Interview: Frothing on Photographer Franck Gazzola – Cali Press

If you’ve been into a Cali Press Cafe lately you will have noticed some epic Sydney beach style prints on our walls. The photographer behind these incredible prints is Sydney based Franck Gazzola of Frothers Gallery who has been part of the CP family since shooting our first cafe opening at Bronte two years ago. Recently we had a chance to catch up with Franck for chat and a juice (of course)…

A lot of your work is centralised around Sydney’s beaches making your work a perfect fit for Cali Press’s beachy vibe cafes. What do you love most about the area as a subject?

It’s a constantly changing environment! Weather can change the perfect paradise beach into a moody storm overnight. One day the surf is glassy and the beach packed with runners, walkers or swimmers and the next morning windsurfers take over the waters and flying sand turns the beach into a desert. The fact that our beaches are so close together and yet so different is very attractive as a photographer. Depending on my mood, I can favour to shoot one beach over another, only because the vibe corresponds to how I feel. Bondi and Bronte in the morning are often at opposite sides of the spectrum. When one has good waves, the other usually doesn’t and when one is overcrowded with 25-year-olds, the other has got the grey hair, rain, hail or shine swimmers. There is such diversity in environment, people and vibe to shoot on a daily basis.

It might be like choosing between kids… but what’s your favourite beach to shoot and why?

That’s like asking would you rather be a millionaire or a billionaire? If I had to choose one, I’d probably take Bondi. Obvious, but Bondi’s a bit larger and offers more angles from Ben Buckler to the edge of Mark’s Park. The lifestyle shooting in Bondi is more intense too. So many things happen down there, it’s crazy sometimes. I’ve seen an engagement proposal, a wedding, some surfing pandas, mermaids… you name it! Even if the surf isn’t as good as the other beaches (especially when it gets bigger), Bondi is a place where beginners, longboarders and ripping shortboarders co-exist. Sometimes it’s a bit dangerous, but fun nonetheless. 

At Cali we’re big on community and fostering local culture. What are your thoughts on how art can play a part in cultivating a community?

Art can play a massive role. It creates initial contact between people and layer in-between individuals that can disappear, to leave only that human connection. It was incredible to see the number of strangers talking during the Sculpture by the Sea event. When the Frothers Gallery had a pop-up store in a container on the beach earlier this year, it was incredible the number of visitors who found shared interests in one of the artworks. As an observer of those moments, you realise that your art can act as a binder for the community. After shooting the area for several years now, I realise that walking daily with my camera has also been a great way not just to meet new people, but also to create contacts. Art is made to be seen, shared and in essence, is a means of communication.

What’s the coolest location / project you’ve ever shot?

Definitely Greenland. By far the coolest: anywhere between -15ºC to -37ºC, with seawater at -1.7ºC! I was working with a polar underwater exploration expedition called “Under The Pole”. We’ve explored a new world under the sea ice. During this project, I documented the work of the team on board our exploration boat and was caught in the ice for the wintering, as well as on the ice and under the ice. I’ve never experienced such a humbling place to work and live. No trees, no leaves. Just ice and snow. Nothing else. At night, during some episodes of the Northern Lights, I could stay out on the sea ice for several hours and I never felt cold due to the adrenaline… I also had great gear too. Diving in an underwater landscape of cracking icebergs where no one has ever dived before tastes like spatial exploration, like landing on Mars or the Moon.

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How did you get into photography?

I was in high school when my Dad gave me his very first camera from 1968. We had a dark room at school and I was processing and printing my shots with one of my very best mates. I really liked it, but by university time I could not access the dark room anymore. I moved on and became much more involved in playing music in bands. It was only on my 30th that I got back into it. My wife and my parents chipped in to get me a decent camera and that was the ignition of the passion again. A couple of years later, I got my first contract as a professional photographer & started to get involved with the Frothers Gallery. A couple of years after that, I decided to quit my golden cage in the corporate world, embarked for Arctic and got my first publication in Nat Geo. This passion of mine took over my life and is shaping a more meaningful future and lifestyle.

