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Francesco Romoli Interview - Francesco Romoli combines photography with graphic design to create intriguing and surreal images.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Francesco Romoli. I’m 36 years old and I was born in Pisa, Italy. As a child I wanted to be a musician. I play the acoustic guitar and studied music theory. During adolescence I played and sang in a punk band, but then my life took a different path. Now I just play to relax.
I fell in love with computers in 1998 and then I started to work on net-art. I have a degree in computer science and I studied computer science and mathematics at the University of Pisa.
With photography and visual art, as with the music, I can express what I cannot say. My other passions include skydiving and travel.
How did you get into photography?
I got into photography a few years ago. Recently I studied photography at the center of contemporary photography, Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence. But the post-production techniques are self-taught.
For some time I dedicated myself to the landscape, but then I realised that it was not for me. I wanted to create something that did not really exist.
Tell us a bit about the sort of work you do, how did you get the idea to merge photography and other mediums together?
My style is a mix between photography and digital graphics. I make much use of Photoshop. Of course, my studies have helped me to fully understand this too and it was not very difficult for me to learn how to use Photoshop. I like to experiment with different techniques. The result is very interesting.
What is the inspiration behind your 'Imaginary towns' project?
'Imaginary towns' stems from the desire to create desolate and surreal landscapes.
I like to imagine things that do not exist. I'm a big fan of science fiction and fantasy. The many books I have read certainly have influenced my style.
I am passionate about contemporary art, plus I read lots of books and magazines. I love artists like Sharrie Lavine, Barbara Kruger and Richard Prince. An artist that I really like is Maggie Taylor.
To make the images in the Imaginary towns series, I used an external flash and a Canon 430EX ii.
The buildings were simple cardboard boxes. After you get the shot of the cardboard box with optimal light, the next step is to go to Photoshop and cut out the background.
Playing with masks and using appropriate blending, I superimpose various city images to the cardboard box.
The last step is to create a surreal look - I usually use the Nik Efex Pro filters.
Do you have any advice for photographers wanting to branch out into merging mediums?
I do a lot of photo-manipulation. The most important thing is that the subject and the background lights are consistent and do not have big differences in terms of brightness. This is the most important thing to achieve, good realism in your shots.
It's very important to cut out subjects. Usually I prefer to use the pen tool, although it does take quite a bit of time. To achieve many of my works I use some textures and I play a lot with blending modes and opacity levels to get what I want.
Another very important technique to create a sense of realism is the creation of shadows. Usually I create a new layer, and draw the shadow with a black brush set to a low opacity.
What do you have planned for the future?
At the moment I'm working on a new set of images. The series is called 'Freaks' and the main subjects are members of my family. I gathered all the photos of my family, especially those taken before the war, and I digitized them with a scanner. What I get are surreal images with a vintage look.
For more information on Francesco and his work, visit his website.