A disarming, simple beauty interview with Marco Michieletto. “I’m not a photographer. I just enjoy taking pictures”. Marco defines himself like this, nevertheless in photography is an indisputable talent. I think it’s one of the thing that makes him special, surely the humility with which he tackles what for him is not a job, it is a real passion. A passion without timeline, needs of clients, editorial policies, something lively and free to express. It’s hard not to fall in love with his photos, so simple but so terribly disarming. Interview by Giulia Daluiso
Disarming is the first adjective that came to my mind looking at them, looking at these women move in their sensuality, lit only by natural light, pure, with no make up or flashy clothes. They don’t need them. His photos are the tangible proof that you do not need to put the “Ph” after your name, no need to make a slick cover, with a crew behind, in order to define you: professional. Marco is a professional outsider. Outside the box but, at the same time, more “inside” of many.
KALTBLUT: Your first “photographic” memory.
Marco Michieletto: A camera, my father’s Kodak Ektralite 10. He is not a fan of photography but he used to keep it with obsessive attention in its own box. Every time I was in his room, I used to open the drawer to take it and that camera was like the Holy Graal to me. I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing its “click”. What a pity.
KALTBLUT: You usually don’t release many interviews, but, to the classic question: “Who inspired you?”, I’ve read a lot of directors’ names. I get the impression you’re well connected with cinema as well. Marco’s photographic view in a movie.
Marco Michieletto: About this question I have so much stories that I could write a book but it would be boring. Examples? I just think like William Friedkin who, in the final scene of “the exorcist”, to make priest’s shock more real, he slapped him just a second before shouting “action”.
To perform Joker, Heath Ledger, spent six weeks totally isolated to study character most finest details. To buil Overlook’s internals, Stanley Kubrick and is scenographer have literally robbed hotel’s rooms and hundreds of pictures have been taken to get inspiration. What I’m trying to say is that, in some way, cinema is like Tiziano Terzani’s photography idea:” …reading, studying, setting up. Taking pictures means to find in subjects what you have previously got in your mind. Great photography is what comes from an idea” and you need to expose it with all tools you have, being aware of reality and getting inspiration from it.
KALTBLUT: The model is the main character of your works. There’s no editing or post-production. Just her, her natural sensuality, and your camera eternalizes her through your eyes.
How do you create this harmony? What makes a model better than another?
Marco Michieletto: It seems stupid but the first thing I do when I choose a girl is to imagine her like a club go-go dancer. If she looks perfect for that role, then she’s not my girl.
I usually look for girls not necessarily beautiful, rather they must be genuine, able to communicate their personality with no pin-up ambitions. I mostly look for spontaneity. I don’t care about perfection.
KALTBLUT: Close your eyes. Which photo are you thinking about?
Marco Michieletto: A girl student just got back from school, locked in her room. She’s half naked sitting on a side of the bed painting her nails thinking the boy she’s dating is not what she looks for in a guy.
KALTBLUT: You said in many cases, fashion photography will be gradually forgot. That’s why yours is a photography made of “nothing”, as you like to define it in your biography.Nothing and everything are needed to be remembered. According to this, what’s absolutely necessary to take the “right shot”?
Marco Michieletto: Imperfection and spontaneity. This two features, together, makes the subject “human”. Do you remember that “simple” Marilyn Monroe portrait by Richard Avedon? She glances at an undefined point down. You can see all her soul’s fear, her fragility. It’s unbelievable but anybody, in front of this picture, can understand how many things were wrong in this woman’s life. A picture like that is hard to forget and it represents just a gaze.
KALTBLUT: There are many difficulties in making nude art photography’s, I think it’s generally acknowledged among photographers. You always hang in the balance, risking to be perceived as vulgar. What do you think about it? Have you any story to tell about? (I know you have it. World is full of self-righteous people)
Marco Michieletto: Once, I turned Skype on to talk with one of my favourite Italian photographers ever. He was in New York shooting for an important magazine and I decided to show him my last “masterpiece”. He got the photo, looked at me and said: “close your eyes”, then he asked me to open them and he was showing me a Natalia Vodianova’s portrait by Paolo Roversi. “Where do you feel it?”, he said. That picture was a hit in my stomach. “Close your eyes again”, and he replaced his photo with mine: ”You can tell me you’re not feeling anything, that she’s just a girl with nice tits”. I immediately trashed my whole work. It was an important moment of growth and self-criticism, and still today it represents a functional way to judge my works.
KALTBLUT: You describe yourself as a “non-photographer”, you’re just a man who takes photos.
What’s your relationship with people who, instead, describe their selves as photographers?
Marco Michieletto: During these years I’ve met a lot of photographers but I’m keeping in contact with just a small part of them. Not everyone can define himself a “photographer”. Photographic culture and intellect have been important elements to make a natural selection among all these people. Unfortunately, Italy is full of guys with no idea of what “taking pictures” really is.
They’re good bloggers or self-promoters, they have bunch of follower, but they have no cultural background. They should read all those books they buy just to post the cover image on social networks. It’s important, being aware that Photoshop cheats people but not a professional eye, to avoid awkward moments with real photographers.
I learned that if you’re honest, in this world made of “ass-licking sharks”, it’s easy to get close to a social self-destruction and if your only target is to be liked by people, well, you’re future is not among photographers who really count. That’s sure.
KALTBLUT: Photography project your more tied to.
Marco Michieletto: All projects where the model lowers her walls down (there’s nothing to defend from) giving all that she could.
KALTBLUT: Close your eyes again, how do you imagine your next photo? Which subject would you like to work with?
Marco Michieletto: Shady gaze, extraordinary face, a teardrop falling on a girl face who has just confessed something sad.