Through this unique interview with Lorenzo Poli, we invite you to discover together an artist who leads us into a mysterious universe, with a deep vision of natural landscapes. In his photos of the natural space, shadows and lights are mixed with a softness and subtlety that move us and arouse our curiosity.
His photographic creations, his commitment to ecology and the unique and philosophical vision of photography that Lorenzo Poli proposes deserve a wide audience and have earned him the prestigious Sony World Photo Awards 2022.
As the creators of Peakto, a photo organizing software for Mac, and as lovers of photography, we are delighted to share with you this moment of discovery and commitment to the preservation of our planet and its biodiversity.
Hi Lorenzo, Can you tell us more about yourself? Tell us about your photographic world?
I have been working primarily as an Architect in London for the last 15 years, for internationally renowned architectural practices on projects by Jean Nouvel and Norman Foster and for clients of the likes of Apple. Since the ‘90s I have been cultivating my deep passion for Nature and Photography in the background.
2021 has been a crucial year for my photography journey, after my work won several international awards including the International Photography Award, the Budapest International Photo Award, awarded by The Life Framer Magazine, shortlisted at the Sony World Photo Award 2021.
Since June 2021 I embraced photography full time, leaving a nomadic lifestyle to pursue my photographic projects and willing to make a difference on our Planet matters.
” Photography is curiosity, the desire for knowledge and the desire of sharing. “
Photography is a means of capturing scenes and instants that fascinate us. Every time I photograph, I have the opportunity (and I give the opportunity to others) to look at it for a bit longer, to slow down, and to freeze the natural living world.
This means that I can also discover what subconscious decision pushed me to take a shot in the first instance, to travel to that specific location where instinct was guiding me. I have practiced yoga for years, and just like with yoga, photography for me has a
sort of spiritual value.
” The yoga helps me connect with myself, photography helps me blend with Nature. “
When I am alone in the wilderness, Nature is me and I am Nature. By photographing it, I get closer to my inner self, and I feel interconnected with greater harmony with The Natural World.
Can you tell us where your passion for photography comes from? What made you decide to go deeper into the practice of photography and what drives you to continue?
We are in an era (some identify it as ‘Anthropocene’) when human activities for the first time in the Earth history started to have such immense and irreversible impact planet’s climate and ecosystems: just to mention carbon and methane emissions, mining and land exploitation, waste, extinction of natural species, depletion of natural resources at a global scale.
Narrating the mystical value of the Wilderness is my primary objective. We are indeed to consider returning land to Wilderness, to allow natural species and Life on Earth to keep thriving.
Photography is an extremely powerful and concise media for investigation and communication: as soon as I realised its value, it became my Mission. I don’t have any alternative that just pursue communication of what I believe essential values for Life on Earth, not only Humanity.
” Wildernesses has a primary positive value, incredible richness and biodiversity, it is not the negative space left over by human development. “
Why did you decide to take up landscape photography?
Landscape is a restrictive term in my view, I prefer referring to “Naturescapes” photography.
I am inspired by those natural phenomena where primary elements (Archetypes) recombine themselves, originating Naturescapes through dynamic processes.
The concept of Archetypes is key to interpret my work. Ancient philosophies identified four main archetypical elements: Air, Earth, Water and Fire were proposed by the Greeks while searching for an arche (“first principle”). These principles were the essence of the real world. The whole of reality was explained through the ability of these primordial elements to recombine with each other.
A fifth element, Aether, called also quintessence, was added later by Aristotle, providing a medium through which light could travel in a vacuum.
The need for such additional fifth element inspires me the most, as to illustrate that Natural
Phenomena seems to transcend the reduction to simply 4 archetypes.
These 4 primary elements while recombining they originate different natural and spatial dimensions. I aim to investigate this ethereal essence of the Natural Environment, being fascinated by how haze, fog, mist, clouds, rain, water, snow, ice, frost, wind, light, fire, smoke, dust, create depth and articulate Naturespaces.
They articulate natural spatialities while influencing our emotional perception of the natural environment. They also obviously constitute the environment for Life to thrive. I am specifically fascinated by those natural processes which are somehow unaltered by the human presence, as if they pertain to a “superhuman scale”.
On my website lorenzopoli.photography.com archetypes you can find more on this topic.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Mother Nature is the primary source, undoubtedly. I am deeply fascinated by spirituality, religions, Yoga, Taoism and Buddhism and animistic tribes. Both science and religions may all fall short however to explain the incredible miracle of Life which, through millennial evolution, has transformed barren land into an alive Planet.
