The Italian photographer, Luca Berti, started out as a fashion photographer, but soon found his true calling away from the buzz of the cities as a recorder of rural people and landscapes. For years he has been committed to the large-scale documentary project, Man and nature in the 21st century, by recording the life of rural communities in the Nordic countries and Latvia, and now in Estonia. Luca Berti has a talent for covering big issues through talking portraits and landscape images. He is not interested in the ordinary tourism routes or glib success stories, but rather focuses his attention on the slightly melancholic view of decaying villages, the transformation of rural life, and its reflection on landscapes and men.
Luca Berti’s speciality is in taking photos the old way, using labour-intensive and comparatively slow analogue photography. In each phase of his efforts you can feel the presence and touch of the artist. Carrying his clumsy photography equipment – including a heavy tripod, a Linhof camera, and negative plates – along on his photographic journeys it feels as though he is stepping in the footprints of photographers who recorded village life of much older days. In Estonia, these people were Heinrich Tiidermann, Friedrich Kohtitsky and, of course, Johannes Pääsuke, who worked at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. In their photos you can feel true rural life pulsating from every frame. Similarly, the more modern journeys of Luca Berti result in unique photo-journals that record contemporary life.
The mesmerising black and white photos of Luca Berti, which bring nobility to the simplest of situations, catch something existential in Estonians. His photos which were taken between 2015-2018 give a true picture of Estonia, our daily village lives, and ordinary rural people whose backgrounds are full of old farms, fields, roads, and churches. In its own manner, this album speaks also of love for one’s country, something that is very often not uttered in words but is reflected in the eyes and in the attitude towards life, and it roots itself in this flat piece of land. This is a poetic record of our time as seen by an outsider – a beautiful gift for Estonia and its people.