Travelling sits at the heart and soul of many photographers. For Luca Benini, an Italian travel and landscape photographer, it is a means for allowing him to capture some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
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From Iceland to Patagonia, this talented photographer has captured the drama and moodiness of the atmospheres in all the places that he has visited. This week, we had the chance to chat with Luca about the inspiration behind his work, his creative and technical process, as well as his plans for photography in the near future.
Hello Luca! Thanks for joining us. Tell us a little bit about yourself – where is home and what inspired you to become a landscape photographer?
My name is Luca Benini, I am 34 and I live in Ravenna, Italy. This is an inspiring city, which is characterised by a high historic value but it also offers many entertainment opportunities. Since I was a child, during my summer holidays, I loved photographing landscapes. Most of all, I remember that as I was spending my holidays boating, I used to climb up to the highest points at every sunset carrying my analog Fuji camera.
Kirkjufell. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
Over the years, I delved more and more into photography and I studied a lot, to the point that 10 years ago, I started to devote myself to travelling and photographing to a greater extent. Peter Lik and Marc Adamus, of all photographers, have inspired me so much.
Do you currently work full-time as a professional landscape photographer or are you juggling your passion with a separate career?
At the moment I work both as a photographer and as a pharmacist.
Skagsanden, Lofoten Islands. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
Tell us about your favourite place to photograph and the reason why you have such a deep connection with it.
To tell the truth, I do not have what I can call a true favourite place – I love exploring new places as much as I cherish coming back to those spots I just never get tired of. However, I can safely say I have a thing for Iceland: this was my first photographic journey, the first time I got to admire a glacier and the Northern Lights... So many great first times at once!
Banff, Canada. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
What part of the creative process do you enjoy most, and what do you find most challenging?
What I like best is actually the adventurous side of the quest that leads to finding the perfect shot you have in mind. You live unforgettable experiences by meeting people and knowing their stories, enjoying different food and wine traditions together... Photos are the ultimate goal and destination, but I will always choose the journey to get there.
Skagsanden, Lofoten Islands. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
Do you have a favourite subject which you prefer to photograph? What kinds of atmospheres do you seek to capture in your images?
I do not have a true favourite subject, I love the mountains as much as I love the sea. What's important for me is to get as close as possible to the dream landscape I have in mind. I always look for dramatic contrasts of light, not necessarily sunrises or sunsets but dynamic situations that can stir up emotions.
Winter in the Dolomites. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
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What is the narrative that you would like to tell with your photography? How do you use your photography to do that?
Difficult question! I always try to tell a story through how I manage composition and how I choose the situation. When it comes to a single shot, rather than a series, it is even harder as all narrative elements need to be present in one place. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't, but this remains my goal.
Vareid, Lofoten Islands. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
What advice do you have about using visuals to tell a story and engage an audience?
What matters most is to stick to your own signature style and take care of the composition. In a photo, the story emerges from lines, subjects and how these elements dialogue with each other.
Fjallsarlon, Iceland. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
What kind of work goes into the construction of your photographs? Do you find it difficult to maintain photographic reality through the fine art process?
In my photos, first of all there is the attention to the choice of the location, looking for the best time to portray them. The technical aspect is then paramount, along with composition, focus... Everything matters. The most important thing is to pre-visualise the final outcome: having a clear idea about the final outcome helps a lot, even in the earliest stages. I look for contrasts, lines, levels, as I know I will enhance them in post-production.
Elgol, Skye. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
Describe the technical workflow that you do in post-production. How do you utilise software to distil emotion and meaning in your photographs?
My post-production workflow has consolidated over the years, I have studied and perfected some of the stages which as a result allowed me to improve my landscape photos. Succeeding in enhancing details, colours, saturation lets the spectator experience the photo the same way that I have experienced it myself, emotionally.
Landmannalaugar, Icelandic Highlands. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
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How do you keep your artistic voice unique to you?
I make sure to stick to what I feel my signature style is as I let my emotions flow with the beautiful landscapes I am experiencing.
Val D'Orcia, Tuscany. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
What are your thoughts on the societal consumption of images? Do you think there are any pitfalls to over-consuming imagery in terms of how we perceive and relate to objects or nature?
Photography is how you can make people travel with the mind. This also includes those that wouldn't be able to see those places or to experience those situations otherwise, so in a way it is opening up a whole world to potentially anybody. One only landscape can reach so many people and in a way gather so many new interpretations that finally "enrich" it even more.
Ravenna, Italy. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
Given the current travel restrictions all around the world with COVID-19, have you faced any particular challenges with your photography? How do you stay motivated to continue shooting?
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has affected everyone and at the moment we are not travelling abroad with our groups, I think the moment is not right as it would put people's health at risk. What we can do is to explore our surroundings, rediscovering the hidden wonders we used to take for granted.
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You usually run a number of photographic workshops throughout the year. How are you staying connected with your clients at this time? Are you offering any online education instead?
René at Dream Photos Adventures and I always stay in touch with our groups after our tours, we do that through social networks most of all, it is crucial to give continuity to the journey and to go beyond the adventure we have lived as we were travelling.
Torres del Paine, Patagonia. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
Landscape and nature photography can have large impacts upon the environment, not just in terms of the damage that can be done in fragile areas but also the carbon footprint caused by travel. Can you talk a little bit about how photographers can minimise their impact while using their work in a positive way, such as to further conservation efforts? Can photography make a difference in the world?
Depicting nature is both an honour and a privilege, yet it is a huge responsibility as it needs to keep at its core the respect of nature. We always make sure we pay as much attention as possible while we travel. Moreover, photography can and should draw attention to some key problems that affect the planet: it can become an important megaphone to amplify our voice as we want to highlight vital challenges to a broader audience.
Fitz Roy, Patagonia. Photo by: 'Luca Benini'.
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today! To finish up, tell us a bit about what you are working on at the moment. Do you have any particular plans for the future?
Thank you! At the moment I am studying to realise some naturalistic videos. Video editing – when well realised – is complex and it requires a lot of research. I hope I'll be able to publish my first short film soon. When it comes to photo journeys and tours, in the Fall I will for sure leave for a solo trip to then be able to propose it again as part of my workshops.
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