We all have a starting point, an event, a circumstance which kickstarts our creative journey. Some of these experiences can be significant even jarring, while others bubble in the background guiding our creativity in an almost autonomous, subconscious manner. Our Second 'Less of that Feature' explores the work of Elisabetta Pallini, a 26 year old Italian photographer who began her creative journey arguably by accident.
'I've always had a strange relationship with the camera. I've always hated to be photographed. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that inspired me to be behind the lens instead.I started to take photos in my late teen years, at the time I kept an online personal blog on a platform that allowed me to include images in every post. I always used pictures I found searching online but I was never satisfied, this lead me to using a camera to produce my images and get exactly what I wanted. From that point onward, photography has become increasingly important to me so much so that I decided to turn it into my career. I attended a three-year course at Fondazione Studio Marangoni, a photography school in Florence, my hometown.'
Looking through Elisabetta's website, it is clear to me that her interest lies in the creation of projects rather than the pursuit of scattered imagery with no theme. I wondered how much preparation went into Elisabetta's projects. Did she feel the need to shoot with a strict guideline or was her approach more relaxed, letting the images formulate their own narrative over time?
'Usually I shoot photos with my smartphone when I find something in the streets that fascinates me, or something that I want to remember. These images don’t have an intent, It’s more a visual diary instead of something that I can develop into a project.
Despite this I would say that my photographic education encourages me to focus on creating images that have a specific purpose. I start my projects with a simple idea and then I make images that follow that theme. Even when I create projects like “Europos Centras”, where I can not predict what exactly I will find, I try to focus my mind and my eye on the story I want to tell, searching for the elements that allow me to communicate that better.'
With an emphasis on creating a specific narrative, Elisabetta's images present themselves in the form of a deliberate compositional construct that only features the essential ingredients for communicating her desired intention. While I had ascertained that themes and projects were important, I wanted to delve a little deeper into the style of image Elisabetta creates. Did she feel her approach replicated her desire to be precise?
'I think it’s a combination of many things. I usually visualise the images I want to take before I make them, my intent is to be clean and deliberate. I think that I am naturally drawn to that. I’m very attentive to what is inside and what is outside my frame, my style reflects the way I organise my thoughts mentally. I feel this approach is the best way to direct the observer's attention directly to the subject of my photo and to what I want to communicate, so in that sense it’s a conscious choice.'
With an in-depth explanation of Pallini's thought process and desire to develop her narrative with deliberate creative matter, I wanted to explore the human aspect of her work. I found irony that in two of Elisabetta's most prominent projects 'Nerea' and 'Un Giorno Tre Autumn' which not only explore intimate personal experiences but also those of her family, that there was an absence of actual human beings in her images.
'The projects you mention have a common element, absence.
In “Un Giorno Tre Autunni” the subject is the feeling of missing something or someone.
In “Nerea” the subject is my view of an important event that I did not personally live through but instead could visually represent through the stories told by my grandmother. Her story includes relatives I never met. Absence is both physical and psychological.
I’ve tried to communicate these emotions through my images which resulted in the two projects presenting the human form as physically absent, a representiation of an implicit presence of loss. I wanted to include people, emotion and the situations associated, without their physical presence in the photographs. I think that I could better explain my intentions using a quote from ‘On Photography’, a book by Susan Sontag. She wrote “A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence”.'
Elisabetta's intent translates into work that resonates with many, her website details almost 40 occasions of exhibition or features in both print and digital publications since 2014. For an individual that came from humble beginnings, I wanted to know if exhibiting and collaborating with others was something that was intentional from the beginning or just natural progression?
'I think that it was a natural progression.
After finishing a three-year course at Fondazione Studio Marangoni I began to send my work to others, purely for the sake of feedback. I discovered that this behaviour often led to the offer of exhibitions and collaborations.
I’m very happy with the situation and I hope that it will continue in the future. I would also like to collaborate with galleries on specific assignments, I'd love to develop my own ideas and project inline with a commissioned theme. This is the way in which I would like to develop my photographic career in the future.'
This article has been edited slightly from the original answers provided at the request of Elisabetta as her native language is Italian and not English. Despite that she has done a great job of communicating her intent and viewpoint. She speaks far more English then I could ever speak Italian!