SOL is thrilled to have managed to take some time from busy Fashion photographer Andrea Baioni from his studio in Milan.
Andrea spoke to us about his journey from Law into the world of photography, Fashion in South Africa and his latest work for Vogue Italia.
You can also view the full editorial for VOGUE Italia photographed by Andrea in Johannesburg here.
Did you always know you would end up working in the creative industry?
I actually wasn't even supposed to be working in the creative field! I've had a somewhat art / design centered upbringing, and even now almost all of my friends work creative jobs, but I studied Law while taking my first steps as a photographer, but as time passed and fashion photography became my day job I finished law school and started focusing only on taking pictures. By the time that happened, I already had a few clients and publications, sort of vouching for a plausible career in fashion photography. I'm very happy I had the possibility to choose though, as got to see both fields before making a choice.
One of your earliest memories of an image that greatly impacted you?
What got me into photography were some NatGeo and Magnum videos about contemporary photographers, but looking back I was probably more drawn to the aesthetics of their pictures rather than the actual content. Also during my first year in law school I had bought an old film camera, a twin lens reflex, and I used it a lot while on a trip to Sydney, Australia. That was the moment when I really became interested in photography as a whole.
As an Artist aesthetics plays a vital role- what does it mean to you on both a professional and personal level?
Well, the aesthetics in a picture is - or at least I think it is - as important as the actual process and content. That is where a photographer's own signature look really shows. Fashion photography - any kind of photography, really - would be rather shallow if it was just plain aesthetics. I think that, speaking on a professional level, in order to balance the amount of aesthetics a picture can hold without becoming completely devoid of meaning one must use it to complement the content of the picture he or she is taking. It's like a spice - too much of it and the dish becomes inedible; too little and it tastes bland.
Tell us a bit more about your creative process.
My process is rather chaotic. I usually start from the garments I want to shoot, and I try to picture them as a single internal "mood" image; then I go on finding reference pictures in order to have the stylist, make up artist and hairdresser actually understand what I'd like to shoot, as I'm horrible in describing it! That's when a lot of outside inputs come in as well. By this point I try to round everything up, so that on the day of the actual shoot everyone has a fixed, generic idea of what we're supposed to do, while still having a certain degree of room for improvisation.
What inspires you on a daily basis and where do you go to seek it?
There's a lot of movies, tv series, books, pictures, paintings that when I either see them or read them just make me think about a picture for a moment, and then I won't think about that anymore until I actually have the right job for them. I guess a lot of what I imagine just stays dormant, and resurfaces when the need arises. But yes, it's mostly things like a particular scene with a beautiful light in a random movie, or a detail in a painting. Things like that tend to stick, even if you don't really have a use for them at that time.
Do you believe in creative collaboration? Are there any creatives you would like to work with in the future?
Creative collaboration is the basis of fashion photography, I really couldn't imagine my life without a team! That's why I just bring wide inputs to other professionals, and I let them build on that as I trust them and their work completely. I'd love to work with some young fashion stylists in Milan I really like but never had the chance to meet - like Giorgia Toscani, Michele Previsani, Roberta Astarita.
My latest work for Vogue Italia is basically a showcase of what I feel fashion is in South Africa right now. I've had the chance to go see South Africa Fashion Week for the first time in April this year, and as soon as I came back to Milan I bought a flight back to to Johannesburg in order to shoot an editorial to show Chiara Bardelli Nonino and Francesca Marani at Vogue. I wasn’t sure if my idea would actually get the go ahead - as it turns out they liked it, and I did another in October! There's so many different designers in South Africa, and it's a rather refreshing fashion scene. I love it more and more there every time I go back.
What do you make of the current Fashion scene in South Africa?
Fashion in South Africa is blooming right now, and there's so many different designers to watch out for. One of my favorite new collections this time was Thebe Magugu's - the designs are both really bold and traditional at the same time -, although each and every designer I shot with was fantastic, and even some of the ones I didn't get to shoot with! Most importantly I've found all of them to be really easy to work with, and very open to collaboration, something that is very important to me as a photographer. I feel like that the more I click with a designer, the better I actually understand their designs and the pictures I take will then reflect that.
What do you think is the future role of the photographer?
I can only speak for fashion photography, but I think that the role of the fashion photographer in the future will be more and more intertwined with the messages that the editors and the photographers want - and choose to - communicate, and that reflects my thoughts on aesthetics as well. I think that the pictures that the general public will be most interested in will be those that carry a social message rather than purely showing garments.
Some of your professional highlights so far?
Well Vogue Italia is my best highlight so far, so that'd be it I guess! One funny thing is that the first time an editorial of mine got accepted by Vogue I felt elated - yet the second time it happened I actually felt relieved, as it'd have been a personal disaster if it didn't. So yeah, I guess I won't be getting back on that high anytime soon!
Where can one creep on your work?
Finally is you could be summed up in a single photograph- which would it be and why?
One single picture would be the three quarters from the back portrait of Natalia Vodianova by Paolo Roversi. That, for me, is the single most impactful picture I've ever seen, I strive for that.