“Are you shooting with a film camera? Is it old? What camera are you using?”
These are amongst the classic questions I am asked while working professionally as a photographer.
But first, let me introduce myself …
My name is Gabriele Lopez. I’ve lived and worked in Milan (Italy) as a professional photographer since 2004.
My jobs include: commercial photography which ranges from corporate to events, portraits mainly for local actors and books, weddings taken in a photojournalistic manner and personal projects that I do for myself and that the Millenium Images agency in London distributes. I constantly realize personal and collective projects in the form of self-printed books and fanzines.
Cameras are not fundamental, but at the same time, it is important to use something that fits our needs. I am not the kind of photographer who shoots on a definite mission. Photography for me is mostly a diary, a way of living. In fact I never step out of my home without a camera, even if I don’t plan to shoot something as you never know what you might come across. Everyday I shoot a variety of moments, from the happiest to the most tragic. My instinctive way of shooting allows me to express myself and to understand what’s around me. This way of being stems back to the time I received a Polaroid camera as a gift and when I first bought a 35mm compact camera for recording my daily life.
In a certain sense, mirrorless cameras are the natural evolution of the 35mm compact camera, that I still have and still works.
Following my personal projects is still an important pursuit for me, and even though I’m often busy with professional assignments, I do my best to save time for it. After all it is this very style that I transfer over to my professional work as well. I try to focus on things that I feel are important, the story that I think is worth being told, shooting in the simplest way. I guess most of the results you see in my shots express what I want to say rather than how I do it. The urge to tell a story can push you in a direction you normally wouldn’t take and take you closer to the tools (cameras) that fit your needs.
As I said, the camera is not fundamental, as you can use whatever the market offers but I strongly feel more confident with a smaller chassis and a smaller lens when facing a private event, like shooting a family during a pre-wedding preparation session. I can really “dance” with the camera in my hand without a single obstacle between me and my subject.
Moving around inside a factory between tightly packed machines is much easier compared to hauling around my big bag and expensive DSLRs and lenses. The same goes for crowded events.
I can also reach any destination with a single messenger bag on my motorbike. I usually have two or three bodies inside with four lenses, a flash, batteries, a raincoat, and many other kinds of tools.
Fujifilm cameras (my system of choice) have a super friendly and simple interface, as well as dials instead of buttons which help me to think less about the camera and more about the shooting. The sensors and lenses available today are super. I can have the confidence to cover any kind of assignment, even when the lighting is low or hard. Shooting at 6400 and obtaining good printable files is a must for me, and the tridimensionality of the final picture is really good.
I recently photographed a big lawyer studio as an assignment for which I included different cities around Italy. This involved a lot of jumping on and off trains and hanging around. My Fujifilm cameras gave me a sense of freedom that in the past I could only dream of. And at night I was still free to be around and shoot for myself.
The same applies when I have to fly for work. I can pack a complete system and clothes for a few days in my hand-baggage, ready to jump in a taxi and straight to the event. This has happened so many times. It gives your profession a less-static approach and doesn’t take the fun out of it. If you have to shoot four weddings in a row, you’ll be happy that your cameras are not wasting your back.
Professional needs can push you to use big and heavy tools, and that’s fine if you understand that you have specific needs but for my style it would be totally useless.
Many generations of photographers used the Contax G System or Leica. These cameras in my opinion are very reminiscent of these mirrorless models and require the same kind of shooting style. A viewfinder in the corner, and a free face to see the world around you.
I can’t imagine myself going back to the DSLR days. These cameras make shooting so much more fun, easy and free now, and allow my personal work to seep into my professional assignments, something that my clients usually look for in a shoot.
You can see my work here:
Most of my attention is still dedicated to my personal projects:
My personal Blog: http://gabrielelopez.tumblr.com
Selected galleries can be found here:
I am also a member of Spontanea, a website dedicated to the culture and promotion of Italian Street Photography: