Camilla Longhi, 21, is a 3rd-year CLEACC student at Bocconi. In true Milanese fashion Camilla spends most of her days flipping through the glossy pages of coffee-table books, eating pasta con sugo di pomodori freschi e basilico, biking around the city, and visiting contemporary art exhibitions. Her alter-ego, known as “disarmante”, is sassy, unapologetic and infatuated with the sea. And photography. Her relationship with the latter is a multilayered one, the ups and downs of which she candidly shares with us.
“I grew up surrounded by photography since my dad has a photography shop here in Milan, and over the years we spent a lot of time together talking about cameras, lights, and shots. He gave me the chance to play with hundreds of different tools, taught me how to choose the right type of paper to print my photos on, and let me experiment, even when I was doing things wrong, in order allow me to find my own path. Despite all that, I have never seen myself as a photographer and never considered my photos a form of art or something made to serve an aesthetic purpose; my photos always existed to capture memories.
A year ago, my dad picked out one of his cameras for me to try. As I already mentioned, this wasn’t the first time he surprised me by coming back from work with a little treat for me, but this time was different: the day after, I was headed on vacation to Mexico City and his gift would end up being the perfect travel buddy. Changing my approach to the whole photo-making process was something I’d been thinking about for a while, and when I was in Mexico I tried really hard to alter the way I used to create before that week; I gave it my all in hopes of creating a great roll and improving my practices. Those 36 shots actually ended up marking my time there.
Here are my pie-in-the-sky hopes: first of all, that the holiday memories I choose to remember are the right ones (I don’t like playing it safe by taking my phone with me), and secondly, that my shots turn out incredible, thanks to my accurate and thoughtful creative process. That is definitely not what happened during my trip to Mexico City, since I fucked up the whole collection (I sometimes I still cry over it under the shower while listening to Adele). After that failure it was really hard to return to my original enthusiasm and start another roll, but now that a year has passed, I can proudly say that I’m still trying, and sometimes succeeding.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that everyone has their own style – although living in the Instagram era makes it undeniably difficult not to lose our personal taste. For photography and art the most common trends lately have been two polar opposites; it’s either (wannabe) vintage vibes or elegant, pared-back and pretentious edited photos. It’s the middle-of-the-road stuff that feels barely explored.
My personal approach to photography is quite minimalistic, not in its visuals, but in the way I treat images. I really don’t like the idea of taking too many photos, choosing my favorite ones and staring at them for hours while editing them on photoshop. I just capture things the way I see them. Although this might sound easy, capturing something while respecting its essence is not; it requires knowledge of the subject and an ability to understand what is hidden. You can imagine that, since every camera has its own colors and every film has its own features, the more time I spend thinking of a photo before taking it, the worse my “writer’s block” gets. In the end, I aim for an image that balances the camera’s features, the subject, and the vision in my head. If I never reach that sweet spot, I delete the picture.
To wrap this up, let me give you some unsolicited advice: if you have something to say, do it in the way (through the medium) you are most comfortable with (and if that happens to be film photography, always be mindful of how your treat your film)!”
Find more of Cami’s photographs at https://camillalonghi.com/
PHOTOS & WORDS BY CAMILLA LONGHI
EDITED BY IRA TASSOULI