In this blog post we introduce you to Fiiiirst, an online gallery showcasing anonymous discussions between authors photographers. Every month, two photographers are invited to interact through an image-based discussion. To keep this dialog without a pre-formated vision, the identities of each author are kept secret until the end of their respective discussion. Each picture produced is used as an inspiration to create the next one.
Who are you, what's your motto? I’m Guillaume Tomasi, a french-canadian photographer based in Montreal.
What’s your background? Before doing photography I was a creative developer in several design studios in Geneva and in Montreal. During that time, I was addicted to creating beautiful websites with complex animations and visual effects. When I moved from France to Canada, I discovered a new city and at the same time I wanted to capture this new place with a digital camera. Slowly, photography became an obsession and in 2016 I decided to leave my job, and dedicated my time to photography.
Have you studied photography? When I left my job I decided to start a BFA in Photography at Concordia University in Montreal. I discovered analog photography; how to developed negatives and how to print in the darkroom. I wanted to be more coherent when I was working on a photo project: How can I translate a subject into visuals.
It was not easy to return to school with two kids so I studied part-time and I will finally complete my degree in 2020.
What's your favourite style of photography? Its changed over time. At the beginning, I was very interested in black and white street photography - Cartier Bresson, Winogrand, Robert Frank, etc... After that I became strongly attached to colour - Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, Todd Hido, etc…
Now I am more and more interested in communicating something personal who can touch a larger audience, like a universal feeling or situation. And working with something fictional is a new method that I want to implement into my future projects. An imaginary subject that can relate to our lives or society.
Who or what motivates you? Ideas! The moment where a tiny and simple idea becomes something bigger, where everything is possible. It really excites and motivates me.
I noticed that I am very confident at the beginning of a project because I have many pictures in mind. After that, I feel frustrated and disappointed by my results because nothing looks like what I had in mind. Slowly the project becomes something completely different that the initial idea. It's like a short moment of grief everytime.
I find inspiration in classical fields such as literature, cinema and music, but my latest projects are often sentences that I heard from discussion or a mundane situation.
Can you tell us what Fiiiirst is? Sure! Fiiiirst is an online gallery showcasing anonymous discussions between authors photographers. Every month, two photographers are invited to interact through an image-based discussion. The main detail is that the photographers don’t know with whom they discuss until the discussion is completed and published on the website.
They upload their pictures into a private area and send an anonymous email to the other artist. The first artist then creates a picture. The second one receives it and uses it as an inspiration to create another picture. The discussion continues until they reach a certain amount of photographs.
I wanted this experience to be anonymous when they discuss the images so to remove the ego complex or to dictate which style (or photographs) they will then create based on the universe of their penfriend.
What were your initial aims and inspirations when putting ideas together for Fiiiirst? When I discovered photography and started to follow some contemporary photographers, I noticed that they was a small community where everyone knew the name or the works of each others. I became curious in imagining what would be the result if this artist collaborated with another one, and it was a great opportunity to challenge their creative practice by placing them with another artist whose work is very different in aesthetics or themes.
What is Fiiiirst’s biggest achievement to date? Currently, the 3rd edition is running and I really appreciate the critical response for each discussion. I receive more and more submissions for future editions and it’s very difficult to decide which one will be chosen.
When I started the first edition I had nothing except a concept and now there are 80 photographers from 29 different countries involved.
How can photographers get involved in what you do? If people want to participate they can simply send me their portfolio at email@example.com because the recruitment for the 4th edition is open until the end of January!! They can also follow our Facebook and Instagram page to get the latest discussions and news about Fiiiirst.
Give one tip to new photography graduates. Do your thing without anticipating awards, recognitions etc… Your work will benefit to be outside this stressful and unnecessary circle. Also, don’t tease too much of your work before a publication. Consider the quality instead of the quantity on social media. It will be good in the long term.
What does 2019 have in store for Fiiiirst? In 2019, I am going to publish the first "Fiiiirst book” which will regroup pictures from the first two editions. It won’t be the same as the website but the pictures will be mixed or edit into a global and hybrid discussion.
I hope to be able to present to you this book in the summer. It’s difficult to say exactly when it’s going to be real, because Fiiiirst is a pro-bono side project which take a lots of time and I it’s just me working on it. I will create a kickstarter campaign in a few days/weeks.
In June 2019 I am going to launch the 4th edition of Fiiiirst and right now I am very excited when I see the names of some shortlisted photographers.