mercoledì 20 maggio 2015

Educational photography by Caroline Gavazzi

Photography is not only art, communication or documentary; photography can be a teacher or a therapy, helping you overcoming problems or mental blocks.
Caroline Gavazzi, who’s 43 years old and was born in Monza (Italy), studied city planning in Paris, where she lived for few years. She moved to the UK where she started working as an independent photographer, after being assistant to Vogue artistic director.
Through her work she built a conversation with a group of children from a difficult neighbourhood in North-East London, at the De Beauvoir Primary School in Hackney. Here you find the interview she released at MIA FAIR, Milan. T.G.

Fear is behind a curtain

Tony Graffio in interview with Caroline Gavazzi

Tony Graffio: Caroline let's talk about you, who are you? What do you do? Where do you live?
Caroline Gavazzi: I live and work in London since 17 years. I started my career as photographer of interiors, portrait and still life for several British magazines, most of them from Condé Nast.
Then little by little, I turned myself to art photography, because it was the genre I was particularly interested to, also because in this way I felt more free to communicate my ideas in a better way.

T.G.: What is "Fear" about?

Caroline Gavazzi: This project was born one year ago in the UK. It was born together with a charity who introduced me to a school in Hackney, a difficult area of London, to work with a class of children aged between 9 and 10 years old.
I decided to work on the subject of fears, to teach children that photography can convey emotions. Photography is not only about landscapes, friends or food pictures, but through this form of expression you can also reason about something deeper.
With the teacher’s help, I asked children to talk about their fears. Then I photographed these fears, both in the classroom and outside in the school garden. It was necessary to find a way to represent their fears or phobias trough images.
I realised that these photographs where too direct and strong. They were about something very private concerning the personal sphere of the child. In my opinion it wasn’t fair showing everyone such personal fears.
That is why I decided to cover with a loth the photographs of each child’s fear, in a way to protect the child, but also to create an interaction with the public. The public shouldn’t stop to the appearance, but it should go beyond and find out the fear which is hidden behind each child.

Fear of dolls

I thought of using a cloth to be lifted up by visitors in order to discover children fears. The cloth used here is very important andsymbolic. It is made by a tissue that British children use to get comfort and protection, it is made by muslin which becomes in this way a kind of Linus’s security blanket”.
I was very proud of showing these fears to the children and the public. The exhibition started a conversation about fears and a lot of children understood that they have many fears in common.
Facing this fact has a liberating and therapeutic effect for the ones who learn to accept the existence of fears, and that we should learn to live with them in order to finally overcome them. Bring out our fear and share it is good for everyone.

T.G.: Are these photographs symbolic, or are these the real fears chosen by the children?

Caroline Gavazzi: These are the fears children told me about, that can be real phobias.

T.G.: Were you surprised by something in particular during this experience?

Caroline Gavazzi: First of all, I had a wonderful relationship with these children. A lot of them have family issues, their parents are very absent, they are never there, not even at night. These children are very much left to themselves. Maybe also for this reason, they were all enthusiastic about working with me, because they finally found someone who gave them attention, listening to their problems. This experience was for them the opportunity of sharing something very personal, that no one had considered before.

T.G.: Did the project take place inside their classroom only?

Caroline Gavazzi: The work ended with an exhibition at the school. Children were proud of showing what they were afraid of to their schoolmates and to their families: it was a very nice moment!

T. G.: Do you plan to bring this project somewhere else?

Caroline Gavazzi: Yes definitely. I am currently trying to find opportunities in Italy. Thanks to this charity I will work with four schools in Milan: a Chinese school, an Arab one, a Catholic one, and I can’t remember the last one.
Anyway, the idea to be understood is, that despite of where you come from,culture, religion and anything else may be different, but in the end we’re all the same and we often share the same fears.

Fear of shadows

T. G.: Was it difficult to submit this project in London?

Caroline Gavazzi: No, because I was helped by this charitable association called Pinksie, existing both in London and in Italy, aimed at helping children, often in difficult and disadvantaged neighbourhoods through culture and arts. They follow an approach suitable to children, who are provided with free workshops organized by artists. I have been selected among several artists. I chose the subject of fears, because it was the subject of a children book, who tells the story of a whale afraid of diving into the depths of the sea.

T.G.: Did you get the idea of using the curtain to cover the pictures together with the children?

Caroline Gavazzi: Yes, I got it with them. The first day we just photographed their fears, but soon after I realized that the work couldn’t be complete in this way. At first I thought about a sliding curtain, but then it would have remained open. My idea was on the contrary to keep it closed. So I draw this picture in a japonaiserie” style, linear and minimal, where the curtain fall back to its place after viewing the image behind it.
Fabio Castelli, MIA Fair founder and director, thinks that the action of lifting up the curtain beyond the photography, recalls the idea of opening the case of an old daguerreotype and unveil the image to the eyes of who’s watching in a particularly fascinating way.

Caroline Gavazzi against the fear of knives

A visitor was upset by discovering that a little girl was afraid by popping ballons.

Another visitor facing the fear of dolls.

Caroline Gavazzi is currenlty represented by the art gallery : Cecile Gallet Contemporary.

lunedì 11 maggio 2015

One take, one frame, one camera: Nikkormat FTn

And also one lens, one film, two scanners. 

I wanted to make a brief review of the cameras I own, or the cameras, for any reason, I consider interesting, so I decided to describe them in only one take, trying to show what is possible to do with that special model of camera I chose.
Today, in this new appointment, I'm going to talk of the Nikkormat FTn, a very strong, mechanical 35mm slr that can be used proudly and with satisfaction also in the digital era.
Many years ago, I owned a Nikkormat FT3, a wonderful camera that could be adapted esily at every Nikkor manual focus lens series: Nikkor pre AI, Nikkor AI and Nikkor AIS.
I own only Nikkor AIS, so when a couple of months ago I found a very cheap Nikkormat FTn body on sale, I had no doubts about what to do. I bought it that camera also if the internal light meter didn't look to work at all and if there was a sort of customization on the lever that changes the film speed, inhibiting to move the sensitivity indications of the camera exposure meter.

General appearance
I love simplicity, robustness and praticality, for me the Nikkormat FTn is a masterpiece of design, force and ergonomy. 
Having in the hands an object partially hand made with precision and heavy metals, bring us back to the time the photographic tools were sort of eternal jewels, instead of plastic with no value made to last 2 years, or a bit more, like it happens now.
One of the things I like best is the finishing of the pentaprism: big, bi-coluored with a squared part on the top and a thick metal plate with written "Nikkormat" screwed (screws on view) onto the front of it.
Without to say that there is not at all the useless shoe flash for stupid flashes.
I hate flash. Maybe you already understood it.
I love to feel the metal on my hands, so I'm very happy the film advance lever is made in a unique piece of chromed plated brass, without useless gummy cover.

The shooting
The camera is very, very tough, I wanted to take a picture where I could give immediately this idea and, at the same time, I wanted to employ the Nikkormat FTn in a typical situation where it could be at ease without asking too much at an old veteran. 
The focusing screen misses a broken image line rangefinder; this means that it's not totally easy to focus only on the matt glass (not so clear) and on the microprism circle that is not too bad either, but not even comes near the extraordinary contrasted Leicaflex SL microprism circle, produced just one year later, in 1968.
The camera was hand held and it was raining.
To determine the exposure I used a separate digital light meter: a Gossen Digisix.

Lens: Nikkor Ais 35mm f 1:2
Film: Kodakcolor Plus 200 Iso: 200 1/125 sec. f 5,6
Scanner: Canon FS 4000 US

Lens: Nikkor Ais 35mm f 1:2
Film: Kodakcolor Plus 200 Iso: 200 1/125 sec. f 5,6
Scanner: Agfa D-lab 1

The result
The scan made with the Agfa D-lab 1 of Emma Canepari comes out of the machine without doing any additional adjustment, while for the scan made with the Canonscan FS 4000 US I adjusted chroma and other variants at my will, including some "photoshopping".
The final result is not stunning, in both cases. I think this depends by 3 factors: the focus could have been made not perfectly on the face, but on the arms, scanning negative is not the best way to enjoy an analog support (expecially if you correct the grain with some noise reduction tool) and finally I think the Kodakcolor Plus can be a good film for snapshots under the sun, but it has not such a good answer under the shadows. 

