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Featured: Luca Vincenzo | Taking Pictures That Feel Good

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Luca Vincenzo has always had a desire to make new and beautiful things, which is why growing up he wanted to be an inventor. Later on he decided that he’d like to be a radio presenter and for seven years after school he wound up doing just that. Now, he says, “I’ve come full circle, and I am once again contemplating what I want to be one day when I grow up.” While he wonders, Luca spends his days immersed in the local music industry by running a boutique artist management and booking agency. He also takes photographs, and although he’s starting to become more purposeful in his approach, his foremost aim is to create images that look as though they feel good. We chatted to Luca to find out more.


Tell us more about your journey so far, and how you came to be where you are today. 


I grew up in a town up in KZN called Richards Bay and promptly high-tailed it outta there after finishing school. I ended up in Stellenbosch for five years where I met some of the best people in my life, spending days and nights with musicians, artists, filmmakers, photographers, writers, academics, philosophers and innovators. We had a good run in that time and space, there was a wild energy, but as all things cyclical, the wheel turned and we got spat out of the bubble and everyone scattered trying to make something of themselves. For me, it’s always been about music and photography. After radio and a brief stint writing about music and directing music videos, I began operating a small boutique artist management and booking agency, working with artists such as Pretty Blue Guns, Holiday Murray, The Hollow Body, Bateleur and Nomadic Orchestra. I hit the road as often as I can and I’ve been a part of some memorable tours across southern Africa with some of the artists and people I respect most. Throughout all those times I have had a camera with me.


What sorts of things does (or could) a typical day for you entail?


I don’t have typical days. I work from home, so I am the master of my own movements (Life Goal #1) and this allows me to go surfing when the waves are good and tend to emails and admin at midnight if needs be. Essentially, I am an impresario by day, the advancement of a healthy music industry being a considerable undertaking that I dedicate a lot of time and passion to. I continue to explore the art of photography for myself. My involvement in both music and images are my two hands that wash each other, two hands that hold each other, without which life would be a rather shitty ride.


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When did you first become interested in photography?


Photography was always something I appreciated, but didn’t consider myself capable of. Then for one birthday my close friend Daneel give me my first disposable camera, and here I am now. I had a predetermined idea of what it meant to create anything called art, and considered myself excluded from that. An analytic and academic approach is slowly being incorporated into my work, but mostly I think I make dumb art; I just want to create images that look like they feel good.


How would you describe your style or aesthetic, and how has this developed since you first started out?


Most photos are of people, who are either aware or unawares. I would say it is documentarian in nature, with an evolving aesthetic. Initially, my photos were all very restrained as I was shooting only on film up until about a year ago. By a stroke of luck and camaraderie, my good friend Adriaan let me hold onto his extra digital camera indefinitely, and so I started shooting digitally – the ability to snap away felt like I was rushing on a drug – and from that came the ability to notice patterns and consistencies in colour and shape in the ‘accidental diptychs’…I didn’t know what those were until you called them that in the Oh Wow! feature a while back.


What are you influenced and inspired by?


The fantastic and sometimes regrettable variable that is a human being. I also have incredibly talented friends that I am surrounded by and I am always able to draw inspiration from them simply by interacting. Photographers like Adriaan, John, Anke, Sean, Caroline, Sipho, Kent, Jared, Hanro, Alexia and Ane are always doing amazing things. Just the other day Albert returned from an incredible photographic journey from Japan to South Africa – I went to his presentation and was left in awe at the trip and the subsequent photos documented. South Africans are wild cards, we’re rough around the edges and hot to the touch.


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What do you enjoy about taking pictures? Is it something that you approach in quite a spontaneous manner?


Human beings, the uncertain old dogs that we are, have long loved images – I think they serve as a reminder that perhaps this isn’t a dream/nightmare and that we really are happening and did happen and might, if the bones fall in our favour, just continue to happen. We can’t easily immerse ourselves deep enough into right now, so the representation of what was or wasn’t lets you know you aren’t dead yet.


Has the act of taking pictures changed the way you look at or think about things? 


More the other way around, so that the way I look at and think about things has changed the act of making pictures and my idea of photography.


What role does photography perform for you: is it about remembering something, creating an interesting image, or something else entirely?


I believe we all want to ‘make nice’ both for ourselves and for others. It feels good to make a good thing, to make a thing that yourself and perhaps others will take in and go, ‘Ahh, that feels good’. I’ve been trying to ask ‘why’ less often, or at least, only ask it when it is necessary.


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Recently, you’ve been presenting the majority of your images as diptychs. Do you take photographs with this in mind, or do the pairings only happen afterwards? 


The pairings happened after the photography. I found that those images were weak on their own, but found meaning when working together. Kinda like humans.


What are you currently watching, looking at, reading and/or listening to?


I am listening to the latest albums from Adult Jazz and Kendrick Lamar, and the mixes from Reverberation Radio never disappoint.


After coming out of a Tom Robbins reading feast last year, I am now going through a collection of writings from Rian Malan, wading slowly through a selection from Fyodor Dostoyevsky called ‘Letters From The Underworld’ as well as trudging through the streets of 70s Johannesburg and Soweto in Mongane Serote’s ‘To Every Birth Its Blood’.


And finally, where to from here?


My two hands find themselves full this year. I am currently organising a European tour happening in June/July for Nomadic Orchestra. I am also working with photographer Johno Mellish as a producer of sorts, assisting him with a body of work he wants to complete and exhibit. As for my own photos? Well, my camera is never far away, and I’m not dead yet…I think.


Two of Luca’s images are currently part of our Unordinary group exhibition at the V&A Waterfront. Go have a look before the end of May!


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