An interview with the master of his terrain, our photographer Roberto Sysa Moiola
2020 became a year we learned to reconnect with our immediate environment, with many of us exploring our surrounding local parks, trails, and parklands like never before. We took time to discover and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us. Of course, our professional photographers are based all across the globe, and they have been taking full advantage of this time to get outdoors and capture beautiful moments and stunning footage.
We caught up with one particular robertharding photographer, Roberto Moiola, who has been venturing out into the Alps from his home in Valtellina, a valley in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, boarding Switzerland. Today this area is well known for its ski centre, hot spring spas, bresaola, cheese, and wines. Geographically the Valtellina is a long, sinuous alpine valley boarded by the Bernina Alps, part of the Rhaetian Alps, the Ortles mountains in the northeast, and the Orobie Alps in the south. It snakes its way along a 132-mile east-west axis from the village of Berbenno to the town of Tirano. The terrain of hard granite, clay, and loam, mountains adorned with icy glaciers, and the river Adda winding its way across the valley floor, simply provides a breathtaking backdrop for any visual artist. Roberto’s passion for beauty, his desire to discover nature, and his drive to capture breathtaking photography, has fuelled his spirit for adventure, leading to the most beautiful travel images.
Speaking with Roberto, to ask what his biggest challenges have been over the past 12 months, and since our last interview back in January 2019.
How do you prepare for your trips? Particularly, those with challenging environmental conditions.
I usually dedicate a lot of time to planning my travels. Scouting is very important to avoid losing time when traveling. I usually use Google services to find out any good spots. With Mymaps I save all the pins of interest and with Google Earth, I try to combine both the landscapes and the sunlight searching for interesting possible conditions. Thanks to technology, planning has become easier, so I recommend some essential smartphone Apps: Photo Pills, Windy, LandWebcams.
Do you prefer night shots or day?
I love nature so I don’t have a real favorite moment. I prefer to associate the various moments of the day to the different environments in which I find myself shooting: during blue hours I prefer city lights or artificial lights such as car crossing, when I travel in the Arctic I spent a lot of time on the field at sunrise or sunset, thanks to the very low light. Night photography is particularly dedicated when I am spending a night overnighting with them in the Alps, but also winter as well, with the light of the snow illuminating the night.
What drives your choice of subject matter?
I often prefer pristine landscapes in winter, this let me took special pictures. Alternative locations are the key if you don’t want to spend a journey completely taking pictures of iconic spots. I also love hiking and alpinisme, especially out of marked trails, searching for a good view. When I find my POV I usually spent sunset, night, and sunrise over there, letting me take different scenery of the same spot.
How do you set up for your shot? Is it a long process?
The composition is very important, but also locate a good view and use an ergonomic tripod. I usually shoot with GND and ND filters to be more creative. This allows alls me more time when editing photos at home. I sometimes combine photos to obtain a special result, especially during night photography.
Your Instagram feed keeps up to date with your recent adventures, which often look very remote. In one image you mentioned not meeting any photographers in ten days of travel, do you prefer to work alone?
I usually love traveling to the Arctic in winter and, except for Lofoten and Senja (Norway), I don’t usually meet any photographers for days. This is important if you wanna be the first one taking pictures with pristine snowy landscapes. Of course, this also takes more effort to reach locations, especially in the snow.
In northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland Lapland, or Faroe, you can travel for days meeting just some locals joining nature. It looks like people like concentrate travels to the iconic and easiest destinations. However, since I have been several times I decided to move my destinations when I’m traveling for stock purposes.
What makes the difference between a good image and an iconic image?
Social users tend to prefer iconic spots, but you must find breathtaking moments and maybe be creative to show a different view of them. Elsewhere it could be that we are watching a beautiful spot instead of a beautiful photo. Socials don’t care about it but working with photo agencies I think that being different is the key to sell as many pictures as possible.
I have to say that despite everything, 2020 has been a very special year for me. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many particular images. I dedicated myself more to the mountains and to Italy and I must say that I was able to rediscover, with due calm, the beauties that surround me.
Do you shoot a video alongside your image to illustrate your story?
I asked a video maker to follow me on many travels, usually, I use this during conferences to show people how beautiful and sometimes hard is our job as travelers and photographers, despite being the best job in the world 😀 I sometimes shoot video with a drone and I have a project to create a film to sensitise people about how fragile is nature.
How do you manage your time as a photographer and teaching? Have you been able to teach at Sysa Acadamy this year?
It’s a long time ago when I started to teach computers and technology, then I moved to photography and photo editing. This year, without the possibility to teach in a real room, I decided to open an online Academy, with life lessons when I was at home forced by the lockdown. It was a dream I had for a long time but never had time to do it. More the 100 guests interacted with me in the lessons, it has been an interesting activity both for people and for me.