Ducati People

Giovanni De Sandre: my portrait photographic work of Ducati excellence

A trained architect but photographer by vocation, Giovanni De Sandre has been the photographer chosen to portray all the new models launched by Borgo Panigale for the last five years. He is the person who sees the new Ducati bikes before anyone else, and uses his camera lens to interpret them and determine the way they will be disclosed to the whole world.

Photography as a representation of an idea.

Giovanni, where does your passion for photography come from?

I think I have always enjoyed looking at things from my own special angle. I remember that as a child they described me as an excellent observer, I spent hours analysing the objects that I happened to come into contact with and the environments around me. From the moment I had the opportunity to use a device that could actually record what I saw, I never put it down again.

And how did the transition from passion to profession come about?

Thanks to a discovery I came across while writing my architecture degree thesis.
Comparing the photographs taken by my lecturers, I realised the enormous interpretative potential of a photographer. An image is the most effective way to convey a message, because it uses a language that does not require translations. But the choices of a photographer, from the inclusion, exclusion, or highlighting of particular elements to the final approved shot, are the decisive element.

As a photographer, you love to approach a wide range of subjects: photographs of products, portraits,nature and so on. What is the common element among them?

That same amazement that inspired me to observe things as a child. The pleasure of finding myself face to face with beauty and the invincible desire to record it in the most effective way possible. Even in these difficult times, we still continue to receive signals from the outside: from nature, in the form of the small presences in our daily life such as plants, seeds, flowers, fruit (portrayed by Giovanni in his last book Naturalis Fons, editor's note); in people, who express authentic beauty in that exact instant of empathy that is triggered during a portrait; in the industriousness of man who, thanks to science, art and technology allows us to improve our lives.

Writing with light,
singing with images.

What does representing a motorbike mean to you?

A bike is a highly articulated solid form, whose alternately shiny and opaque surfaces react to light in a different and surprising manner, reflecting glows at unexpected angles, or absorbing the light completely. Conveying the beauty of the lines, the harmony of the reflections, and the design of the bike to accomplish the best possible result, requires a particularly complex and exceptional workmanship, involving continuously moving lighting, reflections to be controlled, and constant tweaking of alignments. In short: an outstanding operational complexity that must convey the soul of the bike in the manner in which it was designed.

And what does portraying a Ducati mean?

Ducati expresses the Italian two-wheel par excellence, and it is fundamental that the image of the company and its products is able to express this value to perfection.
In the darkness of the exposure room, the morphology of every glow of light and the depth of each shadow are the weighted result of very specific decisions. A photographer uses light to “write” and interpret the subject, just like a singer would with his own song. Yet the song is not mine, it's the work of the Ducati engineers and designers: my performance must not only please the public and remain faithful to a brand, but also transfer years of work and research. Luckily for me, the Ducati team has exceptional awareness of the authorship element of photography, so I have the opportunity to perform my work in an environment of serenity and outstanding mutual trust.

How do you reconcile respect of the Ducati brand and the various worlds associated with the different models?

By interpreting these subjects in a customised manner, yet always applying the brand's distinctive guidelines. That said, a Superleggera naturally inspires more aggressive angles, while a Multistrada with its imposing character inspires a more rational and almost automotive type angle, but the so-called Look&Feel, that feeling of being able to touch the vehicle and recognise its materials and finishes, must remain unchanged.

From WDW to Ducati Style.
An indelible imprint on the brand.

How did your professional relations begin with Ducati?

On tip-toe. I remember that the first time I set foot in Borgo Panigale, I took a briefcase packed with books and publications that I thought would be of interest to them, but every proposal I made, even the most extravagant and original, was met with the answer that it had already been used this year or that year. I left with my arms outstretched as a sign of surrender, but with a smile: “We have had the opportunity to meet, and I shall always be available should you decide to call me”. And shortly after they did in fact call me for the World Ducati Week. I was with three other photographers, each with specific instructions on how to cover the event: it was the first time I worked with a company that respected our work to the extent where they chose different interpreters to cover the same situation: intelligent, effective, gratifying, amazing.

And today you are practically at home in Ducati. How has this relationship evolved over time? Is there a special moment you like to remember?

This is an enormous satisfaction for me, because gaining the trust of such an important company has been a slow and progressive accomplishment, which we still feel we need to renew on every new occasion. There have been many special moments. Immediately after the WDW, we organised the shooting of a MotoGP rider, the unforgettable Nicky Hayden, with 20 changes and 9 different locations in less than two hours. An exceptionally complex and decisive undertaking, because it successfully put our organisational and creative approach to the test. That was followed with many shoots on apparel, accessories, lifestyle with the bikes and other WDW, but the next and perhaps most decisive step, was the shooting of the engine components, portrayed in the studio as if they were precious jewels. That work was highly appreciated, and I was rewarded with the most beautiful job ever: photographing all the most important historical models for the monographic volume “Ducati Style”. I still remember the engagement moment: we’ll bring the bikes and you ...... just have fun!
The perfect for any professional. After that book, where I had been engaged to tell the story of the entire history of Ducati with images, we were finally entitled to photograph the entire range of the bikes.

What kind of relationship have you developed with the Ducati staff?

Incredibly stimulating, frenetic, sometimes tiring but always rewarding. In short: amazing. At a personal and not simply a professional level, given the strong feeling of being part of a team, composed of people who, like me, entered the company on tip-toe ten years ago, and today organise shootings and coordinate communication activities. I think we can say that we have grown together, experiencing so many adventures that, one after another, have strengthened our relationship. These are the most important aspects in my mind, and I think they represent the real lifeline of this relationship: enjoying mutual respect and esteem, and an immense common passion that I hope transpires from our photos and will guide us for many years to come.

Those who know you say that this is your true imprint...

I like to think that every person I work with can preserve a personal, positive and particular memory of the way we met and the experience we shared, even if it refers to just a moment. I'd like to imagine that this is my “imprint”: I have always invested in building a solid and sincere connection with the people who place their trust in me, rather than spending time nurturing my public image. In short, let's say that I have always been busy...taking photographs!

For the pleasure of us Ducatistas, the fans of the other big brands you have worked with, and the many celebrities who have chosen you to portray them…

Yes, it’s true, I have had the opportunity to photograph some very well-known people, but I have also encountered the dignity of those walking barefoot in Indian villages, far from the rest of the world. I have burned my throat in mega-cities and captured the invisible day-to-day life of people on the edge of society, dedicating the same respect to any individual or situation I have observed through my lens. We know too little about the lives of others to think that only ours is worthy of interest. As photographers we are lucky enough to be able to relate these aspects, doing such a beautiful, intense, but also enlightening job. I don't think we could ask for more.

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