We always learn and view a new city by its grandeur and its set of historic landmarks and rarely do we go beyond that. However and fortunately, there are a few with a hand on their camera who find the many underlying details of these places to which we are passing visitors, creating a set of visuals that showcase the reality we often miss. For photographer Lara Kantardjian, capturing the poetic reality of the city of Rome is an ongoing passion which she aims at doing to other cities. In the meantime, she trudges through every corner of Italy’s capital to photograph the pulse of its urban settings and in the process provides us a different look that is totally unique from the many structures that we normally associate with the city. Her striking black and white images, comprised of interesting set of subjects, cinematic lighting and a wonderfully crafted framing technique, showers the viewers with an endless ebb and flow of narrative that adds to the stimulating effect her series “Urban Pulse: Rome.” Wanting to know more about her creative process, Resource Magazine reaches out to Lara for a short interview.
How did the idea behind “urban Pulse: Rome” came about?
It came about from circumstance so it was unplanned initially. Having traveled to Rome for the first time this year I was immediately drawn to the city and the surrounding urban neighborhoods. Up until that time Paris was always the city I connected with, returned to regularly and where I felt most inspired creatively. This year it was Rome.
Describe your style of photography?
I am inspired by many things, cinematography being one but what has always remained fundamental to me in my creative work, be it painting or photography is light, art and self expression. Transcendental light and its psychological/visual impact as well as the quality of light on negative film. Art, as in the way Andrei Tarkovsky describes poetry. Not as a genre but ‘poetry as an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality.’ Self expression in the style and how the work is made. I have often quoted Orson Welles who said, “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” As a fine art photographer I strive for something like that and would say my style has elements of existentialism, poetic sublime light with cinematic mood.
How did you portray the streets of Rome in a very different light?
The street for me, with or without a figure is much like capturing the soul of a person and the inner private space and thoughts. I see art and beauty in everything. A figure entering the metro in a certain light is art to me. A female figure rushing into the night with the mood and atmosphere that emanates in the city after dark – the night pulse, is art to me. A woman standing, waiting, surrounded by walls of graffiti, like a still from an unmade film is art. A man using a public phone, in the middle of what looks like an urban jungle is art. Dancers in the midst of feeling the passion and sensuality that is the pulse and essence of the Argentine neotango is art. All these scenes or stories are honest and ordinary made perhaps extraordinary and sublime in the way of seeing, focusing, feeling.
Tell us the process on how you shoot each image from the series?
The description I have used to describe the process of shooting in an urban setting is by wandering the streets like a spectator from Rilke’s Duino Elegies, always seeing, feeling, and connecting to everything – In search of a certain mood, a certain light, from the ordinary to the sublime state. During my first trip I just walked around different districts taking everything in – feeling the pulse of the city you could say. It was only in the subsequent trips which followed that I felt more connected and knew the locations I wanted to wander around aimlessly and could then just concentrate in what I call a heightened sense of awareness and seeing.
Lastly, tell us about your upcoming photography plans?
Other then travelling to Rome to continue with what has become an on-going project. I am currently working on limited edition book publications and will be working on the 2nd Magazine issue and book ‘novem’ for The Analogue Street Collective – a project featuring and publishing the work of the collective as well as invited photographers.
To see more of Lara Kantardjian‘s other works, check out her website. To be considered for Resource Magazine featured Photographer, follow us on Instagram @resourcemag and e-mail submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “POTD Submission.”