The world is overwhelmed by photos. People shoot every moment of their lives, at home, at school, at the bar, at the seaside, at the toilet. Everything needs to be eternalized, put in a frame. Is it an obsession or a passion?
For each one of us, photography has a different meaning, but what’s the point of view of a professional photographer, who dedicates his life to this intriguing art? Here’s a very interesting talk I had with Marco D’Amico, on the past , present and future of photography, on the revolution of fashion and how this influences his works.
1. Introduce yourself.
I’m a fashion photographer and a director. I live and work in Rome and Milan.
2. You studied sociology. How did it influence your artistic growth?
Fashion is somehow comparable to art, especially in some aspects of the creative process. For this reason anything that’s part of your experience is a plus that helps you determine your style and expression.
In my case, not only my studies were fundamental, but all my works and didactic experiences too, which made me the photographer I am today. For example, It was thanks to a calligraphy course that Steve Jobs designed such successful products.
Personally, after the sociological studies I’ve become more aware of the socio-cultural phenomena and how they deeply change our society. This is what we call “making fashion” nowadays, instead of just dressing a model.
3. When and how did you understand that photography will become fundamental in your life?
I always had an artistic personality. Before photography there was music and a musician career that faded away the year I’ve started discovering my passion for visual arts. In fact, the first subjects I photographed were musicians, a world that I knew very well. This way I could practice without abandoning my first big passion.
Later on I started with fashion. I don’t know why it attracted me, probably because I was searching for a kind of integrity in my photos, a characteristic that jazz musicians didn’t have, always focused on the sound and never on the visual aspect. Fashion was the perfect stage for having a total control on the mis-en-scene.
4. You are a self-taught photographer. From what and whom you learned the most?
Chosing to be a self-taught photographer was a shot in the dark, but the advantage was being free and not depending on one single mentor, without ending up cloning someone’s style.
I started as assistant to some photographers, in various fields. What I learned the most was the approach to the client, but my biggest school were books, films, theatre, exhibits and journeys.
Photography is simple to learn, from a technical point of view, there are books and internet for that. The style is an other thing and you build it step by step.
Thanks to my studies it was easy to comprehend teachings of great authors like Barthes, Baudrillard, Wall. Or Geoff Dyer, who never took a photo in his entire life.
5. You are a director too. What’s your main inspiration?
Cinema is my passion. I’m sure it will be the arrival point of my career. Working with a model on set is restricting and among my projects there are documentary films which have nothing to do with fashion, maybe they’ll be my escape when I’ll be fed up fo this industry.
6. Today you teach at the Accademia Costume & Moda in Rome. What’s the most important lesson you want to give to young photographers?
My career as a teacher started many years ago. I don’t teach photography techniques though. It’s a historic/cultural course dedicated to future editors and stylists.
I want to hand them down a historiographic knowledge and give them the tools they need to understand the codes of the present and maybe anticipate the future ones. It’s a big challenge.
I always end my lessons richer than I was, thanks to the stimulating relationship with my students.
Over time I learned to see the continuous and always faster mutations in the world of fashion as an exercise to keep my mind open without closing the door on anything. This is what I’d like to teach to my guys, now that there are no rules and defined borders.
7. What does fashion photography need nowadays?
We’re experiencing a big creative revolution. For decades the Appropriation Art of the XX Century has been used in a too didactic way. Today reviving styles from the past by calling them “neo” is not enough anymore. We are in a phase we actually already lived in the nineties, those years when underground creativity generated phenomena like the Grunge, the Bling, the Streetstyle and then the minimalism as an answer to those excesses.
The Story is made of fluxes and refluxes. A kind of pendulum theory.
Here we are today in this phase: waiting to see what will be left over of the so called ” aesthetic ugliness”, of the normcore. Personally I’m curious to see what shape the reflux will take and how much it will move away from the Miuccia Prada’s minimal rigour of the nineties.
What fashion needs today is memory. Too often people proclaim as “genius” creative directors or stylists, just because they’re more cultured than the others, while “the others” are the new generations, always less curious about the past and eternally focused on their Instagram feeds.
8. You had the chance to work with emerging brands. In your opinion, how can they make a change in the fashion industry?
Working with the emerging talents is very stimulating. You have the chance to create something that actually reflects their creative needs, without that heavy load of the big fashion industry.
Unluckily, this industry doesn’t help them how it should, and often the competitions and manifestations just guarantee visibility, nothing more. More should be done to help them in the distribution from showroom, through buyers, to the stores.
The phrase “space to the youth” is just a clichè nowadays.
9. For what would you like to be remembered?
In a period like this, when everyone’s in the social life of the others, I inevitably feel affected by the incessant increase of the “coolness” level. For this reason, at the moment, in my personal works the tendency is creating a non-story. A suspension from the judgements, a pause in the breath.
Raymond Depardon calls it “slack time” photography: ” in a slack time photography, nothing happens. There’s nothing interesting, no crucial moment, neither colors or beautiful light, no small sun ray, no chimical effect(…). The camera becomes a monitoring tool.”
In an era of overexposure, the real revolution will be not to be remembered.