| Emanuele Cassina |
If you could be anything right now, what would you be?
That’s an interesting question. The first thing that comes to mind is a hug, or any kind of spontaneous endearment. While working in a mall in close contact with people, I can notice that such habits have disappeared. “Cold” and “empty” relations are the norm in modern society. Relations tend to be dictated by social networks, with all their hypocrisies. While social networks undoubtedly have a great potential in connecting people, I still prefer the good old phone call. You can better talk about how you are feeling, tell episodes of your life or simply invite someone over for coffee. These are simple but meaningful gestures, and they can change the course of your day for the better.
What book are you reading?
I like books a lot. I love the smell of freshly printed paper, when I enter a bookstore. I would buy all the titles that look interesting, except that they then accumulate on my desk, unread! I’m currently reading two books. “The Story of Art” by E.H. Gombrich, who has a wonderful, unique style of recounting the history of art. I highly recommend it. The second is “Dio non esiste, la fotografia sì!” by Ando Gilardi and Pino Betelli. It’s a very frank and direct book that identifies the meanings of photography, and explains it with interesting historical episodes.
What photographer is currently teaching you something?
As I was saying, I buy a lot of photo books, and I have a rather vast collection. In addition to enriching your vision, books by the masters of photography constantly provide new stimuli, and are sort of photography workshops. I have several books by Peter Lindbergh, Richard Avedon and David Hamilton, who are also some of the photographers I most admire and follow. Among them, Peter Lindbergh is perhaps the one that is having the deepest influence on me, as [Oliviero] Toscani did when I attended his workshop. He taught me to go back to the core of photography – photography without post production, in which models can have expression wrinkles and imperfections and nobody cares, because real beauty is hidden but at the same time it is evident above everything. This attitude [of accepting imperfections] should be welcomed in our society in which bodily perfection is increasingly sought after, although obviously perfection does not exist.
Are you working on a particular project right now? Can you tell us something about it?
I wouldn’t say so. I just went through a time when I was taking a hiatus from taking pictures, because I felt I was lacking sufficient stimuli. This time has helped me to better focus some aspects [of photography], which I then developed in my own work.
I don’t like to insist on themes that are already well established and consolidated [in my work]. I prefer to reinvent themes to make them more contemporary. For example, nude photography, which I do often, often looks stuck with standards that are old outdated. However, a single small detail can make a photograph novel and fresh. I’m experimenting on several projects right now. First of all, I would like to improve in taking portraits, a vast as well as difficult field, in spite of its seeming simplicity. I’m also working on photographing flowers, which I love. I connect them to the feminine body, where they can become symbols, and live in symbiosis [with the feminine body], provided that the picture is well crafted. For this reason, I am experimenting on the use of glasses that provide interesting effects. In a few months an editorial piece on the use of this technique: it’s a personal battle against Photoshop!
What do you find ‘interesting’ in a model?
When I decide for a shooting with a model, there are several aspects that make her interesting. Social networks are very useful with this. I use them to browse profile pictures, in order to have a general idea [of how a person portrays herself]. I never look at the pictures taken by other professional photographers. It’s not a matter of arrogance. Rather, it’s because I think the infamous ‘selfies’ are indicative of someone’s personality, and they tell me if the person is ‘photographically suitable’ to my goals. Other than this, I believe that personality is more important than physical aspect in determining my choice [of a model]. The better the personality is defined, the more interesting the image will be.
The third thing, engagement, is the most fundamental. The will to participate and create something together [with me], without wasting time or just because of interest in obtaining a ‘profile picture’ that will look good on Facebook, acknowledging the efforts and sacrifices made by the photographer.
You often shoot women in bedrooms and houses: why?
I conceive my nude and glamour photography as intimate photography. Bedrooms and homes in general evoke a familiar environment. In addition, they are obviously the only suitable environments where to [realistically] shoot pictures of a woman naked or in her underwear. I use practically only natural light, using a single light source, inspired by [the works of] Caravaggio. I don’t like to shoot half-naked women on a canopy bed, wearing 6-in heels. It looks fake. I much prefer spontaneity, the naturalness of gestures and gazes. The first I tell my models is not to look like they are posing. I need to establish a trust with the model since the beginning, enabling her to freely express herself, which would create images with higher emotional impact, bringing photography ‘to a higher level’.
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