(analogue) Photographer of the Month (September '23) - Leonardo Coghini
Name: Leonardo Coghini
Instagram Handle: @leonardocoghini
How did you get into film photography?
It must have been around mid 2019 when I got my hands on my first camera, an old Olympus OM1 kindly lent to me by my friend Liam. At the time he was working at WPS and seemed to know everything there was to know about cameras; it's safe to say Liam was how I got into film. The first roll I shot was Kodak Portra 400 and I'm so grateful that fate would have it be that way and after getting the scans back I was hooked. The colours were so warm and they seemed to soothe everything. Prior to this my most exotic camera experience was using the huji app on my phone and I can remember always being slightly disappointed and underwhelmed at how the snaps looked and felt. That first roll of portra marked a tipping point for me and I wanted everything I found special in life to be documented in that warm way.
Do you shoot much digital?
I haven't really had any real experience with digital. I've recently been mucking around on an x100 and find it amusing being able to see what you snap in an instant but my struggles with white balance and lightroom have, if anything, strengthened my appreciation for film. I've been approaching the x100 as a kind of test dummy and learning tool. You're not under pressure to get one good shot so I find myself experimenting and in the process slowly learning stuff, It's also made me realise how kind film has been to me with things such as composition and exposure. I think that as a very much amateur photographer, I bank on the aesthetic of film making up for the sometimes careless choices I make in these areas.
What is your favourite thing to photograph?
That's hard to answer. I think I snap whatever I feel looks nice/would be nice to have a memory of. For me, this mainly seems to be people. I've been taking photos for about 4 years now and already in that relatively short space of time, I've seen and sometimes taken photos of people growing, coming and going, celebrating and mourning…all that life stuff. It's only 4 years but it's fascinating for me looking back at what's happened and perhaps even more fascinating to think about what the next 4 or even 10-20 years might look like. It all reminds me just how unpredictable everything can be sometimes and that in itself I find beautiful.
I notice that you are able to uphold and photograph the special people in your life. How do you help them be comfortable in front of the camera? Do you just photograph without them knowing?
I assume a lot of the time people don't realise I've taken a picture. They're usually preoccupied. Because of this; I'm usually the least of their priorities and end up missing so many of the shots I try take. They're busy doing life - and thats perhaps something that doesn't wait around for a camera. Sometimes I'm sneaky and raise my camera in the opposite direction; find my focus, swing around and take the sneaky pic. The whole thing is over in less than a second. Maybe if music doesn't work out I'll get into pickpocketing (I'm a musician).
I think I'm quite lucky in that the people I take photos of seem to trust my intentions with the camera and perhaps appreciate me making an effort documenting whatever it is they’re doing/experiencing.
When are you most compelled to take a photograph? Do you just carry your camera with you at all times?
I don't really go out trying to take photos, it's more the camera comes with me (if i remember to take it) and perhaps I'll see something that I'll feel game enough to try snap. Key word being “try” in that last sentence…the amount of bad photos I take very much reminds me of my amateur/hobbyist status as a photographer - which is something I'm very ok with.
I think something special that photography has taught me is that there are so many beautiful moments that pass by everyday that I'll never capture with a camera. I used to panic and scramble for the shutter in those moments but now I just smile on the inside and tell myself “that was for me”, and keep going.
Does your musical career come hand in hand with taking photographs?
Yep - very much so. I'd say at least two thirds of the pictures I take are music related. I would have never thought i’d be a full time musician but thats how its panned out. I'm thankful for the camera being a means to be able to look back at the things I've done with music. The photos I take remind me that there's lots in my life to be thankful for.
Quick fire ten questions
- 35mm or 120? At the moment probably 35. Would probs shoot more 120 if I had a more portable medium format camera
- Colour or B&W? Depends how I’m feeling/what’s on the shelves in store. Also if I know I've got a low light sitch coming up I'll lean more towards b&W and push it. I've usually got separate cameras loaded with both
- Zoom Lenses or Fixed? Fixed
- Portrait or Landscape (Orientation)? Landscape
- Flash or Natural Light? Natural
- SLR (or TLR) or Rangefinder or Point and Shoot? SLR
- Must be razor sharp or more about the aesthetic? I'm a blind bat so defs aesthetic. I take so many out of focus photos. Recently got glasses so maybe that'll make a difference
- Favourite Camera? I haven't shot it in a while…but probably the OM1
- Favourite Photographer?
- Favourite Photo Book? Zuyi at pour n twist has a book that lives on the shelf up the back titled Photographing Italy which I always find fascinating to flick through