Welcome to another new series of interviews and insights that we are running on theappwhisperer.com. This new section, entitled, Extension Of The I, goes deeper into the photographic aspects of mobile photography. It delves into the lives and thoughts and influences that our artists experience from their photography. No other mobile photography website reaches the depths and emotions of the mobile photographers as we do in this new series of interviews.
We think you’re going to enjoy this, a lot. Today, we are featuring Giovanni Savino, we recently featured Giovanni in our A Day In The Life of series, if you missed that you can read it here. Giovanni has loved and practiced photography since childhood.He started to work in photography, film and television when he was sixteen years old and learned the trade “hands on” relying on advice from the best photographers and producers in the annals of TV broadcasting. In the last decade he has produced a number of photo-reportages and documentary films, mainly in the Dominican Republic, which received very positive media exposure and rapidly became important reference and teaching tools in many academic collections.
He continues to pursue his passion for telling visual stories while working for a wide client base, as his experience and versatility lets him tackle and fulfill the most diverse assignments.
Check out the full interview below…
Giovanni prefers to use a minimalistic approach when selecting apps to use and the majority images in this body of work were taken with Camera+ and for the few composite images (the ones with superimpositions/double exposures), he used the app Backgroundz. Some of the images in this group, are from a project explained in detail on his blog, (details below) and are entitled ‘Summer in the City’.
(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘Extension Of The I’ section, just send an email to Joanne@theappwhisperer.com, and we’ll get it set up.)
First Things First…
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘A Forgotten veteran’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – How did you get started in photography?
GS – I first discovered photography through an old shoebox of yellowing pictures on my grandparents’ kitchen table in Italy. They were born into extreme poverty at the beginning of the 20th century in the malaria-ridden swamps of southern Tuscany.
Their pictures quickly became a portal for me to travel to a different era. They became a visual corroboration of the oral histories I heard over and over around a bowl of roasted chestnuts during the long winter evenings of my childhood.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Double Trouble’ – Apps used – Lenses
JC – Who and what are your influences?
GS – Many, and from many different creative fields, not just photography. Too many, in fact, to even attempt to list them here. However, I also constantly strive to establish my unique language, only based on elements that I produce, in an effort to escape as much as possible external reference and model.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Forgive but don’t forget’ – Apps used – Snapseed, Backgroundz
JC – What draws you to the subjects you seek?
GS – Unless I am on a specific work assignment, where I mainly try to convey what someone else wants or needs to say through my pictures, I could say it is often my subjects who choose me and not vice versa. My imagination needs to be captured before my lens becomes able to capture.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Gone to pray’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – What is it about these subjects that you want to capture/communicate and ultimately convey in your images?
GS – The untold stories I perceive emanating from them.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Human sushi’ – Apps used – Lo-mob
JC – How did you ‘settle’ on this subject?
GS – My biggest passion is about documenting and preserving oral culture and individual realities. The main subjects of my personal work have been unsung heroes of everyday life: everyday people. For many years I worked for CBS News, traveling around the world learning to tell visual stories. Now, I am based between New York City and the Caribbean and I continue to find stories worth documenting and people worth giving voice to.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘I won’t stop following the light’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – Is there another are/subject that you would like to explore, if so, what and why?
GS – In a world increasingly based upon a “specialist” approach to things, I realize that, due to the multifaceted assignments I handled throughout my career, I am necessarily accustomed to tackle any subject and any topic I focus my lens on. Obviously certain things interest me more than others, however, I believe that my professional attitude and experience enables me to find angles to explore in every walk of life.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Learning to fly’ – Apps used – Camera+
JC – Which photographers (not necessarily mobile photographers) do you most admire and why?
GS – I don’t actually “admire” anybody for their work but I certainly respect everybody’s work. I am often inspired and inclined to learn from anyone’s work, even from the most obscure and uncelebrated practitioners. Admiration to me is a somewhat awkward feeling that too often I associate with ego pampering and social competitiveness, behaviors that I necessarily endure but do not promote or welcome in my own existence. If I ever admire someone it is usually for their intelligence, their professionalism, their human compassion and integrity, not for what they are able to produce.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Metropolitan Mantra’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – Henri Cartier-Bresson is in many ways, the Godfather of street photography, even in the 1930’s he enjoyed using a small camera for discretion in order to capture people and tell a story – do you feel this way regarding mobile photography?
GS – HCB taught us that often less is more, especially when you want to record everyday reality while interfering with it as little as possible. At the same time, he showed us that geometry and the sense of time and occasion are indispensable elements to be always kept into account when developing a visual narrative.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘No return’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – Tell us about your photographic technique – do you rely on intuition or do you believe in a more formal/trained approach?
