Gabriele Galimberti - In the World of Documentary Photography, One of the Most Important Things Is Learning How to Tell Stories (Italian Photographer)

Gabriele Galimberti, born in 1977, is an Italian photographer who frequently lives on airplanes, and occasionally in Val di Chiana (Tuscany), where he was born and raised. He has spent the last few years working on long-term documentary photography projects around the world, some of which have become books, such as Toy Stories, In Her Kitchen, My Couch Is Your Couch and The Heavens.

Gabriele’s job consists mainly of telling the stories, through portraits and short stories, of people around the world, recounting their peculiarities and differences, the things they are proud of and the belongings with which they surround themselves; social media, in all its forms, is a fundamental part of the research needed to get in touch, discover and produce those stories. 

Gabriele committed to documentary photography after starting out as a commercial photographer, and after joining the artistic collective Riverboom, best known for its work entitled Switzerland Versus The World, successfully exhibited in festivals, magazines and art shows around the world.

Gabriele is currently traveling around the globe, working on both solo and shared projects, as well as on assignments for international magazines and newspapers such as National Geographic, The Sunday Times, Stern, Geo, Le Monde, La Repubblica and Marie Claire.

His pictures have been exhibited in shows worldwide, such as the well known Festival Images in Vevey, Switzerland, Le Rencontres de la Photographie (Arles) and the renowned V&A museum in London.

1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I got into photography about 25 years ago. I then studied it in school for about 3 years and then started my career as a photographer. At first I worked in a photo printing lab. Every day I would spend 8 hours in the darkroom, printing other people's photos.

Then, in 2004, I fell in love with an American girl and moved to Texas for a few months. That's when the passion to travel and photograph at the same time was born in me. I started to dream about becoming a documentary photographer and I started to try.

I looked for the first stories to tell, I invested energy and some money to produce them, and then I tried to sell them to newspapers. Some times it went well and some other times it went badly, but slowly I managed to gain good experience and gain credibility from Italian and international newspapers and magazines.

Step by step my way of photographing has grown and my photographic language has developed. Then, in 2016 my dream came true, when I was called by National Geographic to work with them. I photographed 7 different stories for National Geographic Magazine in the past 5 years.

My photography is mainly focused on portraits. I photograph many things, but certainly what I love most to photograph is people.

2. How and when did you realize your passion for photography?

My passion for photography started when I was a teenager. My father gave me his first SLR for my 15th birthday. I immediately started using it to photograph my friends and all the things we did together.

A few years later, when I had to choose what I wanted to do as a job, I realized that I would love to be a photographer. So I attended a school in Florence - Fondazione Studio Marangoni - and a few years later I started my career as a photographer.

3. What are some tips you would like to share with amateur photographers?

The best advice I can give to an aspiring photographer is - be curious, focus on the story you want to tell with your photos, that's more important than the single picture taken well.

4. What are the important skills one should have to be a successful photographer?

There is no recipe for becoming a successful photographer. Each person finds their own. Certainly though, in the world of documentary photography, one of the most important things is learning how to tell stories.

Of course you also have to learn how to take good pictures, but this is quite common today. What is less common, however, is finding good storytellers.

5. What are various opportunities available for aspiring photographers?

There are so many different opportunities. It really depends on what each individual photographer's aspirations and interests are. Some people like documentary, some like fashion, some like still life or food photography and so on... there are many areas in which a person can specialize and direct their energies and skills.

6. Which is your favourite book and why?

I don't have a favourite book. Every month I settle on a new book, it really depends on what catches my eye each time. But, if I had to point to one author, I would say I really love Martin Parr's books.

- Interviewed by - Anushka Gagwari

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