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Interview: Photographer Marco Maria D'Ottavi (Italy)

Can you tell us a little about you?

I'm born in 1963 in Roma. I started to attend the world of theater, whose side "technical" fascinated me much more than is strictly artistic. So at 16 I left for my first summer tour, to help the chief lighting technician.

In just three years, after attending courses, alongside the masters of cinema, theater and television, winning a master's degree on the lighting in photography and theater, I came to draw the lights for the greatest interpreters of it: from Andrea Camilleri To Edmo Fenoglio, to go working with G. Ferrari. And Krzysztof Zanussi, Werner Schroeter, Rainer W. Fassbinder, F. Zeffirelli. And the photo, step by step, remained with me.

Sometimes my photos are "feelings" and are represented by a single image. Sometimes they are "stories" sometimes they are quotes, homages for other artists.

Now I work for fashion and advertising photography, also with my studio "Modstudio", association with other professional photographers, like Luca Mosconi.

I am present in a number of the encyclopedia "Academy of Photography: the body and the nude" published in Italy by Rizzoli RCS.

How and when did you get into photography?

As I said before, light is my professional life. At the age of 19 I decided to devote all of myself to photography, starting with reportage around the world.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

My style, as far as advertising photography is concerned, is to be transparent towards the client. That is, adapting to what is required of me, while always maintaining close attention to detail and having the utmost respect for the staff who work with me. When I do personal projects, I like to think I don't have one style, but many styles.

What does photography mean to you?

I don't want to sound rude, but photography is first of all my work. I don't go on vacation with my camera. :-D Certainly, when I have time, I make photographs "for me" and in these cases I consider photography one of the most powerful forms of expression.

Where do you get inspirationfrom?

Painting, sculpture, dance, books, cinema, theater and many masters of the past, such as Carlo Mollino.

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?

Absolutely yes! First of all I create a project, a story in my mind. I'm used to shooting with film and having only a few shots available. I never shoot “random” and I believe this should always be done. The photographer decides the photo, not the model, not Photoshop or instagram filters.

Studio, on location or both?

Certainly both. The right place depends on the project you want to carry out.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

Obviously joking, but I think the best image is that of the bank transfer made by the customer. Photography is my job, as well as my passion. But I can say one thing: you must always be a hobbyist in mind, cultivate your mind, observe, improve yourself throughout your life.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

I think it was a performance done in the theater, live, in front of about 1000 people. During a short ballet with 2 dancers, one to my right and one to my left, shooting live in double exposure, I projected the result onto a screen: no photo editing, no manipulation. While having the dancers divided in reality, my superimposed images showed the dancers united in poses that made sense, such as a hug for example. It cost me a month of rehearsals with the dancers, but the final applause paid off for all.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

In addition to the medium format, mandatory in the 80s for printed magazine photos, in 35 mm I started with a Canon, then moved on to Nikon for which I was the official photographer for many years. Now I only use Sony and Nikon mirrorless, still Nikon reflex in the studio. I don't have a favorite lens: my favorite is the one you need. For this I only use zoom, from 12mm onwards. Zoom optics today have excellent performance.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

With great regret I believe that today, at least in Italy, it is practically impossible to give good advice. The ability to post horrible photos but get likes gives the perception of being a good photographer, which is wrong, but this allows "customers" to get free images of their products. Beyond that, rendering, and now artificial intelligence, are really replacing a lot of photography work. I think that, at least in the fields of advertising and fashion, there are no further possibilities. Perhaps one more thing for wedding or event photographers.

What do you think of our new magazine?

Magazines like yours present a great opportunity for new talent, both photographers and producers. Often young people only have social media to advertise their work, but everything is engulfed by the speed and randomness of social networks. A magazine, well done, gives the possibility to remain fixed over time. Thank's for your job.

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