Award winning photographer Sebastien DEL GROSSO has a background in drawing and painting, which shines through in his photographic work. His trademark blend of sketches and photos is instantly recognizable. Thanks to Christian Roustan for conducting the interview. You will find more photos in the end.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
Since my childhood, I have always been interested in art, first by drawing and painting. This interest reflects my professional life, since I work in the graphic design world as a freelance. I have always been drawn by artistic creation, and I was naturally interested in photography during travels with my first Canon EOS in 2011.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
When I was young, my grandmother taught me how to draw. By watching her draw and paint, I wanted to do the same. And this is definitely what influenced me the most to continue in that direction. Thereafter, due to my graphic design work, I had to learn to be rigorous about the details, colors and emotions that gives us an image. I apply that experience automatically during post processing of my photographies. When I take a picture, the graphic side occurs often in the composition, because I try to frame the subjects logically.
What first attracted you to photography?
I first started with macro photography. Alone in nature, in front of this little world, I felt really peaceful. I quickly developed an interest in landscape photography during travels and tried long exposure when I discovered Lee filters. I now try to concentrate on architecture with my "skyward" series, and on more conceptual and creative images like my series "Sketch of a life" or "contes oubliés".
Describe your overall photographic vision.
I like images when you can understand or imagine a little story. We can see lots of beautiful images on the web, with nice colors, but we don’t stay more than a few seconds to look at them. When I make a creative or conceptual images, I try to attract the attention of the viewer and hold it. If the viewer takes time, he will understand the story I try to explain. Lately, I like to put some dark mood and mystery in my landscape pictures.
Why are you so attracted to creative photography and more particularly by mixing the photo and drawing?
Since my childhood, drawing has always been a passion, but when I discovered photography, I thought that the combination of these two passions would allow me to give free rein to my imagination, out of the ordinary and very personal. What was originally to be one self portrait ("self-sketch", the first of my series) became, after some reflection, a series illustrating my life. My sketches brought to life important events and people that have influenced me or were close to me. For example, in "sketch your mentor" which depicts my grandmother teaching me how to draw. Another example of important events in my life was "sketch the life" with the birth of my daughter "Cataleya". Or for something more humorous in "Catch & Sketch" which was about my friend Cal Redback and "Sketch and Fight" which was about a battle between two artists, each with their own technique.
What is more important to you, the story behind an image or the technical perfection?
Probably both. For some months, I have tried to have a better, stronger story behind my images. Sure, I try to have a perfect rendering, paying attention to every detail. But you know, when you see your image 2 or 3 weeks later, you will always find some fault that you never noticed before. In the end, it is not perfect and I think it's more important that it catches your attention.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
This depends on the kind of image I'm going for. For example, in a landscape, it is mainly observation. I'll look for a different point of view on a scenery which allows me to give it depth. For architecture, it is rather minimalist and I'll look for the clean side. But with regards to the creative and conceptual images, I'll try to put myself in the place of the subject. If the situation is distressing, or oppressive, I'll play with strong contrasts.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in creative photography and how do you get started?
The most important is to be creative, without trying to copy something already done. Inspiration from other people's work is a good thing, but you have to find your own style. Therefore, don't try to imitate the style from someone you admire. Don't expect to immediately have a perfect rendering. You need to be patient, take time to research and learn from other people. The idea behind a photograph is the most important. If your rendering is not perfect, you can always come back to your image later, using new techniques you have learned. And last but not least, follow your heart and not the crowd.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
It's difficult to cite only one, there are so many. The first that comes to mind, is Joel Tjintjelaar who inspired me the most to pursue architectural photography. His black and white renderings are very clean and the minimalism that emerges from each of his images is very impressive. Marc Adamus is a master of light and color, his landscapes are totally amazing. I would like to explore his vision in my future landscape work. Magdalena Wasiczek and Fabien Bravin are my favorite macro photographers and Marsel van Oosten is a sublime nature photographer. Michal Karcz and Erik Johansson are magicians, their compositions are very impressive and hyper-realistic.
Is there is any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a big deal and why?
I cannot name only one. Every day I see pictures that inspire me. Sometimes I discover a new and very talented photographer on flickr, or an outstanding image on 500px and that allows me to discover a superb gallery. There are many talents, everywhere, in all areas.
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 ?
The problem is that I would like to discover and experience every style photography offers. Unfortunately, I don't have the time. I have a ton of ideas drawn on paper and I hope, with time, I can realize all of them. First, I would like to develop my architecture series (maybe in other cities such as London, Berlin or Frankfurt…). I would like to develop my sketch/photography series too. I have many more creative and innovative ideas in my head and they will be challenging to realize. But I hope I will be successful in achieving them all. At some point, I would like to turn my series into a book with detailed text on each image. Perhaps a real exhibition is a possibility. I'm always on the lookout for interesting contacts and propositions.
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you ?
I think one of my favorite pictures is "Sketch THE life" since it is one of the center pieces of my series "The sketch life of A life." It highlights my daughter "Cataleya" when she was a little over 1 year old. I wanted to make this picture for several months but photographing a baby is not easy, especially when you have to hold it in your arms, have a pencil in the other hand, and in addition, trigger from a distance!
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1X is a website that has helped me and still allows me to discover many talents. I received a lot of feedback, good and bad and that challenged me to grow as a photographer. I also think, the published images on this site are of high quality unlike many other photo sharing sites. Although, in my opinion, the publications were more selective a few months ago, the quality of work submitted remains excellent. Finally, I thank the website 1X for this interview, which was a real honor.