Bettina Pittaluga talks us through her considerate and caring photography practice
Ever since the French-Uruguayan photographer picked up a camera, she’s been adding to her portfolio replete with intimate relationships and stories.
- Ayla Angelos
- 24 February 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
As soon as Bettina Pittaluga was gifted a camera from her uncle, she instantly wanted to know how it worked. Aged 14 at the time, this young and eager photographer was living in a small town in the south of France, where every week after school she’d rush home to develop her own black and white shots in a dark room. “I started taking pictures 24/7,” she says, “capturing my family, friends and anything that really caught my attention.” Bettina was completely infatuated with the medium and would spend hours “drowned” in its magnetic allure. “I think photography is what allows me to preserve that emotion. I know I can go back to it by looking at the picture and still be in the present moment.”
After Bettina first picked up a camera, she knew that this was it; this medium would forever have a hold of her. She never stopped taking pictures and would often use the tool as a means of expressing herself and her surroundings, but never did she imagine that this would eventually turn into a job. Thankfully she took the risk, and after studying sociology and pursuing a stint of working as a reporter, she stopped everything. From thereon, she went on to build on her incredible repertoire of cathartic, humbling photography, the type that tells the stories of her subjects with just a glance.
Now working full-time in her medium, Bettina flits between both personal and commercial projects, meaning that any given day can be quite unpredictable. It’s a fluid process and one that she photographer adores for its fluctuating schedule. “I can be on very different projects and move around a lot,” she tells It’s Nice That. “It’s something I truly love about my job – I have no routine.” However, the one element that sings with consistency is the fact that she surrounds herself with likeminded people, citing her talented friends as those that inspire her the most. This includes the painter Neïla Ichti, musicians Tshegue and Nyoko Bokbae, and she also finds the poetry of Sophia Ould-kaci completely engaging, as well as the drawings of Lisa Signorini.
Most of all, though, Bettina grounds her work on authenticity. Since hailing from a background in reporting and sociology, this has had an adverse affect on the ways in which she views the world – and thus how she wants to tell the world’s narratives. “It’s really second nature for me to compose with what is already present and existent,” she says. “It’s in reality that I find inspiration.” In this sense, the environments and the people that she meets play a huge role in determining which direction her photography will take her. A lot of emphasis is placed on the relationship she has with her subject, which is deemed as one of the key criteria for shooting. “To me, the relationship needs to exist, even if it is very short-lived. Human connections, sharing and confidence is vital to my practice – it’s always a shared creation, and I work to build a space of consideration, respect and caring. I let the person be.”
An example of how Bettina applies this thoughtful approach to her work can be viewed in Hermanos. It’s a picture of her four siblings who have all been reunited. Bettina is French-Uruguayan, and half her family is from Colombia. So every year, with half her siblings, they set off to visit the other half, “and the word home finally takes on its full meaning,” she says. Plus, ever since she was introduced to a camera, her family has always been her main muse. It’s the part of her life that holds the most importance, so of course this would evolve into the most crucial subject of her practice.
Otherwise, the second most important subject of Bettina’s is her friends. Her chosen family, often she will ask her friends to pose for her, but sometimes it’s quite the opposite; her friends will ask Bettina to photograph them for special occasions. In Lisa&Laurent, this was very much the case and it was a month before her friends were to give birth to their child, Joshua. Then, in Magueyeetsaperruque, Bettina documents the artist Magueye, who’s been part of his family for years: “he’s like my brother,” she adds. “There are struggles that are close to our hearts, and we work together a lot. Here it was important for us to reveal both the male and female parts of him.”
In the coming months and years, we’re certain that Bettina will continue to shape and build on her flourishing craft. We’re already so impressed by her documentation of life around her, that whatever comes next – be it more documentaries, music videos and two exhibitions, for example – the work will be executed in intricate and considered manners and, most importantly, “with love”.
Bettina Pittaluga: Magueyeetsaperruque (Copyright © Bettina Pittaluga, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.