Each month we invite a creative from Behance to curate our social feed for a week. In honor of Earth Day this month, infrared photographer Paolo Pettigiani shares with us his approach to photographing the world and the process behind his curated moodboard.
“The beauty of photography is that it's an extension of the human eye, allowing you to see what's beyond your sight, even the invisible. This is especially true of infrared photography, which captures wavelengths of light invisible to the naked eye and shows you an otherwise inaccessible world,” explains Paolo Pettigiani.
The Torino-based photographer has captivated the world with his fantastical infrared photographs: he’s worked with global clients like Pantone and LG, and if you’re a photographer editing with Lightroom, you may recognize Paolo’s work from the splash screen of Lightroom Classic.
Paolo recalls his first memory with image making: “I started taking some pictures for fun during a trip with my family in Argentina. I was 10 years old and I used an old analog camera.” It wasn’t until much later, during his studies in design and visual communication at Polytechnic University of Turin, that photography became a real passion and eventually a profession.
“During my Bachelor’s Degree, I started to explore the topic of seeing the unseen, driven by a desire to explore familiar places, expanding the limits of perception through a graphic and visual exploration of the territory,” Paolo shares. He found his trademark style using infrared photography, something he describes as “a fusion of science and creativity.”
“The human eye can see wavelengths between 400 nm and 720 nm (the classic rainbow). Infrared photography typically involves light in the 590 nm to 1200 nm range,” Paolo explains. By using external infrared filters and modified cameras, Paolo was able to make the invisible visible.
Paolo created his first artistic infrared project titled INFRARED NYC during his stay in New York City, and it catapulted him into the world of photography. “Since I published this infrared project on Behance, it became viral and completely changed my life. I was featured on The Washington Post, Wired, Highsnobiety, Vogue and many others. This has given a lot of worldwide visibility to my project and the week after, I signed my first contract with LUMAS Gallery to sell fine art prints in their beautiful galleries.”
“Infrared photography is a very niche technique and, when I started in 2015, few people knew it. A limited amount of information was available online and this stimulated me to do a lot of research and studies to create my personal artistic philosophy.” He attributes this period of exploration for his unique style.
After nearly 7 years of shooting in infrared wavelengths, Paolo has learned to see the world in a new light: “When I shoot, it is as if I have developed the ability to see the invisible colors and to imagine the real world as a new land full of colors.”
Paolo first started using Behance over ten years ago when he was studying design, and he still uses it as one of his main sources for finding inspiration and discovering new trends and interesting projects. When curating his Behance moodboard, he kept an eye out for projects that gave him the opportunity to “look at the world through creativity and colors.”
One of the projects that stood out to Paolo was fellow photographer Matthias Heiderich’s collection of minimalist architectural photographs: "Matthias has an incredible eye for creating beauty from simplicity, and he follows his natural instinct for composition.”
Given his appreciation for the power of photography and its power to give us new perspectives on the world, it’s no surprise that Paolo found himself drawn to Tom Hegen’s aerial images: “[Tom] provides us with an overview of our earth’s surface that has been transformed by the impact of human presence."
Another photographer whose work captivates Paolo is Reuben Wu. “I think Reuben is one of the most talented artists and contemporary photographers,” says Paolo of the Chicago-based photographer. Paolo included Reuben’s series of long exposure landscapes in his moodboard: “He uses creativity and technologies to explore new places and night landscapes.”