Interview with Bruno Militelli — PHOTOGRAPHIE MAGAZIN / page 76, issue 11/2020.
In the 14th edition of the International Garden Photographer of the Year, or IGPOTY Award for short, the jury received pictures from around the world. To see: gardens and their inhabitants. We have with the annual winner Bruno Militelli from Brazil and learn from him why macro photography is so fulfilling for him. www.igpoty.com
What does your winning photography show?
A totally unusual perspective on the morphology of the passion fruit tree. I composed this photo and showed this subject in an abstract way to create imaginative experiences of curiosity, inviting the viewer to get lost in the personal interpretation of these helical formations.
The “Botanic Loop” photo was conceived and edited in black and white because it only intends to explore the shape and texture of these spiral-shaped filiform structures which, at first glance, may appear to be man-made.
Why did you choose this motive?
Because the abstract forms in the natural world always fascinated me and through this subject, I try to focus attention on a minimal part of nature that could normally go unnoticed. These intriguing structures of climbing plants, known as tendrils, are important tools that are used to fix in other branches and leaves, rolling these extensions and serving as support.
What was the difficult part about taking the photo?
One of the challenges of macro photography is how it can be more than what it just depicts, how it can bring in other levels of understanding and suggestions of meaning. The classic macro photography style normally becomes too literal.
So, by using a different and more creative composition, as I moved close and isolated the subject in the middle of the frame, I transformed the geometric shape and pattern of this circular structure into my vision, my own viewpoint, taking the observer’s common sense of scale.
By removing the context of the subject, the image becomes very abstract, putting the viewer in a position to speculate what it is they are seeing. This image can easily be mistaken for a spiral cable, a wire or even a pipe.
What is the difficulty in macro photography in general?
Macro can be a very satisfying genre of photography. It can open a new world of almost countless creative possibilities, but for me the biggest difficulty in macro photography is focusing and it’s one problem that can put off newcomers and many times the experienced photographers too.
The two main issues that can become a problem when focusing on a macro subject is the short depth of field, as you are too close to the subject, the depth of field starts to be very shallow.
And the other main issue is the magnification. Because you are shooting a highly magnified image, nailing focus can be really hard, especially if you are hand-holding the camera. In this case a slight movement backwards or forwards from the subject will easily turn the image to be out of focus.
The golden rule is whenever possible to use a tripod with a remote shutter release and use manual focus to perfect nail the focus.
Why did you choose to focus on macro photography? Why are you fascinated by this genre?
My passion for macro photography has grown naturally out of the desire to see nature up close, especially the incredible patterns and details that are difficult to see with the naked eye, emphasizing how beautiful the planet we live in. Over time I came to see my macro lens as a modern instrument capable of transporting me to a new, unexplored world where I can discover places and sights still unknown.
But it was through this point of view that I discovered the possibility of exploring my creativity, modifying the subject in many ways, exploring different processes, experimenting and working with light to extract unique shapes, patterns and colors, creating intriguing compositions and visually interesting images.
I have also always been fascinated by abstraction in photography and I believe that I specialized in this genre to satisfy my desire to create abstract images. For me nature becomes an abstract manifestation, transcending the materiality of the elements that composes it.
Were you surprised when you heard that your photo was selected as the first price?
Receiving this news was certainly spectacular! On another occasion I had already applied for IGPOTY, but none of the photos that I had sent were selected at that time. When I heard about this “Macro Art” category, I knew that I would have a better chance of having my photo chosen by the curators, but the first place really surprised me, the winning photographs from other years are truly beautiful, and being in first this year is a great achievement.
But my main satisfaction when receiving this award was to read the comment from the guest judge, who compared me to one of the great photographers of the 30th century and a forerunner of macro photography of plants and nature, the German Karl Blossfeldt, this is certainly the best compliment that I could receive.
Here is the comment I received from this juror:
“Echos of the great Karl Blossfeldt run through this splendid image revealing the graphic, architectural beauty of this specimen in all its glory. The composition is balanced and harmonious and the black and white treatment spot on.”