Gennaro Bassolino and His Fujifilm X100S Don’t Need Photoshop

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Dear Chris,

My name is Gennaro Bassolino I am a photographer from Florida but have been living in Asia for the past 10 years before COVID 19 forced me to return. I was living in Malaysia when I picked up a used Fujifilm X100s and that was when I really started shooting everything I could. It is one of those cameras that begs to be picked up. Its manual dials trained me in the basics of photography moving me away from automatic settings and into really taking control of all the variables.

The reason my wife and I had been living abroad for so long is we do volunteer work, so naturally, it’s the people that I am really drawn to, and I think that’s the biggest influence on my photos. My two main influences for my street photography is Steve McCurry as he also loves to photograph the human condition, but also Shane Taylor, whom I appreciate in that he always presents those he photographs in a way that if they saw their photo, I think they would appreciate the photograph. That is what I strive to do, take candid shots of people who would enjoy seeing that photo of themselves if they came across my work.

I have been shooting now for about four years, and as my photography is people-focused, I have continually elongated the focal length with which I shoot. First I added a teleconverter to my X100s that made it into a 35mm or 50mm equivalent on a crop sensor. I wanted more control, so I then jumped into the interchangeable lens domain by getting a second hand Fujifilm X-t20 with a 7Artisans 55mm f1.2 lens. I really love the size and feel of that lens, and also manual focusing with the Fuji focus peaking system, but the lens has horrible chromatic aberration, so most of my series that I will share with you was shot on a Rokinon 50mm f1.2 and a Rokinon 85mm f1.4.

As a street photographer, I do it more for the love of taking everyday things and showing that these are moments worth coming back to. So my gear reflects that process, I use manual focus and shoot fully manual, it’s a slower process but I am not in a rush, because street photography time is my time to enjoy the places that I am in at that moment. I find it also allows me to get it right in-camera, which allows me to shoot in jpeg, saving time in post-processing which I do all in mobile software – earlier in Snapseed but now in Lightroom. Quickly my process for most of my shooting is I shoot using Fujifilm Velvia Film simulation then I work with a Lightroom preset called golden and make some slight exposure, shadow, highlight, and other local adjustments.

In 2019 my wife and I arrived in India, and we made our base in Mumbai, and from there we traveled the country. However, I instantly fell in love with the Local Trains in Mumbai for various reasons.

  1. The train is a great equalizer when it comes to people the train is so affordable that the poorest of the city can get from point A to point B but at the same time the train is filled with middle-class families and business professionals. So it’s a dream for my genre of photography.
  2. Photographically the train has so many interesting options when it comes to lighting. Sometimes the subject is framed in front on the open train doors, which makes for great framing. Also, I love photographing people who have the window seat, as window light makes for beautiful highlights and shadows. And when the sun goes down, you get the people standing under the overhead neon lights, which also create magical moments.

So my project that I want to feature and that I am currently featuring on my Instagram feed is called Blood Lines. I chose the title because The Mumbai Local trains feed life into Mumbai and the surrounding areas, literally the veins, and arteries of the massive city. It’s a compilation of over 100 photos shot between May 2019 to March 2020 right before COVID shut the train’s normal working schedule down. It features the beauty and diversity of the people of Mumbai and captures a small piece of the 8 million people that used to ride that train every day. I think people will be interested in this project for multiple reasons. The first is that when people see photos of India, its usually very exotic parts of the country, which are beautiful aspects of the country, but the India also has the aspect that it is millions of people like you and me, that are making a daily commute each day to provide for themselves and their families. These moments, these people are a beautiful and exciting part of India also. Second, I was looking for Photobooks while in India, and I haven’t been able to find one yet, that solely focuses on the trains of India, which is a huge part of their everyday culture. Third, I enjoyed the process so much, and I think that will come through to the viewer,

My Instagram handle is @a_taker_of_faces. The origin of this name was taken from Acts 10:34 which if translated from the original Greek says “God is not a taker of faces, the modern translation says “God is not partial”. So while I choose whom I will photograph, it reminds me that all people are important to God, no matter nationality, background, or culture. Thus reminding me to treat all people with dignity and love.

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy email.

Sincerely,

Gennaro, @a_taker_of_faces

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.