Photography is my way to live the world and to express myself. It’s not a job, neither an hobby, but simply and truly life. My own life and that of others that i love to observe, describe and tell.
Born in 1977 in Mola di Bari, kissed by the sun and caressed by the sea of southern Italy, in the beautiful region of Puglia, I’m a self-taught and independent photographer, graduated at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan. I gained my experience by travelling and discovering my love for street photography, reportage and outdoor portraits, a photo-realistic style without artefacts, capturing candid and genuine life.
An interview with myself
As long as I’m not a celebrity, I guess no one will never ask me for an interview, but i want you to enter my world and to know me more I imagined to do it by myself, an intimate interview to Sabino, the photographer and traveller…
Let’s start with the basics… who are you?
Ciao, my name is Sabino and I’m originally from Mola di Bari, a fishermen’s village in the south of Italy, from that beautiful region called Puglia. Since 2006 I live in Luxembourg where I basically work as a creative designer in the marketing team of a Japanese company for which I work also as a photographer, mostly in the industrial domain and I collaborate with some of the most diffused magazines in Luxembourg, such as PaperJam and City.
How many language do you speak?
Thanks to my life abroad, I’m able to speak fluently English and French, other than Italian, of course.
When did you start photography and what does it means for you?
Late, but never too late… Actually one of my biggest regrets is to have discovered my love for photography only when I was almost 30 years old (9 years ago…), so I feel like I’ve lost at least 15 years of learning and improving! But on the other side, I’ve grown so fast in these 9 years, trying to recover the time lost and living photography 24/24h and 7/7 days, reading a lot of books! Photography is my element, it makes my feel happy, free, healthy, and I cannot tell you if it is a job or a hobby, it is simply my everyday life, a state of mind, a true love. And it gets stronger and stronger. When I was a child. I always dreamed of writing a book, a romance, but, as I don’t have the skills as a writer, I found my way by telling a story using images and that’s exactly what I try to do with photography: to tell a story.
Which kind of photography do you like?
I like to photograph people in real life, as natural as possible, I would say mostly street and candid photography. Other than that I also love to frame the beauty of this world, so means wonderful landscapes or architectures, what is normally seen as a “postcard” style.
And last but not least, I really love food photography as much as I love cooking. That’s the only studio photography I do, but I just use natural light, no flashes, no artefacts.
Do you use digital or film?
Digital, though I honestly miss the film experience but I plan to learn, develop and print at home. In the meanwhile, I’m collecting beautiful vintage cameras and I’ve bought an enlarger.
Do you prefer colour or black and white?
I want to be honest: I was born in the colour age and I’ve started taking pictures already in colour so my complete visual education and culture has been built in this way. But I definitely love black and white, indeed one of my favourite photographers is a black and white photographer (read below..), and I have a sacred respect for Black and White. I think that this kind of photography is just for few talented profiles, despite I see a lot of photographers converting their work in black and white because it’s cool and trending….
To my humble opinion. to shoot black and white you have to see in Black and White, I meant, mentally, while I personally see and love colours… and I look for colours in my compositions, as to me, they are strictly connected to emotions and feelings. I’ve tried to do black and white but I never felt confident and well prepared. So, I’m a colour photographer and I don’t think I will never be a black and white photographer.
Which digital camera do you use?
I’ve started with a compact Nikon, at the very beginning, in 2006, then I moved to Canon 450D, then I jumped to the full frame sensor with a Canon 5D Mk II, now Mk III. In the last 4 years iI’ve discovered and happily used the Fuji X System, starting with the beautiful X100 (that i still own), X-E1, X-E2 and X-T1 but, since March 2016, I made the big switch to the Leica M world and so now i use (alongside with the Canon 5D III) the Leica M Typ 262 with a Voigtlander Skopar f4, a Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH, Summicron 50mm f2 and an Elmarit 90mm F2.8.
Why all these changes and why Leica?
Well, first I think that is a normal path that I had to go through to really understand my photography and what I needed. After some years of practice, I know that I do mostly street and travel photography, and the Canon equipment requires an heavy and big bag to carry over. That’s why I first switched to the Fuji X system and I still convinced that is the best gear out there, in its class, but after 4 years I was missing a very important feature that hit my mind anytime I used the Canon 5D: the full frame sensor. For me, when I was comparing the pictures I could clearly see that the full frame had something more in term of dynamic range, depth of field and overall look and feel. So I actually had no choice: the only equipment that is full frame and at the same time, light and discreet and still high quality is the Leica system. I never thought i would jump on it because of its crazy prices, but Ii was sure it was the right time to do it. And I did it. And i’m fully happy!
