The eye of Tom Sebastiano focuses on everyday circumstances where the ordinary becomes the centre of interest.
He is born in Italy and as a child he loved painting and drawing but gradually he selected photography as the main platform of his creativity, maybe for the less dedication and patience it demanded. He bought his first camera at fifteen years old, taking the common pictures of family and friends, and reporting occasional travels.
It’s actually ten years ago that Tom Sebastiano decides to pursue a lifelong photography, realising that the time spent, at his young age, without taking that much pictures, matured lots of ideas just waiting for the chance to be realised.
Ideas about people and places, about the everyday unnoticed: more than a photographer he’s a narrator of what is around the urban landscape and life.
Into his lens, photography is a discourse about composition, light and emotion, moving across portraits, desolate city landscapes, inanimate objects. The interest can swing into a variety of subjects but the atmosphere is always uniform, quiet, still. This is because to create a new picture Tom Sebastiano relays on ‘a mental library of imagined situations, previously seen locations, existing light’ combined with whatever the weather is doing the day selected for shooting.
Everything assumes one significance, everything looks similar: in the same standing position of a guy with his skateboard, it’s not difficult to find daily objects ‘as main subjects or supporting props of interest’… ‘I have merged themes and locations, for example, choosing a portrait location, in the same kind of place that I would shoot an urban landscape.’
In Animate is the series where he investigates more about objects that from the still ordinary come to life. A timeless dimension where things such as game tables, chairs, old pictures and diapositives stay in a central position (such as the people in portrays). He says ‘they represent a sense of ubiquity’, the careful framing and composition make the everyday unexceptional, significant. What is indifferent, different.
What is really exceptional about Tom’s photographs is that they seem as they could be taken anywhere and at anytime, there is no time and space references, recognisable elements of our contemporary are explicitly avoided.
In Animate represents an in-between space where the secondary things come at our first attention, where what could be considered unpleasant, unfamiliar, turns into something already seen, walked, lived, ’somehow we have all seen something like this before’.
The identity of these objects has to be researched into the Italian photographer’s memories, childhood, visual fascination, what is familiar to him: ‘my photos are more a sort of nostalgia for some reason or another they represent something of interest for me’.
There is any documentary intention, any exact recording of a situation the he has found, instead a lack of references, of descriptions is preferred: in every pictures things are arranged and elements removed from the urban landscape to create a more charming final effect and concentrate the attention to the story Tom is about to tell.
Photography regarding Tom Sebastiano is made with analogue cameras, the beauty and the strong character of film contribute in making exceptional the daily subjects he narrates about. In Animate, as much as all his series, merges together black and white pictures with colours one. There is a perfect balance between them, as if they can’t be separate. The magnetism of colours intersperses the classic and calming visions of black and white ‘I can’t photograph one without the other’ Tom says.
The same perfect balance is maintained among the various subjects, people and places, where his presence, his trace is always perceivable.
Tom collects his photographic researches in his website and blog ‘Inverno Dreaming’ where he also extends his interest over other artists work. In fact he likes, as much as taking pictures, looking at them ‘in a sort of celebration of photography’. Primarily he started increasing his blog for the pleasure of writing and understanding photography, with his own views and analyses, it wasn’t a big step then ending up into conversations, interviewing other photographers whose work Tom admired.
Establishing a contact with other contemporary artists is one of Tom’s methods to get stimulated for his own studies. As well as wandering into websites and social medias ‘inspired in a drip-drip kind of way by all that I see and like’.
From the present to the past, he is close to the Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri (for the same solitude and immobility of places), along with Stephen Shore American known for his ‘Uncommon Places’, the work of fashion photographers Toni Frissell and Lee Miller as well as the brilliantly haunting and expressive photography of Francesca Woodman.
Written by Claudia Bigongiari
Images © Tom Sebastiano