Graziano Villa, Genoese photographer and contemporary freelancer as well as eternal traveler. In his works he has always been very active in both genre and subject. A mix of categories that is the hallmark of this great professional and that ranges in various fields of photography such as fashion, still-life, reportage and portrait. A continuous challenge and a stimulus to improve, push and study continuously. It is necessary to infom oneself, to document through sources such as important magazines (Es.National Geographic), read volumes dedicated to photography and, as Graziano did, to take an interest in monographs and portraits of great artists such as Irving Penn, Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman, Krizia Mandelli, Giorgio Mondadori and others.
A major challenge that has sanctioned the career of Villa are the portraits for important people including the Dalai Lama, Cesare Romiti, Berlusconi, Agnelli etc.. It is much more complicated to photograph a person who is not used to posing than a professional model. The psychological approach is important, says Graziano, the way you approach the person must be through a natural process. We need to establish a dialogue before we leave with the pictures. It’s much more exciting to get a beautiful portrait from a stranger as the challenge to get there is much more difficult.
With some characters he also found himself having a “clash meeting” because, being great holders or managers, they do not have the habit of being directed by someone they consider a “normal” photographer. Sometimes it was necessary to impose oneself in order to obtain a good result. And this happened with Romiti, Bulgari but also others. On the other hand, it is a profession that requires time and dedication.
Below I leave you some anecdotes that he confessed to me during the interview to bring us closer to his vision, the way he thinks through the lens of his camera and his approach to his models but also important people.
“A very interesting and, after all, funny episode happened to me with Andrea Cascella, a famous sculptor. When I brought him a B/W copy of his portrait, commissioned by a large company for which Cascella had made a series of furniture objects, he looked at me with a very severe air, it seemed that he did not like my photo, and said: “Very good, you put me in the intersection of a series of imaginary lines, as if you knew …”. At that point I interrupted him and completed his sentence: “…The Golden Section”; he looked at me with great surprise and asked me: “Do you know the Golden Section?”I answered him: “You see Master, not all photographers are ignorant, someone, like me, has also studied, not only the History of Art and its mathematical and structural implications that are crucial to the composition, but have also read Roland Barthes, Marshall McLuhan, Umberto Eco studying what is “Structuralism of Language” and the related sciences to understand how to build a message, using the best elements of language that I am using at that time, in my case Photography”.
“I once told Cesare Romiti that I was not satisfied with my work and he, a little annoyed, replied that “he had dedicated an hour of his time to me! I told him that if he had come to my studio I would have obtained a better result by having much more particular lights and backgrounds than those I had found in his office at FIAT in Turin. Very seriously he told me that we would see each other the next day in Milan, in my studio, and that “he would dedicate another hour of his time to me and that he would like a different answer!” and in fact the result was completely different. Dr. Romiti left my office very satisfied and the next day he sent a letter of congratulations for my work from Turin.