Camilla Ferrari

Two photos next to each other, both taken on a Canon EOS R by Camilla Ferrari. The left image shows the sun setting in the reflection of a building window, and the right image shows a blurry image of a Black Moor goldfish in its aquarium.

Seeing documentary photographers capturing Italy's Covid-19 outbreak, Camilla Ferrari thought about how she should best process this period. "I had a different mission," she says. "We are all stuck at home. What can we do about it? I decided to focus on that, to regain presence in my home and find myself inside the four walls which would be my companion for such a long time."

Left: "The sun was setting," says Camilla. "While opening the window for an overdue clean, a sun ray hit the glass and lit my face. For a moment, I couldn't see anything. When I looked again, I could see the outer cityscape, with birds flying over the building, and the sun disappearing behind them. This window became a portal." Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 43mm, 1/1000 sec, f/10 and ISO 100. © Camilla Ferrari

Right: Camilla's pet fish Hades, a Black Moor goldfish. "When I got closer to the aquarium, Hades got very excited and started dancing with his fins, creating fascinating shapes and movements," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/100 sec, f/1.8 and ISO 12,800. © Camilla Ferrari

"The aim of my work is to convey a space of silence," says visual artist Camilla Ferrari. In a world where visuals are so often designed to shout, Camilla's pieces stand out by doing the opposite. "I like my work to create an atmospheric place, so that when someone looks at my work, it is not so much about what happens in the picture, but more about the space it conveys around you. My perfect idea would be for someone to look at my work because they needed peace, and to find calm."

Based in Milan, Italy, and known for her signature diptychs pairing stills and vertical video, Camilla's work revolves around overlooked subjects, including the poetry of day-to-day life and the relationships between people and their environments. "The smaller things of everyday life, the importance of small gestures, the relationship between what is real and what is not real," she explains. "Playing with this idea of photography as a medium, as an entrance to that world of perception, which is very subjective."

Camilla was 14 when she took her first photograph, after her parents bought her a simple digital point-and-shoot for a school trip. Instead, she turned the lens on herself. "My first images were self-portraits," she says. She'd play with her reality by editing her visuals using software. "It was a way to study who I was, and to feel less alone. It was a very important moment in time." Clearly passionate about photography, a couple of years later she got her first DSLR – a Canon EOS 1000D – and she continues to take inspiration from personal experience in her work today.

After studying art and communications at the University of Milan, Camilla honed her self-taught photography skills at the Italian Institute of Photography before participating in a series of workshops which widened her horizons and her contacts, including the Canon Student Development Programme at Visa pour l'Image. With photography becoming a serious pursuit, in 2014 Camilla moved to a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV). Portraiture led to street photography, reportage and later towards more conceptual work.

A headshot of Canon Ambassador Camilla Ferrari.
Location: Milan, Italy

Specialist areas: Visual art, diptychs, mixed media

Favourite kit: Canon EOS R5
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
A diptych filmed on a Canon EOS R5 by Camilla Ferrari. The left video shows people gathering around the tomb of a Sufi leader in Omdurman, Sudan, for the Dervish ceremony, filmed through a piece of textile. The right video shows a group of children running in the archaeological site of Nuri in Sudan.

From 2017 she discovered video thanks to Instagram's introduction of Stories. "I was fascinated by them," she says. "But at the same time, I didn't know what to do with them besides sharing my personal life, which I wasn't comfortable with." She started thinking about vertical videos as "images that move, rather than clips in themselves", an outlook which continues to this day. She now shoots on a Canon EOS R5, its in-body image stabilisation helping her shoot video handheld, often with her favourite Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens.

Camilla's work has taken her across the world, from Khartoum to Beijing, and she has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, NPR, US News, 6Mois and la Repubblica, among others.

An employee works at the Stocco F.lli Srl production centre, Castello di Godego in Italy. He is surrounded by different types of machinery. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Camilla Ferrari.

An image shot for The New York Times in 2022, for an article about the European Central Bank raising interest rates. An employee works at the Stocco F.lli Srl production centre, Castello di Godego. The company specialises in metal furniture and has seen the cost of the iron it needs more than double since October 2022. "The multimedia aspect of my work is definitely something that I'm working more and more with," says Camilla. "But it didn't start like that. When I started taking pictures, I was very traditional in that sense." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 39mm, 1/250 sec, f/3.2 and ISO 640. © Camilla Ferrari

A woman pushes a trolley with boxes stacked on it inside the La Casearia Carpenedo cheese production building in Italy. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Camilla Ferrari.

