Professional marine photographer Andrea Francolini certainly isn’t afraid to dip his toes in new and uncharted waters. And quite frankly, with a specialisation like his, it comes with the territory. Born in Italy, but having lived in New York, Geneva, and Milan, Francolini decided to make Sydney his home 15 years ago.
Dipping his toe in
With a professional career that spans 17 years, Francolini has been specialising in yachting for the last 16 years. The idea to become a professional photographer wasn’t a conscious decision made at one specific point in time. “It just happened little by little,” he says. “But once the passion kicked in, there was no turning back. And when that happens, things just tend to snowball.”
Even when Francolini started to get serious about his photography, yachting as a specialisation wasn’t yet on the cards. There’s a great chance that had Francolini not been so clumsy, he might never have discovered his affinity for marine images. On one particular outing with a cousin, Francolini was looking forward to the prospect of going sailing. However, when getting on the boat, he slipped and fell into the water. His cousin left him behind on the dock, with his camera and some film. Later, when his aunt asked if he had taken any photos of her son, he rushed to the local photo lab to have the two rolls of film processed. He subsequently made his first sale – two 4x6in prints! The rest, he says now, is history.
Inspiration & influence
Francolini draws his inspiration for this photography from sources far and wide. “Anything which gives me emotions. It could be the light, the contrast, or the mood of the setting. When it comes to my sailing images,” Francolini says, “I am after the action or something that makes you stop and think when you see it.”
Although he’s swamped with commissioned work, Francolini can’t stress the importance of personal projects enough. “Wherever I travel, I always try to give something back to the community – whether it’s food to the homeless, helping to fix someone’s home, buying books for a school, et cetera.” He has visited Pakistan annually since 2008 and in 2010 he set up the ‘My First School’ trust, an Australian registered charity, the aim of which is to promote education in a specific region in northern Pakistan.
Funds are raised in Australia so that when Francolini returns to Pakistan the money can be used for anything from furniture to books, water tanks, bags of cement and whatever is really needed to improve the learning conditions for children.
Despite the pervasiveness of digital technology, Francolini still chooses to shoot the majority of his personal work on film. “I love film as it helps me slow the entire process down,” he says. “When shooting, and especially printing, I like seeing the imperfections.” ❂
© Andrea Francolini