Philosophy & Reflections Photos & Projects

A Cinematic Photographer Discovering New Horizons by – Nicola Armento

October 17, 2021

I can’t remember how it all started, I never even thought about taking pictures, but then one day, on that plane to New York in 2017, something changed.

I was going on a trip with my first camera, a Canon 1200d (not even mine, borrowed from my sister) just to take some photo-memories in better quality than what my old phone could produce.

After all, all tourists do it, you always see them with a camera around their neck while visiting cities, so I decided that I couldn’t go on a trip and not take the camera. And so I did.

My first picture ever the day after I arrived in New York, among many tourists I am convinced that he was not. (Canon 1200d)

The view from Brooklyn to the skyline is breathtaking! (Canon 1200d)

As soon as I got off the plane I stepped into the Big Apple, and I was immediately hit by the magic of that city: lights, colours, different ethnic groups mixing together. Everything there seemed like it wanted to tell a story! The city gave me a powerful energy that even thinking about it to this day, it seems like I still can feel it.

So, I started filling my eyes with all those stories; stories of people I didn’t even know but who through my camera seemed to tell me their emotions. I noticed every detail, and so, without even thinking about it, I started to capture every moment I could.

Since that moment, my life and my photography have become one.

Walking late at night in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan I found myself near this couple who were chatting. The look of her towards him caught me. (Sony a7III)

A stranger crossing a railway underpass on the outskirts of Milan in full pandemic, his posture immediately struck me. (Sony a7III)

In an almost sultry spring, a crazy light-flooded Brera a district of Milan, in the middle of this beam two perfect strangers. (Sony a7III)

Years have passed since then, now I mostly shoot with digital cameras, like my beloved Sony a7III. But, to be honest, I’m getting closer to analog photography too. This is thanks to a gift from my father: a Yashica fx3 super2000. I cannot hide the fact that I find this type of shooting really fascinating. I also really love to have a cinematic mood that helps tell the story in my shots, and I am finding that film is a way I can achieve this look. I have also since bought another analog camera: the Olympus XA2.

I have already thrown away a lot of rolls due to my inexperience. I have suffered completely blurred, overexposed and underexposed photos. I still remember my first time with a camera and a roll of film, not knowing how to rewind the film, I opened the camera and I burned all the photos; a disaster!

Despite these issues, this way of shooting satisfies me more and more every day. Not knowing how my results will come out, means that I am 100% focused on the composition. The anxiety that takes me when the laboratory has my photos ready is something priceless too!

One of the many watches in the Milan Metro that remind commuters that they are constantly late. (Olympus xa2 – Cinestill800T)

Winter in the cold and icy subway of Milan, I’m waiting for the next train. (Olympus xa2 – Cinestill800T)

In a Lunapark in front of the sea. (Yashica fx3 super2000 – Cinestill 800t) 

Feeling free to make some mistakes while shooting has helped me a lot through these years. This has all become the basis of the advice I give to people who now ask me about photography. I always say to people to just look around them and take photos of what catches their eye, what feels like it tells a story and what inspires them. From there, it has all felt like downhill running for me!

Thanks for reading,

Instagram: http://instagram.com/nicolaarmento_
Twitter: http://twitter.com/nicolaarmento

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Nik Stanbridge
    October 17, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    I love your ethos… ok, have had some issues and some failures… but keep shooting what takes your eye. Keep going man!

  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    October 19, 2021 at 4:08 am

    Hi Nicola,
    I enjoyed your posting and the pics you illustrated your article with.
    New York City has that effect on people! You can’t step onto the sidewalk without immediately feeling the movement and energy. The exciting part is trying to capture and show people what you’re reacting to.. I live 2 hours away by train from NYC. I’m still not totally ready to jump back in…maybe after my COVID booster jab…but I sorely miss shooting in the city.
    The pics you posted do capture your cinematic way of looking, so even though you’re making time-honored mistakes, your style shows through.
    I’ve never had the pleasure of standing on the Milan train platform in the winter, but I bet it’s not much different from the platforms in NYC or Boston during a snowstorm. Cold, dank, and someplace you don’t want to linger, unless you’re taking a pic. Both the train platform shot and the food truck at night are my favorites. I only work in b&w, (a college professor once told me that I shot color like b&w, so I should just stick to b&w.) so I admire anyone who makes color work for them.
    Regards,
    Dan

  • Reply
    Peter S
    October 20, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for your story and some cool images, Nicola! Specially like the skyline and the watch but also the others. Keep it up!
    Best,
    Peter

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