Jazz Photography
Luca Vantusso

Image Credits: Luca Vantusso © Luca Vantusso, Enrico Rava © Luca Vantusso, Herlin Riley © Luca Vantusso, Dee Dee Bridgewater © Luca Vantusso, Ron Carter © Luca Vantusso, Steve Gadd © Luca Vantusso, Chick Corea © Luca Vantusso

Luca Vantusso Sep 04, 2017
“Whoever wants to accomplish great things must devote to a lot of profound thought to details.”, as Paul Valéry said, and this fits very well to Luca Vantusso’s work. Luca is the apotheosis of the live photographer, so passionate and full of energy. Enjoy your reading and the images.

Who is Luca Vantusso?
First of all, I am a passionate person. I always try to face my tasks in a positive and constructive mood and, with no doubt, I carry out my job passionately and with determination. I think of myself as a simple observer, a viewer who has the possibility and the luck of fixing an important moment of a certain event.
Thanks to my observation skills, I’m able to search for special elements, so that I can show the event details, or I can find that expression reflecting the artist feelings while he is on stage. I try to capture close ups and little details on stage. The picture, in that way, is my personal interpretation of the event. I’m very lucky to have a big family who believes in me (I have four siblings), and that is pushing me to continually examine my work in order to find new interpretations and new aims. The continual evolution and search for new interpretations is then the only way I conceive for doing this job.
Why did you choose to photograph jazz? Are there any other genres of photography you perform in your activity?
First of all, jazz is one of my passions, and it allows me to “enter” in the music like a few other musical genres. Even if a lot of things are presently changing in what is called jazz, the personality of each single instrument is still prevailing and can be clearly identified on stage and, hence, is suitable for taking a unique shot. This is the reason why, in parallel, I also like orchestras performing on stage several instrument melodies, as each of them has something to say, and the music coming out of it is the proof of how important each single instrument is.
The musician/instrument bond is so emotional that to tell about it is a very gratifying sensation. I love to think that the pictures must be touching. My photography starting point is theatre. I follow dance and ballet, two realities that should be better known, where there’s a very small place for improvisation, but a unique world, where it is possible to capture very incredible pictures. Years of dedication, study and sacrifice that in a very few steps prove how much elegance and charisma there are in a performance. The other genre I regularly follow, maybe because it is the liaison between music and theatre is musical.
As the onetime storytellers, there are boys and girls, sometimes very young boys and girls, that are able to perform on stage compelling and touching stories, and the increasing success of this genre proves that the audience is loving it. All of this is portrayed by my camera, always live on stage. I think that live photography during an event is its most real and sincere proof. When I perform studio photography or posed photography I cooperate with colleagues specialised in that field. I deem that each of us is fit for a type of work. To try to do different things, that are not representing you, only pushes you away from your aim and from the accurate knowledge of a certain event, which is a necessary condition for understanding before shooting, the base for the live photography.
Would you like to tell us about an anecdote connected with your relationships in the jazz world?
There would be a lot, but I’d say that the most interesting or amusing anecdotes happened with the people who turned from customers to friends. When you succeed to shoot the real feelings of a musician, there’s a very deep harmony, as you enter in his personal life and, therefore, the relationship becomes important. I’m so lucky to be friends of a very important Italian musician as we deeply share points of view and thoughts that, sometimes, to choose the pictures is like a game and, generally, the choice I make is exactly the same as his.
There would be thousands of anecdotes, starting from the congratulations of very great musicians that left me breathless for the emotion, to the arguments with other personalities, who were so important that, when I asked for an economic compensation, they asked me a compensation in order to allow me to take pictures of them. But the greatest emotion is always the same… I usually don’t check my work in the camera, so when I go back home after working the curiosity for what I saw, for my interpretation is always the same, each time.
Do you have some suggestions for the persons who want to start photography?
You should “observe” what the others simply see. In each scene there are details which can show the subject’s soul and feelings. Don’t go nuts for the equipment, because I saw very unique pictures shot with basic equipment. More than anything, you should study a lot. It is really necessary to know very well what you are shooting, because we are not there simply for taking pictures but for giving our personal interpretation.
Which is your favourite camera?
I am a Canon user and I have always used this camera, even if I tried different brands. With no doubt, the best camera I am presently using is CANON EOS 5 D Mark IV. For theatre photography, I deem it has that extra oomph in comparison to many others.
Is there a picture you’d wish to have shot?
There are a lot of people that I would have liked to shoot, my personal heroes that, due to age or place reasons I wasn’t able to shoot. Among them, there’s one in particular that I deem as my hero, whom music my children grew up with: Frank Sinatra. The picture I’d wish to have shot is with no doubt Kings Go Forth – Sinatra at Capitol Records during the recording of “Monique”, 1954. I think that is the emblem of an icon. Some years ago I was asked to make a reportage about an exhibition of original Sinatra family’s autographed pictures, and to see that picture from real together with the others really touched me a lot. That is, indeed, the picture I’d wish to have personally taken.
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Luca Vantusso

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