GS – I have experimented with many different techniques throughout the past thirty years. I don’t believe in magic bullets to solve problems. I believe in hard work and in always remaining open to the most intuitive and even unorthodox approaches. The moment we believe we completely mastered the medium and there is nothing else to learn and experiment with, our inspiration either shrinks or dies.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘nobody cares’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – How has your photography evolved?
GS – By shooting every single day, both for pleasure and necessity, you grow and evolve. So does your photography.
All For One…
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘On a NYC Bus’ – Apps used – Camerabag
JC – Many of the great photographers, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson described only shooting images for “themselves”do you see this attitude with mobile photographers?
GS – We need to make a distinction here: If photography is the way you earn a living, not your hobby, you’ll necessarily find yourself shooting clients assignments on one side and pursuing personal projects on the other. While you can shoot “for yourself “ in your own projects, on commercial/ editorial assignments you are often hired to create, albeit with your own style, someone else’s vision. Then again, if by “shooting for ourselves” we mean the pleasure of our creative process, then, yes, by all means, we always shoot for ourselves, whenever we pick up a camera, loving every second of it !
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘on his way to the top’ – Apps used – Camera+, backgroundz
JC – Do you take risks with photographs, push boundaries? If yes, please give examples, if no, why not, would you like to?
GS – Creativity is always about taking risks. The best advice I have is: know your limits, carefully assess your priorities, then, if you think it’s worth it, go for it, However, always try to make informed and respectful decisions, even when you decide to push dangerous boundaries and break barriers. Be always ready to take responsibility and face the consequences of your actions. I do.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Regrets’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – What is your favorite picture, of your own and why?
GS – As someone else has said, my own favorite picture is the next one I will take.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘She was a city girl’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – Do you get emotionally involved with your photography?
GS – It depends. When photographing in dangerous or volatile situations I usually try to block my emotions in order to give myself a sharper kind of objectivity and increase my chances of survival. Other times, getting emotionally close to your subject, can help develop a more organic narrative.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘These are the times that try men’s soul’ – Apps used – Hipstamatic
JC – Does your life become entwined with your subjects?
GS – That happens, sometimes, if you relate or connect on a personal level with the story you are trying to tell. I always strive to keep a fairly strong divider, between being an observer, a reporter and the subjects of the story I want to tell. Obviously I have emotions behind the camera and they are also an integral part of how the photograph is being taken.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Urban monk’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – Do you have a digital workflow system to sort your images, if so what is it?
GS – For my editorial work I usually ingest digital images through PhotoMechanic, do my first selection there, then go to Lightroom to do my second selection, tagging and, if needed, to make small adjustments. Then I FTP the client at the needed resolution and finally put some eyedrops in my old eyes and take a deep breath.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘We all carry our load’ – Apps used – Lo-mob
JC – Do you have a special processing style?
GS – Yes, adaptability and flexibility, using all possible tools to make a “usable” photograph better. Then again, sometimes I don’t really care about post processing at all, as the picture comes out “ready to use”, straight from the camera. Those are usually my happiest moments.
Tips For Processing…
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Summer in the city’ – Apps used – Camera+
JC – Do you have any tips for processing?
GS – Use it sparingly and never overcook it.
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Summer in the city’ – Apps used – Camera+, Backgroundz
JC – How do you think photography has changed over the years?
GS – I could probably write a 200 pages book to answer this question, merely based on my own career.
Some of the most visible changes, in my opinion are:
- The “democratization” of the picture taking process thanks to an increased accessibility to new photographic tools.
- The disappearance of most of the existing photo distribution platforms of the past and the birth of new ones.
- The over-intellectualization of photographic images.
- The trivialization and depreciation of photographic images.
One thing has remained unchanged in my lifetime: the gatekeepers of the photographer’s social and artistic validation, often base their assessments and preferences on reasons completely unrelated to the actual photographer’s work strengths.
35 mm Film Days…
Copyright Image – Giovanni Savino – ‘Summer in the city’ – Apps used – Camera+
JC – As a mobile photographer you’re at the cutting edge of technology, do you ever hanker for the 35mm film days?
GS – Whenever I do, I just open my closet, pull out one of my old, still perfectly working 35mm or medium format cameras, pop a roll of film in it and go shoot. The biggest pain with film nowadays is to find a decent, user-friendly, not overly expensive lab, even here in New York City, where there were plenty, but today they nearly all disappeared.