Francesco Sambati


Photo © Francesco Sambati

Francesco Sambati was born in Lecce, a southern Italian city, more precisely in the southern-most area of ​​the region known as Puglia. In his recent works he has started to tell the pleasant melancholy of the land where he was born and raised through the medium of instant photography using his Polaroid SX-70 camera. "The land where I live is a land surrounded by the sea which is normally associated to sunshine, joy, a welcoming land which seems to forget the passing of time." says the author. "This is true, but under the surface there is a layer that only those who grew up here can grasp.

Mine is a land steeped in melancholy absorbed over the centuries, due to poverty and geographical difficulties, grieving the loss of people who had to leave their homelands in search of a fortune that could not be found here. It’s an atmosphere that you can breathe in the air, even though many of these difficulties have now been overcome it is the atmosphere that I try to capture in my shots. A palpable melancholy, despite now should not have reason to exist, but it is so rooted, so much a part of the DNA of the territory. A melancholy that, during the cold months, comes out with abundance in the deserted streets, empty beaches and deserted natural landscapes: and instant photography is the best medium for capturing the mood."

"It only takes a moment to shoot, but I always get the impression that what I photographed immediately  disappears, it is a wonderful feeling that I can only find shooting with my Polaroid camera. Currently I work in photography, although I approached it quite late: I say “quite late” because I attended the Art School in my town and my father is a painter and sculptor, but despite these artistic foundations, I could not find a way to communicate it myself at first.

As much as 4 years ago, after taking a photo by accident with my phone, I realized that photography was a way to communicate and more suited to me. Although I have snapped photos since then, only about a year ago I started to show them and above all to show my own works, at first in small publications, then group shows and finally solo exhibitions. Meanwhile, as I continued with the mobile and digital photography, at some point I realized that I was missing something and I had to take a new step towards to analog photography."

"I love my land and I know how to capture it in my own unique way, to honor it and to learn the sides that not everyone can grasp at first glance, it makes me proud. As a child I had taken the Polaroid medium for granted, so often seen in movies, without understanding what it really means. I started by buying an Instant Lab, to understand how it worked the film, documenting the minimum necessary, and above all to see if I was able to make the most: I am self-taught and for me most of the fun comes from discovering the mechanisms of the camera and how it works with the film.

As I developed my first photographs it was love at first sight: I had finally found the right medium to transmit my feelings in a more intimate way. Obviously, the pace towards the purchase of a Polaroid SX-70 was short and once bought, I have not stopped to take photographs almost daily. The world around us is full of wonders and you can make a good photo even just on the doorstep."

Before turning to photography, he worked in the drafting of a television network, until one day, about 4 years ago, accidentally he snapped a photo of a girl looking at the sea and since then he has never stopped: he left his job and he devoted to photography. Snap photos of any kind without stopping, in order to recover the lost time. Although a versatile photographer, his photos capture the impact and simplicity of light. Lights and shadows play an important part in his art. He almost uses it as an excuse to show us what he wants us to see.

"At first, I photographed mostly in black and white, as long as time goes on, I realized that that kind of colors, as well as being better suited to the type of photo, made me feel much more satisfied seeing the final result, as well as send me a kind of peace of mind. And now I love to capture soft colors. I have no idea about what influenced my this style of photography. I think I swayed from every single photo of other photographers that I watched in my life. If we talk about photographers, a photographer in particular has inspired me to keep going, even though I arrived to take pictures completely different from him. His name is Aela Labbé and I continue today to look at his photos more and more fascinated. If we talk about people close to me in everyday life, I'm simply inspired by my friends and models: I cannot have a better inspiration."

"I am a person who loves the calm, in fact, in the future I’m going to live in my isolated country house, away from the chaos. By now there is noise everywhere and it is difficult to find even a corner for focus in which there is little noise, because of all the new sources of noise to start by the continuous ringing of the cellular phone, for example. For this reason I like to think that in my photos I find always a silent dimension where if I can not take refuge, at least I can observe it.

More than the place, I care a lot about the condition of perfect light, I really like to photograph in dim light or in the shadows created by the strong sunlight of the place where I live, in southern Italy: I really like what shadows lurk, rather than what is shown in the light. If I have to specify a particular location, I definitely love the sea or very minimal interior."

"I know my models are very beautiful, so I prefer if the photo could suggest instead of showing. I do not like to be explicit also because I think there is too much explicit stuff around. It seems to me that we are losing the pleasure to observe carefully and the same is for the taste of imagination. And for me... only a mysterious woman could stimulate the imagination.

I have no particular methods, the only important thing is the spontaneity of the subject that I have to shoot. I do not like too much the pictures made from or posing. So, spontaneity and quiet are the only things I need to photograph. I never liked the photographs too full of details, so I try to keep a minimalist style or at least that shows only the essentials. I think that too many unnecessary details distract too much from the real subject of the picture."

"I must admit that now in Southern Italy there is a decent attention to photography and a lot of activities. There are many good photographers although I must admit that there is often a lot of competition and so I try to stay out of the environment: I photograph to relax, not to compete. I do not have challenges to overcome. I just want to take pictures as a matter of personal well-being. Perhaps, the only challenge is to find out how I can continue with photography.

The analog photography is now more important than ever, in this world of continuous streams of images that become the past after a few minutes instead of many years. Now, the physical photo, printed by analog, holds together the past, present and future. I hope that my photos will be able to bring any kind of emotion to those who observed: I think this is the purpose of every photographer."

All pictures are copyright © by Francesco Sambati  |  Official Website