Behind The Lens 

Luigi Baldelli

It’s strange that before picking up a camera over 30 years ago, Luigi Baldelli’s childhood ambition was to be a doctor. Well, perhaps not so strange when you consider that he’s spent a lot of his time photographing conflicts in war-torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. And by bringing the plight of the people he’s encountered in these countries to a wider audience is perhaps medicinal in an inverse way.

He began his career in 1987 as a staff photographer with the Italian agency Contrasto before moving on to work with another agency, Grazia Neri and ultimately turning freelance in 2001. 

Luigi Baldelli
© Luigi Baldelli | Sony NEX-7 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 | 1/15s @ f/3.5, ISO 800

"I like to think that my images always tell a story and that the emotion I feel when I’m taking them comes through to the reader."

It was during his agency days, while covering the Bosnian war, that he met the renowned Italian journalist Ettore Mo who was covering the conflict for the newspaper Corriere della Sera. The two men formed a partnership and worked closely as a team until 2015. Together they’ve produced many stories which have featured in publications around the globe.

Baldelli first crossed paths with Sony 10 years ago when he was looking for a lighter alternative to his MacBook. Impressed with quality and speed of his Vaio, he then began to look at Sony’s camera offerings. It was the size of the α7 cameras that appealed the most, and after seeing the quality of the images, he made the full switch around 5 years ago.

Luigi Baldelli
© Luigi Baldelli | Sony α7R II + 28mm f/2 | 1/80s @ f/4, ISO 2500

"One thing I love about the α7 is the way I can shoot people from close range and they’re hardly aware I’m even there – it’s not an intrusive camera."

With his assignments taking him all over the world, he’s a big fan of travelling light and currently uses an α7 II and an α7R II with just a handful of lenses: the Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS, FE 28mm f/2 and the Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA. He says the size helps him blend in to a situation and put his subjects at ease. 

Luigi Baldelli
© Luigi Baldelli | Sony α7R II + 28mm f/2 | 1/3200s @ f/10, ISO 2500

“I can’t fault the quality of the lenses – they’re easily as good, if not better than gear I’ve used in the past.”

Post-production is such a large part of any professional photographer’s workflow, but Baldelli finds that he has to spend much less time tweaking his images when they come out of the camera. He’s also very happy shooting in JPEG as opposed to RAW and finds the quality and speed of processing suits his style.

A lot of Baldelli’s work features recurring motifs; strong shafts of light and dark shadows – a style reminiscent of the Italian Baroque style of painting– and something he happily acknowledges as a nod to one of his favourite painters, Caravaggio.

Luigi Baldelli
© Luigi Baldelli | Sony α7 + 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 | 1/1600s @ f/9.0, ISO 1600

"For me it’s a conscious decision to put humans as the main subject and light as the second. It’s easy to crowd a shot, so I prefer to try and keep just two or three elements in."

 Products featured in this article 
α7R II with back-illuminated full-frame image sensor
ILCE-7 Body / Kit
α7 E-mount Camera with Full Frame Sensor
SEL28F20 / SEL28F20FEC / SEL28F20UWC
FE 28mm F2
FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
Luigi Baldelli
Alpha Universe

Luigi Baldelli


To me, photography does not give answers, but emotions and questions.

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