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  • Filip Hrebenda

Enrico Fossati

Aytek Cetin

A new month is here, and with it comes another interview. For June, we decided to bring you an interview with the inspiring Italian landscape photographer, Enrico Fossati. His work is well known to anyone who follows the landscape photography scene. Enrico has been engaged in this genre for years, back when it wasn't as widespread among photographers. His work is characterized by a dramatic atmosphere and a sensitive use of light. We asked Enrico several interesting questions. We believe his answers will be an inspiration for you and your photography.

Hi Enrico, for first I want to thank you for accepting our invitation for the interview. I think, there are only a few (if at all) who would not know your specific dramatic work. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how/when you got started in landscape photography?

Hi Filip, thank you for your time and for this fantastic initiative. Thanks for the compliment; I'm just one of the elders of the photo community, lol.

I have been passionate about landscapes for many, many years. Even as a child, I always adored landscape posters and illustrations because they allowed me to dream of incredible trips and adventures. Of course, like any amateur, I always took pictures when I was out on vacation or with friends. This continued until 2003 when I bought my first digital camera, a glorious Nikon Coolpix. I used that camera almost like a smartphone for many years, becoming accustomed to making some very basic edits to slightly improve the overall quality. This marked my first step into the vast world of photography.

The turning point came in 2008/2009 when I bought my first DSLR and started studying photography more intensively. Thanks to the Internet, I met other photographers and began exploring the mountains around my home. The pleasure of living in the wild, chasing the beauty of nature, and exploring was fantastic, and every photographic trip was so exciting. The learning curve was steep and stimulating.

Over the years, I developed my skills in using Photoshop, and studying luminosity masks radically changed my approach. Finally, I was able to handle my pictures and render my visions. As a nature photographer and someone passionate about art, illustrations, and fantasy, I was never interested in rendering reality, but rather my own vision. This was truly amazing because I could finally do what I had always wanted since the beginning, when I first spent so much time chasing the essence of nature with a clear vision. I intend to continue with my personal project regardless of business, social media, or trends that sometimes require something else; you can consider it a kind of personal mission.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

Nowadays, it is rare to see someone who has their own vision regardless of the influence of the internet and social media. Where do you draw inspiration for your landscape photography? Do you have any favorite contemporary artists?

I draw inspiration for my photography from various sources. What sets me apart is that my primary influences aren't just photographers; I find immense inspiration in painters, illustrators, movies, and music. I enjoy processing my works to reflect the specific mood that currently captivates me. Regarding your question, some of my favorite photographers include Marc Adamus, Ryan Dyar, Michal Karcz, and many others who, despite being less popular, produce original and inspired works that I admire. Additionally, I find inspiration from illustrators such as John Howe, Ted Nasmith, Alan Lee, as well as numerous painters from the past two centuries.

Your photographs have a specific exceptionally dramatic atmosphere and sensitive work with light. Where did you learn to handle light in such a way?

Like many others, I began my journey by studying basic tutorials I found in magazines and online. However, back in 2008, resources were scarce; YouTube wasn't as helpful as it is today, and there were hardly any professionals offering training or tutorials. I vividly recall my quest to learn image editing techniques akin to those of Marc Adamus, but finding such guidance in Italy seemed impossible, especially considering my limited English proficiency at the time. Consequently, I had to start from the basics. I experimented with every software, plugin, and filter available on the market until I discovered luminosity masks, which marked a turning point in my workflow, leading to a more organic and deliberate approach. However, this evolution was gradual.

Fast forward to 2012, I had the opportunity to connect with photographers from the USA through the 500px community. These individuals, including notable names like Noriega, Gore, Babnik, and Dyar, were at the forefront of the new wave of landscape photography. Interacting with them proved invaluable, as I learned a great deal from their techniques, which played a pivotal role in shaping my personal style.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

Once you're on location, what does the process of creating your photograph look like? How do you create your photos?

I enjoy spending ample time in the field. Typically, I prefer arriving well before the designated shooting time, allowing me to assess the elements for composition and, ideally, discover an original point of view. Occasionally, I've abandoned certain locations because I couldn't realize my vision due to a lack of suitable composition or simply because I wasn't satisfied—I suppose I'm a bit peculiar in that regard. Sometimes, I even prefer shooting in the rain. Nonetheless, the crucial factor is the conditions. Light plays a pivotal role in landscape photography; even though one can manipulate artificial lighting, a solid foundation is essential. I employ various advanced techniques, including time blending, exposure blending, perspective blending, and occasionally incorporating partially composited elements. Once I have the raw material, I'm ready to return to my office to begin creating. A key factor for my job is to consider post-processing while I am shooting and in the field.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

Behind a quality photo, there is of course quality post-processing as well. If you were to divide the process of creating your final photo, what percentage would go to fieldwork and what percentage to post-processing? (Based on importance or what you dedicate more time to.)

Post-processing is an essential aspect of my work, and I believe it's one of the most crucial elements to refine in order to become a successful photographer. It's not only about the technical aspects of photography but also about making your photographs more unique and distinguishable. In a world where billions of images are consumed every day, the idea of manual work on a single photograph may seem outdated, especially with the advent of AI technology. However, in my opinion, it remains crucial. There are photographs where I may only spend a little time on color grading and fine-tuning certain details, while others require intense and heavy post-processing sessions. I would say that over 70% of my work takes place at the computer, considering my workflow.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

Thank you for your honesty! What challenges do you often encounter when shooting landscapes, and how do you overcome them?

