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Interviews

Italian photographer Paolo De Faveri on
his journey from salesman to European landscape master

© Paolo De Faveri

February 2012

Italian landscape photographer Paolo De Faveri has shot to prominence through a combination of stunning image-making, studied curiosity and clever self-promotion. He talks to Mike Stanton about his journey from salesman to successful photographer.

Paolo De Faveri’s father loved to take photographs and hike in the mountains of northern Italy, so perhaps it is no surprise that his son grew up to be a landscape photographer. But the route he took was far from straightforward.

De Faveri was born in Turin and now lives in the nearby village of Scalenghe, within a stone’s throw of some of Europe’s most breathtaking scenery. For many years he worked as a salesman for a technical publishing company, but in 2006 decided, like many amateurs, to build a website for his burgeoning hobby of landscape photography. He very soon started to receive interest from publishers. The company he worked for was sold in late 2007, and taking the offer of redundancy pay he threw himself into photography.

“The first thing I did was build up my website and made sure it had a very good SEO (search engine optimisation),” he tells CPN. If you type ‘Italian landscape photography’ into google.com (from the UK) Paolo’s site is listed at the top of page 1. “I looked at what other high-ranking sites were doing and used a good mix of keywords and discursive text. I also registered on every web directory about photography that I could and included a link to my website with a description using the keywords that I wanted Google to use to look for me.” Private buyers began to ‘find him’, liked what they saw and started asking for prices of his prints. “I think I spent twice as long building my website than I did taking pictures at first, but that’s what you have to do if you want to make the most of your business.”

© Paolo De Faveri

This is the Pian del Valasco, an awesome plateau at an altitude of 1,800m in the heart of the Alpi Marittime natural park in Piedmont, Italy. I took this picture about 30 minutes after sunset, while a fast travelling front was approaching from the west. The light show was very impressive, although it only lasted for the time it took to take four verticals of 25secs of exposure each.

He also began to attract professional buyers such as calendar companies that would buy up to 100 images. De Faveri likes to establish long-term relationships with buyers and always tries to find out what they are looking for and let them know if he is travelling to specific locations. He also has an agent in the USA selling his images to corporate and healthcare clients. His pictures have been published in travel magazines such as Meridiani Montagne, and photography titles such as Outdoor Photographer in the USA.

De Faveri is away shooting around 100 days a year, including about four long trips, usually lasting between a week and two weeks depending on the size of the area and the nature of the assignment. On top of that he fits in dozens of short visits to the stunning landscapes that are within a couple of hour’s drive of his home – Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, the western Alps, the Italian Lakes and the Ligurian coast. He also covers southern Italy, France, Switzerland, Slovakia and parts of Germany, and plans to widen his portfolio to include Poland, Spain and Portugal.

From a long trip he usually comes back with about 60 saleable pictures from the 1,500 or so taken, including both fine art and stock images. He also ‘stitches’ images together so that large prints can be made for his clients and so he can widen his field of view no matter what focal length is available to him.

When it comes to postproduction he says that the more he learns about photography the less he uses Photoshop. “Perhaps I like the image that comes out of the camera more than I used to, but this is a personal choice,” he says. “It’s not about ‘correcting a wrong image’. If an image is ‘wrong’, it is ‘wrong’. I enhance colours and contrast but not much more. I might get rid of a blade of grass that’s adding nothing to the image, but if I don’t like the shape of a mountain, I don’t change it!”

© Paolo De Faveri

The banks of the Po, the longest and largest Italian river, near Carignano in Piedmont. Poplar trees are often planted on the riverbanks to make them stronger.

There can be a lot of travelling involved in landscape photography, and patience is less a virtue and more a prerequisite for the job. But sometimes you might not need to travel far to take a great picture. His picture of the Po River was taken just 15 minutes from where he lives – and it made the cover of Popular Photography, the world’s largest photo magazine.

De Faveri’s landscape photography tips:

  • Keep your images simple with few elements and strong contrast.
  • Vistas always sell, but don’t ignore abstract close-ups – they can sell well as ‘wall art’.
  • If you are planning to stitch images in postproduction allow for plenty of overlap.
  • Keep your website up to date and make sure it is search engine optimised.
  • Think about marketing yourself in the USA – pictures of America are the most popular and the market for landscape photography is much larger than that of Europe.
  • Use professional social media such as LinkedIn to market yourself and keep in touch with clients.

When travelling, De Faveri tries to cover as wide a range of focal length as possible, usually from 10mm to 300mm. His basic kit also includes one prime lens and a macro lens along with filters and a tripod. For a full list of his Canon equipment, see below.

Paolo De Faveri’s Canon equipment

Cameras:
EOS 7D
EOS 50D

Lenses:
EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
TS-E17mm f/4L
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF50mm f/1.4 USM
EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

Accessories:
Remote Switch RS-80N3

Biography: Paolo De Faveri

Paolo De Faveri has been a full-time landscape, nature and architecture photographer since 2007. He specialises in images of Italy, France and other European countries. His pictures have appeared in calendars, books, travel magazines, brochures and as wall art in offices, hotels, restaurants and corporate venues. He gives workshops and lives near Turin in Italy.



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