Saturday, November 11, 2006



This is the first entry of several devoted to photographers whose style I admire. Some are household names, and some you may well not be so familiar with. I expected to write first about the man who I think is the best photographer who has ever lived – Henri Cartier-Bresson. But he would have been a bit obvious, so I've chosen another great picture taker. I’ve just stumbled across an image which immediately brought this man, much less well known, back to the forefront of my attention, and he gets Slot Number 1 - Franco Fontana.

He’s an Italian who has been taking pictures for something over 40 years, and he has published around 40 books of images, covering most genres of the Art. But it’s his landscapes which have a special place in my heart. My own personal favourite form of photograph is the landscape, so there is an immediate resonance with other people who do it so much better than me. My own view on this type of picture is that generally “Less is More”. A good simple image pretty nearly always beats a good complicated one.

And this guy goes for “simple” in a big way. He reduces the world to minimalist shapes, structures, lines and colours - real colours! The world is reduced to blocks of colour and gradual gradation of chromatic tones, which seem to have a soothing and calming effect on the viewer. They are almost not landscapes at all, but abstract patterns of colour which happen to have their origins in the world we live in. They are not subtle pictures in terms of colour - the vibrancy of the image jumps out at you, but, believe me, their beautiful simplicity and originality allows them to stand the test of time. As an extreme example, just look at “Lagoon at Comachio” below – an utterly simple construction of, well, almost nothing.
But it makes you think, and if that isn’t what taking pictures is about, I’m missing the point of it all.

He is an utterly individual photographer, and ploughs a very lone furrow in his work. From the first minute you come across one of his landscapes, you are in no doubt as to who took the picture – the man has a totally individual style.

I’ve had three prints of his on my office wall for many years, and I have to say they stood the test of time – whenever I looked at them, they give me a jolt of pleasure, and on a wet, Monday morning in Birmingham, anything which can do that gets my vote.
I've gathered together a few of his images, shown below, to get his style and approach across. Do you know anyone else who takes images remotely like these? Feast your eyes on these!
If you want to read "World's Best Photographers - No. 2 - Elliott Erwitt", please navigate to the entry in this Blog for March 25th 2007.


Anonymous said...

Hi Roger,

I hope it is OK that I have linked to your Franco Fontana page from my own website
This was the only page I could find with a decent number of Franco Fontana's photos.

Your comment is quite appropriate by the way. I see his photographs with similar feelings, and I think they have influenced my own photography significantly (although I personally prefer not to go quite as abstract myself).


Anonymous said...

I am currently researching some of Fontana's work for a project and never have I seen such enthusiastic and brilliant photographs.
Franco Fontana's work is filled with passion and I hope to one day be able to amount to the same standard of excellence. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Its delightful to find that others think as highly of Fontana's work as I have silently for many years. Few seem to have heard of or seen his work. His approach struck me instantly as an exciting and almost abstract response to Landscape when I first saw some examples in a photo mag some twenty years ago. I have never forgot them.

Joanna said...

Guys I think you would like the new Panoramica Franco Fontana DVD - it came out last week.

Anonymous said...

Is the DVD just pictures of his work? What's the name of it? I just discovered this man - his works are stunning

Anonymous said...

ah-ha! Caught you you bounder, sir! That tiny image with "fontana" underneath is stolen from my website! But as I dont own any right to the photo above the caption anyway i will not complain :-)
mike (

Anonymous said...

This guy is the best:

stgrillein said...

Franco fontana is the Best color photographer since 30 years.No digital tricks,another works,photograpy.

Anonymous said...

I found your page by googling Franco's name. I have been into photography for years but had never heard of him. Honestly, he is up there with Haas and Maisel as a master of color photography. I found out about him from an old Kodak book called "Make Color Work For You." he has a few photos in there and I was blown away.

Anonymous said...

I have also admired this photographer's work for a long time. His style is absolutely "my cup of tea" - it looks simple, but it's not.

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