Home Edizioneed. 6 Francesco Francia – Photographer of the month

Francesco Francia – Photographer of the month

by AdminAg

Written by Monica Camozzi

A wonderful obsession, that of Francesco Francia for photography. Which then, playfully, becomes magic, fascination, experimentation, an indefatigable study of light, captured in its power at the age of just over 20, when he sets foot in the Adams experimental photography centre in Rome.

“My father was an amateur photographer, and at 16 I was taking snapshots of family life, mostly to fix memories, but only with disposable cameras. Then, my then girlfriend’s mother found an abandoned camera at the station and gave it to me as a present’.

When did the point of no return occur?
When something captures me, I throw myself into it body and soul. So, after immersing myself in John Hedgecoe’s photographer’s manual, I went to the Adams experimental photography centre in Rome. I was interested in the great portrait and fashion photographers. I set up a darkroom in my mother’s kitchen. As soon as I graduated I worked for a company: I’d leave at 6 p.m., go to the course in Rome, return to Terni around 1 a.m. and start printing in the darkroom until 3 a.m. At 8 o’clock I was at work as fresh as a daisy doing balance sheets.

“Ansel Adams and his zonal system are the universal basis for understanding the relationship between light and exposure . A photographer ‘writes’ through light and there is a precise method beyond the thousand tricks told in magazines”.

This is called being eroded by passion….
Yes, actually this passion led me later on straight to advertising photography.  I realised that light is the tool to build a specific atmosphere that envelops the subject and transforms perceptions: I learnt to use it to build different imagery, from fashion, to glamour, up to photos taken for the G.I.S. of the Carabinieri. Visual communication has foundations that rest on many things: technique, artistic culture, individual sensitivity.

It seems that now digital has made everyone a great photographer, excluding the lighting knowledge, what do you think?
I answer with the words of David Lachapelle to young people, when he recently said, ‘Kids Learn Technique: we need a new renaissance. Fifteen years ago magazines were everything, now they are no more. But technique and passion are the golden rules and if you take that into account, there will never be a shortage of places to transmit your art” .  Being an author can’t be separated from knowing the fundamentals. It is not a matter of slavishly applying diagrams or light diagrams: a photographer must study the dynamics of light, the rules of visual communication, he must draw on the art of painting, on cinema.

“Ugo Mulas used to say that portraiture is a two-step process, where the photographer has to make sure that his photograph is not just a nice portrait or documentation, but that it already has its own key: you cannot understand what the subject is or does without understanding what the photographer has done. The photographer’s point of view is not only optical, but above all mental.”

Is it really the case that images are a synthesis?
Let’s think about how Mulas portrayed Duchamps: non-doing was the basis of his art and Mulas had him ‘pose’ among his works from many years before, looking at them as if they did not belong to him. He made him pose with his back against the wall, a work of art himself among his old things.He caught the inner, profound part of it. Otherwise that shot becomes an aesthetic or documentary exercise, nothing more. And this also applies to glamour, a mistreated genre that goes far beyond a half-naked body in heels and thong.

“The culture of glamour starts from before the sexual revolution, from pin-ups in the early 1920s. It is a genre that has its own codes’

Do you hide or enhance a defect?
Apart from the beauty world for obvious reasons, a defect represents a uniqueness that characterises the subject. Of course, it must be expressed in the most creative and artistic form possible. To do so, the person must be understood and its spontaneity must be brought out. It is no coincidence that techniques such as proxemics, kinesics and NLP are used to help enter into ‘rapport’.

“If a photo comes out badly, it is never the fault of the subject photographed. It is the photographer who directs, who enters into the relationship, who shapes the narrative”.

Glamour, fascination and sensuality are enshrined in the most intimate part of every woman, immortalising them in a photograph is a meeting halfway between the sometimes momentary, almost elusive awareness of a woman who lets herself go and a photographer who is ready to offer the best of his knowledge. Glamour is in every woman, you just have to know how to bring it out”.

Do you really use NLP on set?
es, it is not enough to tell the model to laugh and she does it; you have to laugh together, create the emotional scaffolding. I learnt a lot from the theatre school, a true master was Alfredo Sabbatini, also a Nikon master with whom I shared the stage at many events, phenomenal in his ability to manage and guide the subjects photographed.

“It all starts with you, you have to be the first to bare yourself in some way, you have to tell who you are.”

So is the relationship with the subject taught in your courses?
Basically, I teach three things: lighting and photography direction, visual perception and the relationship with the subject. Years ago, I was struck by the ability to transform a subject through light, the same model I used to see in a magazine would change to a Playboy pose, because the archetype was that sunny, smiling mood. So it is technique on the one hand and your personal culture, your approach on the other, that build the whole.

“Photography Direction should be a compulsory subject for every photographer. To photograph, to write with light, is to be an Author of light, as Vittorio Storaro says”.

CREDITS
Models: Giulia Borio, Jennifer De Marco, Azzura Lux, Desirèe Kaldas, Erica Frezza, Francesca De Marco, Francesca Lukasik, Ilenia Sculco, Rossella Gambi, Justine Nisette,  Virginia Ciucci

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