12 questions to Riccardo Mantero – Irix Ambassador

1. Do you remember your very first picture?

Yes, I remember it very well. I took it when I was seven years old during one of my school trips. I had my own small compact camera which I’d gotten from my aunt as a present, and it was a photo of my schoolmates. But I also remember one other thing; I took so many useless and blurred images [on that trip] that my mum was very angry after she went to develop the photos and subsequently paid lots of money for them! (laughs).

2. At what point did you understand that photography would be your passion?

I can’t recall the precise moment as I was always obsessed with visual art – photography, painting, drawing, graphics. But the craft that fascinated me the most was aerography. Apart from photography, I was trying myself out in filming and computer graphic ray tracing. However, I do need to say that there was the one time in my life that I had doubts whether photography is for me and I even quit it for a couple of years due to the uncomfortabilty I had with film, but later I came back.

3. Why did you choose landscape photography as your domain?

Landscape photography appeared in my history due to the fact that I travel a lot. For me it’s just the way to catch a unique moment of the day. I don’t spend long hours waiting for a ‘golden hour’, but I’m neither afraid of taking pictures in the midday. My main goal is to reflect real life and beauty the moment I notice them and grab them with my camera. Maybe I’m a little bit lucky also! (smiles) I see lots of incredible views around me worth taking pictures of, so I don’t have to wait too long.

4. What gear have you used in the past and present?

My first camera was a compact film camera made by Kodak. My first SLR was my father’s Canon who, like me, was keen on photography. I used it a lot, but I always wanted to have something of my own. Therefore I bought an Olympus with 2.1 mega pixels and then a 6Mp Casio Exilim. My first DSLR was a Nikon D40x which, after a couple of weeks, I changed to a Nikon D300, and after some years I switched to a Nikon D800 and a Nikon D810. Now I’m waiting for my new Nikon D850, soon to be in my hands. I usually work with two cameras because I hate switching the lenses. During photo sessions involving landscapes, cameras and lenses are exposed to extreme conditions like sand, water, ice, heat, etc, so I don’t want to risk having spoiled photos because of a dot or grain of sand on the sensor.

5. Which place in the world you personally consider to be the most photogenic and why?

The first landscape which comes to my mind is the American South West. Every corner of that region is worth taking a picture. I guess it’s the best place for every landscape photographer. Also India, as it’s a good destination for those who specialize in travel photography. Overall it’s quite hard to call just one place to be the best as each destination has its own peculiarity which makes one fall in love with the landscape. For example, I admire the sky and water of the Caribbean islands, which I visited a couple of weeks ago. Next year I plan to reach the Arctic Circle alone, which is characterized by a totally different landscape; for sure no worse than those in the Caribbean! (laughs).

6. Which photo technique/trick you like the most and why?

I love hard and strong contrast. What I try to achieve is a landscape with hard light. I add a little under exposure (until 1.5) to obtain the most contrasting images I can. Thanks to Nikon sensors, regardless under exposure I can obtain photos with the smallest details even in dark areas. Therefore I can get a strong contrast but I still don’t have the dark zones.

7. Which Irix feature you consider to be the most useful in your photography?

For me it’s great sharpness with huge field of view at the same time.

8. Do you have your own role models in photography? Who inspires you?

I was always fascinated with the paintings of Venetian artists as Canaletto and Tintoretto. They had this unique talent of presenting all the smallest details in the painting with the highest precision – boats, clouds, buildings, people. They were like photographers! Talking about other classics I also admire the darkness and light of Caravaggio. As a photographer I love Ansel Adams – a huge master in landscape photography. I also respect Australian photographer Peter Lik. Apart from the images, the business model he created as a photographer and businessman is worth following. For your information, he beat the record for selling one of the most expensive photographs for 6.5 million dollars.

9. Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?

During my planned trip to the Norway I hope to take a picture of the longest sunrise & sunrise possible. The daytime then will continue for eighteen hours, after which a short six hours of night there will be a long period of twilight. Thus my idea is to catch the colors of the light in its extreme tones so that I can show the combination of cold earth color with a warm light palette. What’s more, I’ll be staying nine days in a fishing village where I hope to imprint how people live and work for long hours in surroundings which for most of us would seem to be unbelievable hard.

10. What are your photographic ambitions for the next three years?

I hope to win some famous competition even though I haven’t participated so often till now (laughing). Also like everyone, I guess, I wish to take a photo which will explode on the internet and spread all across the world. Overall my dream is to take the perfect photography (smiles) .

11. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?

Learn, learn, learn, don’t stop learning. You can never think that you are the best. You have to look what other people do, study new techniques and challenge yourself. The toughest challenge for me was my trip to India. It taught me a lot as I was totally out of my comfort zone in a different landscape with millions of people around me. I had to overcome many technical and random travel problems. I finished that trip not only with solid background knowledge but also as a stronger person.

12. Describe photography in one word.

Dreamscape – take the landscape in a dreamy way (smiles).

Pictures made with Irix 15mm f/2.4 and Irix 11mm f/4.0 by Riccardo Mantero

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