LEMAG: Thank you Leonardo for accepting our invite, we are very pleased to be able to present your work. I wanted to start by asking how did you discover a photographer within you? What is your story?
Leonardo Papèra: Well, I think I started more or less like everybody; I bought a camera just to take some photos during trips with family or friends. A friend of mine bought a camera soon after me, and since we both had a great passion for nature and hiking, we started to go out together to take photos and from there we also started to learn more about photography and how to properly use our cameras.
LEMAG: One of your galleries is called ‘Mountains I call home’. How would you describe your photography?
Leonardo Papèra: That gallery is called like that because those mountains are for me the place where I started to learn about photography and where I keep going whenever I can to always find new perspectives and new locations to shot. They aren’t honestly the best place to take landscape shots, but they are probably the best one for me since I have a connection with those mountains that I don’t think I have with any other of the places I’ve visited!
LEMAG: On your website you write a bit about your way to discover your own photography and the moment you ‘stopped losing time’ and started winning images you wanted. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Leonardo Papèra: I think after a while that you are into photography you realize that if you want to take better photos, you need to step up and to change the way you are doing photography, the way that you think about how to photograph; for me, that “enlighting” moment was when I understood that it was useless to go taking photos whenever I wanted just for the sake of it, and started to plan the shots that I wanted to take before and consider all the variables in the game.
Let’s just take an example: at first I was going to the sea to capture same great waves action, some great sunsets, but every single time I was returning home complaining about how I was unlucky, never catching the conditions that I wanted and ending up having always the same dull cyan skies with no clouds and a sea that was incredibly flat; now, before to go the sea I’m checking the sea conditions, if there’s high tide or low tide, if there’s a storm incoming or outcoming. By thinking in this way, I increased by a ton the chances to capture great images!
LEMAG: What is that you are looking for in an image? What would you like to say to a person who looks at your images?
Leonardo Papèra: For me, 80% of an image is made by the composition. I’m not much of a technical guy, I’m not paying a lot of attention to the used techniques or the right parameters; if you probably zoom in 100% or 200% on my images, you could easily find sometimes things that should have been cloned out (sensor dust, imperfections, small flares, etc.). When I’m out on the field, the only thing I’m paying attention to is about what to include in the frame and what not; after having decided what to include, I’m looking at the best way to put the elements that I want in the frame, and just at that moment I start to think about the techniques that I will use to get the final result. Of course nobody can go out without knowing nothing about photography and hoping to capture some incredible shots, but honestly a not-well-composed shot perfectly exposed with no mistakes will always remain a dull shot, while an eye-catching, well composed image with some mistakes in the used technique (or under/over exposed, noisy, etc) could still be a great photo. Keep in mind that.
LEMAG: Apart from photographing Italy you are also shooting in Iceland (I am sure we will be in touch about this very soon), Spain, Norway and Finland. What draws you to those places?
Leonardo Papèra: I always got a sweet spot for cold places, snow and northern lights, that’s probably why you can easily find me often roaming around the arctic circle. Actually, my first “photography trip” had been in Inari, Lapland with the precise goal to hunt northern lights, made with the friend I was talking about in the first question; for me it’s been a life changing experience, I’ve been so lucky to observe northern lights dancing in the sky every single night of the week I’ve been up there! I was into photography since a year or maybe less, so I haven’t actually got any incredible images from that trip, but that’s where it all started; from there, I visited Iceland, Norway, Finland and many other locations in the following years. I think the peace, the landscapes and the light conditions that you can find in those places can easily pay off the effort to stand up there in cold and wintery conditions. For a landscape and nature photographer like me, they are more or less like a playground: you have all the possible elements to include in your photos, from mountains to forests, from rivers to lakes, the limit is just your imagination!
LEMAG: Is there a favourite spot you have?
Leonardo Papèra: That’s a hard one, I admit. If I really have to choose, I would probably go for my beloved Tuscany, my homeland; as I was saying before, the “Mountains I call home” are really the place that have a special spot in my heart. Photography wise, I would probably say that both the Jokulsarlon lagoon in Iceland and the Yllastunturi National Park with its frozen forests are both the spots that I prefer to shot!
LEMAG: Landscape photography has changed over last 100 years many times. Is there a photographer you would call a master? Why him/her?
Leonardo Papèra: This is even harder than the previous one! I grew up with digital photography, and I always focused my attention on the masters of my time rather than the masters of the previous century. In the last decade there’s been an increasing trend of the digital techniques used both on the field and in post-production to obtain more and more eye-catching, incredible images; I’ve never been a fan of this trend as I always tried to keep my images as much clean and natural as possible, so keep in mind that what I’m saying here is just a personal thought and nothing more. If I have to choose a master, I personally consider one of my greatest inspirations Fortunato Gatto, with his personal style and with his abstract images I think that he really managed to stand out from the crowd.
LEMAG: What would you call a dear assignment?
Leonardo Papèra: What I consider the best possible assignment is whenever a person decide to come with me on some tour/workshop, since he consciously (or not) decides to entrust me with the mission to teach him photography. And for photography, I’m not meaning just the technical part; that’s something that you can easily find on the internet and practice; for photography I mean how to approach to that particular place, how to understand instantly what to photograph and how to do that. That’s the dearest assignment that I can receive!
LEMAG: Are there any places in the world you would like to visit in particular?
Leonardo Papèra: The questions should be “Are there any places in the world you would NOT like to visit?”
Let’s just say that my bucket list is very long, and every now and then the top is changing, based on the images that I’m seeing from other photographers and news that I read on the internet! Currently I’m thinking a lot about China, I think it’s still pretty much undiscovered and I could end up with some great shots of some unseen locations. Just a few steps down on the bucket list, I’m also think about a long road trip in the West part of the US would be incredible, there are some many unique places that I still need to see and shot.
LEMAG: Thank you very much Leonardo, we wish you all the best with you future photography projects.
Leonardo Papèra: Thank you!