Hi, my name is Valentina Benigni. I started photography with silver cameras at 5yo, turning it into a profession just in 2020. As a fine art photographer, I exhibit my limited-edition photos, especially flamenco. In 2022, I self-published a fine art book with a selection of them.
My photographic approach takes on the literal meaning of the word "photography": writing with light. I love light and being able to tell stories with it. The camera is a magical tool that allows you to tell unique stories that can take the viewer's mind to unknown places of the soul.
I see fine art photography as the translation of the captured moment into the language of emotions. Dance photography has deep roots in me: it has been practiced for almost 20 years. Today I dance through my eyes, capturing the emotions danced on live shows.
I am self-taught: I learned mostly by testing and playing with the camera, but also by reading books and doing workshops with important photographers that allowed me to learn new perspectives, and learn and find my photographic style and language.
I don't remember my first shot, but I remember why I started: I liked the idea of capturing unrepeatable instants and spontaneous emotions that could live forever. Over time, it also became a way to express my emotions, using creativity during the shooting: framing, long pose, black and white contrast, geometry… All were used to convey more than just a static shot and tell a story.
I always feel an intense emotion when people move in front of my photos with tears in their eyes. Unknown people thanked me because my photography had given them a strong emotion and touched intimate chords.
I think of photography as painting with light. I like to capture movement and make the photo come alive. It's not just a static photo of a dancer on stage. It's like you're right there in the performance, hearing the music, seeing the movements, feeling the emotions.
Through dance and photography, my goal is to help people recognize and feel their emotions. Accepting your vulnerability is a key to being true to yourself and living a fulfilling life. Vulnerability is not a weakness, but a strength. It's about staying connected to yourself and living without barriers.
This is my first time entering such an important international competition, and getting 2nd place and 3 honorable mentions is an incredible and unexpected thrill! I am honored to receive these important recognitions, which inspire me to continue and give me even more strength and energy to believe in my work and passion.
This series is part of a larger project of limited-edition fine art photographs taken during live flamenco performances between 2020 and 2023 in France and Spain. The aim is to represent the universal language of emotions through flamenco dance in a two-step process between light and emotion.
Dance is a powerful way of channeling and releasing emotions, able to express them unfiltered and transmit them even to those unfamiliar with dance.
An artistic approach that, through dance and photography, aims to sensitize people to recognize their own emotions, accept their vulnerability, give it space, and live it without barriers.
Vulnerability as a strength rather than a weakness, is an essential tool for staying connected to yourself and living a fulfilling life.
Flamenco, a World Heritage-listed traditional dance, was born in the popular environment and expresses itself through improvisation, the spontaneous expression of emotions with intensity, authenticity, and strength, without fear of showing its own vulnerability. Instead, it becomes the only way to express one's own feelings and emotions. In a world that encourages us to wear masks to be accepted, to filter our emotions and conform, the goal is to reconnect with ourselves, to look at our emotions in the eye, to accept our vulnerability, and to make it our strength.
So far, I have not yet reaped the benefits of these awards, but they certainly help my notoriety and credibility, as well as give more value to my photographs.
A few years ago, I had the good fortune and honor to take a workshop with a very inspiring photographer. Although I had been taking photographs for many years, I had never shown them to anyone. In his workshop it was mandatory and I was afraid of it. He told me, "There is something brilliant about your view of the world, but you are still too afraid of other people's gaze because you think you have to conform to be accepted. Trust your instinct and follow it. Your uniqueness is just waiting for you to allow it to blossom."
I would tell him/her to keep their passion strong and never give up on their dreams. Sure, listen to other people's opinions, but never stop doing what feels right to them, because this job is tough, complex, and full of obstacles. The key to success is to stay passionate and push through these obstacles.
My passion for photography and a positive approach to life, both drive me every day. Defeats and disappointments also come, fatigue and difficulties are not lacking, but perhaps the key is to never forget why I started and to take every event that happens (good or bad) with gratitude as an opportunity to learn and evolve.
Valentina Benigni started photography at age five and turned it into a profession in 2020. She has exhibited fine art photos, particularly of flamenco, and has self-published a book with a selection of her best images.
Read more about this article from Yosh Hase from Singapore, Gold Winner from the 2023 New York Photography Awards!