Interview with Enrico Labriola
by Ling GU Q: Started from a quite early age – 14, you have been taking photos. What was the first attraction of photography to you? And what was your first photo about? (Is it in Basilicata?) A: The wonderful emotions Basilicata is able to offer to people who want to discover its nature (for many aspects different and in those years still untouched) as well as the amazing “Panorama” the region is able to offer where sensations I could not ignore. The first images I did capture of this wonderful nature where for many aspect simple but at the same time full of passion. Q: So in the first period of creation, landscape was your orientation, the 'bucolic' approach to photography? As introduced above, I simply could not ignore the sensations and the emotions the region was offering. At the same time I wanted to try to share (also with friends and family) the beauties of my country. I started traveling discovering the countryside around what I was considering “my little village”. Q: You chose Milan for studies. Why Milan? And soon after you became assistant to great professional photographers, may I ask who the tutors were? And how they influenced your work, even style maybe? A: I did always consider Milan as one of the most creative “Cities” in Italy, especially for art and photography; a city which was (and for some aspects still is) capable of offering unique experiences in terms of work and knowledge. If you are really willing to learn and discover some of the aspects of photography, Milan is currently still the home town of a great number of “famous” or using an expression I prefer, well known photographers, which are always ready to open their studios as well as their knowledge to new “assistant”. “Influenced”, off course (initially) I was influenced, everything was so “new” so “different” so “simply perfect” and amazing but at the same time I was able to follow my feelings, and soon I found my own “road”. Q: Afterwards, your main focus transferred on portraits, would you like to share with us your understanding about portraits? How it’s special to you? I am not ready to hide that I am mainly interested in the emotional, and especially in the “human” side of people. Willing to try to provide a reply to your question, “My understanding of a portrait, and how it is special to me” is something which cannot be easily described using few words; somehow I am trying to “allow” my images (instead of my words) to perform this kind of description, by sharing with viewers the emotions which were captured, and the feelings I have been trying to “Jail” into single frame. Dialogue, expressions as well as photography are all aspects of our culture that I personally treasure and consider to be a unique form of art. Simple expressions like a smile, a surprised face are emotions which
are allowing people to communicate, just like somehow “images do”. Personally, I do consider dialogue to be a form of art that is allowing people to indicate the importance of each value separately. Q: Is there a person who is your muse? Maybe like Ada to Alex Katz. A: I was often asked this question, and the answer is “no” there is not a muse. My work, the single shootings, the locations and the people as well as the design and the creativity meetings are all important ingredients which are necessary to be able to deliver a good atmosphere. Q: Do you often work in your studio for the portraits? Is there any special setting in this particular space for you? A: Working in the studio, or using a location, are both great opportunities, but I personally believe that you need to have a clear idea of the image you are willing to create. Q: Among the variety of photography you’ve been mastering, which is more preferred: Reportage, Glamour, Portraits, Fashion and Advertising? A: I do not think that “Reportage, Glamour, Portraits, Fashion and Advertising” can simply be divided as if they were different activities. There is something special in each one of them, and all of them are able to make you grow both professionally as well as emotionally. Q: How you understand fashion photography? What’s fashion to you? A: I think that trying to define the concept of fashion is not as simple as it might appear. Taste and Luxury are according to my opinion expression, which are often used in association with the word and the concepts of fashion. Q: Any story can be shared for taking the photo of Signore Berlusconi family? A: I am sure you will understand how much I treasure privacy and more important how much I respect people. Q: You’ve been working with quite a few celebrities, is there any principle to take along with them? A: I do believe that allowing them to feel comfortable with themselves is for sure among the important aspects, and at the same time, you need to make them feel that you are there to work together. Q: And how you will do the homework before taking photos of the celebrity? Means get to know them. I always study before a shooting. I do respect the history and the background, the single details, the human aspects as well as the difficulties which maybe, in some cases might have generated problems of various natures are all aspects which need to be taken into consideration. Q: Whom you’ve been co-operated more than once and enjoyed the most? A: Quincy Jones. Q: Which photo is your own favorite? Each single image I had the opportunity to take tried to describe something special, most of them are often still allowing me to experience “one more time” though my memory, some of the emotions I felt when the picture was taken.
Q: Whom you’d wish to take photo of, but not yet? In alphabetic order: Barack Obama, Joseph Ratzinger, Vladimir Putin. Q: I guess you must receive lot critics on your works. As Wilde said in the Preface of Picture of Dorian Gray, ‘The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things’. Do you mind what critics say about your works? Critics are always helpful, and it helping people to always improve their work, especially when it is made by people who are having a good education in image culture. Q: During the more than 30 years of photography, were there moments you felt tiresome? I guess I have always been lucky, Q: You’ve traveled a lot places, I’m quite impressed by the reportage in Israel and Kenya. Would you like to share with us some stories from these journeys? A: I am sure you had the opportunity to review the images also the ones which are published on my website. As a photographer, I have tried to collect and capture the emotions, the feelings and the sensations I was “living” and “feeling” looking thought the photo camera; I would like to answer this question, asking you if as a “viewer” you have been able feel some of the feelings I have been trying to share with the public. Q: Once you said you’d like to express 'the contrast between truth and inner world', ‘in search of a balanced but refined image capable of fusing reality with imagination’. Would you like to tell me a bit more about your philosophy towards photography? A: I am sure you can understand that trying to summarize a topic of such a complexity might offer to readers a different and probably not proper approach to my real feelings towards photography; a “word” beside a “work” which I am sure you have understood is representing for me a way of describing emotions and life even if today, photography is more and more used as a simple way to record events, describing frame by frame, a world which is fundamentally changing. I have promised myself way to record events - describe a world fundamentally changed. Q: Is there any special techniques you apply on photography? E.g.: DIY some cameras to approach particular effects. A: Light is having a great influence in my technique. I do respect and treasure light, the shadows it is able to create, and the colors it is able to emphasize. Q: You use more often film or digital? Why? A: Film is and will always be a unique emotion that is having a great part in my life. Unfortunately nowadays I too often asked to use mainly digital. Q: Thank you for the interview. A: Thank you.