In its beauty and peace, this image of the Sandarmokh forest in the Karelia region of Russia hides a dramatic past. The image was originally published as part of a series of photos in The New York Times, where it formed the backdrop of a story on atrocities committed in the forest.
I shot the image at sunset, as the light poured through the trees. I shot handheld with a Sony Alpha 7R IV and the FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens. The aperture of the lens was stopped down and I used as low a sensitivity setting as possible. The intention was to ensure a good depth of field along with strong sharpness of the trees and the snow’s texture. The light across the trees also forced me to use a long shutter speed. Nevertheless, the image is almost perfectly sharp
The image also had considerable success in several galleries as a fine art print, including Galleria Valeria Bella. Again, the capabilities of the sensor of the Alpha 7R IV allowed me to print editions up to 1.5 meters, in incredible quality. That’s the huge advantage of having a small, light, mirrorless camera with both camera and lens image stabilisation.
The ambiguity of images is a crucial point in my narrative and of my photography more generally. In my opinion, there are no photographs that stand on their own. It is always necessary to articulate in different ways the many facets and many narrative layers. For me, it is always essential to find languages and aesthetics that can intrigue the viewer’s curiosity to discover the story behind an image – I am fascinated by the information that is not immediately apparent.
Much of my work has to do with invisibility. I suppose this may sound like a contradiction for those who work with images. In fact, it is one of the most intriguing challenges of storytelling; trying to find aesthetic and conceptual solutions capable of conveying complex messages, and triggering more profound reflections.
"I come from the tradition of documentary photography but my interest is to encourage curiosity rather than deliver information. The best story is not in the picture itself but around and behind it. What you see is in the frame is just an emotional window"