P.D. -Hello Giovanni, can you introduce yourself?
G.L. I am a 31 year old, unmarried man and I currently work as a director. I come from a small town in the midwest, which I left at age 18 for France. Currently, I live in Los Angeles, but due to my extensive traveling, hotels are starting to feel like my true home.
P.D. -Talk us about your background in photography.
G.L. While I was growing up my family owned a photo studio that largely focused on mass-production photos. For this reason, the studio did not directly influence my artistic passion for photography, but it did, however, provide me with access to film and cameras at a very young age. On the other hand, my formal education in photography was limited to one class in secondary school and another in University. That being the case, much of my background in photography comes from my own drive to explore photography as a creative art form.
P.D. -What equipment do you use, and why?
G.L. I shoot with a variety of 35mm film cameras: Canon 1D, Contax T3, Yashica Z70, and Lomo A+. I also shoot with instant film cameras such as Instax 210, and Polaroid Landcamera 4×5 with Fuji Instant. I explain my choice of camera in greater detail in my artist’s statement. But, in general, I felt the need to say goodbye to film as a medium.
This series, both through its central fantasy and its artistic medium, helped to conclude a part of my life: my youth. I don’t believe I will use film in any future projects. It is also the aesthetic of my youth, therefore it looks like something that I would have seen when I was growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s.
P.D. -Can you tell us more about your project The Death of Youth?
G.L. If readers visit deathofyouth.com and read the “About” section, then they will find a full explanation of the project there. However, since I have just recently concluded the project, I can add that finishing this series was an extremely triumphant experience. Not only did I accomplish an artistic endeavor that, in my opinion, was a large and difficult project, but I was also provided with the confidence to tackle projects that previously seemed daunting and execute them without hesitation.
P.D. -What made you want to pick up a camera, and what makes you want to keep shooting?
G.L. Since Death of Youth was my first original photographic project, the only true motivation that I can pinpoint is that, by photographing these women, I was able to express myself at age 30 in a way I had never been able to do before. Certainly, I wanted to quit the project throughout production, as it was expensive and both emotionally and time-consuming.
I shot 100 women in my 30th year. I am now 31-years-old and the Death of Youth has concluded. I have put my cameras down for the time being and I have started focusing on a feature-length documentary, which will occupy my free time and resources for the next year or two.
P.D. -Can you choose a photo and tell us what went on behind the scenes.
G.L. I found Brittany, the model in this photo, on ModelMayhem.com. She was not living in Los Angeles during the production of Death of Youth, but she frequented LA often. We decided to schedule a shoot on one of the occasions she was in town. I booked a hotel room at the Mondrian on the Sunset Strip for the shoot. We spoke the night before the shoot on the phone to go over wardrobe. We met on a Saturday at 10am, got a coffee, and then headed to the room for an hour-long photoshoot. She spent about 2 minutes putting on makeup, and that was the only preparation. I remember shooting more rolls of Brittany than was typical of the series; I shot around 11 rolls of 35mm film.
I shot this particular image on my canon 1d with Kodak NC160, underexposed about 2/3’s of a stop, with a 50mm lens. This image and its setup are very representative of the Death of Youth series: casual and effortless. There were no makeup artists or stylists. It was me and the model. Brittany was extremely easy to work with, which is why it was so simple to take such wonderful images.
P.D. -As a photographer, how do you feel the Internet has affected your practice and the way you see photography today?
G.L. As the Death of Youth series is my first photographic endeavor, I do not have much to compare it to, but the internet has been integral to its popularity. I am not a professional photographer, so I produce my images with the intent to share with others and not as a means to an income. I find these photos extremely beautiful and I think everyone should have an opportunity to see them. The internet has allowed me to share my photos and my journey with thousands of people, which is amazing. Death of Youth has 5000 views on Flickr per day, which is absolutely awesome and amazing to me!
P.D. -Who, what and where do you find your inspiration?
G.L. I am inspired most by films. I find that I approach each shoot with a cinematic eye, almost as if I am filming a Cinema Verite documentary; a fly-on-the-wall type of shooting. Also, there is a subtle history to these images. I reference Helmut Newton, Peter Beard, and Terry Richardson in my project because they lived the lifestyle that produced this genre of photography. These images are my interpretation of such a lifestyle.
P.D. -What are your future plans?
G.L. I will post more than 50 new sets of photos from women that I have already photographed for Death of Youth. I also hope to find a place to publish the series in print. Additionally, I would love to have international shows to share the images with others in a gallery setting. I will then work on my feature-length documentary and hopefully, a new photo series. I will live life, travel, a most of all, continue to work and produce.
P.D. -A last word.
G.L. Verbose …. I like that word…..