To succeed as a landscape photographer, you have to have something that sets you apart from the others. This mantra is one that Italian landscape photographer, Alessandro Laurito, lives by.
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Having been born and raised in a country famous for its spectacular scenery, he is no stranger to the need to differentiate his work from that of other photographers in a unique and interesting way. In doing so, he immerses himself in nature, waiting for the optimum lighting conditions with which to realise his creative vision.
This week, we had a chat with Alessandro about what it is that interests him the most in relation to photography, the concept behind his images, his collaborations with well-known brands such as Sony, as well as where he hopes to take his work in the future.
Alessandro is a landscape and travel photographer based in Italy. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
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Hello Alessandro! Thank you for joining us today. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? How did you get your start in photography? Have you always photographed landscapes or have you dabbled in other genres?
Hi, thanks for the interview. I am 31 years old. I was born in northern Italy and now I live in the beautiful Cilento region in southern Italy, a place full of mountains and sea. Photographically, it is very satisfactory.
Before I bought a reflex camera, I had spent years looking for a smartphone that would yield nice photos. I have gone through a lot of them and seen the evolution of photography before in mobile phones, but I never took the step towards buying a reflex camera.
Thanks to a friend from my childhood, from my city in fact, who had been a landscape photographer for ten years before me, I was convinced to take the step and buy a reflex camera – an entry-level Nikon. I have to thank him for this as from there, the spark I had for photography became a burning flame.
I started with landscapes in the early years, then I became passionate about portraits until I got to still life and food photography. Maybe in the future, some other photographic genres could be added, but my favourite will always be landscape.
When you're surrounded by beautiful locations, it's not difficult to develop a passion for landscape photography. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
Do you prefer to photograph close to home or do you find faraway places more inspiring? Are there any special places that inspire you the most to create new work?
It's nice to photograph in the area where you live, creating content with your style and then to show it to people who live in the area like you. For them, it's a photo never seen before. It may be the same place that they visit often but captured with a different light and style, making it fairytale-like in comparison to what they expect.
For the faraway places, there is a lot of mental preparation required for the whole trip – a study of every single photo. This is what makes it very interesting. Above all, I take it as a challenge. Having little time in these faraway places and knowing that I will probably not go back there means that I try to give my best and to not miss any spot. I go in with 360-degree eyes and total immersion with the surrounding nature, a fight against time and light that illuminates the landscape, making sure to bring home what I want.
There are places that are very special. When I see them first on the Internet, they give me a lot of inspiration and excitement. Once on-site, I always try to create non-mainstream content – something different from the photos you find on social media.
It's important to find your own style in landscape photography. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
How have your imagination, emotions and dreams influenced the body of work which you create? What is the concept behind your images?
My passion is for painting. This, combined with art and cinema, has greatly influenced my vision and the way I create my images.
The digital darkroom gives me the opportunity to create unique images, which are impossible to realise with traditional photographic techniques. My works are deeply influenced by my imagination, emotions and dreams. My inspiration comes from many artists, literature, cinema and music. My work is constantly evolving and every day, I have new ideas and new works slowly materialising in my mind.
The concept behind my images is deeply connected to my soul and I firmly believe that in a world with billions of images captured every day, we have to add value to our works.
Adding value to your work with emotion is something that Alessandro strives to achieve. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
You have an incredible portfolio of photographs captured from around Italy, in particular the Dolomites. What is it like to photograph in your own country, as opposed to travelling for photography? Can you talk about what draws you to travelling for photography, as well as a little about the research involved in capturing these images?
Our country, Italy, offers breathtaking landscapes. We have nothing to envy about other countries.
The Dolomites, in particular the Trentino-Alto Adige, is my favourite region of Italy. In fact, I have been there twice and in autumn 2020, I will return again until I explore it all. There are many crazy places like Seceda, Passo di Giau, Lake Sorapis... I could name many more.
When you travel with a camper van in these places, you have an advantage, especially when you have to photograph the sunrise. You set the alarm clock the night before and get up from the camper – in a blink of an eye, you have everything in front of you. Lakes, rocky mountains over 2000 metres high, clean air, 360 degrees of nature... it's a paradise for a landscape photographer.
Landscape photography is also very adventurous and having a group of landscape friends like mine makes it fun to travel together.
I travel for photography in order to see as many places as possible of this wonderful land and tell it through my photos as well as my adventures.
I am always looking for interesting things and I like to experiment with new techniques. I have discovered new and exciting places, I put all my effort and dedication in my work to create visual impact content and then publish it on social media to show everyone.
Many photographers have aspired to capture the Tre Cime in the Dolomites. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
What subjects do you typically like to capture?
At the beginning of my photographic adventure, I liked to photograph a lot the small towns by the sea. For example, I always went to the Amalfi Coast, which is full of views and villages by the sea.
Then with time, also thanks to my travels, I started to photograph mountains and lakes in the Dolomites. These soon became my favourite subjects.
I like to look for unique subjects, such as a church or a tower with a mountain background immersed in the clouds.
Alessandro looks for unique subjects to capture. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
In terms of camera equipment, what are you currently using and what do you hope to add to your camera bag at some point in the future?
I'm using Sony as my equipment now. I'm doing just fine with it. I have a full frame A7RIII with 42.4 megapixels, with which I can get a surprising dynamic range. On the lens compartment, I'm full. From the classic wide angle Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/4, to the zoom Sony 70-200mm f/4, not excluding intermediates like the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 and Sony 85mm f/1.8. I feel great about my gear and I think I won't change anything for the moment. In the future, we'll see what will come out of Sony.
Recently, I upgraded my drone from the Mavic Air 1 to the DJI Mavic Pro 2. I have to say that it's fantastic. It has crazy picture quality and is great to go with my Sony A7RIII. In my next trips, I'll use it a lot. There will be a lot more high quality aerial photos and videos on my social media.
