Date: 09/09/2016 | By: Heather
An interview with Ugo Cei – Mediterranean Photo Tours Instructor and Fuji X User
Like many other review websites, MirrorLessons includes advertisements – some from small businesses – to keep the site running. Whenever possible, we like to introduce them to our readers and explain why they have a place on our website.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Italian landscape and travel photographer Ugo Cei who uses the Fujifilm X series for his work. Along with his associate Massimiliano Cremascoli, Ugo runs Mediterranean Photo Tours, a company that offers exclusive photographic vacations in the best locations of the Mediterranean including the Cinque Terre and Venice in Italy and the Cyclades Islands in Greece.
We’ve known Ugo for a couple of years and have always been impressed by his knowledge about and passion for all things travel and photography related. In addition to being fluent in English, he has a calm, patient and welcoming manner, making him perfectly suited to his role as a photo tour instructor.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am just a passionate landscape and travel photographer who is addicted to beauty in all its forms. I also love sharing my knowledge as much as I can and that’s exactly what I am currently doing via my website, my newsletter and, of course, via Mediterranean Photo Tours.
I am also the host of the popular travel photography podcast, The Traveling Image Makers.
You use Fujifilm X series cameras for all your travel and landscape work. Why did you choose this particular system?
Years ago, I was looking to upgrade my aging DSLR, but I kept hearing about this great new Fujifilm X100s and I started thinking that if upgraded my DSLR I would still take the same kind of pictures, maybe with more megapixels, but if I got an X100s instead, I would take different pictures. So I bought one and brought it with me, along with the reflex, on a trip to New England. In the end, I ended up loving so much the pictures I got out of the X100s and the feelings it gave me, that a bit later I also got myself an X-E2 and sold the DSLR. Now I still have both cameras with a growing range of lenses, love the image quality, the size and I couldn’t think not using an electronic viewfinder anymore. I am planning to upgrade to the X-T2 when it comes out next September.
What do you like the most about travel photography? What attracted you to this genre in the first place?
For me, travel comes first. I love to travel and show the beauty of the world and its inhabitants to everybody. I love getting to know different cultures, eating unusual food and learning strange languages. This is really an amazing planet we live on and every place and every culture possesses beauty that deserves to be shown. Photography allows me to do just that.
What gave you the idea to start running photo tours in the Mediterranean?
As with many of my ideas, they tend to bubble up to my consciousness almost completely formed and ready to be executed. This was the case one late afternoon on a beach in Kos, where I was taking a vacation with my friend Massimiliano, who is a big connoisseur of all things Greek. I just said to him: “We should put together your knowledge of this land, my passion for teaching and our skills as photographers and start bringing people here to savor the place and photograph it.”
As soon as we returned home we started drafting a business plan, picking locations and putting up a website and the rest is history.
The Mediterranean Sea is just a great place for landscape, food, history, and art. Most locations around it have excellent infrastructure and can be easily reached from the rest of the world.
Where in the Mediterranean do you hold your photo tours? What is your favourite location and why?
Our current offerings include the Cyclades Islands (where we will hold a workshop on Santorini and Milos in June 2017) and the Italian Riviera, including the Cinque Terre (where we hold two workshops a year, once in spring and again in the fall). We have also recently added a workshop in Venice for the Carnival (February 2017) that is focused on photographing the most elegantly costumed models in some very exclusive settings.
As I am writing this from the comfort of a reclining chair on a balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea, a glass of ouzo in my hand, you can guess where my heart really lies.
What kind of photographer would get the most out of your photo tours?
We cater to all levels of photographers, from beginners to experts. As long as one is willing to improve and to challenge old habits, there is always something to learn for everyone.
Can you tell us a bit about your teaching method?
Let’s get this out of the way: we can tell an f-stop from a bus stop, we know how to compute the hyperfocal distance, when and how to use a filter, what shutter speed to use to freeze the flight of a bird or to render a waterfall as smooth as silk, the rule of thirds and the direction of light.
If you need help with that, you can count on us. No question is below us and we will always be there to help you with any doubt you might have.
But we strive to teach you much more than how to use your equipment. We want to show you how to identify a clear subject in your photos, how to use composition, contrast, sharpness, and color to enhance the subject and draw the viewer’s eye to it.
We will teach you how to look out for other elements in a scene and determine whether they support the main actor or detract from it, in which case they should be excluded from the frame or their importance should be diminished.
With a few simple principles in mind, you will be able to create images that tell a clear story, with no distractions, and that capture the attention of viewers.
How are your photo tours different from others?
There are so many photo tour and workshop offerings on the market that it’s virtually impossible to give something that is truly unique and different in every possible way. I will limit myself to listing some of the defining characteristics of the experience we offer.
Photography instruction is of course an essential part of what people can expect to get when they join one of our tours, but there’s more.
Another fundamental ingredient is being able to photograph the most beautiful locations from the best vantage point, at the best time of the day. We do extensive research and scouting, so you can count on us to bring you to the right place at the right time. Honestly, sometimes the location is so breath-taking that we are happy to just take it in with our own eyes and to leave the camera aside.
We also carefully research accommodations with an eye towards comfort and class, so that guests can use the time between walks and sessions to relax in a beautiful setting.
Finally, our tours always include activities that are designed to enhance the sensorial experience of our guests. We love good food and great wine ourselves, so we carefully pick the best restaurants for dinners and it’s not uncommon for us to include things like a wine tasting on a terrace overlooking the sea at sunset in our programs. Aside from the photography sessions, that is something that our guests always remember fondly.
Mediterranean Photo Tours is running a number of tours over the next 12 months. To find out more information, be sure to visit the links below:
- Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera (Spring / Autumn)
- Cyclades Islands (Spring)
- Venice and the Magic of Carnival (Winter)
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