We are Jean-Marc and Valentina, we are known as Caimi & Piccinni (our surnames), we are a photography duo. We are visual storytellers and documentary photographers, we work for the press, but in parallel we follow a series of personal projects.
In fact, we lately worked on a trilogy about cities on the brink of a change. Places that are rapidly mutating due to a series of social, political and economic factors. These cities are for us extremely interesting and full of contrasting energies. The trilogy (so far) includes Naples, Rome, and Istanbul.
Our interest is very much focused on people, their lives, their microcosms, and this approach often goes intimate and makes us personally involved with our subjects’ lives.
We prefer the “who” rather than the “what”. We feel that this is the beauty of being a photographer, to be able to learn about the world through people. Photography gives you this precious opportunity.
Three books were published with our works. The latter “Güle Güle” about the city of Istanbul, freshly released by French editor André Frère. The images featured by Shotkit are from the book.
Main Gear Talk
We have been shooting analogue for many years. Of course, we also use digital for press assignments, but our heart stays with the original gear that we are still using nowadays. Film is still so inspiring, and always teaches you too keep focus on your personal vision, rather than just on making a correct photo.
When you then switch to digital, you feel you have a solid background and you have developed precise ideas about how to shoot and your approach.
For our three books we used both analogue and digital. For the digital part we had the opportunity to use the wonderful Leica gear that was lent to us directly from Germany.
For the digital, we used both a Leica M for black and white and a Leica M-P for color, always equipped with a 35 Summicron lens. We love the personality of that camera, the manual focus, the ergonomics, that at least psychologically keep us connected with the analogue world.
The colors of the Leica M-P are absolutely unique. The “Güle Güle” book was entirely shot with that camera and we had no reason to color correct or enhance the files.
About the analogue gear, indeed we personally own those cameras! We prefer point and shoot, because with a minimal gear we can approach people more easily, shorten the distances.
Moreover these little cameras are equipped with incredibly sharp lenses and an onboard flash that we always use for our photography.
We basically use four kind of cameras, the Contax T2, the Olympus MjuII, a Yashica T4 and a superb Nikon 35Ti. But we also have some toy cameras like the Lomo and very old 6×6, the Bilora Bella.
We admit to also love the posh Diana, all these cameras lead to unexpected results and can be very interesting even shooting a documentary based project.
We love the Leica Summicron. It’s small, sharp, and smooth to use in its manual focus. It gives you a sense of “protection”, you know that you can rely on it. And it has a lot of personality.
In general, we only use 35mm lenses. Zooms change the perspective, the feeling of the pictures, your approach to subjects. For us it’s not an image quality matter, but more a psychological aspect.
We always use the flash. 80% of our pictures are shot with the flash even in daylight. For the “Güle Güle” book we used the Leica SF40 which is good. But we also used a very old and cheap non TTL Starblitz 200A and it worked like a charm.
We also use a lot of off-camera lights, for that reason we have torches and a Yongnuo YN300 led panel, small and cheap. A little secret is a flash triggered sensor bulb that we use to add an off-camera flash to our analogue equipment. It looks like a small black cube. No brand for it.
Hardware & Software
To make color and contrast corrections to our images we use Photoshop. We try to keep the tweaking as minimal as possible. Big photography post-production belongs to the ‘90s, now it’s over, we need reality.
Essential to our workflow is Photomechanic, the application where we select and sequence all the material. A very important step in photography storytelling.
We keep in our bag the “creature from the black lagoon”. We don’t know exactly why, maybe it’s just childish superstitious, but sometimes you take that out and some connection with people is triggered.
We just don’t believe in the classic documentary photographer’s adagio that wants you to “keep the distance with your subject” be a “fly on the wall”.
On the contrary we believe that the scene is unavoidably contaminated by your presence and hence is worthwhile to see it as an opportunity instead, to fill the gap.
Immerse totally in the story you are photographing, live the same feelings as your subjects as much as you can. Get their trust, give yours. This is not staged photography. It’s just life.