For me, when I was comparing the pictures I could clearly see that the full frame had something more in term of dynamic range, depth of field and overall look and feel. So I actually had no choice: the only equipment that is full frame and at the same time, light and discreet and still high quality is the Leica system. I never thought i would jump on it because of its crazy prices, but Ii was sure it was the right time to do it. And I did it. And i’m fully happy!
But with no autofocus, no automatism on it, does it make your work harder?
One important thing that I’ve realized after these years of practice, is that I naturally want to have the complete control of the photography process. I don’t know how to explain, I guess is something inside you, but since the very beginning I wanted to have the possibility to decide every aspect before the click. Indeed, I may say that in 9 years I have used always the M option of any camera gear, means that I always set manually speed, time, ISO and aperture. Always. Already the Fuji was very close to what i needed, as, within the Fuji X-T1, I was so happy to have all the main settings controlled by physical buttons on the body. When I started to evaluate the Leica M system, comparing to what i wanted, i realized that this was exactly my perfect camera: Speed, aperture and manual focus, that’s all I need. Just focused on these 3 values, fully concentrated to the action. And non need of video at all. I’m not distracted by any other settings and when i’m photographing, i really feel the camera as a part of my body. Nice no?
Do you stage or digitally manipulate your photographs?
No, i never stage my photos as i like to describe and capture what is happening in front of me. About manipulation, i only do some modifications on color balance, saturation and sharpness when needed, but no retouches or crops.
Who are your photographic influences?
To be a good photographer it’s very important to build a strong photography culture and visual education and whenever I have some time to relax, I enjoy reading books from the most famous photographers and/or on photography. Actually the pictures that have driven me to this beautiful world were, at the time I’ve started, the ones from Steve McCurry as he combines my love for traveling and my prference on bright and saturated colors. By the time, I’ve started to be inspired also by Salgado, Bresson of course, Jacob Aue Sobol, Herwitt.
Today, with a more tangible knowledge and experience, I can easily see and tell who are my most favorites photographers and so the ones I feel closer in therm of vision and style: Ferdinando Scianna, for its way of also writing about photography, not only for his intense and genuine pictures, and Alex Webb, in which pictures and style I see the kind of street photography I love, full of colors and life.
Did you learn photography at college?
Not, unfortunately… When I started i was to old to go back to school so I’ve learnt all by myself, just by reading and practicing. But i still have a lot to learn, like I’m still at 40% of my path.
Do you run into any trouble taking street photographs of strangers?
Not really, I always try to be polite and discrete and, anytime someone forbid me to be photographed, I say thank you anyway, i smile at, and I walk away.
What advice would you give to someone starting in street photography?
Never stop walking and observing everything. Study, read and be always curious.
Born in 1977 in Mola di Bari, kissed by the sun and caressed by the sea of southern Italy, in the beautiful region of Puglia, Sabino Parente is a photographer and creative designer, graduated from the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan. self-taught photographer, he gained his experience traveling and discovering his love for travel photography, reportage and outdoor portraits, a photo-realistic photography without artifacts, exciting and impact.
Awards and Highlights
- 2015 – Humanity Photo AWARDS – Category Festivities – PERFORMANCE award
- 2014 – FIOF AWARDS – Category Reportage – BRONZE award
- 2014 – FIOF AWARDS – Category Story – BRONZE award
- 2014 – PSA Honourable mention in 7th Rainbow Challenge Rijen 2014
- 2014 – I.S.F. Honourable mention in 9th Image Salon Delft 2014
- 2013 – National Geographic Best oTravel 365 – My photo included in this worldwide selection.
- 2013 – Personal Live Exhibition in Luxembourg – 3rd to 20th of July- Portraits
- 2013 – Personal Live Exhibition in Amsterdam 1st to 31 of May – Portraits
- 2012 – Award – Heartbeat of nature – Zingst – Winner Finalist
- 2011 – Award: Leica Talent Italia, 24×36 – Selected in the 240 finalist on 24000 participant
- 2011 – IPA Award – One Shot: The City – 3 Honorable Mentions
Me, on the other side of the camera
This post is also available in: Italian