Interview with Federico Chiesa
Federico Chiesa is an accomplished commercial photographer born in Cecina, a small town in Tuscany. After studying in Rome he began his work as a commercial photographer to critical acclaim. He is known for his “Horror Vacui” series which asks the question “What if the most scary horror film icons from the 80′s were alive today?”
Federico, it is a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell us a little about yourself as a child and what it was like growing up in Cecina?
Hi, I’m glad to be featured in your website. I grew up in a small town called Cecina, in Tuscany, in a country house. It was a nice childhood and I feel lucky to have been born in Tuscany.
Of course I was attracted by what I saw in American movies and that’s why I’m relocating to NY.
When you were young did you have an interest in photography?
I can’t say that I did but I’ve always been attracted by images, I loved to draw but never had a chance to take photographs. My father was an amateur scuba photographer and he was a fine painter but he is also a very serious man (he was an heart doctor) and would always push me to study something useful. He obviously failed!
I was in love with music so I studied as a sound engineer and as a guitar player ( I am actually touring with a band called Mr Bison). I became interested in photography after high school graduation. It was like a revelation: “I could be a photographer!!!” .
When did you first begin working as a commercial photographer? Do you remember some of your earliest jobs?
After graduating from photography school I worked as a photo assistant for a while. That is the best type of education that you can do. Then I started to do retouching and I learned how to make my photos suitable for commercial use. My first job was a campaign for McDonalds .
You are also an accomplished fashion photographer. Can you share with us any stories from your favorite shoots?
Actually I don’t see myself as a good fashion photographer. Once in a while I have chance to do some nice stuff. The latest project is called “Darker than black” and is a reinterpretation of black metal covers.
How did you come up with the concept for your “Horror Vacui” series?
I was asked to produce a series of photos for an exhibition about crisis so I ended shooting the worst kind of crisis I could imagine: identity crisis. I’ve always wanted to do some shoots with movie villains so this was an opportunity to do it!
It was a very low budget project and when finished I only made about $1000 . I could do better now and I guess I will have another opportunity to do a new villain shoot someday.
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Were you surprised at the popularity the series received?
Yes. everything started by a tweet from someone with a tons of followers and within a few days my photos were everywhere . I guess that working with well loved characters helps to spread your work.
You worked with Carolina Trotta who is a makeup artist and fx makeup artist in Italy. Do you collaborate with her often?
Actually Carolina is my girlfriend and we always work together. For “horror vacui” she was very, very important. She did make up but also prepared costumes and props.
What inspires you when you work?
Movies, music, paintings. I try not to be inspired by others photographers because I hate to copy others but, you know, sometimes I need to give up and try to learn how other photographers do their stuff.
Are there any photographers work you admire?
Many. To name a few: Erwin Olaf, Gregory Crewdson, and Eugenio Recuenco
Many of your photos look “painterly”. Do you effect them in some way and do you do your own retouching?
I always do my own retouching. I like to give that painterly look to my photos. I start with the right lightning during the shoot and then I refine everything in photoshop.
What plans do you have for the future?
Hard to know. Right now I want to relocate in NY.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
You can check my website www.federicochiesa.com
Or my Facebook page www.facebook.com/federicochiesaphotographer
you can also check Carolina’s work here www.carolinatrotta.com