Photographer Nicola Tonolini is the winner of the very first Monthly Website Competition on Flickr. ILFORD is proud to feature the winning photograph on its NEW website at www.ILFORD.com. Nicola Tonolini’s beautiful photograph is featured as one of the banner ads on the new website. An Italy based photographer, he specializes in wedding and portrait subject matter. We hope you will enjoy his amazing photo galleries on his website Boutique Dell’Immagine conveniently presented in three languages!
Nicola’s image called “Maasai Children” is beautiful, joyous, and haunting at the same time. The dark, ominous clouds seem to create a dissonance with the joyous faces of the children. We wanted to know more about Nicola, this photograph, and his photography in general.
ILFORD Blog: Tell us about the image that won the competition and the series on your website. How did you come to capture these images. There must be a very interesting story there!
Nicola Tonolini: The image “Maasai Children”, that won the competition, and the others in this series that can be viewed on my website (www.boutiqueimmagine.it), were taken in Southern Kenya. Every year I hold a photographic workshop for a limited number of people in a Maasai reserve, Kuku Ranch Group, on the Chyulu Hills. The workshop is organised by the Campi ya Kanzi lodge and a part of the income received from my clients goes directly to the Maasai community through the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. The images in this series were taken using a single soft-bank light (at the next workshop I will take 3!!!!) and under-exposing the sky by at least 2 light stops. Pastel colours are then obtained by working on layers in photoshop. It is pure portraiture and the Maasai are posing. Suggesting this type of shot was risky as regards my clients because they know me as a photo-journalist and that I generally prefer reporting, but after having seen the first shots they understood that it concerned something special and they were enthusiastic!!!! The unusual and strange thing was having to stroll around the savannah with a soft-bank light!!! You can just imagine the faces of the Maasai.
IB: When did you become interested in photography?
NT: I was 13 years old when I first picked up my father’s Contax, I went to a friend who was a photography enthusiast and asked him to teach me. Since then I have always carried a camera with me.
IB: How did you come to specialize in wedding and portrait photography?
NT: In 2004 Ken Damy (my teacher from 1998 to 2000) introduced me to the photographer Luciano Monti because I wanted to buy some prints of his photographs taken in the United States. In his studio I saw photographs of weddings taken using photo-journalism techniques. I was impressed and very touched. From that time on I decided that wedding photo-journalism would be what I would do. I think I have the best job in the world. It is extremely gratifying to see the bridal couple become emotional when they see the photographs I have taken. For me portraiture has now become secondary, still wonderful and stimulating, but not as exciting as reporting.
IB: What is it that makes ILFORD inkjet papers attractive to you? Why do you like them? I understand you use both Gold Fibre Silk and Smooth Pearl.
NT: After buying an Epson Stylus Pro 4880 printer I started trying out fine-art paper made by various companies. I hoped to find something that echoed the old baryta paper I used to use in the darkroom. When I saw the first print of a photograph on ILFORD Galerie Gold Fibre Silk I was stunned! I thought: “that’s my paper!” Incredible details and an unbeatable depth of black! In my opinion it is the best barium-sulphate paper available at the moment. I now use it also for weddings. Another paper I use often in my work as a wedding photographer is the ILFORD Galerie Smooth Pearl. It has an excellent quality-price ratio, uniform shades of colours, good details and it is particularly resistant to scratches and fingerprints.
IB: What is the most important thing about your art? What is the thing that you want people to get from your photographs?
NT: Feelings! If you lose your enthusiasm and the ability to feel, even with small things, then it is all over! I love my work and my clients know that it is not possible to achieve certain shots unless you are touched by what surrounds you. Curiosity! This is surely the second essential thing. I think that anyone in any job, becomes an artist if he is excited by what he does and if he sees the world through the curious eyes of a child.
Nicola we thank you and all those who entered photos in March for the competition. Please enjoy all the entries on the competition group site on Flickr. Click here to go there, join the group, and enter your own photos in this month’s contest. Who knows? We may be calling YOU next month if your photo is featured on the new www.ILFORD.com as the winner!
Be sure to visit and explore the NEW www.ILFORD.com. It’s beautifully redesigned with lots of information that you will both enjoy and use. Step up from the Ordinary with ILFORD GALERIE photo papers for photographers.