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Alpine Photography School

In 1993, based on a previous project by Professor Angelo Schwarz, the School of Alpine Photography was founded in Teolo (Padua), by Schwarz himself, Massimo Tosello and Adriano Tomba, with the aim of creating a study centre and, at the same time, a pedagogical and didactic institution, through which providing the cultural tools and technical notions useful for implementing a photographic representation intended as an instrument of knowledge of the alpine and mountain universe.


If in the photographic production of the nineteenth century, between 1850 and 1880, the representation of Alpine and mountain subjects was widespread among non-specialists (we recall, among others: for Europe, the photographic corpuses of John Ruskin, Friedrich von Martens, Edouard Baldus, Auguste-Rosalie Bisson, Vittorio Besso, Aimé Civiale, Adolphe Braun, Alberto Luigi Vialardi; for the United States, the photographic corpuses of Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, Charles Weed, Eadweard Muybridge, William Henry Jackson ), it gradually became specialized. According to the just mentioned point of view, the up-to-date unequaled photographic work by Vittorio Sella marks a before and after in the representation of the alpine and mountain universe.


The works of Sella and Ansel Adams were assumed as irreplaceable cultural reference of the Alpine Photography School for several reasons. Among them there was a possible synthesis of the ways of understanding and practicing the photography by these two excellent authors that could offer a probing background, to identify and establish rigorous modalities in the representation of a complex universe which is, precisely, the alpine and mountainous one. Explicitly stated by Sella, and found in his work, is the intentional use of photography as an effective instrument, on the one hand, of geomorphological detection and, on the other hand, of aesthetic contemplation of the mountain and high mountain forms, in summer and winter, in the Alps no less than in the Central Caucasus, in Alaska, in Sikkim, in Kenya and in Karakorum. Even Adams was fascinated by the mountain as a photographic subject and his photographs made in the Yosemite Valley and in the excursions in the Sierra Nevada in company of the ornithologist Francis Holman, proved it. Moreover, Adams was also an excellent photography teacher, and precisely because of the need of a non-parrotlike education, not built on the imitation of the master by the pupils, he developed the famous Zonal System, that is, as he writes: «a bridge capable of unifying the basic theory of the photographic medium with a potentially creative intervention method ».


The Alpine Photography School held its first course dedicated to The Mountain Landscape, to the San Nicolò refuge, in Fassa Valley, from June 26 to July 3, 1994. Based on that first experience, which allowed to verify on the field the validity of a pedagogical and didactic approach, the program of what became the first institutional course of the Alpine Photography School was formulated. It is proposed to those who may be interested in its development, even in other venues and according to a calendar different from that provided annually for the activities of the School itself.





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