This week on Prodibi, we meet with a photographer and cinematographer from the USA and based in Switzerland: Samuel Ferrara
Samuel has a clear motto that drives his passion: "no matter where beauty exists, that's where I want to go". His creative endeavors include the use of Timelapse and motion-control equipment alongside still photography, and he travels throughout Europe, and around the world to pursue his creative dreams.
Dive into his story, videos, and pictures in high res, all powered by Prodibi!
A few words about you. Explain to us, how did you start photography and videography?
I started photography serendipitously back in 2011. I began working at a camera store as their main IT/Tech support lead and being surrounded by cameras, gear, a full photo and print lab, and just imaging in general converts almost everyone that ever works at such a place. Everyone leaves that job a photographer in one way or another.
While learning photography, I started off with macro photography, tried some sports and event photography, and even some portraiture. I never really felt fulfilled with any of that work.
After working in that job for about four years, I decided to make a dramatic change in my life. I was ready for adventure and wilderness! At the age of 24, I took a chance; I sold most of my earthly possessions to fund a month-long landscape photography adventure in New Zealand which at the time took the number one spot on my photography bucket list. I planned to see the whole country from top to bottom and photograph everything along the way. I booked tours on land, in the air, and by sea. I experienced the grandness of Fiordland in the South Island by door-less helicopter, the volcanic rock and ashes of the North Island volcanoes, and the turbulent waters of the Cook Strait in between.
As amazing as those landscapes were, they paled in comparison to the one, most unexpected aspect of that trip - meeting my future fiancée who hailed from Switzerland. "New Zealand is great, but Switzerland is better, you'll see...", she told me. She was right.
It was about a year after our meeting in New Zealand and constant visits to me in the States that I knew she would be the one I marry. I had visited Switzerland four times in that short year, and she had given me grand tours of Switzerland. We were engaged in October 2015 on the "top of Europe" at the Sphinx Astral Observatory which is perched between the Mönch and Jungfrau mountains at a staggering 3,500 meters overlooking the mighty Aletsch glacier. Our relationship has been nothing short of magical and whimsical thus.
Since moving to Switzerland, I've produced four timelapse short films, including "Switzerland 4K", and "Switzerland 4K: Gotthard Pass". The first went viral after being picked up by Reuters and went around the world being featured in the New York Times, The Weather Channel, and Blick (Swiss) news agencies. My photographs have won DPReview Challenges, and literally millions of views through Reddit and other online outlets.
Regarding your photography gear. What are your favorite camera, lens, and equipment?
I shoot mainly Canon gear as I was recommended to start with a Rebel 550D back in 2010 and stuck with it ever since. After my trip to New Zealand, I upgraded from a 550D to my current Canon 5Ds 50,6MP beast. Almost always attached to it is the Canon 16-35 f/4L IS USM. I prefer it to the f/2.8 versions for its edge-to-edge sharpness, but the f/2.8 III may have it equalled - my wallet is afraid to find out! I use Dynamic Perception and eMotimo products for timelapse and recently acquired a Panasonic GH5 for experimental video work.
Are you inspired by the work of other photographers or artists? Which ones?
I was first inspired by Martin Heck's Timestorm films. I think he is by far, hands down, the most inspiring in the field. His New Zealand series is what I watched every night before going to bed leading up to my New Zealand adventure. From a photographic side, I've always been awed by Ansel Adams' work. Because of him, I spent the whole of last year experimenting with large-format film photography - shooting on film (both black and white and color), developing myself, and scanning the negatives. While my 5Ds shoots 8'656px wide, my 4x5" negatives scan in at over 20'000px wide.
An advice for beginners that want to start timelapse photography?
The advice I give to people about timelapse is that while it can be tedious work, the work itself is the reward - always. Timelapse work is often overlooked in many productions because it takes so much "time" - but that's what I love about it. Once I find a composition and have good light, I'm able to enjoy a few hours in amazing locations just soaking in the scenery and beauty. These fragments of time are etched into my memory and are my greatest reward. My advice is, do, not only timelapse but anything creative for the love of it, first and foremost.
My clients have been quite varied. Many of my timelapse clients have been from Asia. There is a lot of Asian tourism here in Switzerland, and they have been a driving force behind my work. That said, I separate my photo work from my video/timelapse work. I give nearly all of my photos away for free use on Unsplash. I know its quite a controversial topic in the photography community lately, but I have had many, many clients contact me either directly through Unsplash, or through my work circulating and clients coming to find me to either license images, ask for additional, similar images, or contract new work. I was also lucky enough to win the first-ever Unsplash Awards in 2017 for the Nature category out of 50,000 applicants. Unsplash has been good to me.
Do you have projects for the future like workshops, personal series?
All of that said, I'm in the process of taking a small hiatus on photography in general - I'm a stay-at-home father with a 7-year-old, and while I plan on continuing photographic endeavours, my main goal in the coming months is learning to be a better father and husband for my family. For me, family and love are more important than anything in this life.
To see more of Samuel's work:
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