Nothing much could happen
Nothing we can't shake
Oh, we're absolute beginners
With nothing much at stake
—David Bowie, "Absolute Beginners"
BtF: How did you begin your work in photography? Was there a "decisive moment" when you knew it was a special medium for you, when you felt truly committed to it?
LG: I’m an architect and the founder of a successful architectural company. Architecture and photography are somehow interlinked for me: they both relate ideas of space, three-dimensionality and people interacting with their environment.
For me, learning photography was a natural and organic process and, compared to architecture—in which the whole project’s genesis from conception to completion can take years—photography allowed me to vent my creativity and make a project in shorter amount of time.
The “decisive moment” to start photography was when my daughter was born: I had to commute London-Rome every week for roughly 6 month so I took the chance to read a lot of books about photography during my traveling. With time, I have learned how to maximize the time dedicated to photography without affecting my work and the time dedicated to the family.
BtF: When you were beginning photography, were there any people, artists, books, films that served as essential inspirations? How about now—any sources of creativity you discovered recently that give you that jolt of "beginner's" passion?
LG: Terrence Malick's cinematography (and Emmanuel Lubezki, more recently) dig down into certain type of emotions: the way they portray everyday life, in contrast with the mystery of nature, and transform our perception of how we look at the world, enhancing certain visceral aspect of it. In Malick's case, he achieved this with a stunning visual language in which the use of light and the camera movements participate to convey these emotions. I followed him since I was very young and I will carry on with me forever his visual poetry.
More recently I have discovered the photography of Tony Ray-Jones: his very subtle and melancholic irony together with a superb composition of the images gave me that sort of a kick to carry on developing my photography with the same beginner's passion!
BtF: Cartier-Bresson famously said, "Your first 10,000 shots are your worst." Can you share a humbling moment that happened to you recently with regards to your photography? A moment when you realized, like all of us, that there's always much more to learn?
LG: I recently took a masterclass course with the Magnum photographer Matt Stuart.
Like me, he is a street photographer who takes pictures in London. And fortunately, unlike some other Magnum photographers, he doesn't have that typical "unapproachable aura." However, having spent three days with him in a full immersion photo session, I learnt how his excellent photography is a combination of talent, very hard work, passion and obsession for the media. Regardless of his talent, am I ever going to have his same drive to achieve that level of excellence in photography?
—Lorenzo Grifantini, interviewed by behindthefra.me
Editors' note: Lorenzo has three images available in our first flash sale, "Always a Beginner"—take a look!