Art, in its various forms, will always be part of Jacopo Bellelli's life. For several years before 2019, music was his main artistic activity as a guitarist for various indie rock bands. Now he's a communications manager in the creative sector–theatre and cinema, primarily. Aside from music he enjoys contemporary art, reading, and traveling; he is also inching his way towards cinematography, having landed a few opportunities working in small productions as a camera trainee. All of his artistic passions influence his photography, although he's quick to point out that he's still experimenting and developing his style. We're happy to be witnessing his creative journey!
Hi, Jacopo. How did you get started in photography?
I discovered that I was really attracted to taking pictures at a very young age when I loved playing with my father’s 35mm camera (a Zenit-E from the URSS) during family holidays. However, I got more conscious about it much later, when in 2008 I bought a 35mm camera and started taking pictures right away, mostly in black & white. A year later, I took some lessons and briefly moved to digital. I then practiced photography for about 10 years, but mostly as an extemporaneous activity and I only got more serious about it in 2019, in parallel with a renewed interest in art and visual imagery. This was when I finally got back to 35mm film photography–I started experimenting with colour and began to understand better what I was doing and what I wanted to create with photography. It was one of those moments where things start to make sense. In a way, I regret I got there only when I was 35, but this is how life goes.
Who or what inspired you to shoot with film?
My dad was the first one to place a camera in my hands, showing me what I could do with it and how to use it, so he had a very important role in making me discover photography and getting passionate about film. The photographic work I liked discovering over the years was also mostly related to film. In general, I always tended to be drawn to a sort of nostalgic attraction for the past and to things that are slower and more authentic, so film has always been my natural choice.
In spite of the evolution of the digital medium in the last decade, film has still a totally unique look and offers a very particular experience from start to end, where you really need to be intentional and cherish every frame. Its organic and more natural texture and depth, the chemical and almost magic way it interacts with light and colours, its imperfections and unpredictability...everything about film is just more appealing to me and more closely linked to my vision of what beauty is in art and life in general.
Are there any books and movies that influence your visual style? Any favorite scenes in a movie or TV show that inspire you?
That’s really an interesting question. Cinema and literature have a major influence on me and on what I try to create through photography. My favourite genres are quite diverse, but science fiction has probably had the strongest impact on my style, for instance on my night urban photography. I love classic sci-fi works that can make us reflect on our society through the depiction of imaginary dystopian futures. Fahrenheit 451 and Blade Runner are probably my favourite novel and movie and represent important cultural and visual inspirations.
In recent years I'm also very much attracted to Asian culture and aesthetics. I love the visual poetry and the nostalgic style in Wong Kar Wai's cinema and the way in which life vibrates through the pages of Murakami's books. I also like the photographic and cinematic nature I find In American literature from the '50s and '60s and the nostalgia in movies like Wim Wender's Paris Texas and Wings of Desire. Overall I think I'm still developing my style as a photographer and like to experiment with new visual elements. Now for example I'd like to work more with people and models and am inspired by poetic cinema.
Do you shoot in digital as well? If yes, how do you decide which one to use in a particular moment or situation?
I did shoot digital in the past and still do from time to time, but I am almost exclusively focusing on film for my personal work. I don't exclude shooting again digital one day, but it was film that made me rediscover my passion for photography in the first place and I simply can't click that way with pixels and digital cameras. Experimenting with different film stocks and cameras according to what I have in mind is always great fun and the look I get with 35mm fits way better to my style and expectations.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is for me the main means through which I like to see the world and try to capture it the way I see it. There’s so much beauty in the fleeting instants of life. Trying to capture some of it through a lens and giving it shape according to my feelings and inspiration is really what attracts me. Besides that and despite not being a real tech geek, having a camera in my hands, composing an image through it, and hearing the shutter go off is always such a thrilling sensation.