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Today, we are joined by Cristina Poetto .she is a Photographer  You can view her portfolio here.

  • How long have you been taking photographs professionally (or semi-professionally, if applicable)?

About eight years ago I used to take pictures of my products and send them to magazines, to show what I was doing. At the time, I assumed that if they were interested, they would later take pictures of their own, but instead in several cases they just published my photos. Although I was using non-professional cameras at the time, I edited the photos very simply for their editorial use. I learned about image treatment, about editing software and about different formats of digital files. About five years ago, I borrowed a professional camera for a while from a well-known Argentine photographer; I still appreciate the first photo I took with it (a self-portrait). In those days I explored a lot and not long after that I started shooting with my first semi-professional camera. A while later, through connections with designers, I got the chance of taking pictures as paid work. I also took or edited photos for their use in web page design that I was doing at the time.   In any case, what really made a mark on my work as a photographer is having been on the other side: working as a model really contributed a lot when it comes to directing and I learned so much as a photographer listening to and looking at the people who took photos of me. I currently keep learning from this!

  • Did you undergo any training to get to where you are today?

Apart from the painting classes I took as a child, where I was taught what I consider essential, I also attended a school of Visual Arts (where I took courses such as drawing, painting, sculpture, engraving, digitalization, make-up, scenography, in addition to theoretical courses like history or aesthetics). As an adult I also took private lessons in painting and photography. As a child, a painting teacher taught me how to walk through the park or the field using a little rectangular window cut out on a piece of paper. Using it, I had to choose what to look at. Even today I still remember this as a really important lesson; I incorporated into everything I look at. Today without the little cut-out window, I still choose parts of the whole. I do this whether I am on the subway, on the street, looking at a landscape, working, or even looking at a piece in an exhibition. I always see details first, what is important from my point of view, and then I put together the rest. A degree or a photography course are a base line, a starting point. But I don’t think anyone can get what it takes to become a good photographer just by doing one. I think it is more about that essence I mentioned, it has more to do with personal search and experimentation.

  •  What camera gear do you use?

Although I do sometimes use professional gear, to be honest I take most of my photos without very fancy gear or flashes. I think it’s fantastic to use good gear if you have access to it, it can ease things in terms of getting good results; but I don’t think that the best tools make better work. At least not in the style I’m particularly interested in.

  •  What are the typical preparations that need to be made before a shoot? (Both in terms of camera equipment and researching the location itself / weather etc.)

Although this is always changing depending on the type of picture, there are basic things to respect, such as preparing gear and production elements, conceptualizing shoots, envisioning location based on this conceptualization, doing test shoots once the location is defined; in addition, generating intimacy with the model is very important to me. If the model has no previous experience, I try to talk to her before, get to know her, understand her tastes, maybe use music or talk about things that let us laugh a little before starting, so as to relax and connect differently, etc.

 

  • Lighting is a key factor in any successful photograph: are there any rules that you follow when considering the lighting for your shots?

I don’t have any rules in terms of type of light. I might be more demanding with its use, with the ways of making the most of the light I have. I don’t look for academically perfect lighting; rather, I use light in a less conventional way in order to achieve the desired aesthetics.
In photography everything can be perfectly lighted and then poor model direction, for example, might cause the light’s magic to be lost. This is what I mean about the importance of making that difference. It has to do with what I mentioned before about cameras: you can have the best tools and do perfect photos, but does that make them different? Or are they just other perfect and well achieved photos? I strive for something else, that definitely has nothing to do with the correct and ideal way of doing things but is clearly what captivates and fascinates me. I want images that excite me; if a picture is badly lighted or out of focus but that unique instant was captured… thank you!

  • What should I be looking for / working towards in terms of composition (generally)?

There are many composition rules they teach you when you study photography or art. I do not follow them, nor do I think they’re great. I think it’s important to know them just to be able to disassemble them in a correct way. It’s not that I am against that; but the point is understanding why you chose to show certain part of the whole, not showing it because someone told you that that was the correct way to do it. There are people who study composition rules and then when asked their opinion they say “I feel that the photo is falling off”; they use this fixed expression, but when you ask them why they don’t know what to say. You can either choose the correct way or, as in my case, be bolder and achieve a more engaged and different aesthetics. In any choice it it’s important to train how we look, recognize our tastes, and then achieve visual balance when capturing what we want to show. It seems easy,  but understanding what we like, recognizing our style above everything, standing for it , or even being able to capture it can be much harder than learning how to compose harmoniously and perfectly. What I mean to say is that nobody can/should just stay with what someone else tells him/her to look at nor how. It’s up to each person to do their own search.

  • What’s the most inspiring location you’ve visited so far?

I’ve visited amazing and inspiring places which I regret today not having more photos of because I wasn’t working at the time (if inspiration comes, it should find you working, goes the saying). Jokes aside, I think nothing is better than connecting to oneself. In that sense inspiration can come from multiple places and things: a dream, a visit to the vegetable and fruit store or just dreamily looking at the ceiling if you are prevented from seeing the sky, haha. The best thing I have done lately was choosing to walk to a job in the neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, on a cold and rainy day after a world-cup soccer game, with my ears covered. I wasn’t listening to music through headphones; I was avoiding any exterior  sound, just listening to what was coming from inside. In the same way that you can hear your breathing differently, the messages triggered by images are amazing if there are no interruptions. I recommend this!

  •  If you could give someone just 5 tips on this type of photography, what would they be?

a. Look differently/look different
b. Dare to challenge aesthetics.
c. Understand light deeply before manipulating it.
d. Generate quality relationships between colleagues and collaborators in order to achieve a better product.
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