I've recently purchased a DJI Osmo Action, which I have decided to bring with me on each of my trips. This video will help me to demonstrate my photographic adventures.
As far as equipment goes, I believe that I am complete. I have tripods, filters, everything necessary for a landscape photographer. In the future, we will see how this area will evolve.
The right equipment will go a long way in helping you to capture what you've envisioned. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
Do you pre-visualise and plan your shoots down to the smallest detail, or do you prefer to create images spontaneously?
Usually, I always plan everything and get great results but in every photo, there are spontaneous moments that you cannot imagine with pre-planning. Often, these images are the most beautiful and exciting.
Sometimes, nature does its own thing. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
Have there been times that you’ve had to revisit your favourite places many times to achieve the required result? Can you tell us more about your method of working?
Yes, I have been back to many places several times to achieve the optimal result as I try to create photos with impact, using the right light. For example, if the weather is not favourable, if a sunset doesn't show up or it rains... in that case, I try to create a dark mood and I have to say that it is very appreciated.
I've been to Lake Dobbiacco in the Dolomites twice, once in September and once in November (in autumn). I must say that autumn colours really make the difference.
As for my work, I don't really have a method. For example, if I plan a trip to Germany, I just save all the locations that I want to visit in an app on my mobile phone. I'm leaving for Switzerland any day now and I already have 15 locations to visit on different days.
What challenges you most these days with shooting? From the world of photography, what keeps you motivated or inspired?
I guess the most challenging thing is finding places that have not already been photographed by thousands of other photographers, as well as reaching new and exciting places. The longer you focus on landscape photography, the more that you'll see places which have already been photographed. This means that you always have to travel longer and even more dangerous distances to reach new places.
My main motivation is to find new spots or replicate them in a different way, with unique lighting conditions. At the same time, I want to travel the world.
Alessandro looks for unique lighting conditions to capture spectacular landscapes. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
Do you prefer working to a particular project, series or theme? Or do you find that creating individual images is more rewarding?
Most of the time, I prefer to work on individual images. I think they can convey an interesting story or image on their own.
But sometimes, I do a themed project. For example, my trip to Rocca Calascio in Abruzzo, Italy. I told it with a series of dark style images, from which I made a very nice photo book with opaque cover and glossy interior.
Every trip, at the end of the post production of all my photos, I make a photo book. I once captured the whole city of Venice and immersed it in pages full of colours, sunsets and unique sunrises.
The photos published on social media are beautiful but printing them is another effect. It is more rewarding and touching to browse the photos, reminiscing on the history of the place, starting from the first to the last page of the photo book.
There can be a lot of satisfaction to be gained in printing your photographs. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
For photographers who are trying to get their work seen and to establish a portfolio, what advice would you give?
The main advice is to try to find a personal and unique style, not to copy the compositions and styles of other photographers by thread and by sign. It's nice to learn from others but there are so many photographers who just copy other people. To succeed, you have to have something that sets you apart from others.
It's not easy at the moment but with dedication and willingness, I can assure you that you can.
To succeed, you have to have something that sets you apart from the others. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
You have a signature range of Lightroom presets available for purchase on your website. Tell us a little bit more about what other photographers can potentially achieve by investing in these and how they can improve their workflow.
Yes, on my website I have presets that I have created over time, on various trips. Each preset is suitable for one type of situation and light, not necessarily for a photo with a different light. The preset can speed up the editing of the photo but only at the beginning. I use them mainly in Lightroom and then in Photoshop.
In this day and age, the preservation of the environment is becoming a bigger concern. As photography is an influential medium, do you use the power of your photographs to promote conservation and environmental awareness? Do you have any thoughts about how photographers in general can become more involved in this important matter?
I believe that, apart from the many speeches and debates about the problem of ecology, there has never been enough emphasis on how the landscape and the places in which people live are represented. Everyone seems to have forgotten about them. It seems to me that the landscape, the places, the habitat, are like a hidden territory where any havoc can be perpetrated: everything happens without any visual control. The inability to look outside thus determines the possibility of defacing any place without anyone noticing.
I think that photographers like me should show these acts on their social media, or teach people during workshops not to dirty nature – also teach them to clean it if they are passing by. This would set a good example for the people around them.
In my travels, fortunately it happened only once, I have made stories where I have collected objects outside of nature.
It is important to respect nature when capturing landscapes. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
You have partnerships and collaborate with a number of popular photography brands. What are some of the more notable companies that you’ve worked with and what have you enjoyed most about working with them?
Yes, this year I'm collaborating a lot with brands, both in the photographic field and out.
The most important company is Sony, which I have now been working with for two years. I try all their photographic products that have just come out, testing them during my trips.
I have a 3-year contract with PGYTECH, a really quality brand. They give me all the accessories for my equipment, such as bags, filters, etc. Some are really indispensable.
With Godox, I received one of the best flashes on the market and I'm very happy to use it with both portraits and food photography. I'm also waiting for other products from them.
I didn't mention them all, there are many, but I have worked well with all of them. But soon there will also be other big brands, and we'll certainly do a great job together.
Alessandro works with many brands who provide camera gear for him to test. Photo by: 'Alessandro Laurito'.
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. What do you have planned in the near future? Where can our readers expect to see you popping up next in the world of photography?
Thank you for the interview. I have many plans for the future – one of them is coming to Iceland. It's my photographic dream. Then I will go to Norway and other fantastic places. In the coming New Year, I'm going to do workshops around Italy, and teach my knowledge to people with a strong passion and willingness to learn.
Together with some friends, I'm also organising a photographic trip with the campervan for a few months to travel all over northern Europe.
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