Nikkormat FTn serial number 3515092. Alleged year of manufacture: 1967
(photographed with a JVC Picsio GM FN 1)

Color film negative: Kodakcolor Plus 200

Why to choose this camera?
Today I had to do some other pictures and I had with me, as usual, my Pentax Q and the Nikkormat FTn, at the end I've been able to take some photographs only with the Nikkormat because, after I recharged the litium battery of the digital camera, there was no way to use it without its own specific battery that I forgot inside the battery charger. Ok, it was my fault, but why can I still photograph with my Nikkormat without battery, without lightmeter, with worn seals of felt and practically without lubrification? 
The Nkkormat cameras are very strong cameras made to last nearly forever, thanks also to their mechanical Copal Square shutter made of metal blades.
Otherwise dual cloth curtains focal plane shutter, the metal blade focal plane shutter doesn't change dimensions or elasticity in the years.
I'm convinced that the Nikkormat are also stronger than Nikon F and Nikon F2.
Hey, wich camera today has a manual mirror lock up? Or any kind of MLU?
We cannot forget that the price of these cameras is ridiculous compared to the value of their manifacture and of the fact that they will probably last longer than you.
I have no idea when my Nikkormat was controlled by a specialist last time, but I don't think to bring it to the photo-repair for servicing too soon. Probably, I will make fix the seals just before my mechanical precision of confidence will retire, that's all.

Commercial value Vs Real Value
I would say it is possible to buy a good Nikkormat for less than 100 € (I payed mine much less), but the real value of an indestructible camera is obviously much higher. I would spend also much more money for buying a good one. I wouldn't consider the Nikkormat the poor man Nikon, indeed I preferred to buy this model of camera rather than a Nikon FM2, for example. Tony Graffio

sabato 9 maggio 2015

Back to the film

Jessica is a true lover of photography, she tatooed by herself a slr camera on her right arm, because this is the shortest way to her heart.
Just, it's not possible to understand if this camera is a digital slr, or a analogic slr, but probably this is a lucky point for this young photographer. When you change boyfriend and you have his name on your skin you can only do 2 things: erase the tatoo from your body, or find a man with the same name of the prevoius one.

Straight to the heart

Our friend Jessica has been very provident not to specify the make, the model, or any other information on her tatoo, because after a few years, her activity was carried on with a digital reflex, she recently had, as a present from a boy friend, a Minolta XD7 that she is very happy.
She started to make a revision to the seals and other parts those required maintenance after years of unused, then Jessica bought a nice wide angle and now she is ready to take her first black and white shots on film.
In these days, many digital natives are retracing the road of the chemical photography for many different reason; at first becase everybody is really interested in photography cannot evoid to know the technique and the results that this kind of image is able to give to a photographer/artist. Another reason is that sometimes can be more complicate and tricky to obtain a certain effect from a digital file than from a film, but still there are a lots of good points to chose the film, if you wish to distinguish your final result from a mass product. T.G.

Jessica Moscaritolo 23 y.o. photographer

<I can think of "scenes" with special settings according to my mood of that time, and I find the girls at random, or friends who usually know little or who have just met and I ask if they want to pose for me. In fact it is as if I used them, because I feel that I live and I feel that I represent photographing other people. Now I want to try to do all this in analog photography and see what happens>. Jessica Moscaritolo

From an artistic project of J. M. entitled: They controle your brain
This picture was taken in the ex asylum of Mombello (Milan), it was the biggest mental hospital in Europe

From an artistic project of J. M. entitled: Autumn according C.

From an artistic project of J. M.  entitled: Ghosts
This picture was taken in Consonno, a ghost luna park not too far from Lecco

From an artistic project of J. M. entitled: Lost in my world

From an artistic project of J. M. entitled: Wonderland & Alternative Alice

Just out of the camera repair shop, first day with a Minolta XD7. Ready for new adventures with a B/W film.

<Honestly, I enrolled at the course of photography at the Accademia di Brera to find my way (that I'm still looking) and a photographic style that it suited me>. Jessica Moscaritolo