Nudity, intimacy, voyeurism and silence pervade this Italian’s photographs. Luca Bortolato’s works have a dreamy, poetic and melancholic feel, which he gets by shooting analogue and by using his sensitivity as the main artistic weapon. We discuss how his relationships with models inspire him to face his fears and identity.
Do you mind telling us a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up and where do you live?
I’m in love, always. I live in Italy, near Venice, but I travel a lot.
What inspires you daily? Are you inspired by emotions or other artists?
People inspire my thoughts; I've always loved the relationship I create with them. My pictures are built through words and listening. I feel myself through others.
Do you have a routine when it comes to your photography, or do you take every day as it comes?
In my last year, my approach has changed: before it was spasmodic research, now I work step by step for a long time on a single project. I am not in a hurry.
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Your photographs have a poetic and dreamy feel to them. How did you develop such a personal style?
The poetry comes spontaneously. I found my way naturally by passing through the azure and absence of clarity. Everything I've always wanted is to know myself, my identity and my fears, accept my melancholy. To do this, I need to create relationships.
In some of your images, you leave dust spots and scratches. How important is it that you use analogue for your work?
For my work and research, it is crucial. I need to feel the material so I can be sure it is all true. However, in my opinion, you can create an interesting picture with a phone, a digital camera or with a simple wood box. It’s all in our mind and our aperture.
And we know that, when shooting analogue, the final result is always more unpredictable. Do you like randomness to become part of your images? Or do you edit them if the result is not what you expected?
Usually, I never find surprises. I know well my film and my camera. Unfortunately, I always have everything all under control.

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You have described your photographs as mysterious and silent. What do you wish to reveal with this mood?
Simply my melancholy. It’s about the search and not the finding.
When looking at your pictures, most of them portray women. Is this important for your concept?
Women feel like me. With them, I can cry, and with them, I can breathe. They have a heart and ears more attentive. They are my most sensitive part.
Photographing nudes is very intimate. How do you make sure the models feel comfortable during the shoot? And how do you make sure the models bring across and reflect the feelings you intend to show in your photographs?
It is always and only a matter of trust. It is built slowly through words and silence. And above all, you need to know how to listen.
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In some of your photographs, nature plays a huge role, and in others, it’s the interior. How do you choose a location? How does the environment change the message and feeling of the image?
The landscape has the importance of being ‘no place’. Everything has to be suspended in ‘no time’. I always prefer minimal natural places, with few elements, without visual disorder because the person is the most important thing. The sea is perfect for all these reasons. The sea is my home.
Nevertheless, there is a photo series that stand out from the rest: Mericans. In it, you portray different people in very recognizable urban American landscapes. Could you tell us more about it?
Mericans was born almost by accident. I don’t love shooting when I travel. I want to have my head clear. However, in New York, I found the melancholy of being alone.
This text that I wrote best describes all the work:

The apple that never sleeps.
Of restless skyscrapers
of metal in the air.

Knots of cement and sheet metal
flags and patriotism.
The poison of traffic
but "please, no smoking!"

So many clichés
building contradictions.
Flavours and smells of thousands of skins,
thousands of nationalities.

A whirl of places
always searching for a story,
yet to create, yet to imagine.

And yet being alone.

Indulging, waiting.
Seeking a fleeting moment in the flow.
Guarding it jealously.
Breaking away.

Catching your breath.

Telling yourself that,
you'll be fine.
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So far this year, you’ve had exhibitions in Milan, Padova and San Benedetto del Tronto. How have they been? Are you planning on bringing your art outside Italy in 2017?
This last year was very intense. I built many things: exhibitions, workshop, ideas, etc. But above all, I created relationships with the people who gave me the confidence to continue and create my dreams. I found the pleasure of teaching, of giving and receiving.
I want to keep my roots in Italy mainly for the network of contacts I have created, but I love travelling and this can be a good starting point for other things.
What are you working on right now? Is there a new project coming soon? 
For more than a year I've been working on a project with just one person, an investigation into our relationship. Soon it will become an exhibition. It’s just waiting for a right place and a right moment. In very short time I’ll work with another person, an illustrator, for a complicated work on the passage of time. Of course, I want to continue teaching, speaking, and listening.
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