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Into the Wild Two photographers journey to ‘The Last Frontier’ in search for the perfect image

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{ By Amy Touchette }

CAPTION: Alaska, while their experience was documented for Sony in a short promotional film called “Into Alaska.” Allowed only one car

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ecruited by Sony to help launch the new NEX-6 camera, photographer Luca Rossini and photographer/filmmaker Mike Palmieri were assigned to photograph together in the wilderness of Kodiak, Alaska, while their experience was documented for Sony in a short promotional film called “Into Alaska.” Allowed only one carry-on bag each for equipment and clothing and never having met or worked together before, the photographers spent seven days together getting to know Kodiak, the NEX-6, and one another. The mission: to capture the best still photo of the trip.

ALASKA

Rossini, based in Rome, Italy, and Palmieri, based in Portland, Oregon, met in Anchorage, Alaska and then traveled by seaplane to explore Kodiak and the surrounding smaller islands. “I like to think of [Rossini] as the refined European and myself as the scrappy shaggy dog American,” says Palmieri. It was Rossini’s project, “365+1 Days of NEX-7” that he posted to his blog that caught the attention of Sony; for Palmieri, it was a cinematographer-friend who introduced him to the project. I had the opportunity to speak to each photographer about his experience on this photographic adventure, among other topics. AMY TOUCHETTE: Explain how the two of you worked as a team in practical terms. MIKE PALMIERI: We were . . . photographing all the time. . . . We share some overlap with things that we love to photograph, but we also have different obsessions too. I tend to gravitate towards images that resonate on a social and contextual level, [while] . . . . one of Luca’s strengths is in capturing the hugeness of landscapes. . . . The first time I saw [Rossini’s] work I knew he was a very special photographer. He really understands how to shape a photograph with light in the most classical way.

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CAPTION: Alaska, while their experience was documented for Sony in a short promotional film called “Into Alaska.” Allowed only one car

AT: Do you have mentors now or have you had them in the past? What do you think makes a good mentor-mentee relationship?

MP: One of the best mentors I had was the great jazz drummer Mike Clarke. I’d go over to his place for lessons and we’d instead just have fluid conversations about many things that had nothing to do with music or drumming in particular. We’d go get coffee or go shopping for groceries when he was supposed to be showing me how to do certain things I wanted to do on the drums. I started to wonder if he was ever going to teach me anything concrete at all or if it ever mattered. After a few more meetings like this, I finally asked him politely if we were ever going to maybe sit down at the drum set for some kind of lesson. He just smiled and said, “These are the lessons. It’s osmosis. Don’t worry, it’s all going in there.” And it was true. AT: On your website, you display letters of advice you received from various successful people. Did anyone’s advice strike you as being particularly noteworthy? PDNEP.COM

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CAPTION: Alaska, while their experience was documented for Sony in a short promotional film called “Into Alaska.” Allowed only one car

MOZART TURNED TO THE MAN AND SAID, “YOU ARE TOO YOUNG.” THE YOUNG MAN RESPONDED INCREDULOUSLY, “BUT YOU WROTE YOUR FIRST SYMPHONY AT THE AGE OF 6!” “YES”, MOZART REPLIED, “BUT I DIDN’T ASK ANYBODY FOR ADVICE.” MP: Milos Foreman gave me the best advice I’ve ever gotten as an artist, and I was lucky enough to get it when I was 13 years old. He had just finished making “Amadeus,” and I wrote to him for advice on becoming a director. He wrote me back, longhand on a thick piece of parchment paper: Dear Michael, When W.A. Mozart was 26 years old, a man of about 16 years old asked him for advice on becoming a composer. Mozart turned to the man and said, “You are too young.” The young man responded incredulously, “But you wrote your first symphony at the age of 6!” “Yes”, Mozart replied, “But I didn’t ask anybody for advice.”

LUCA ROSSINI: We were both photographing all the time, but sometimes we [shared] our responsibilities because we didn’t have two copies of all the lenses. For example, when the fisherman invited us to take a look at the engine room, we needed shots taken with the new 16-40 [lens]. We decided that I would have gone for that because I have very strong experience in low-light environmental portraits. [But] when we had to test the hybrid AF by tracking the airplane roaring over our heads, we decided that Mike had more chance to make a good job due to his experience in following (and anticipating the path of) moving objects with the video camera. I think that in both cases we made a good call.

AT: What is the most impactful piece of advice you have received? LR: The role model of my life is my father, a very successful scientist who taught me to never complain about having too much work to do, just to do always the best I can, because it always pays back, at worse with the satisfaction of knowing to have done a good job. He’s the physical demonstration of how much work a person can successfully perform without loosing grip on his personal and family life, and it is a lot. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by my assignments I think about what he does everyday and I feel I should stop complaining and start working.

AT: What did you learn from Mike while traveling together? LR: Mike is first of all a phenomenal documentary writer and director. . . . He does not work on a single image to tell “the whole story,” but is naturally inclined to collect a series of

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AMY TOUCHETTE: Explain how the two of you worked as a team in practical terms.

details, cuts of reality, and moods that, all together, describe what he wants to tell, with the rhythm and intensity he wishes. . . . I feel I learned a lot just by looking at his production. . . . I now know at least where to start if I had to address a subject with a documentary narrative.

To see Rossini’s and Palmieri’s resulting photographs, as well as the short promotional film, visit www.blog.sony. com/nex6-alaska.

CAPTION: Alaska, while their experience was documented for Sony in a short promotional film called “Into Alaska.” Allowed only one car

CAPTION: Alaska, while their experience was documented for Sony

Luca Rossini

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Michael Palmieri

Their individual work can be seen at: www.lucarossini.it and www.michaelpalmieri.com

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Into the wild  

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