Our Behind the Lens series sheds a light on the incredibly talented photographers EartH works with in-house.
It feels especially pertinent to be celebrating the people working behind the scenes that usually make our venue tick, after the coronavirus has put so many creatives in difficult positions and resulted in the temporary closure of our venue.
Eleonora Collini has worked for many years as an inhouse photographer at Village Underground, before joining the EartH team when we launched in 2018.
We love that Eleonora is a dab-hand at the pre-show candid shots, as much as the epic, FOMO-inducing, oh-my-god-you-had-to-be-there captures.
Below, we discuss her inspirations and motivations – and why Eleonora loves the idea that “with photo you can freeze a moment in time and make it yours”. Look out for her EartH Instagram takeover too, where Eleonora will be sharing her favourite photos from EartH and telling us some stories behind the shots.
EartH: When did you start your practice of photography?
Eleonora Collini: I am a self-taught photographer. I have always been attracted to photography since I was a kid, but I only properly got into it around 10 years ago, when I was living in the States and had quite a bit of free time not having properly sorted my work visa yet.
EartH: Which photographers or styles of photography do you most admire?
Eleonora Collini: It’s photographing people I have always been the most interested in, whether it’s portraits, performance stills, street photography or photojournalism. I think the beautiful and the ugly or the different are the most interesting subjects. For that reason, I have always loved the work of Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus. I am also a huge fan of the work of the big Magnum Agency photographers, such as Robert Capa, Elliot Erwitt, Jim Goldberg, Eve Arnold and Steve McCurry.
E: What originally drew you to photography?
EC: I have always loved the idea that with a photo you can freeze a moment in time and make it yours. I love the unicity and intimacy of each photo. Also, I have always been drawn to art, but I find it very difficult to express my feelings and emotions, and let it go, which is at the core of creating most forms of art. Photography is just the perfect medium for me, as though you can tell a lot about a photographer’s personality through their photos, you don’t really reveal as much. There is a bigger filter between photographer and audience than with music or other fine arts.
E: What do you find a challenging element to it?
EC: As I am mainly interested in photographing people, sometimes it can get pretty intense especially when you’re taking portraits. There’s an intimacy, an unspoken communication between the photographer and the subject. While that is actually one of the things I love the most about portrait photography, this can be an obstacle when there is no complicity with the subject, which can sadly happen sometimes.
E: What kind of photography projects do you work on outside of the work you do at EartH?
EC: I work with lots of music magazines ( such as Clash, London in Stereo, Loud & Quiet etc) not only for live reportage but also for portrait assignments. I also have my own studio where I take headshots and portraits of performers, mainly musicians, actors or dancers. I also take photos at events, especially music related, like club nights or awards, and occasionally work on photo documentaries. I have recently been to Peru and Cambodia to work on photo projects with two charities.
E: Are there any skills you’re honing at the moment regarding your photography?
EC: I am trying to shoot analogue as much as I can these days. I am experimenting with different types of films and I am also doing a darkroom course to then try and print images myself. I want to go back to Lomography too.
E: Can you tell us three artists (photographers or otherwise) you’ve been inspired by recently?
At the moment I am quite into the work of Zachery Michael, who is a fashion and music photographer I got to know through his work with the Arctic Monkeys. Still talking about music photographers, I saw an amazing exhibition of French photographer Renaud Monfourny (co-founder of Les Inrockuptibles) in Paris last year or so.
Recently I got to know the work of Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia, best known for having captured the mafia years. I saw a very good documentary about her mafia work at the ICA a couple of months ago, which was very moving as it brought back some childhood memories, then I saw an exhibition in my hometown Milan last month.
E: Thank you so much Eleonora for your time and such brilliant answers!
Make sure you’re following EartH on Instagram for Eleonora’s favourite shots later this week.
And find more of Eleonora’s work on Instagram here, and her website here.