFE, AP, AFP, GlobalPost, and Terra.
Negroni currently resides in the south of Chile, where his primary focus is landscape photography. However, he continues to engage in news and feature reporting. His work can be seen on the following web pages:
www.francisconegroni.cl
http://500px.com/fjnegroni
www.flickr.com/photos/francisconegroni

1. Ventana Latina: What inspired you to become a photographer?

Francisco Negroni: About 14 years ago I saw a moving photograph by Kevin Carter, a South African photojournalist, in a magazine, which had won him the Pulitzer Prize. It was the image of an African boy dragging himself towards a refugee camp as a vulture walks behind him, perhaps awaiting his death.

That image was for me so powerful, and moved me so much, that immediately I said to myself: I want to do this, I want to show to other people the reality in which we live and horrify them in a certain way so as to create a change within them. That change might be minimal, but it will create awareness. Perhaps this is the source of the popular saying that an image is worth a thousand words. I didn’t need to read or see anything to be moved by that image of Kevin Carter… I thank him (may he rest in peace) and his image for motivating me to become a photographer.

2. VL: Have you ever thought of combining photography with video and/or audio?

FN: Today, social networks have such an influence and digital formats are downloaded so easily that I believe it is the task of all of us photographers to mix photography with the moving image. In fact, many of us now explore this with our very own cameras, with Time Lapses for instance.

As for me, I like video. It’s not something I’m fully involved in yet but I am learning little by little. I think that if you don’t use it you get left behind quite a bit; besides, you have to consider that if you earn money as a photojournalist, you really have to be up to date and 100 percent at the forefront of the new global image trends in the big mediums of communication.

3. VL: What is necessary to be a photojournalist?

FN: When I studied photography 12 years ago, I believed that to be a photojournalist, all you needed was the will to travel to a conflict zone and take photos like crazy.

After a few years in the practice I began to realise that the truth is one needs time and patience, that it’s not just a question of taking photos but rather of managing to tell a story without text. To achieve this is difficult; perhaps I still don’t achieve it. I respect photojournalists: it is a job that can sometimes be very tiring and one that grows ever more complicated economically thanks to advances in digital technology and the immediacy of information, but that even still I believe it will continue existing. In Chile, to achieve the position of ‘Graphic Reporter’ you need to take the risk of putting yourself in a working world which offers little money and very few opportunities, but if that can give you happiness, you should do it.

As advice, I would say to start studies related to photography, buy equipment according to today’s needs, visit some newspapers and/or editors, and search for stories that have a narrative and are interesting to others… at least that was my path.

4. VL: How did your passion for landscape photography emerge?

FN: I’ve always admired nature and landscape photography, and more than that, I think that I always knew I would someday incline in that direction. My passion for landscape photography comes from my eagerness to travel through Chile; since I was small I’ve gone often to the countryside and to far-off places to camp, fish, etc. Certainly contemplating the evening and the stars there was what gave me the idea to one day depict the natural beauty of the world.

In Chile there are incredible places to photograph, places that can awaken the desire to capture whatever one sees without any idea in advance. We have everything: deserts, glaciers, mountains, rivers, and ocean. We are a privileged nation in the natural and therefore there is a lot to photograph.

Another important point that I want to clarify is that I’ve come to the moment in my career in which I got tired of running from one place to another after the news. Even if it’s true that sometimes I do it, I’d prefer to be more at peace with nature, to wait for a good twilight in front of the marvellous Torres del Paine, than to take a photo of protests.

5. VL: Can you explain to us a little how your photographic technique works?

Well, I am an advertising photographer; I never studied to become a photojournalist or took any nature photography course. Yet I believe that the good handling of light and of editing software can make a big difference in my photos, as opposed to the works of others. Studying advertising photography allowed me to acquire knowledge about the total control of the image, and that defines my search for the places where I photograph things and the way I light them to give them a distinct ‘touch’ one could say is my photographic style.

As for the basic techniques, what I like most is to play with the balance of whites in order to create a distinct atmosphere, one at times cold and revealing little, using filters to edit the raw takes and good lenses to create chemistry in the photo. It’s worth saying that technique will serve nothing if you do not know how to find a good place, and wait there, and keep waiting until you achieve something different.

6. VL: How do your projects develop from idea to practice?

FN: I don’t always pigeonhole myself into a project. I do watch a lot of news and am always up to date about what is happening in Chile, which helps me make the decision to start on a trip, do a feature, and search for clients whom I can interest.

I always organise myself starting from the basis that if there exist buyers or consumers of a specific theme, then you can’t invest great quantities of money and not expect it to pay you back. Summing up, the process is the gathering of information, search for a market, travel and execution, then sale and publication.

I also have to say that as a freelance or independent photographer, sometimes I take a risk and go all in. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. Without a doubt, though, the experience of having been a part of history is something nobody can take from you, ever.

7. VL: When you find yourself in remote regions of the earth, how do you work – solo or accompanied?

FN: I always prefer to work with friendly people to accompany me. Whether for safety, or because you need guides or someone to point out locations, I recommend always being accompanied. You don’t need other photographers, but it is a good idea to have someone who can offer recommendations or advice about the geography.

8. VL: What has been your biggest photographic challenge?

FN: I still have not had it. I am very honest about this; I believe that I have still not had an assignment requiring all of my physical and mental capacity in order to achieve good photographs. The most arduous and dangerous thing I’ve done, which one might say was a challenge, was to climb an erupting volcano and spend all night a kilometre from the crater taking photos, full of fear, and more than that, an incredible uncertainty.

9. VL: Are you currently working on a new project?

At the moment I don’t have anything in mind; I am just doing night photography and learning new techniques to make those images excellent. I hope to take on a new challenge soon, somewhere in the Parque Nacional of Chile, where I often work.

10. VL: What characterises a good photo for you?

FN: When there is sacrifice behind it! When I spend hours waiting for an image, after having thought about it and waited in my mind for a long time, then manage to make it a reality. That is a good image for me. The reason behind it doesn’t matter, nor does anything else, only that I achieved it after a great effort. Sometimes it’s not about having the necessary equipment nor the ideal techniques; it’s just you and your photo.

VL English

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