A few months ago, when the Italian photographer Lorenzo Mattei joined Westend61, we immediately realised that his landscape images were special. He is an adventurer and a mountain lover who submits plenty of wonderful images from beautiful and peaceful places. We spoke with him to discover more about his passion for photography and his plans with Westend61.
Ciao Lorenzo, it’s a pleasure to have this interview with you. You joined Westend61 last summer and you immediately caught the attention of our editors, thanks to your beautiful mountains photos. How did you get your start in photography?
Hi Giorgio, thank you very much for this opportunity. I began with photography when I was a child; my parents were really passionate about photography and about the old “Super 8”. When I was a child, I used my father’s old FX-3 for many years to capture images of our daily life: I considered this a treasure. Through the years things evolved slowly and photography became a very important part of my life, especially because it fits in with my love for nature and mountains. The camera is always with me during my adventurous experiences.
How would you deﬁne your photographic style? What are you preferences regarding landscape photography?
This is a difﬁcult question! I think that I am always evolving. What really moves me is the desire to describe what I’m living when I am outdoors: real stories, Mother Nature and adventurous trips. The way I take pictures and the way I edit my images really depends on the subject itself: a person or a landscape, a long story or a single image that transmits an emotion. I deﬁnitely prefer mountain landscapes because that’s where I love to spend my time.
How long have you been involved with stock photography? What’s your opinion of it?
I started doing stock photography not too long ago, when a couple of magazines published some of my images. I thought it would be an interesting challenge, I wanted to have feedback about my work and I was also looking to develop my skills. I sent my portfolio to some agencies and surprisingly, I received very positive feedback. At the moment, a key issue for me in stock photography is that you need to express a concept in a very strong way just using a single image. This is a big challenge for me.
What do you do besides photography?
I work as a software engineer. I really like the problem-solving approach and in this job I am also able to be creative and stay in the loop with technology. There is only one negative aspect: I spend too much time in front of the computer.
You are a globetrotter. In your portfolio there are images from a lot of different places. How do you organise your photography trips? Do you have a plan before you reach your destination or do you act by just following your instinct?
It depends on what kind of travelling I’m doing: for work, with family, for humanitarian reasons or simply a photographic trip. When photography is the main reason, I usually do a preliminary study of the location, to have a rough plan. Once I am on the go, I let the location inspire me. In other situations, the scheduling is very tough, so inspiration becomes the deciding factor.
There are many images taken at dawn in your portfolio. What feeling do you have when you are in the middle of nature in that moment?
The best moment is when the ﬁrst rays of the sun warm my face. Especially when you’ve been hiking up a mountain during a cold night just to reach the peak before sunrise. When the sun comes out, I feel like I’m coming back to life.
In that moment I realise how beautiful the landscape is which surrounds me. The ﬁrst light is soft and warm, the landscape has unique colours, everything is different compared to the daylight… and it’s an emotional experience, to see how the entire world comes back to life after the silence of the night.
Do you also take photos with your smartphone?
Yes, especially for family moments. I’m beginning to consider the smartphone for different situations, too. The smartphone is small and portable; it opens the doors to new photographic languages. The editing and post production are fast, too, so I am able to share my images in real time. I am considering many different apps, because I believe that the possibilities offered by them are part of the photographic language of smartphones.
What’s your favourite image in your portfolio?
This is a difﬁcult question! Every photo tells a different story that evokes memories from a journey with good companionship. There’s a photo I really like of Cordillera Real, with a view from above.
It is not a particularly pretty picture, but I took it during a trip to Bolivia while I was visiting the place where a really good friend of mine works as a missionary. On one of the last days of my stay, we climbed along the Huayna Potosi, a mountain of more than 6000 meters, and I took the picture from the top. The happiness of climbing for the ﬁrst time to such a height and doing it with a good friend – the way this photo reminds me of that adventure makes it special for me.
Do you have any other travel planned or special photography projects in mind?
I have a lot of places that I would like to visit, let’s see which one will be next and when I’ll have time! A project that I would love to develop in the next few months is about the region where I live: Umbria. It is a region full of beautiful places, charming villages, traditional festivals, cultural and religious events. I really want to focus on the beauty that surrounds me; I realised that in all these years I’ve never focused enough on my own region.
Now for the last question. Why is Westend61 the right place for your images?
It’s definitely because I believe that my work is taken into consideration seriously and presented to the market in the perfect way. With Westend61, I feel like part of a team that has a clear goal. The opportunity to have a personal photo editor who is always open to discussion, who gives me suggestions and feedback on my images, reinforces this feeling. I also work with other agencies, but this kind of collaboration is very difﬁcult to ﬁnd elsewhere. That’s why I am extremely satisfied with Westend61.
Thank you Lorenzo, for speaking with us!