Little Film Rectangles

Tom Sebastiano

What does the term ‘art’ mean to you?


Art is the most important thing of not important things.


What draws you to the medium of photography?  What do you think it offers over other mediums?


It's a fascinating mix of art and technology and so it appeals to my like of machines, media and techniques. It allows me to visualise stories and explore my world by framing it in my own vision.  For me, it is this sense of realism made beautiful that is special about photography.


You talk about capturing stories, moments and time. Could you expand on what you mean by this?


Stories are another way of expressing arrangments and compositions that somehow allow the viewer to imagine places, situations or characters frozen by a photograph. I like the juxtaposition of 'an enduring moment' the short time it takes for a shutter to capture an image that can last a lifetime. 


There is a clear sense of both careful planning and moments of spontaneity within your work and how does this drive the process? How does this help shape the end result?


Yes, I’m a bit of a planner, that’s not to say I want to be in complete control but I rarely just grab a camera and simply go looking for a picture.  The qualities I focus on are what I can control, the subject, location and composition.  When arranging or planning a potential shoot I’m mostly preoccupied with light and weather.  All my work is lit naturally and mostly shot outside, so these two elements probably have the greatest influence, but my planning stops there.  Short of fully staging a photograph, that would be contrary to the excitement of unexpected discovery and there has to be some real meaning, some kind of story.


What themes are you looking to explore/capture? Are the same themes seen throughout your body of work?


My main interests revolve around portraiture, urban landscapes and a personal take on still life.  If I can make pictures,  that regardless of the subject, have a similar feel, then that's a big deal for me.  If one day I portray a guy in his workshop and the next, a dimly lit underpass, if somehow they are both recognisable as my work, then I'm happy.  Over time, I have begun to merge themes, for example, choosing a portrait location in the same type of place I would shoot an urban landscape. 


You've talked about capturing urban landscapes and there is a clear aesthetic to your work. How successful would you say you are in capturing this vision of the world? Do you achieve what you set out to do?


My photos are not meant to be documentary or an exact recording of a situation I have found.  Of course, sometimes I shoot exactly what I see, but I wouldn't hesitate to arrange things in a more pleasing or visual way.  Likewise, I am happy to remove unwanted elements with post-processing if I think it will improve my final photo. 


Looking at your work there is a clear style to it. With this in mind, what makes a photograph interesting for you personally?


Arrangement and composition, I like symmetry and an almost graphic order. After that, I am attracted by light, colour and tone.


What’s is/are key within your work? Colour? Shape? Composition?


For me, a painter adds strokes, colours, elements to their canvas as they build up a composition.  As a photographer, I do the opposite, removing and simplifying elements in the frame to achieve the composition I want.  I know it is a cliché but the other vital thing is light,  it makes the difference between a good photo and a great photo.


Whilst your work, is clearly yours is there anyone you look to for inspiration?


Yes, as much as I like taking photos I love looking at them.  Most of the work I look at is online by contemporary photographers.  So I’m inspired in a drip-drip kind of way by all that I see and like.  When it comes to established photographers past and present, I admire the work of Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri as well as Stephen Shore and Alec Soth.  Also, I like the work of 1940s American fashion photographer Antoinette Frissell as well as the brilliantly haunting and expressive photography of Francesca Woodman.