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Leonardo Papèra: Photographer of the week

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 14th of December 2020

Leonardo Papèra is a skilful landscape photographer.  His portfolio is full of amazing sceneries.  He likes to go over and over to his favourite locations waiting patiently for the perfect conditions and to be fully connected emotionally to capture wonderful scapes. His work is compelling, story telling and always expresses the feelings he had in front of the chilling spectacles which move him to the deepest of his soul.

Let's discover more about Leonardo through this fine interview.


'L'Attimo Effimero'


Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Leonardo.
First of all, thank you for giving me the chance to be part of the 1x community.  It's a great honour to me!
My name is Leonardo Papèra.  I'm a 27 years old landscape photographer and consider that I live in one of the most picturesque areas of the world: Tuscany!
I can call myself lucky with my main hobby and greatest passion which also is my job: photography!  I spend most of the year travelling to the most popular photography locations in Italy (such as the Dolomites, Tuscany, Venice, etc.) as a photography guide for Tuscany Photography Tours .


'In the End, the Light'


Of course, whenever I can I take some personal time to travel and explore the most remote places of the world. Like many other photographers, I'm found  or the Arctic.
But many of my favourite countries are way up North!


'Earth Wrinkles'


How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I grew up on the countryside, and since I was little boy, always had a deep love for everything correlated to nature: from the small flowers till the endless species of insects that I was always looking for in my backyard.  I tried to learn as much as I could about all the natural things. I remember waking up early in the morning to go out in the grass and see as many different insects (and sometimes, even wildlife such as deer, wild boars, etc.) as possible to check them later in my encyclopedia. As long as I can remember, I always had a profound connection with forests thinking there was a mystical halo around them.  I love forests and still do nowadays!


'The Coloured Army'


Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
Beside travelling which made me grow both as an artist and as a person, the thing that influenced me the most along the years are the critiques that I received on my works. It might seem peculiar, but I always had great respect and gratitude towards the people that spent some of their time to give me an honest and constructive feedback. There are some things that one just do not notice as our point of view is – by definition – subjective.  The help of other photographers is huge as they see the things which can be improved.


What first attracted you to photography?
I'll be honest, when I bought a camera I wasn't thinking about this. Not even remotely. I just bought one because I wanted to take pictures of my trips with my friends, that was all. A few months after though, one of my closest friends bought one too and we started going out in the wilderness together; from daily random hikes we started to plan our shootings, going out at the best hours (photography wise), studying the weather and improving our skills. I then decided to make a step even further and transform that passion into my current job!


'The Dead Hand of God'


Describe your overall photographic vision.
Many people will call me a dinosaur (despite my relatively young age!) when talking about my photographic vision. For me there's a rather sharp line between what we can photography and what falls into the digital art branch, and personally I don't like to cross that line. Sky replacements, warping, etc.  aren't my thing?  To me, it takes away the joy of capturing the scenery I saw on the field.
Don't get me wrong: editing has a huge role in photography and I'm not saying that photography is only reality.
I just prefer to spend more time on location looking for the best conditions, studying the weather, scouting the places and finally get the photo I want.


'Nightmare's Genesis'


Why are you so drawn by landscape photography ?
This is an hard one.  Landscapes can be quite easy to shoot. You just need a wide angle lens and a decent panorama and  that's it. Everybody shoots landscapes when travelling, even just with their phones. But what about capturing great landscapes? Seeing what others don't ? Going back to the spot over and over again till you get the perfect conditions ? I guess that this is what draws me to shoot landscapes and the fact that I can show people the places as seen through my own eyes and making them discovering the beauty of those places.


'Il Primo Bacio'


What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Honestly, I'm not a photography geek. I seriously don't care about the technical perfection of the photo, I will never ever zoom at 100% to see if it's sharp or if there's any noise. I much rather value a great composition, a particular mood or a fantastic story behind the picture. I can't tell you how many times I forgot to clean the photo from sensor dust, hot pixels, noise etc.. And that's because I don't pay attention to those aspects, but I rather focus on the message, the composition.


'Soul Mirror'


What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
Being connected to the subject in an emotional way, gives me the feeling finding compelling pictures, pictures that can tell a story.
There are some places that, no matter how famous or popular they are, just don't get under my skin; you know what I mean? They don't make me feel something. And no matter how hard I try, I'll never get a great shot of those places because they don't move me.
On the other side, I can spend days, weeks or months shooting on the exact same place location that gives me chills to finally capture the image I had in mind.


'Twilight Opera'


Do you carefully study the locations where you are intending to photograph?
Of course I do !  Studying a location is one of the most fundamental things I do every time I visit a new place.
I also notice that the first time I'm visiting a specific location, I'm hardly able to capture some good shots.  The reason is that even if I have used all available tools (maps, internet pictures, etc. ) to prepare myself, being there for real creates a whole new story because I realize that I really don't know the place.
When I just started with photography, I always felt like other photographers were taking  great photos because they saw more beautiful sceneries than the ones I had close to my home.  After many years, I can tell you that I was completely wrong; I just didn't manage the right sensibility, I didn't have the right eye and right knowledge of those locations.


'Last One Standing'


What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
Most of my gear is from Nikon, aside from a big telephoto lens from Tamron and the tripod from Gitzo and Rollei.
Honestly, I don't really care about the gear I have in my bag.  It wouldn't make any difference if I had Canon, Sony, or something else.  My photos would probably be the same. Gear to me, means tools  to express my own vision.


'Shaped by the Landscape'


What software do you use to process your images?
Since the very beginning I always used Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Photoshop, and I don't think I will ever switch for any other program !


Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
Well, actually there's not a lot to talk about. I always start by doing the basic adjustments on Camera Raw, then my Photoshop workflow is based on masks and layers to improve some selective areas. Isn't that all you need?  With the adjustment layers, you can work on contrasts, colours, sharpness and a billion other things.


'Patagonia Rey'


What is your most important advice to a beginner in landscape photography and how do you get started?
Oh boy, there are so many! I think one of the most important is to know what you want to achieve with your photos. Set a goal, have a clear vision in mind of what your own style should be, and work to reach that goal. Don't preclude yourself any type of pictures; at first you don't really know what you might prefer to shoot, landscapes or wildlife, architecture or abstracts, portraits or street photos.. Make sure to give them all a chance.  At the end, you will discover what genres you particularly like.  Consciously stick to them and start growing.


'Escaping Madness'

Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
A really important advice that I haven't mentioned in the previous question is to always look for inspiration in other talented photographers' work.   It is so amazing to see what others saw in a specific location that you visited too.  Their visions can be completely different from yours.  It really helps you to grow and learn new stuff ! Personally, I've learnt a lot by getting inspired by the work of Fortunato Gatto which is one of the nature photographers I admire the most.  Vincent Munier, Alister Benn, Alex Noriega and many others inspired me too. They all thought me that in order to become a landscape photographer you have to go beyond the classic postcards photos and develop your creativity in search of the unseen.


'Sun Halo'


Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
Honestly, I could name a thousand examples.  I'm continuously amazed by other photographer's work and it's basically impossible to narrow that field to just one picture. If I had to choose a single one between the most impressive photos I've seen here on 1x, it would be 'Evil twin' taken in Lapland by Andrea Pozzi (andreapozzifl). I really admire his work and Lapland is probably one of my favourite locations.  His whole series about this area is just marvellous !


'Evel twin' by Andrea Pozzi


Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
We're all going through strange times due to the virus.  So currently my greatest wish to the be able tor travel around the world again and visit some new remote and incredible locations !  Apart from my wanderlust, my goal is to keep evolving by creating my very own style which I may never reach but I'm fine with it.  As artists, we never should stop evolving and always try to push ourselves out of our comfort zone !


'Blizzard Light'


Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
I don't have a single favourite shot but rather a bunch of photos I'm more emotionally attached to; probably the picture from Tellaro, a small coastal town in Liguria (Italy) is one of my all-time favourites !  I know that it's a well-known location, but at the time it wasn't that popular and I was lucky to have the perfect conditions with a raging sea and stormy sunset.




Is there anything else you wish to add  and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I'm a 1x member for years now.  No need to say that the quality of the work we see in our community is really from high level.  Every time I get a new publication,  it is a tremendous satisfaction for me !  It also is a huge to find out which images are appreciated by an expert public and which not.  1X is a fantastic platform in many ways !


'Mad Art II'


Complimenti per le bellissime immagini.
I really enjoyed this article, being able to know more about Leonardo and his wonderful inspiring work. Thank you Yvette for opening windows that allow us to know more about the story behind the artist.
Thank you, dear Roxana ;-)
Thanks Roxana!!
Grazie Massimo!
Congratulations Leonardo for the "photographer of the week". A fair recognition of your skill.
Grazie Fiorenzo!!
Thanks for your fine collaboration and congratulations on the 'Photographer of the week' feature, Leonardo! Enjoy, my friend.
Thank you Yvette!