Roberto Bigano, world acclaimed photographer, talks about good photography

Ace Italian photographer Roberto Bigano, 58 has a peculiar touchstone for a great picture. He told acclaimed Spanish painter, Miguel Berrocal that curiously for him, an outbreak of cold goose bumps is a sign that the photo will speak more than 1,000 words. His oeuvre of course speaks volumes. Currently on a five-city tour of India, Bigano is addressing students and photographers on the art of photography. He was in Kochi recently for such a workshop.

Renowned for his work on the luxurious sports car Bugatti, in collaboration with the well known publishing house FMR (Franco Maria Ricci), Bigano has done long term assignments on varied subjects for them. His continuous partnership with Manfrotto and Hasselblad, manufacturers of photography equipment, resulted in the production of some brilliant photographs, exceptional in detail and composition.

Pathbreaking work

His adroit shooting of assignment related masterpieces in medieval and renaissance churches positioned him as lensman extraordinaire. For path breaking techniques in photography and exceptional volume of work Bigano has been duly recognised in the field.

So what has been his mantra? Recounting his journey, he says that it began one fine morning when he quit his job in the army and picked up the camera. His initial assignments were scattered and small but a singular one, to shoot the original Bugatti factory in Alsace proved extremely fruitful. The task to catch ‘the spirit of Bugatti today in Alsace', which he says, “meant nothing” was more like an archaeological search. The resultant portfolio was novel, fresh and eye-catching. It was for the art book, “Divina Bugatti”.

It was a “tough assignment” which left him bone tired. He was further assigned to shoot 20 different subjects including Spanish Baroque art.

Unravelling frescoes

That took him through sculptures, architecture and paintings of Madonna, saints, frescoes highlighting the dextrous work of carvers, ‘ebony-ists', ‘mosaic-ists'. His lens delighted in the hidden subtexts and the camouflaged symbolism of the great masters. Bigano says that some works have clever erotic deceptions which are only evident with changing patterns of the shifting light.

Then came the big change to the digital era and with it, a portfolio high on experimentation. This new technology opened an in-depth world for shutterbugs in which he began to revel. He became a product tester and began shooting on advanced technology cameras.

His biggest success was when he shot the drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci. These photographs, dioramic, sharp and detailed vividly caught the ravages of time on the works and revealed an urgent need for conservation.

From shooting still life to fine art Bigano says he does not specialise in one field. He seeks to find that elusive magical effect. He is known to have sat high up in the air on a tripod and waited for the right moment and angle, or gone lower than the normal for the magical effect.

Experimentation

This continuous experimentation and doggedness has paid off. In “Wonderful Mistakes”, Bigano used 15-year-old, to-be-trashed film which had “flies, bugs fused with the gelatine” and came up with incredibly exciting results. Currently Bigano is excited at shooting the iconic masterpiece, The Last Supper.

As a photographer- teacher, a new role he enjoys thoroughly, he says he is still learning. Two years ago along with his students, he developed a software, Advanced Local Contrast Enhancer, which increases the 3D effect and the print quality of the file, in a very seductive way.”

He urges his students to be different: “Don't stop with the first approach. Remember that now, with technology, your market is not your city. Think 360 degrees.”