Giulio Napolitano, born in 1972, is an independent photographer based in Rome, Italy.
He had been working with several photo agencies, among which Agence France-Presse, since 2003, and La Presse. His images have been published in Le Monde, L’Express, The International Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Der Spiegel, Internazionale, Corriere della Sera and other magazines and newspapers worldwide.
Finalist at the International Fine Art Photography Award 2013 in the category street photography and documentary and at the Lugano Photo days 2014 competition.
He is currently working as an independent photographer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
When did you discover mobile photography?
I only recently discovered mobile photography despite having a smartphone in my pocket for the past five years. In 2013 I began to consider the idea that shooting with a phone do not decrease the quality of photography but rather push beyond the boundaries of creativity. In the last few years the technical features of smartphones have made great strides, creating photo files that are very similar in terms of performance to what is produced by a much more bulky and expensive SLR. Before I started using the first app (Instagram), I brought with me a Holga camera, which allows to record the world around you with a wide margin of expressiveness (https://www.behance.net/giulionapolitano).
While continuing to use my beloved Holga I must admit that with a smartphone you can get very close to what we achieve with film and with much less effort, plus the perks of sharing your results with the rest of the world in seconds, with friends, relatives, but also customers everywhere in the world.
What shooting with a smartphone adds to a project or, in general, to an image?
Shooting with a smartphone adds great features: on one hand you can be less intrusive and allows you to get closer and obtain more spontaneous photos, especially when you shoot people . With a phone you can go unnoticed. If you work on a photographic story, editing is a faster and an easier process. You can use ambient light with very good results if you want to create shots of still life. It is no more necessary to own studio lighting, a bank and all the equipment that once were absolutely necessary.
What do you really pey attention to when shooting?
When I shoot with the smartphone I always control highlights to avoid pictures with white skies or subjects too dark, hidden in the shadows. You can do it using apps like Camera+ that gives you complete control of the photo exposure, setting aperture and shutter speed like a traditional camera.
When you take photos, not for an assignment but as a “professional passionate”, do you look for a specific element? And where do you get your inspiration from?
When shooting for my own pleasure, but also if I’m on a job, I often look for that unique moment, the unexpected, the harmony of forms within the viewfinder. When working on a feature or an assignment, I don’t loose sight of these specific elements that make an image stand out in your memory.
Do you post-produce your images? And if yes which apps do you use/suggest?
I keep post production simple and use Camera+ dedicated section; I prefer not to burden an image with excessive filters and to supply works as neutral as possible in terms of tones. Even if I’m shooting for pleasure, I do not like the heavy post production that I often see adopted by many photographers.
When you think about mobile photography and its potential, what do you think first?
Mobile photography is about the immediacy of photographic production and its use, for business or pleasure. I am always impressed, for better or for worse, of the “democratization” implemented by the development of these devices.
As a photographer, do you think that “soon” many features will be shot with a smartphone?
I do not know if smartphones will have the upper hand and when. Probably the technical features required by some publications still prevent the shift of production from SLR or medium format to smartphones.
In media, mobile photos have been used for quite a long time; many professional photographers choose this device to report their stories. One among many is Michael Christopher Brown, Magnum photographer, who has followed the events of the Arab Spring with his phone. In terms of quality, the images taken with smartphones are great for the pages of magazines and dailies. Photojournalistic international agencies, like Reuters, AP, AFP have asked their photographers to provide contents taken with smartphones during special events, for example London Olympic Games or the World Cup in Brazil
A different story, I think, not being my specific field, is advertising. The advertising photographer, through his expensive equipment, has in some cases an element of distinction between a pro and an amateur, attracting customers who feel safe and secure for the final result when it is pursued with heavy and venerable cameras (Hasselblad ora pro nobis ). But there’s no doubt that advertising pioneers already use smartphone taken photographs, getting results that meet the tastes of clients and final users who are accustomed to photos taken “with the phone”.
Where do you think mobile photography will be in 5 years?
Where will I be in 5 years? I hope I have sold all my digital equipment that I never loved and I will shoot with agile and discrete smartphones! Beside jokes, I believe that in 5 years a huge chunk of photography production, including commercial and media market, will be done with smartphones. For my own joy, I will continue to develop films with old analog cameras and to use heavy and soulless DSLRs for the more boring jobs.