Ernesto Carpenedo's daughter works inside the La Casearia Carpenedo production building. The family behind the Italian cheesemaker rebuilt the business after the economic scarring of the 1980s. Camilla shot this as part of an assignment for The New York Times. She likes to place personal experiences close to her work which is one of the reasons she has moved away from pure reportage. "I wanted to convey a specific way of seeing things, and the way that I know how to do it is by giving my personal view, which hopefully can be shared with others," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 24mm, 1/125 sec, f/3.5 and ISO 3200. © Camilla Ferrari

Camilla interrogates the relationships between people and the places they live, as seen in her exploration of the dwindling community of the tiny Italian town of Civita di Bagnoregio, or more emotional connections, such as in Beijing, where she shot her Aquarium project exploring how a panic attack affects the way we perceive places. This city would prove to be a turning point, as it was on her second visit that she first started using film. "Where images were very precise, video was the opposite, with a more meditative approach," she says. "I started to see how differently the two mediums could communicate the same place."

If you had to boil down what really drives Camilla, she says it would be questioning reality. "Is reality what we really see, or do we see it because we create our reality?"

What is it about diptychs that you like, in particular pairing still images with video?

"It's become more and more a part of my work. I like the fact that the image and the video talk with each other. They can complement each other, or sometimes just give a different experience. Where the images are more silent, the videos can give more depth and more information, and when the opposite happens, the videos are like having music while you work. It gives you the concentration, the metronome."

How is your lens choice related to your working style?

"I like the idea of having a zoom. Having different prime lenses would mean having a narrower field of action for how I work. I'm a very routine kind of person so if I find a lens that I'm comfortable with, then it's very hard for me to let go because my brain is also wired with that combination. Changing lenses for me is really like moving house. The way I work, I know that changing lanes distracts me a lot, so that's why zooms are so important to me."

You started shooting vertical video because of Instagram but now it's a central part of your work. Why have you maintained this framing?

"I really like the intimacy of the vertical format. When you go to the movies, it's a collective experience by definition. The 16:9 format is a collective format, in my view, whereas the 9:16 format is personal and one-on-one. Because if you're looking at a vertical video, it means that most likely, you're watching it on your phone. And if you're watching it on your phone, you're usually alone. You're in bed, or you're in the bathroom, or you feel awkward at a dinner and decide to look at your phone – so it's a very personal moment. I really like the idea of my work being seen in those moments."

You hope to create a sense of calm in your work. Is there a part of this which is also about finding calm yourself?

"I'm a very analytical person, I'm an overthinker. For me, the photographic process is a justification for stillness, in a way, because I'm not doing nothing. I'm creating, but in a space of nothing. The situations where I work best are when I don't have an objective but I have a space. If I have an area of action and I don't know exactly what I'm looking for but I know it's there, that's where I have the most satisfactory experience, because it's about exploration. It's about curiosity, and it's also about being young and having a childlike curiosity. That's something that I really hope I can keep throughout my whole life."

One thing I know

Camilla Ferrari

"Limitations help the eye. If you have constraints, you have to work around them if you want to do something different. The limitations that Instagram had with vertical video were actually super helpful to me because they made me question what I really want to do. Is this limiting or is this a possibility? I think it's the same thing with gear. If I know that I only have that, that is what I'm working with. If I have too much freedom, then I get lost."

Instagram: @camillaferrariphoto


Camilla Ferrari's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Canon Ambassador Camilla Ferrari's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS R5

A full-frame hybrid mirrorless powerhouse capable of capturing 45MP images. "As I'm exploring video more and more, I wanted a camera that could support high quality video and was designed more specifically to fit that kind of need," says Camilla. "The EOS R5 was the obvious choice for me, not only for the in-body image stabilisation and the 8K video capabilities, but also for the fast autofocus, even in low light."


Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM

A wide-angle lens capturing detail and sharpness even at low shutter speeds. "I use this for reportage moments," says Camilla. "On assignment, if I want more context of a scene and depth of field, this lens is very open and bright with a f/1.8 aperture."

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

An L-series zoom with outstanding image quality. "It's a classic for a reason," says Camilla. "This is my go-to lens because of its versatility. I am able to photograph and film in different lighting – from brighter to darker – because of the fixed f/2.8 aperture. This gives me incredible creative freedom."

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

A lightweight, high-performance telephoto zoom lens which has become "more and more important" to Camilla. "It allows me to film very close-up scenes and by doing so, I'm able to capture and isolate very small details which then allows me to play with perception," she adds. Now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM.



Unusual additions, which serve a dual purpose. "These are a kind of amulet for me," says Camilla. "I always bring a bigger crystal with me which is cut, not raw. Because it has a prism cut, it breaks up images, so I bring it as a prop." By dispersing light, the crystal plays an important role in creating Camilla's ethereal imagery.

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