Interview with Salvo Orlando

We hope you enjoy this interview with Salvo Orlando, an Italian nature photographer with a focus on Sicily. This interview was conducted by Cristiana Damiano who is an ambassador for Nature First in Italy.

“Sicily is a small patch of land with infinite nuances”

© Salvo Orlando 2021. All Rights Reserved.

1- There is always a lot of curiosity and interest in the story of a great photographer, from his experiences to everything that has contributed to making him what he is. Tell us about yourself … How was your passion for nature photography born?

Living near a volcano like Etna has certainly influenced my way of seeing the world and natural beauties. I have always been fascinated by Nature, every time I find myself in front of it, in a forest or on the top of a mountain, I feel how everything is magically interconnected, everything exists in a delicate symbiosis perfectly balanced. Photography in nature has given me the opportunity to share what I feel and has allowed me to lead the observer to go beyond the image. When I photograph I do it with the intention of transporting people into the atmospheres, colors and scents of the places I observe. Succeeding in this is a challenge that today seems to become even more difficult, I see so much spectacularization in photography, especially in landscape photography, appearing seems to have become more important than being.

2- What do you think of the Nature First Principles and how do they apply to your photography?

For a long time, even before knowing Nature First, I have practically shared its principles and under every photo I publish I always write a sentence to always keep in mind: “Let nature not notice your passage, leave the places you photograph how did you find them “. Today, especially for many novice naturalist photographers, the important thing is not to communicate but to amaze at the expense of respect for the environment that you go to photograph. For example, I find it terribly stupid when I see behaviors that disturb animals or when I see photographers making their way through the vegetation, trampling and breaking branches just to get the perfect shot, sometimes you have to know how to give up photography, you have to understand what is the limit for a ethically correct photography. Is there really a need to amaze? Is it really that important to bring home a technically perfect shot? Perhaps in the world of social media, the effect photo works more, but often, in addition to not being a photograph that respects nature, it is something of an end in itself. When I bring some friends to photograph I try to convey to them the love for the whole environment and the living beings that inhabit it, I try to make them understand that every little speck of life is in exactly the right place at the right time, photography must respect this. way of seeing things and, if possible, exalting it, but it must never disturb or change its state. Nature is all based on precarious balances that took millions of years to form, our wrong attitude can bring these balances down and unfortunately in recent times this happens all too often.

© Salvo Orlando 2021. All Rights Reserved.

3- One of the principles of Nature First suggests to always educate yourself on the places you go to photograph. Do you have any suggestions to give?

Go to places with experienced people who know the environment in which you move, perhaps start with guides and read up on the species and places. Nature needs silence, our presence can in most cases become a nuisance for the fauna, in my opinion the principle that we must do everything to prevent nature from noticing our passage is always valid. For example, when moving along the paths it is important to pay attention to how you move avoiding making unnecessary noises. Crossing the vegetation also requires attention, it is important not to step on the plants and stay on the paths as much as possible to avoid the erosion of all the flora that makes up the ecosystem of the soil (grasslands, pioneer plants, wild orchids, etc.). Another thing I can’t stand is seeing people leaving garbage around, as well as being a potential danger for animals trying to eat it becomes an environmental problem, by now everyone should know how long it takes, for example, a plastic wrapper to degrade in the environment or how dangerous some chemicals can be contained in everyday objects.

4- Have you ever seen incorrect behavior on the field by other photographers or even by tourists?

It happens both with tourists who are often not used to approaching natural environments and with “naturalist” photographers who in theory should have a little more knowledge, the embarrassing thing and that sometimes it is also difficult to be taken seriously when try to explain why certain behaviors should be avoided. I think it is also a cultural problem for some, once I had a guy who had just uprooted a small pine tree and loaded it into his car, no use trying to reason with it.

© Salvo Orlando 2021. All Rights Reserved.

5- Do you have any experience partparticularly exciting that you experienced while photographing and that you would like to tell us?

I experienced the strongest emotionally when I managed to get close to the lava flows during the eruption. Etna in recent years has given me several memorable moments and I sincerely believe that I have immortalized only a small part of these moments, most of those sensations have a place in my heart and a photograph in my mind. Seeing up close an eruption on such a large volcano makes you see things from a different perspective, each fragment of lava, each lapillus emitted during an eruption is something just born, rocks just born from mother nature. All the material that is emitted during an eruption is material that transforms and shapes the environment in an ever new way and it is fascinating to be able to witness these evolutions in human and non-geological times.

6- Do you think that through nature photography we can also photographers in some way support and promote the protection of nature?

Perhaps. Photography has the potential and strength to strike people’s souls, but not everyone is willing to want to see beyond the represented image. There are very communicative images, the spectacular photo of Jasper Doest who won the last GDT comes to mind, these are undoubtedly images that can affect even the least sensitive people and can lend a hand to support the protection of nature. Then there are images that must be read and internalized more slowly as with landscape photography.

© Salvo Orlando 2021. All Rights Reserved.

7- Nature photography and photographic tourism: what is your opinion?

In some ways very bad, not all photographers who can guide in a natural environment, when you add up photographers with little naturalists and poorly informed tourism, the result is certainly negative. Obviously there are also good photographers who organize workshops where photography is overshadowed by attention to nature.

8- Photography and Social media: what do you think?

I do not demonize social networks, today they can also be a way to spread ideas, to share thoughts and I believe photography is experiencing a moment of diffusion like never before in its history. The problem with social media is that you find yourself in an endless and disconcertingly messy sea of mostly useless images. We can certainly find interesting photographic topics, but often they do not reach the consideration they deserve because it is as if they were suffocated by the screams of everything that the network constantly throws at us. So unfortunately important topics for nature that photography could promote take a back seat, social media are rather governed by politics, the economy and incredible nonsense.

© Salvo Orlando 2021. All Rights Reserved.

9- In your photographic journey you have had the opportunity to develop and follow projects, do you want to talk about it?

My photographic journey is an endless project, I have several times started the creation of a book, but beyond the limited time available and the economic investment, I realize that my ideas change much faster than the project itself does . I came to the conclusion that I have to make choices to ensure that the project can materialize. Now I’m imagining to go through a process that will have to lead me to the realization of something very personal, something that can be a more intimate and interpretative vision for those who observe my photography. Needless to say, it will still take some time.

To learn more about Salvo Orlando visit his website: