Pia Parolin

Biologist, photographer and author

Dr habil. Pia Parolin is a true citizen of the world. Born in 1965 and raised in Milan, she has Italian and German citizenship. In addition to her studies in Hamburg, she spent many years living in the Amazon rainforest for her doctorate in ecology, working as a tropical ecologist on international projects. And so it is not surprising that she considers Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa and France as her home.

Pia received her first camera from her father when she was 9 years old. Since then, she has never let go of photography. At first, she needed the camera for her scientific documentation, but also used it a lot for landscape photography. At the end of 2016, she started reportage photography. On her study trips, she kept meeting the inhabitants of different countries. In this environment, her passion for street photography gradually developed.

Alongside her photographic work, she began to write. Her books are standard works for many photographers, and her pictures can be found at many exhibitions. To single out one of her projects would be unfair to all the others, but her series "Promenade Moments" was certainly an important milestone in her life.

Pia is a member of various associations in which she not only represents street photography, but also takes a clear position for women photographers, which is also very close to her heart.

In addition to all the official associations, she has an excellent network in the street photography scene and is a sought-after discussion partner for workshops, lectures and so on and so forth....


She uses different cameras according to the requirements. However, in her busy and exciting life as a photographer, the RICOH GR is her constant companion.

Pia Parolin - #shootGR_Grasse


With her artistic approach, Pia Parolin sees the positive side of things. Our world is full of colours, but it is a changing world. The harmony of The environment is diminishing threateningly. Beauty is omnipresent and she consciously uses LIGHT, colours and her "joie de vivre" in her pictures to draw attention to the threats in a positive way. Her photos are meant to please, to encourage the viewer to protect the world we live in. Her projects include series that describe the urban environment, but also contain criticism and sadness.


For our interview, she shares recent images from a series taken with the Ricoh GR III and wide-angle attachment in Grasse, France.


Ricoh Imaging: You've been no stranger to street photography for a long time. For the first time we came into contact with you on the occasion of our GR Streetphoto Challenge. Since then, our paths have crossed again. And last but not least, you drew attention to yourself with your book "• Flow - Photography as a happiness experience".
After you have been photographing with the Ricoh GRIII for some time now, you have tried out the wide-angle attachment and are  enthusiastic about it.
Tell us about it... 

Pia Parolin: I love finding light traps and "catching" people in them photographically. I look for special light-shadow situations in the old town of pretty villages and for splashes of colour that flash in the bright sun. Then I position myself so that I have an interesting picture detail in front of me and wait. Like a cat in front of a mouse hole, I stand leaning against a wall or in the middle of the street.

I don't want to bother people. I want them to behave normally and simply fall into my light trap. I don't want to photograph anyone recognisable, I'm not looking for a portrait of a stranger. What I'm looking for are colourful plays of light in which the human element is the unexpected, the exciting, which fits into my pre-selected frame.


RI: For this you came up with a strategy for "camouflage", and found a little helper....

PP: The less I stand out as a photographer in the narrow street, the better. I have found my strategy for this: a camera that is as small and inconspicuous as possible and appearing as naive as possible as a tourist who doesn't seem to know much about technology. And that has worked quite well so far.

For a few months now, I've been taking pictures with the Ricoh GR III. I've always appreciated a small camera for my travels, where I only have to make do with a hand luggage case, and I've been flirting with the GRIII for some time, but found it quite expensive. But I rejected the idea of getting "a lot of money for a little camera". And that's where this small, inconspicuous black camera came in handy for exactly what I wanted to do!
For me, street photography is not only about small and inconspicuous, but also about speed and good sharpness in complicated lighting conditions. My little Ricoh is perfect for this! I haven't touched my other cameras, which I still love, for weeks...


RI: And for your project with the working title "Light Traps with Wide Angle" you have thought of something special...

PP: Yes, I wanted to try out the wide-angle converter. As a result, my little handbag-Ricoh has grown to the size of a conspicuous camera, but that doesn't detract from my rehearsed naive tourist appearance, because people notice me in my colourful trousers and sun hat, but don't take me seriously at all. Some men, next to whose shops I stood for a longer time waiting for motives, even gave me technical advice. I thank them, obviously I am familiar with the technical part of my camera, it just means that my camouflage works! I became one with the street, the people and the surroundings, in order to realise exactly my kind of photography here. 

