Wanderlust lurks in the heart of Camilla Ferrari. The young photographer has already managed to amass a globe-trotting portfolio although she’s just now finishing university in her native Milan. Whether it’s the Medina of Marrakech, the streets of Paris or the Icelandic countryside she finds that being on the road is an opportunity to combine her desires to dive into the unknown and to document the sights and sensations revealed.
“I love to travel, I think I have a real need to discover new places and new people,” says Ferrari. “And what I enjoy about learning and observing new things around me is the ‘naive eye’ that naturally comes out when you don’t know what’s around you. It’s like going back to childhood when everything surprises you, everything looks new even if is something you’ve seen or experienced before. And I need this feeling sometimes.”
A love for travel was instilled by Ferrari’s parents who began taking their daughters to exotic locations as soon as the girls were old enough to keep up. She was also given a camera at age 13 on the eve of a school trip, which kicked off a journey into photography. Early forays into self-portraiture, aided by a desk lamp and curiosity, began in the bedroom. Soon the greater world entered into the frame.
“I started traveling and my interests changed,” she says. “I felt so passionate about landscape photography (and this is something I still love to do), so I was always searching for the best portrait of the place in which I was. But I avoided people. I tried in every possible way to not have anyone in the picture, not even one person, because I thought that it would ruin the place. The wrongest thought ever …”
Ferrari is pursuing a degree in art and communication, but her education in business was conducted outside of the classroom. Two years ago she began arranging sessions for a local fashion photographer, and she continues to fund her wanderings through odd jobs in the industry.
Being part of a professional team made her appreciate all the work that goes into commercial imagery. Later she assisted a workshop in Venice conducted by David Alan Harvey where she found herself learning technique alongside the students.
New places are the proving grounds of lessons learned. Before hitting the road she reads up on the impending destination but tries to leave as much to chance and possible, mixing visits to tourist traps, aimless walks, and time spent soaking up the local culture.
“Sometimes I just like to sit somewhere and observe people around me, their movements,” Ferrari says. “One thing I learned through the workshops I did is that you have to learn how people behave, you have to know what will be their next move so you can catch it.”
Expanding on her first love of landscapes to include signs on life in the frame was an eye-opening experience. Ferrari found that while the analytical side of her brain revels in meticulous preparation and execution, sneaking shots of people flexes the creative hemisphere. She aims for unguarded moments — offering prints to her unsuspecting subjects when the shot looks good — but sometimes she gets caught.
“Last April I was in Morocco and I was fascinated by this guy with a condor so I tried to take a picture,” she says. “The place was full of people and noise but — and I still don’t know how — he heard the shutter sound. He was really mad and he threw a bottle at me, so I just apologized and deleted the picture in front of him. It was really embarrassing for me.”
Not everyone is camera-shy by choice. Ferrari approached an older woman who had spent her entire life in the ancient Turkish village of Göreme. The woman refused, afraid that her husband would see the photograph and beat her for posing.
“So she turned, and told me to photograph her back because she saw that I really wanted to take a picture of her,” says Ferrari. “It was a beautiful and sad moment at the same time.”
Ferrari has been experimenting with shooting film but there’s also something beguiling about new media that has her considering ways of incorporating audio with imagery. A recent experience acting as Burn Magazine’s guest Instagrammer has opened her eyes to the platform’s possibilities of exposure — her own and being exposed to other photographers and new places to visit.
Before she can head off on a non-stop world’s tour she’s intent on getting her degree, a preoccupation which has superseded artistic pursuits this past year. Once the diploma is in hand it will be time to refocus.
“I want to start working on — and why not, maybe even finish — some projects that I have in my mind and turn them into a book,” she says. “I dream of having physical proof of my work in my hands. A story that I tell and that everyone can read through images. So after university I will focus on my photography 24/7, developing every feeling that I feel trying to get as deep into it as possible.”
Another possible future involves relocation. Ferrari’s drawn to the diversity and energy of New York even when her maiden voyage left her feeling insignificant and anxious. However a European city is also calling, one that mirrors her own split approach to photography.
“London has two souls which I feel very close to,” says Ferrari. “The creative side but also a superior order that controls it.”
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