Our voyage in search of talented young Italian photographers has brought us to Perugia, where artist Elisa Imperi laid her hands on the Petzval lens. Her pictures are like a portal to a world where fairy tales become real, and humanity and nature blend together in peaceful primeval harmony.
Name: Elisa Imperi
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Hi Elisa, please tell us something about yourself.
Hi! At the moment I live in Umbria, next to Perugia. Everywhere I look around I see old farmer houses and deep woods, without any doubt these places are influencing my photography choices. I also love also reading and travelling, see new places and meeting new people and cultures.
How did you start as a photographer? How did it become your profession?
I took by chance an analog camera during a trip to Garda Lake. It was a disposable one and I developed the film after two years! After that a friend of mine gave me his Reflex and so I started studying. I didn’t know where to start but the library was just a few steps away from my University. The first picture I took was completely white… so I studied more. Self-taught. I spent whole afternoons between bookshelves. I started shooting also to come out from a very bad phase of my life. At the beginning my favorite subjects were landscapes and streets. I tried portrait photography when a friend of mine asked me to go with him for a shoot. Then I became the second photographer for a wedding photographer and I currently work with many photographic agencies. Now I do a bit of everything: wedding, still life, books.
Do you use digital or analog cameras?
Both. I actually prefer analog photography but sometimes due to its cost I go for digital.
Why do you prefer shooting analog?
It´s charming, almost magical. It might be for the few pictures allowed on a roll of film. It might be that you can touch them, and follow every single step. All the process around analog photography is like a beautiful spell.
What ingredients make a perfect picture?
Does one even exist? I can´t really tell, but for sure what I like the most, as a viewer, is the feeling of a picture stuck in my mind over the days. It is often for a detail or for a sensation that reaches the core of my mind and constantly brings me back to that image.
How was your experience with the Petzval Lens? Do you have any advice for people who have just started using it?
I was really glad and flattered to have the chance to try this lens. As soon as it arrived I attached it to my Canon and it was partially weird. The fact that I am using analog cameras doesn’t make it easy to gain confidence with the manual focusing system, but then it started a love story! I love its bokeh, this out-of-focus effect that gives to the image,and that brings you a bit back in time. My advice would be to relax and study, and quoting the words of the main dark room of my village I could say, “Try again, make mistakes, make new and better ones.”
Tell us about your shoots with the Petzval lens.
I used the Petzval Lens for several occasions. Three shooting with three different girls (for a personal photo-project) and one shooting for a dressmaker of my region, with antique clothes. In all these moments I could appreciate the painterly effect of the Lens, that became the object of my unconditioned love.
Which is your favorite picture from this series and why?
Tough question, I really loved the effect of this lens in every shoot. Maybe my best shots are the ones with Giulia with her eyes closed and the one with Valentina in the middle of and enchanted wood. In made its way into my heart. I don´t know why. This things you simply just don´t know!
Is there any photographer that you admire in particular?
I love the photos from Deborah Turbeville and recently I started reading a lot about Francesca Woodman. But I also must say that I met so many people through my job that I admire as artists and persons. I owe too much to photography.
How would you define your style in three words?
That´s even a tougher question. I can tell you that my pictures are sometimes born from my dreams, places that I raninto and where I felt an invisible human presence. Sometimes my pictures are coming from books or from songs. They are, for me, very introspective.
Do you have any other passion besides photography?
I like reading (a lot), traveling (as much as I can) and if possible I go hiking.
What are your future plans?
My future is uncertain, I cannot plan what it´s going to be like in three months. I take every day as it comes but what I know is that I will never leave behind my passion for photography that helped me so often. I recently moved to another city and thanks to my camera I am exploring all the locations nearby. Big up for photography now and in future!
The New Petzval Lens is a reinvention of the 19th century iconic portrait lens that made photographic history. It is available either in brass or black and compatible with Nikon and Canon analog and digital cameras. You can order your own Petzval Art Lens in the Lomography Online Shop.