Sony Alpha 7 r 2.
Gregory Crewdson, Robert Frank, Todd Hido, William Eggleston.
“I never read, I just look at pictures” – Andy Warhol.
Stefano Gardel: Born in Milan, Italy, in 1980, he lives in Lugano, Switzerland, where he works both as a photographer and a chiropractor. At the age of 19, he moved to San Francisco, California, to study Chiropractic, where he spent eight years between studies and work.
Always attracted to art and music, he discovered photography only recently as a mean to express his creative side. Stefano Gardel quickly attracted the interest of top art galleries worldwide to represent and promote his work.
While participating in group exhibitions in Italy, Stefano Gardel’s photography has been published by different magazines across Europe including Fubiz, Ignant, C 41 Magazine, Juxtapoz, Creative Boom just to name a few.
Ranging from landscape to street photography, Stefano Gardel has developed a distinctive style, where gloomy atmospheres and almost surreal landscapes give an out-of-world dimension to the ordinary of everyday life.
-How did you first become interested in photography?
I started doing photography at the beginning of last year. I was going through a tough time and to distract myself, I bought a professional camera and started traveling during the weekends. When I was 25, I took a weekend course on how to use a DSLR, but after that I kind of forgot about photography altogether until last year.
-Would you say that you have a style of photography?
I don’t know exactly how to define my style. My pictures tend to be dramatic and kind of mysterious, sometimes surreal. When I go out shooting I’m always with my earphones on listening to my favourite music, which tends to be electronic downtempo beats, or experimental ambient music. I really like to get inspired by the music I’m listening to, and then to transfer that mood into my photos.
-Is there a theme or concept that runs throughout all of your work?
Not really, I think every project stands on its own. Even though some similarities can be found in the subjects I choose, I don’t have a particular theme or concept that I want to represent across all of my work.
-How do you promote your work?
I really found Behance to be a great tool to get my work out there and to have it seen by many. It’s actually thanks to it that I’ve been contacted by art galleries and magazines for collaborations. Now I have a few art galleries selling and promoting my work for me, which is very helpful.
-What is your post-production workflow like?
I usually open my files in Lightroom where I do most of the work. I then do some final tweaks in photoshop, like sharpening or colour contrast corrections, and usually that’s all I do. If I really feel like doing something more radical I may use plugins like Nik Collection or Topaz Labs. For my last series, Neon Desert, I worked all of the pictures first in black and white, really trying to get the contrasts right, I then recoloured all the images using Topaz Labs.
-What is your dream project?
I never know what is going to be my next project. Sometimes I have long periods of time where nothing really inspiring comes to mind, so I’ll just wait. Then when it finally comes, it’s like I have no time, I absolutely have to go out and take those pictures in a matter of days. I’m very compulsive in that sense. My dream project is whatever inspires me at that moment, I don’t have something pushed too far away in the future, waiting to be realised.
-What is your creative process like? What are you start, middle and end points?
Usually I wait to get inspired by something, after which I get the general sense and the mood of the project. Then I do some research on the internet to see how to access that particular place, the best time of the day or night to get the light I’m looking for, and then I check the forecast for the days I’ll be there. I may also have in mind how to edit it in post, so I may set my camera accordingly during the shoot, like exposure and filters. Other times I get to the location and the light or the weather is not really what I’ve expected, or simply I get there and have better ideas, so I improvise on the moment.
-What is your technical approach? How do you start to meter for a scene?
I tend to shoot under exposed, I find it easier to recover from the shadows than the other way around. I like to use spot metering and then lock my exposure, it’s easy and I can get the mood I want quickly.
-Do you see your work as documentary, commercial or art based?
I see it as an interpretation of reality, I don’t shoot with the purpose of documenting or illustrating. Therefore I would have to say it’s more art based.
-What was the best career advice you were ever given?
Actually I haven’t got any yet! But what I would suggest is to take as many pictures as possible of the same subject, with little variations in composition, exposure and lighting. This allows for greater freedom of choice in post production. Also, I would advise to never get attached to your pictures and just work with the ones that really, really stick with you, and disregard the rest completely.