I’m working on my new website arnaldoabba.com, so it will be down for a little bit. Meanwhile, you can check my Facebook page Arnaldo Abba Photography for updates, or follow me on twitter @Arnaldo Abba. Cheers!
During the last week I’ve finished my first printed portfolio, and I had it judged by three professional photographers receiving great feedbacks and tips. A printed portfolio is a necessary tool for every photographer to present their work to agencies, art directors, etc… The beauty of it is that it involves a lot of other skills, that are not closely related to photography: sense of design, style and personal taste. I’ve really enjoyed working on it because it’s a very creative process. Not only you can see your finished work, nicely printed on paper of your choice (for mine, I’ve used the Ilford Smooth Pearl, a beautiful luster paper, which holds nice contrast and deep blacks), but also you work creatively to reinforce the style of your work. There are a lot of ways to present a portfolio: you can choose a classical portfolio case (which I used), where you can change the order of the pages or change the photographs to target different clients, a portfolio box, where the prints are standalone (better for fine art photographers), or a custom-made book, which is the nicest one in term of impact on the viewer, but has also the limit of being a finished piece that you can’t upgrade. All of these convey a different meaning to your work, but they all offer a high level of customization.
These are a few images from my people portfolio: some of them are brand new, and some less, but they all have been shot in the last year. I used a simple, clean-looking portfolio case and layout, which I feel reflects my work. I encourage every photographer or any aspiring one to print their work and lay it out in a book, or in any way you want it to be, because it’s a great way to think about your work, and mostly, to see it done, finished. There’s no right or wrong, we are in the land of personal taste: that’s the beauty of it.
I wanted to talk more about my new project: Surfers. As I said in my previous post I’m working on a series of portraits of surfers, mostly in California. This is not the usual tribute to pro surfers, or to the cool surfing spots in the world, or to the surf lifestyle, which is beautiful, of course, but not always true.
Surf is a lot more. And this project is my tribute to this MORE. Surf is made of real people, like you and me, who share the same passion. This passion makes them wake up in the early morning, maybe on a cloudy day, in winter, and drive two hours to get to the right spot. It’s very different from the idealized sunny day, where the water is warm and the girls are pretty. Most waters in California are cold, especially considering that winter is the best season for surf. So you have to wear your wetsuit, and maybe you can consider the water to not be “that cold” (I still can’t). Anyway, these people make a lot of sacrifices to fulfill their passion. For these reasons I’ve decided to do these series of portraits with a different style from my own, which is usually clean and polished. I wanted to be able to show the realness of these people. So, to capture it, I had to shoot them when they just came out of the water. I wanted to get the EXPERIENCE they had that day, surfing. If anybody of you have ever surfed, then you must know that the experience stays alive for a couple of hours after it: it’s a feeling of peace and accomplishment, that I’ve only experienced when surfing or swimming. There something magical in being in the water for long, the mind gets clear, and everything vanishes.
This is what I wanted to capture.
So, this is how I met Tom, from Hawaii, where the water is really warm compared to here. I’ve seen him coming out of the water, and I rushed to stop him. We started chatting. He was visiting a friend, and on this cloudy morning, he decided to grab a wetsuit and a surfboard, and went to Emma Wood beach, close to Ventura. There’s something really cool in his story, in the fact that even if he was travelling outside of his country, he decided to go surfing, alone.
That was the moment. Can I take a few portraits of you, Tom?
P:S. In the next weeks I’m going to post more photos from this project, and I’ll also go out shooting again, stay tuned.
I’m working on a new personal project, a series of portraits of surfers. I’ve always been fascinated by the surf culture and this project is a great opportunity for me to learn about it through the people who made surf what it is, in one of the most popular places for surfing, California.
This is one of the people I’ve been photographing today in Pitas Point, close to Ventura.
His name is Steven.
I’ve talked to Steven for a little while, right after he came out of the water, his family waiting for him.
“How long have you been surfing?”
“For all my life.”
When you shoot a portrait, subtleties make a huge difference. When you edit a portrait session you can see that each moment is different from the previous, and that there’s no possibility of having the same photographs or expressions. And that’s because when you shoot a person there are many dynamics involved: how you relate to the person you shoot, how you direct them, and how you manage to get the expression you want from them. These are all variables which you can’t predict. For these reasons edit down the photos and pick “the best one” (if you can actually say that there’s a “best one”, when it’s most correct to say that there’s a favorite one) is the most difficult moment of the entire shooting.
Without talking about the light and the impact it has on the mood of the photograph and on the facial features of a person, there are many other factors that change one photo to the next, like the direction of the gaze, a subtle tilt of the head to the back shoulder or to the front, the chin up or down, framing in the perfect center or close to one border, get close by some inches, tilt the camera just a bit to the left… These are all small adjustments that change completely the photograph.
Here’s a portrait session I had with my friend and photographer Lucas Aznar, and as you can see each of these photos tells a completely different story.
Which one is your favorite, and why?
Wherever you are, I just wanted you to know that I miss you.
Happy Valentine’s day amore mio
Since I’ve started the Brooks Institute of photography, in August 2011, I’ve been shooting the most diverse things: landscapes, products, architecture, stock, lifestyle. Even if I don’t like to put myself in a box, and restrict my work on a single category, I have to say that shooting people is one of the things that I like the most. It’s a process that involve all your skills as a photographer, but beyond that, it also show the person you are, more than every other kind of photography. When you shoot a person you have to communicate, give direction to make your vision understandable by the person you are photographing, but at the same time you have to leave the freedom of expression that you want from the person in front of you. It’s an evolving process that is never the same. That’s why I like it.
Here are some photos that I’ve taken lately. They were shot not to far apart from each other. In these different sets of photographs, to my surprise, I see a different me. I can’t say what’s the direction I’m taking, but I’m just enjoying this moment, and the more it takes me off guard, the more I enjoy it. This is because photography doesn’t stop after you’ve pressed the shutter. Photography is going back to yourself to reflect on who you are. That’s why most people stop doing it, because they either don’t like what they see, or they are afraid of it, or they are afraid of what other people might think of their work (and in doing so, they are afraid of what other people think of them). But you have to sit back and relax, and enjoy what you see, because you did it, it’s your work, not everybody else’s.