Q&A October Photographer of the Month – Bruno D’Amicis

Q&A with October 2011 Photographer of the Month Bruno D’Amicis

Question: When did you know you wanted to focus your photography on Conservation issues?

When I started a photographic project in the wilderness of the Ticha’ Valley of Slovakia in 2006 together with the local Conservationist Erik Bala´z, we did it because we wanted to document its incredible natural wonders before it would have been too late: powerful timber lobbies were then making pressure on the minister of environment to log trees in that pristine ecosystem and actually had already begun clear-cutting at its boundaries. Almost nobody in Europe knew about that area, nor the issues threatening it, so I thought photography would have been a good tool to give voice to the valley, make people aware about what Europe was losing and hopefully inspire them with action.

In spring 2010, after almost four years of work, our book about the area got published and benefit from a great success in Slovakia. The summer of that very same year decisions were to be taken about the destiny of that valley, if to declare it an “a zone” – strictly protected – or general reserve. Well, there was a big demonstration in Bratislava and many people showed up because they saw my pictures and got emotionally involved in this story. It has been then that i realized that conservation photography exists and truly works. Eventually, we won the battle and no chainsaw is entering Ticha´ now.

Q: Who are the photographers whom you admire, or who inspired you to become a professional photographer?

I am a self-taught photographer and never attended any class or workshop. However, over the years, I have continuously and carefully looked at the work of many, many other photographers. So, I can say that I have had many “virtual teachers”…however, if I would have to pick a few:

Joel Sartore – I admire Joel (whom I have the fortune to consider a friend) for his commitment in conservation, his amazing storytelling skills and fantasy to produce always compelling images.

Michael “Nick” Nichols – he is the photographer, in my opinion, who got the closest ever to portray the true “wild” and bring it back for everybody to appreciate it.

Michael Forsberg – a great and heart-full photographer. His passion and commitment in documenting “his” great plains are a great lesson for everybody who dreams of exotic destinations and forgets the importance of working at home, defending what one knows and loves the most.

Michio Hoshino – he simply made some of the most beautiful pictures ever.

Hannu Hautala – from the early work of this Finnish master I learned the importance to put the subject always within its context, as they are both equally important.

Q: Most people don’t know what the lifestyle of a photographer is, can you give us some insight into your life in the field?

Once you have decided you want to be a wilderness photographer, spending days all on your own in the shadow of a mountain or among the dunes of the desert, you take almost for granted that many crazy things can happen to you and don’t mind anymore sleeping under the rain, waking up with frozen shoes or bathing in an ice-cold stream. I could tell you of a September night when I was sleeping out in the Tatras and it started snowing, with the snow blowing under the tarp, and I woke up the next morning all covered by one inch of fresh snow… Or the morning when a fox visited my camp and “stole” the bag with all my food for the next two days…

Or, again, about the 70 hours of waiting during a week to have just 1.5 minutes of wildcat time… Or the time me and my friend Erik had to chase a bear sow with her cub by throwing snowballs at them! When I recall these moments, I almost can’t believe it and it feels like I was dreaming. Or, maybe, it’s the life of my dreams?

Q: What is your dream photo assignment?

Well, any assignment that would be full paid! 😉 no, i am kidding. My head is always full of dreams and future projects, and their number keeps on growing…but if I would have to pick just one, then i wish i could find enough money to fund an expedition 10-12 week-long to the heart of the Sahara desert to document its endangered wildlife. Few know that there are still cheetahs, hyenas, antelopes, monkeys and ostrich down there. All disappearing before our eyes. This would be one more project carried out against oblivion…

Bruno will be presenting on his work documenting the remaining wild places in Europe at WildPhotos 2011 October 21-22 at the Royal Geographical Society in London.