Tell us about yourself.
I’m a 37-year-old photographer from Rome working primarily in fashion. I became a photographer by chance. Photography isn’t my main passion, although I have always been fascinated by images and cinematography above all. Until I was thirty, I still thought that my path was marked by music, which has always been my true passion. I’ve played different instruments; jazz was—and still is— always the soundtrack punctuating my days. In the meantime, I’ve attained a degree in sociology, completed different masters programs, worked in communication, written a university textbook, and changed my religious beliefs three or four times.
What is beauty to you and how do you define beauty?
Beauty is the act that creates or transforms reality into a satisfyingly aesthetic product and cause into a satisfying effect. It’s also that which is already present in nature, in the spontaneous creation of things. It’s up to man, the artist, to seize it or at least preserve it.
What’s the story behind your first camera?
My first camera was a Pentax K1000 that my father tried to teach me how to use. Even though he wasn’t fully capable of doing so, let’s just say I taught myself, burgeoning a lot of films and memories. I’ve never been one to chase the latest model of camera. Every two or three years, when I have to go upgrade equipment, I’ll head to some specialty shop to see what I’ve been missing up until now. I can’t stand the forums where people can talk for days about the noise that develops a sensor with respect to the previous model or that of a competing manufacturer. Today, when I go take a picture, I often consider the option of taking it with my mobile phone.
Tell us about your approach for the Vogue Italia Byzantine editorial.
The Way of Byzantinum has been developed by working on the trends with my crew. Givenchy had brought the religious theme to the catwalk with the Menswear SS2013 collection, and we thought it could be interesting to investigate this issue from an editorial point of view. To make it more modern and to give the work a more pop allure, the classic halos have been substituted with neon. The use of neon tube forms was strongly inspired by artist Dan Flavin.
At first, I decided to create the photos using real neon coloring on the scene. However, it was very technically complex to stabilize everything, and above all I wanted to have more opportunities to choose the right color and composition of the tubes. I therefore decided to insert the neon during postproduction.
What are some fashion films that continue to inspire you?
The truth is I don’t watch fashion movies and I don’t particularly gain inspiration from the work of any photographer. I admire and appreciate a lot, but I don’t follow many people’s works. I consider this the real secret to developing a personal style, which today is more and more difficult to do because the market increasingly demands the approval of style. I believe that fashion doesn’t possess its own, singular language. When not citing itself, fashion always draws more from the other arts—literature, painting, cinema. That’s why I think you need to explore other worlds in order to express yourself in an original language and to arouse interest in the fashion industry.
What inspired Crying Game?
I was fascinated by the art of bondage and I thought I’d make it “fashion” with the use of hair instead of ropes. The location was carefully chosen, since this genre of eroticism has a very ancient history in the west, common in more bourgeois circles than the mainstream. Shooting in an aristocratic home in the center of Rome was the best choice.
What’s your philosophy on nudity in fashion?
I’m always a bit suspicious of the nude, unless it’s absolutely necessary to shoot. It’s far too often used as an excuse to draw attention. In general, I think dressing a model is more difficult than undressing one.
We love the neon lights in the Giuliana Mancinelli Bonafaccia 2014 ad campaign. How did the final product come about?
The designer drew inspiration from the works of two important American artists: the painter Georgia O’Keeffe and the photographer Edward Weston. My goal was to capture the bond that existed between the scenic anatomies of Weston and the visual and sensoral explosion of O’Keeffe. In this case, the nude was essential to pay homage to the study of forms typical of Weston.
Regarding O’Keeffe, I thought that the only way to synthesize her style was to “hit” the body of the model with strokes of color. I used colored gelatins, selected with care, based on the jewelry being worn.
What is it about Vogue Italia that you love?
Italian Vogue has a great tradition and is considered one of the best editions. The vision and commitment of Franca Sozzani has proven successful in her many years dedicated to the direction of the magazine. I can’t imagine any other direction of the magazine than hers.
An impossible question, but what have been some of your favorite assignments thus far?
I always put the maximum effort into every job I do. The job I remember as the most entertaining and at the same time complex was an external assignment commissioned by Vanity Fair, an occasion for which they asked me to shoot with an iPhone. There was no Instagram yet and only a couple of applications offered vintage filters. Today, it would be quite out of fashion to do such a thing, but at the time it really worked and we were all very happy with the result. The only difficulty was making it known to the many onlookers and tourists that I was not one of them.
As a photographer, what are some companies you would love to collaborate with in the near future?
More and more, there are many emerging talents that I consider to be very interesting, like designers who still manage to experiment. I’m talking about the Italian designers like Marco De Vincenzo, Gabriele Colangelo, MSGM, and N21. As for major International brands, I really like The Row by the Olsen twins, Alexander Wang, and Fendi.
In the near future, who would you love to photograph?
I’d like to work more with actors to explore their acting abilities. Models are, in some ways, very limited and the situations of product promotion forces everyone to work in a very codified manner. With actors, I think you can experiment a lot more, perhaps by placing them in situations that they don’t expect and seeing how they live in these conditions.
What museums would you love to exhibit your work in?
Definitely the Mumok in Vienna, without thinking about it a second longer.
If you weren’t located in Italy, where would you consider relocating to?
New York, definitely. Unfortunately, it’s a city that I love but also deeply despise.
Beyond photography, what alternative career paths might you have considered?
As I said before, definitely that of the musician, which unfortunately never took off seriously for me.
Describe your ideal food day.
I prefer fresh fruit and coffee for breakfast. I cut back a lot on carbohydrates, so definitely rice instead of pasta and even fish. I always have a light dinner based on vegetables. Even so, I often give in to a rare steak. I know, I shouldn’t…
What is your favorite movie?
Obviously I have many different ones, but in this case I’ll stay tied to the cinematic tradition of my country. I really love old comedies and the director greats like Fellini, Monicelli, and Leone. I also have great admiration for personalities like Ennio Flaiano, Cesare Zavatini, and Franco Brusati, who all made great contributions to Italian cinema.
What concert would you like to see live?
All those that I’ve missed, because it’s impossible for me to see them. It would be incredible if Karlheinz Stockhausen somehow conducted a show of Miles Davis, Coltrane, and Frank Zappa.
What songs are on your personal playlist?
My playlist is really huge, organized by moods rather than genres. Composers such as Schönberg, Reich, Ligeti, until the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt. [I listen to] the contemporary electronic of Ryoji Ikeda but also the technical groove metal of Meshuggah. But when I have to work many hours with photoshop and maybe I have little time, I have only one remedy: techno hardcore.
What are some things that most people don’t know about you?
Practically everything that I’ve said in this interview. I’m a very reserved person.
And lastly, what is your favorite beer?
German Weisen and the Belgian Triple are my favorite style of beer at the moment.
For more of Marco’s work, check out his website.