Hello Marta, welcome to Pellicola!
Q: How did your career as a photographer begin? Did you have an idea of what your future work would be about ever since you were a child or did a sudden passion for photography come out of the blue?
When I was little, I wanted to be a writer or a
painter in order to tell stories. I had never picked up a camera but I liked to draw and paint –
hobbies that over the years I let go off. Photography confirmed my interest in
the visual arts. As a fantasy game fan, when I was about 16, I was playing an
online role-playing game. I spent hours surfing on photo sharing sites of all
– to look for the perfect
image to illustrate my character. Then,
even after I had found what I was looking for, I kept spending time on those
same sites, for the simple pleasure of looking at images that I thought were
beautiful. The step towards photography was almost spontaneous. Every time I went online a message appeared inviting me to upload my own photos.
So I thought – why not try it? I rooted out a camera I found at home – a broken
old compact that shut down every 2 or 3 clicks. since then, I have never
stopped. Before we can talk about my career, however, several years went by
until I was gradually convinced that I could do nothing else in life, and step
by step I started to really work as a photographer.
Q: Many of your works come from the world of fashion, a universe where you need to combine your own expressive language with precise stylistic indications from the brand. Did you have any difficulty dealing with this compromise?
At the beginning maybe a little bit. My style and idea of the moment did not always fit with the customer’s demands or more generally of the market. But then I started working backwards. If I had fashion projects, I started from the trends of the moment, and I build a story that was faithful to my vision. Fortunately, I am now chosen because of my style and this solves the discrepancies. I just have to follow my own bent with what I’m given to work on.
Q: Born in Italy, you live and work abroad. How did you see your chances of growing professionally in your own country compared to foreign places?
I left Italy in order to work better, that’s true – and to have more opportunities. But there was another important consideration: I’m from Rome. Compared to Milan, the capital of fashion, there is little or nothing to do there in that field. I saw that moving to Milan would have involved the same changes as moving abroad – leaving my family and friends and starting over in an unknown place. I just said to myself that I could have an experience in a different country and return to Italy if I found it wasn’t working out. In fact, Paris is just around the corner! And six years later I am still in France where I found much more than I was looking for. I was lucky.
Q: Some of your projects are particularly fascinating and original. Black and White, Pieces, Se souvenir du beau, January, Se reveiller avant d’aller dormir e A Great Story. Are they personal projects? How did they come about? Do some reflect your sensibility more than others?
These are all personal projects, and I don’t find that just some of them are closer to my personal sensibility; I take a lot of pictures and I have different projects but I think what most represents me changes through the passing of time.
Black and white is an idea born with the model, Marine, the freckled girl, that I’ve worked with many times. Getting on right away and discussing about how to exploit her beautiful freckles in other shoots, the idea of the Dalmatian came up. It took more than a year to take any pictures. … finding a Dalmatian is not as easy as it sounds! For Pieces I worked with a wonderful actress, Nadia, with whom a nice friendship had blossomed while working together on different occasions. I had already realized some projects using the prints in a creative way (in some cases attaching them on the models themselves) but in this case I decided to use the prints alone, creating various effects with them alone. Honestly, I had so much fun and it was so relaxing! The work of a photographer is not solitary, especially on the set, but in that case it was me with my prints to tear and use as I wanted. Se souvenir du beau is a project by Lola Serres who had written poems to go with each photo. I had just worked on her idea with Meyloo’s make-up. As regards January, I was walking around Paris and I found a perfect area to shoot with so many birds; something I had wanted to do for a long time. We looked like two crazy women – the actress-model Mathilde Warnier and I – scattering lentils in the street trying to attract as many birds as possible. Se reveiller avant d’aller dormir is a personal project to which I had given a lot of thought; there is also a video of it. The model, Vovk, is gorgeous and the make-up and hair are by Adelie Balez. A Great Story is a very old work that took me a long time. It is not so much about fashion, it’s more about fine art, and I really enjoyed it a lot especially for the absurdity of some shots.
Q: Are you more comfortable working with female subjects?
Yes, maybe because I am a woman or maybe women are better suited to my vision of things. But right now I’m also shooting men more often, trying to make them the protagonists of my stories.
Q: The viewers of your photographs are drawn into a plot, as if they were characters in a story. What kind of situations do your collections create?
I like to tell stories and I try to do this through photography, involving the spectator in a parallel reality.
Q: Your shots have a soul, they reveal your touch and have a certain quality of light. The aesthetics are never banal but refined and out of the ordinary the peculiarity of the models comes to mind.The details on which you focus attention or the elements you introduce to the set are also curious and stimulating – the paper clippings in Pieces for example, or the decorations applied to the lips in Se souvenir du beau. Today, do you think you have a recognisable personal style?
Yes, I have my own personal style, but that doesn’t mean I can’t evolve, while remaining very much myself and consistent over time. If I look at my photos of last year I notice a progression, but I think my deep vision is always there.
Q: Have you worked very hard to give an identity to your product, to sell your way of working, without being crushed by demands and external pressures?
Honestly, it has been a long journey, but it has not been that exhausting. I just want to say that I have built my photographic identity with no force or haste. Things have simply come a step at a time, learning all the time, as I am still doing today. I have not reached the end at all, there is still much to learn, and it is more than anything from difficulties that one learns in the first place.
Q: And what about your sources of inspiration?
Studying the work of other photographers and artists is important, even if I cannot speak about one in particular. The thing is to know the history of art and what works great artists, photographers or not, have produced.
Q: Just a piece of advice for those who have enough courage and motivation to change their lives from one day to another in trying to pursue their dreams?
Shoot as much as possible, experiment always and have lots of patience!
Interview by Costanza Francesconi
Images © Marta Bevacqua