The work of a landscape photographer presents numerous challenges. For me, one of the most daunting tasks is finding a satisfying composition and lighting that I can use to create valuable additions to my portfolio. Technical issues are rarely a problem, as modern cameras can perform admirably. It's mainly about finding the right spot to focus and ensuring suitable conditions. Flat light poses a significant challenge and is often one of the worst enemies for capturing compelling landscapes.

But I can see that you are succeeding in that. Your compositions and the light in your photos are very interesting. What do you consider the greatest success of your photographic career?

It has yet to come! LOL Well, I don’t know, it's hard to say. I wouldn’t say I like to talk much about my success or my career to brag; photography means much more to me. I believe my greatest success is being recognized for my style and my ability to communicate something through my work. I love to think that my photographs tell a story, so if that's the case, then that is my success.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

Do you think it's still possible to make a living as a landscape photographer in today's world?

I believe there are indeed many photographers attempting to make landscape photography a full-time job. However, in the EU, this endeavor is challenging due to various reasons. It often entails being involved in activities more closely related to education, such as workshops, courses, and classes, rather than focusing solely on the craft of landscape photography. While it presents opportunities, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Personally, I've decided to keep photography as a secondary job. I prefer not to compromise my artistic vision, as I produce a niche product with a specific style that may not be inherently commercial. I want to avoid being driven solely by financial need, as it could potentially compromise the integrity of my work.

You mentioned portals like 500px a moment ago. How do you think a photographer should present their work nowadays? And how do you do it? Do you use social media and a website, or do you also organize some exhibitions?

Undoubtedly, the web and social media serve as good starting points, although it's becoming increasingly challenging to find the right platform to showcase your work. Instagram, for instance, was designed to rapidly cycle through photographs, with users spending only a few seconds on each image. The ever-demanding algorithms, the pressure to post new content daily, including videos, can present significant challenges. After the rise of renowned photographers like Max Rive or Daniel Kordan, few others have reached similar levels of success. It seems that changes in algorithms have slowed down the growth of accounts considerably. Personally, I rarely invest in ads, which has led my account to stagnate over the years. I never been a real social media lover I just posted my works and shared some thoughts.

One effective strategy is to engage with your audience through newsletters, allowing for direct connection. Exhibitions also offer a fantastic opportunity to showcase your work and engage with enthusiasts and collectors, although they require financial investment and a suitable venue.

However, vanity galleries, which offer wall space in exchange for money, often fail to promote artists effectively, leaving their works forgotten in the gallery's backrooms.

Currently, I'm pursuing a mix of strategies, although I've recently scaled back my efforts on social media. While I enjoy sharing my work, the prevalent trend of mindlessly liking posts without engaging or commenting is disheartening and emblematic of our modern world.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

What advice would you give to beginning landscape photographers who want to take their work to the next level?

My advice is always to follow your passion and feelings, regardless of trends.

I believe that a body of work should not merely resemble a catalogue of trendy locations captured using popular techniques. Instead, it should be something consistent that evolves over the years while maintaining a connection over time. A helpful question to ask oneself is: why did I take this picture? Why did I edit it using these techniques? What is the meaning behind this work? If the answers are not satisfying, then it might be time to start over.

I think it's crucial to approach your work with the perspective of it being a long-term endeavor. When I look back at my old works, they may not be as aesthetically appealing as when I first released them, but they still embody the same concepts, ideas, and research. Therefore, the key is to shoot less and think more.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

What can we expect from you in the coming years? Do you have any plans to undertake a new photographic project?

At times, it can be challenging. There are moments in life when you feel tired, busy, or just uninspired. So, I won't promise anything extraordinary, but I'll continue to shoot and create landscapes regardless of the quantity. While I have many ideas in mind, their realization depends on various factors. I'm superstitious, and I prefer not to share specific projects. However, I do intend to revisit the UK, particularly Scotland, and perhaps return to Canada, though nothing is certain. My constant drive to capture and create new landscapes remains strong, so keep an eye on my pages if you'd like to embark on a journey into my world.

Enrico Fossati

© Enrico Fossati

We will definitely continue to follow your work. Is there anything else you want to say to our readers?

I'd like to share a quote that I've featured on the homepage of my website since 2014 : 'A Single Dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.' This quote is often attributed to Tolkien because it appeared on the movie poster for the 1978 animated film adaptation of 'The Lord of the Rings' by Bakshi, and later reused by Weta Workshop in a video. However, its origin can be traced back to 'Fanshawe,' a novel by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Beyond its philosophical implications, which you can explore further through Google, the meaning I want to convey with this remarkable quote is simple: never give up. So, remember, never give up and keep dreaming.

Thank you for your inspiring words, Enrico! We wish you continued success on your next adventures.

We believe that this interview has captured your interest. You can find more from Enrico at the following links:

Enjoy the selection of Enrico's work:

(All pictures are original work of © Enrico Fossati. For purchasing prints or other services, contact him through his website:

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