With a Masters in Photography in his curriculum and a selection of professional equipment collected over the years, Frank manages his ‘mobile studio’, promoting it on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, and via his stylish website. FrankScaliciPhotos.com is where you can admire a collection of shrewd landscapes, as well as minimalist shots that transfigure nature into abstract artwork, freeing its free-flowing shapes and textures beyond the actual object photographed, such as sand, mist, tree branches and translucent leaves.
A landscapist by passion, Frank diligently paints with light, by allowing radiance do the talking in his production, which reinvents Gibraltar’s iconic city – and seascapes under a different light, exploiting the pastel hues of dusk and dawn and the suffused contrast between naturally lit skies and lampposts shimmering in the mist or reflecting in water.
His favourite at the moment is a shot of Catalan Bay taken at the first hint of dawn, shrouded by blue and blush mist, and solidly framed by rock, in the shapes of boulders in the foreground and the Rock itself in the background, connected by the dynamism of the half-ellipse of electric light reflected in the glassy sea. The village becomes a strip of vivid colour leading the eye to the centrepiece of the entire composition: the hotel building standing proud, bathed in the first rays of the rising sun.
This picture is a limited edition of 300 copies, available individually numbered and signed. It shines a new light on a favourite landmark, captured in an intimate moment before ‘curtains up’ in the stillness before awakening, before the azure sky and sea make sprout beach umbrellas like monster flowers in the golden sand – a view usually associated with Catalan Bay.
I pick the spot and take the shot, but luck and light provide the rest.
“This is my most special work to date. I went there several times before attaining the effect I really wanted. Eventually it came my way. With landscape photography, it is fifty-fifty: I pick the spot and take the shot, but luck and light provide the rest. I can make it a masterpiece only if nature facilitates the ideal conditions for it.”
The secret for a landscape photographer’s success is, according to Frank, nothing but trial and error, not being afraid of failure and criticism, including self-criticism, which must be taken in one’s stride.
“Understand who you are as a photographer: it is ok to be a beginner and improve with experience. The secret is repetition: snap it over and over again, until you are satisfied with the outcome. Always push your boundaries. Ask yourself: if I have gone this far, how can improve myself?”
In his university years, Frank was fascinated by street photography – which cost him being hurled abuse at, while teaching him the no-nos of it.
Part of his street photography project was a documentary on bikers: “It is fully black and white, and it portrays the relationship between rider and bike.” He wouldn’t go as far as describing it as a study on urban tribes, but he was interested in the sociological aspect of it, as much as the light effects on chrome, and the various textures of metal, leather and human expression.
This documentary was published in DODHO, a Barcelonan specialised magazine (www.dodho.com/bikers-and-automobiles-by-francesco-scalici), and it is one of the highlights of his academic and artistic career.
Ask yourself: if I have gone this far, how can improve myself?”
Portraiture is another face of photography he prefers to display in black and white, as in his opinion it brings out the character of his subjects. Of course, commissioned portraits must abide to the model’s wishes, but he always likes to suggest his personal input and keep it as natural and as immediate as possible.
His university career started in Fine Arts, to soon realise that photography was his true calling and what he wished to be his bread and butter. So he transitioned and started promoting himself as an artistic and commercial photographer, open to portraiture, weddings and events, which he hopes to see resuming soon because the elegance and rarefied atmosphere of staged shots, which he is revving to negotiate with a fresh angle.
Browsing Frank’s website, one immediately finds how he’s got a keen eye for what he labels as ‘minimalism’: details picked out from landscapes to shed their link with reality and become swirls or decorative patterns within the philosophy ‘less is more’. What you see is no longer a view, but the emotion of it.
Finally, in ‘documentary’, he features miscellaneous images in colour or black and white, privileging geometry and texture, from engines to architecture, everyday life snapshots sometimes magnified in the rear-view mirror, sometimes caught in the fishing net.
Most of Frank’s work, no matter how green, raw or hopeful, is shot not just through the lens, but through the heart.