Architecture & Interior, Creative Still Life, Editorial

Exploring the relationship between form and substance: Omar Sartor’s interior photography

Omar Sartor is an Italian photographer and director specializing in interior design, architecture and fashion. His work is linked to some of the highest ranking design brands and publications, and his style exudes timeless elegance and cinematic beauty.


 

I’m Omar, a photographer working at the intersection of shape, color and substance. When photographing, I move around like a dowser, looking for the essence of a place and a way to communicate it visually.

I started as a landscape photographer and think I’ll always be one. However, looking back, I can’t find a specific moment when I decided to become a photographer. I’ve always loved travelling and I’m fascinated in particular by rough landscapes born out of challenging climates, such as Alaska, Iceland, the volcanic islands of Hawaii, Lanzarote, Stromboli. I often travel to such places to immerse myself in the space and the inhabitants’ way of life, observing how people and landscape communicate and influence each other. I think I naturally floated towards interior and architecture photography because of this interest in connecting with spaces both physically and mentally. All in all, my journey in photography has been this long, fluid and still ongoing process that brought me to the kind of creative work I do now.



I’m also a motorcyclist, I love nature and I collect questions. I believe a good photographer needs to have a good eye, cultural knowledge and the right questions. I’m talking about the fundamental questions you need to ask yourself about the world, what you see and what you experience, so you can translate it and transform it into a creative output.



I study the link created between an object’s or landscape’s physical manifestation (shapes, colors, textures) and its substance or essence. I believe this interaction is not so much subject to a certain fashion, style or trend, but to archetypal principles that live inside of us. That’s why I like to believe that my photography has an aesthetic that’s suspended in time and somehow frugal. I try to imbue a composition with just enough details to stimulate the viewer’s imagination, prompting them to draw in and create their own intimate relationship with the subject.

The most challenging part of doing interior photography is, like in many other commercial genres, finding the right balance between the client’s or magazine’s vision and your personal aesthetic. I like to create a red thread between all my projects, and I always spend a lot of time before the start of each job to study my subjects: colors, shapes, volumes and dimensions, moods, the message I need to communicate. I take all this and try to translate it through my own photographic language.


Being a photographer is not an easy job, and not a normal job either. You have to constantly invest time and money in research, in developing your photographic language and making your work visible. It’s more a lifestyle than a job, actually. To me, it’s a form of research and exploration as well, it helps me understand who I am, the environment I live in, where I come from and where I’m going. As such, trying to become a better photographer every day is not only a professional demand, but a personal need.


I shoot medium format for quite a few reasons. First off, it has such a great depth of field, very different from other reflex cameras. Then, the medium format file has a certain plasticity. A Phase One image in particular is incredibly rich in information, which is crucial in my discipline, with lots of post-production as per client requirements but no room for quality compromise. A medium format image feels three dimensional, which gives interior photography a superior quality.

Medium format cameras also impose a slower workflow, they push me to be more focused, contemplative and inquisitive. To me, they offer a perfect balance between the portability of a reflex camera and the quality of a large format camera.



I use a Phase One because it’s the most complete medium format system in the world, always offering the absolute leading edge of available technology. As an aesthete, I also think the body of the XF is just a beautiful object. It’s a pleasure every time I open the case to take it out.


In terms of lenses, I’m in love with my Schneider Kreuznach 80mm Blue Ring. It’s very light and compact, with an incredibly accurate rendition. It’s about as close as you can get to what the human eye sees.

The next toy I want to play with is the XT, it looks awesome! But first, I’ll upgrade my IQ3 to an IQ4.




 

See more of Omar’s photography on his website or follow him on Instagram.

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