Federica Armstrong

Federica Armstrong

Visual storytelling

by Federica Armstrong (Italy)

I am an Italian photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am passionate about documentary photography and work with local non-profits documenting their work for social media and other promotional material. I am also interested in urban agriculture and in general in issues related to food and agriculture. For this workshop I chose to shoot a community garden located on the roof top of a gym in central Paris.

Portfolio from the Photojournalisme workshop with Ed Kashi, June 2013.

Written review by PAULINE VERMARE,
Associate Curator, International Center of Photography

I am overall very impressed with, and attracted by, Federica’s story. This particular subject is a very interesting one, very timely, reminiscent of works that I have been drawn to recently including Nina Berman’s work on the Bronx community gardens. The way Federica tackled her subject is excellent – from locating the perfect spot in Paris (this is a visually very rich place) to finding the right social and visual angles. I think her use of color is very good, and makes the whole story extremely appealing.

My favorite images are the ones whose composition is the most interesting, complex, less gimmicky perhaps – the first one, in the mirror, is interesting but perhaps a little too predictable, for instance, as well as image 5.

Image 2 has a great movement and angle, which makes for a very powerful image all in all, stronger than the ones that comes right after it, whose composition is a little less tense, which makes for weaker images. The close ups on the flower are interesting color-wise, less interesting socially, a lovely pause nonetheless. I like the general flow in this portfolio, which offers times to breathe and ponder. Especially, image 6 is extremely strong and very unique in this corpus: the man seemingly fighting against man-created chaos, the unnatural elements, versus the beauty of nature all around.

I see it as a very interesting hiatus in the story, a very intelligent metaphor that brings us out of and back into the story. Images 7 and 8 are very strong, too, on many levels: composition, colors, social content. I like the proximity to the subject, the rendering of the movement. Image 10 I don’t quite get, perhaps an “exercice de style” with the blur and the violence of the movement, but not successful, in a sense that it doesn’t provoke any emotion in me, just visual confusion. Images 10 and 11 are very good, colorful, engaging, thought provoking.

Images 12, 13 and 15 are a little weaker, but good images, they complete the documentation and provide us with a broader idea of the actual activities taking place in this garden – and its surroundings. I would encourage Federica to keep on studying this one subject in a couple other places, as her style is wonderfully adapted to capturing the life and energy of man in nature.

New York City, for instance, would be a fantastic place to observe the way human beings deal with an überurban environment, and how they manage to bring back nature into their daily lives. Federica has the talent and style already well in place – a personal visual identity, a fantastic use of color, a knowledge of the distance she wants to leave between herself and her subject(s), which is very difficult to achieve, and therefore very precious.

She is not looking for herself at this point - she clearly exists as a photographer - and she has the ability to dive into a story with passion. These are wonderful assets, and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

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