So I set off with the wide-angle lens on and it was great fun, because I chose a complicated but exciting playing field. The narrow streets of the southern French perfume town of Grasse are so full of light and shadow and colour in the late afternoon hours that it's a delight. I found one good corner after another where I stopped and lurked. My game worked brilliantly and I spent an exhilarating evening - in a flow of light and colour.

Despite the size and weight, the attachment is a really great wide-angle lens that makes the camera work quickly and accurately. People saw me, but the camera didn't seem threatening. We stood close together and talked while I simultaneously snapped from the hip at a rehearsed angle. It was a lot of fun.

I was able to make good use of the wide angle because in Grasse these pink parasols were stretched out over some of the streets. So I was able to capture the colourful umbrellas above and the play of shadows on the ground with the people in between all in a single image.


RI: Would you like to get a little technical and tell us why you absolutely need this perspective for the project?

PP: The Ricoh GR III has an 18 mm fixed focal length. This is roughly equivalent to the 28 mm focal length of a full-frame camera. The standard lens, which is not interchangeable, thus has a fairly universal medium angle. The attached focal length extension can shorten the focal length to 21mm, in full-frame comparison, which is what made the photographic games in the narrow streets possible for me.
My conclusion on the wide-angle converter: I find it quite large and expensive and am not sure about using it permanently. The wide-angle converter is fun, but for me it doesn't increase the clear advantage of this camera: that it is small and inconspicuous. I like the GRIII because I am not classified as a professional photographer, but as a tourist. The speed and excellent image quality are really ingenious for such a small camera. And it is always with me.

As a rule, the Ricoh GRIII is quite perfect for my use as it is. Since there is no fold-out monitor on the camera, I can't really get the crop right in strong light. But with the wide-angle pictures, I have enough on the picture, and I can crop it a bit and straighten the horizon if necessary.


RI: Can you please say some words about the title #shootGR_Grasse, what is it all about?

PP: I am a total networker. I enjoy meeting like-minded people all over the world. Under the heading GR Cities and the #shootGR_ with a following place name, GR photographers all over the world upload pictures to their Instagram account. This way, interested people can network and even meet up.


RI: Thank you for your practical report, maybe we'll meet on the street photographing sometime....

PP: (laughs) ...and then get into the flow of street photography together...

Yes, thank you very much for the interview, it was fun to talk about the way I take photos.



RICOH GR III // ISO 100 // Exposure time: 1/160 sec. // Apperture: F16 //  Exposure compensation.: -2.3 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4)



RICOH GR III // ISO 100 // Exposure time: 1/200 sec. // Apperture: F10 //  Exposure compensation.: -0,2 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4)



RICOH GR III // ISO 100 // Exposure time: 1/200 sec. // Apperture: F9 //  Exposure compensation.: -2.7 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4)



RICOH GR III // ISO 100 // Exposure time: 1/200 sec. // Apperture: F8 //  Exposure compensation.: -2 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4) 



RICOH GR III // ISO 100 // Exposure time: 1/200 sec. // Apperture: F9 //  Exposure compensation.: -2.7 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4)



RICOH GR III // ISO 200 // Exposure time: 1/250 sec. // Apperture: F5 //  Exposure compensation.: -1.3 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4)



RICOH GR III // ISO 100 // Exposure time: 1/200 sec. // Apperture: F13 //  Exposure compensation.: -2 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4)


 RICOH GR III // ISO 100 // Exposure time: 1/60 sec. // Apperture: F16 //  Exposure compensation.: -2,3 EV // Focal length14 mm (with WIDE CONVERSION LENS GW-4)


If you want to know more about Pia Parolin, her workshops, her pictures and her books, you should visit her website...   or if you would like to see more about her personal journey with the RICOH GR Diary Edition, please follow her on her YouTube channel Pias Journey...

Pia's preferred equipment:

RICOH GR III Diary Edition - Special Limited Kit

RICOH GR III Diary Edition - Special Limited Kit

Worldwide limited quantity of just 2,000 units