Born in 1979 in Milan, Luca Tombolini completed classical studies at high school and then a degree in Sciences of Communication with a major about visual rhetoric in Italian cinema. He developed a passion for landscape photography at the university and began experimenting with large format cameras. He’s a a fascination for desert primordial places and spends most of him time on inhabitable locations. Since 2011, he’s printing on large scale prints. I especially liked his images of sand dunes which can be mistaken for body contours. There are very few photographers like him who are producing such a body of work. Here’s a short Q&A with him:
Please tell us about yourself and your relationship with photography:
It’s a way I’ve found to try to discover something about myself and the world in a very broad sense. The kind of photography I’m doing keeps me always on some degree of adventure when shooting; and later on the subtle pleasure of seeing the work coming together. If anything it’s surely a meaningful way of using my time, because I’m spending long periods in places I decide to photograph. After a while you’re there, your mind gets rid of the everyday-life superstructure and you’re left with a different point of view. Your mind adapts to the new environment; and when you’re alone in such primitive places it’s like going back in human history to the very early sights, one of our ancestors consciously recognized. Through contemplation I let these sensations go and hopefully manage to put a bit of them in the pictures.
It’s their simplicity, solitude, complex symmetries, and anything looking timeless. I’m unconsciously attracted to all of those.
Do you believe you’ve found your style or signature?
I’m just walking on a path which will lead me somewhere. If someone else should recognize a signature in my images I’d be happy for that.
I’m only using a folding 4×5 in. camera. I shoot negatives and drum scan them personally. Bigger formats like 8×10 in. are outstanding machines with a massive weight to carry around during treks. I’d love to have also with me a Minolta CLE and I use it as a snappy camera for everyday life but for some reason I haven’t embarked on a project with it. On the digital side I’m somewhat skeptic as I tend to use it as a machine gun and I get lost afterwards.
Do you have a favorite photo or a significant memory related to photography or your travels?
For every single photo I remember there’s a story behind it, some are quite normal and some others are more adventurous. There’s an early picture of a beach at dawn which I took after sleeping in my car when I was just roaming around Italy. Maybe that was the very first time I did something quite similar to what I’m doing now.
On my behalf I have to say I’m using social media to show my work. I’m happy that it exists and I’m happy for every single feedback I get. Without it, I wouldn’t be mentally strong enough to work for years in total isolation. Trends are ok to be taken into account in terms of evolution of the whole class of photographers but if you’re a photographer wishing to get something out of following trends I don’t think it’s a worthy choice. And about using photography as a normal job to raise money I can’t say anything bad, as I’m doing just that to keep my landscape project well financed.
What are your future plans/projects, ambitions, inspirations etc.?
I’m just going to continue studying myself and what I’m doing/ It’s a lifetime job and time will tell what happens.
My biggest inspiration as a photographer comes from the legendary Italian photographer Massimo Vitali. Lars Von Trier is the director who created a whole new vision for me, a foreboding genius, I can’t miss any of his movies. In order to study myself I’m reading Carl Gustav Jung’s works, and its gets more interesting with each reading. I’ll be listening to a ‘Portugal The Man’ album after this interview.
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
Focus on one thing you really want to do, go steady… and live like Siddhartha if you can.