Mother Earth has been regarded by humans through the centuries as a fertility goddess; water is the most incredible terrestrial element, with all living beings been made of water and depending on it to thrive. How the Natural Elements recombine themselves and the ability of Life to colonise the natural world are the greatest source of inspiration. Which results in an understanding that everything in the Natural World is highly interconnected to each other.
“…Each one of us, not only human beings but every leaf, every weed, exists in the way it does, only because everything else around it does…If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with
everything…” — Alan Watts
Have subjects related to fine art and sustainable development been driving or inspiring subjects in your photographic production?
My primary goal is to create awareness on environmental problems, I am working currently on a series called “Glacial Wisdom” and planning more work attaining to “Life on Earth”, “Volcanoes, The Origin” and “Plasticscapes” all aiming to highlight the intrisic mystic Nature of Planet Hearth.
With regard to fine art Fine Art, held up as the highest standard of artistic expression, what seduces me is its communication power by the simple means of aesthetic forms and colour, to attain cultural and social development. I believe that ‘beauty’ has un unbelievable power to touch the deepest chords of human sensibility.
As such, it can convey a message in a much deeper way to the audience and with unparalleled immediateness. If fine arts traits are married with photography, traditionally intended for more documentary and practical purposes, a higher communication will be achieved.
There is a sort of simplification process to make my work more direct and as communicative as possible, which I share with minimalist arts. Photography is also the medium of light, and I am equally intrigued by light and by the lack of light, darkness. There is no light without darkness.
” Darkness exists in the human eye as our receptors are not able to interpret light stimulus when below few lux levels. “
Contemporary cameras, long exposures and high sensitivity sensors can “see” even beyond what the human eyes are able to perceive. Recently, I have been reading a few books about the physiology of vision and it is incredible how the brain decodes the visual stimuli to create images in your mind of the outside world. Also, I have developed a real fascination for the very feeble last and first light of the day. It gives such a delicate softness to shapes and forms.
Are there any photographers who inspire you ?
Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky, Saul Leiter, Nick Locatelli, Vincent Munier, Sebastiao Salgado, Walker Evans, Belikova Belikova , Bill Hardman, John Snell.
Your art has something special, a kind of abstract photography. What do you want to convey through the photos you share?
This is what I am seeking to photograph. Does this require a leap of imagination and faith via abstraction ?
” There is an untamed world between sacred and magic, where the essence of life is safeguarded by silence, where the outer and the inner world coincide. “
In your life as a photographer, do you have a story to tell or an anecdote you would like to share with us ?
I have been recently living off my campervan for almost 8 weeks between October and December 2020 in the Highlands of Scotland, while working remotely in the last phase of my architectural employment. Showering outdoors is the only way.
Once, while showering naked and barefoot in the remote wilderness, a deer appeared and stared at me for a while. The feeling of being ‘naked’ in front of Nature, literally with no belongings but my embodied soul, gave me such a deep feeling of interconnectedness with the Natural World.
If you had to choose your most significant captured instant, which one would it be and why ?
From the series “enlightenment”, series available on my website in full.
An enlightened is the consequence the act of enlightening or the state of being enlightened. In Buddhism, enlightenment is a final spiritual state in which everything is understood and there is no more suffering or desire…
Everchanging weather conditions in The Highlands create the opportunity for the sunlight to break suddenly through the clouds. These enlightenments are swift and unannounced events and last only a few seconds. This Enlightment was such a great turning point in my life, all decisions which are influencing my life triggered from that instant.
“ If anything is worth doing, do it with all your heart. Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment ”. — Gautama Buddha.
What advice would you give to a young photographer?
Enjoy Nature, spread your passion and make your highly inspiring passion contagious. Be aware of easy trends, social media photography and commercially viable photography. Focus on what really inspires you, that’s the only way you can inspire others.
My greatest desire is for my photos to be able to ignite the same curiosity in others, to help them really see the primordial and essential elements of Nature and of Life, to trigger a desire to explore more the inner self, in order to rediscover and feel interconnected with Mother Nature.
” By being curious we are able to discover new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. “The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity” — Albert Einstein
Finally, what are your future projects or goals in 2022 ?
I am currently working on a series on Norwegian Glaciers, which I started to photograph last September, called “ Glacial Wisdom”. I am aiming to have a second phase this summer. I am planning to spend the winter north of Norway, part of the summer in Iceland and finally to travel to Antartica at the end of the year, as this year trip was cancelled due to C-19. I am currently scouting locations for the series “Plasticscpaes” too.
I plan to build my own overland vehicle to explore remote locations in the Euro-Asiatic Continent, Africa and North America and to document further the wilderness of remote and unknown locations. Plenty to come.