Is there a particular image or certain photographers that’s influenced you the most?

There are so many. I have been fascinated by the images from Cartier-Bresson and his philosophy around photography in general. He had a humble approach to the craft, which forces you to get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot. He said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Of course, this was back when we were shooting on film, so today the quote would become “your first 1,000,000”, point is, the magic of an amazing image is a combination of hard work, resilience and luck comes at the end. There is one image from Jonas Bendiksen that is one of my all time favourites, taken in Altai Territory in Russia. I also have an immense admiration for Bondi local, Murray Fredericks, an extremely talented and innovative landscape photographer, whose work in the Australian and Greenlandic outdoors has inspired me a lot. I felt very privileged when Murray helped me out with some advice before I headed out to Greenland.

For the Insta fans, who’s your top 3 photo accounts?

  1. The Magnum Agency (@magnumphotos): I must say that I am very fascinated by photography that I cannot do, or I don’t think I have the right skills for. The Magnum Agency has a preceding reputation and rightly so. Their journalistic style mixed with incredible story telling and composition excellence is the absolute reference for me.
  2. Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen): Paul must be one of the most patient, resilient, courageous photographers on Earth. His work in sub-Arctic/Antarctic regions is beyond words and he manages to capture not only technically perfect images, but the feelings of the animals he shoots, whether it’s fear, curiosity, anger… it’s incredible!
  3. Woody Gooch (@woodygphoto) or Morgan Massen (@morganmaassen): I can’t decide between those two. They’re both equally amazing. Extremely fine, poetic and feather heavy surf imagery.

If you could photograph anything or anywhere on the planet what/where would it be?

There are so many. Antarctica, Iceland, the Svalbard and Alaskan Archipelagos and Heard Island. If I can tick all those boxes before I die, it’d make me really happy. If there’s anyone out there with an opportunity to shoot or even wash some dishes over there, I’m a taker!

Something you’re saving up for… a drone?

I’d love to shoot one of those impressive storm fronts with a drone. Maybe this summer. I can’t wait for this storm season to start.

What’s on the cards for 2017?

I am involved with a commercial project in the Maldives that will be a lot of hard work… but it’s the Maldives! A trip to Costa-Rica is also planned and I can’t wait to bring back images for the Frothers Gallery from over there. The Under The Pole Expedition is back on the sea from May 2017. This time, the underwater scientific expedition will set sail for 3 years, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. I’m teaching a new Photography Course in March 2017 at the Australian Centre For Photography in Darlinghurst. The 5 weeks course Working With The Elements will help amateur/professional photographers improve faster, plan their shoots better and aid in getting ready for the unexpected. I want to share all the things no-one ever teaches you about when you’re shooting in the wild, in the water or in harsh conditions.

What photographic ambitions would you love to achieve in the next few years?

My main focus is in happiness and to keep enjoying what I do whilst supporting myself, my wife and hopefully a family soon. 

While they’re chilling out in Cali Press, what message would you ultimately want to convey to our customers/your audience?

Live outside and don’t take nature for granted. Through our images, I want people to want to keep things as beautiful as they are, even if we’ve already done quite a bit of damage. Rather than making people feel guilty about that and showing a perfect beach full of garbage, I always prefer to show beauty. I also hope to convey that you can actually live the inspirational quotes you read across social media every day: ”live your dream”, ”follow your heart”, ‘’find your own way’’ etc. It takes a bit of courage and encouragement but it’s possible. The first step is the hardest, but it’s worth taking it if you want to live without regrets.

Be sure to check out Franck’s beautiful photography on display at Cali Press cafes and feel free to have a chat with our friendly staff if you’re interested in purchasing.

CHECK OUT MORE OF FRANCK’S WORK ON FROTHERS.COM.AU

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