“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams
Art is such a complex thing. Multi-sided, it correlates to a great number of spheres and aspects, invariably rooting in the very heart of us. It’s also supposed to belong to the darkest corners of the soul, thus, in most cases, being a way of telling our stories, expressing our fears and pain…
Going back to 2015, when the Phantasma project released “The Deviant Hearts” – a full-length conceptual album and several videos, I remember the very moment when I saw promo-pictures made by the Italian photographer and painter Fabio Interra. I was literally struck by the atmosphere of the photos, by their emotional expressiveness, and only then the puzzle has become complete for me – I discovered a long-seeking-for-world through the artworks of this immensely talented man and a living soul.
I was lucky to get to know Fabio and his story from him himself. He was born in a small town in the north of Italy. He had an artistic tendency from the childhood when he started drawing cartoons. Later on, Fabio attended different courses for the improvement of painting techniques that made his paintings more elaborate, more conceptually developed and mature.
Photography came into his life a little bit later:
“Art and creativity related to the study of the image have always fascinated me. Photography happened to occur in my life after my summer holidays in 2009 that I spent in a beautiful place, La Conquet, in Bretagne, France. The magical place, the amazing light and the atmosphere enchanted me, so, as soon as I returned home, I decided to master the photography world, one of my strongest passions of art and started to attend evening school «Italian Institute of Photography» in Milan. Since then, I’ve never stopped shooting”.
— Fabio Interra
So, from here, come plunge deeper into the authentic world created by this talented man with me…
MG: Fabio, dear, our artworks are vso emotional, atmospheric. Looking at them I always feel some anxiety or, on the contrary, the greatest relief, pacification. Thus in most cases there’s a flavor of sorrow, longing for something unspoken, of “the inner battle” I would say. How does it describe you yourself as a person, your world outlook?
Fabio: Honestly, I’m a little bit ashamed to talk about myself.
I’m certainly not “a solar person”, and when I am, I’m just about to report to the situation around me (though it does not make me a false person). As for my family, I always face great incomprehension, my relatives are always there for the closed-minded talks (I have no incentive, no approbation, only mortifications) that lead to a great conflict in our relationships. Obviously, there are also job problems that still affect my mood. As far as my «I» is concerned, I ‘d be lying if I said that I have not inner conflicts, but I would prefer not to mention it too, since my photography is based on these feelings and I fear that by expressing them freely, I could lose the ability to create projects in the way I’ve been doing so far and deprive of that magic touch. The only way to express myself is to shoot! I would cover everything I really am with a phrase «Mal de Vivre». I hope you can understand, and thank you for this…
MG: Could you please describe the process of preparation for this or that photo shooting? Is it you who develop the whole conception or the models bring some ideas?
Fabio: Yes, sure! The most of ideas start from me. Normally, I like to spend time on the web, because I’m always looking for new inspiration for my creatures so, I see a lot of pictures, painting and illustration (I like vintage, dramatic and gloomy images). Sometimes I find the ideas for the projects in my dreams (I know, it could be weird, but it’s true (smiling). The rest of time, I look for inspiration walking in the wood, since it’s my perfect place for relaxing and thinking).
Concerning the outfits, I always try to retrieve available clothes or buy them on the Internet. Sometimes I use some old dresses of my mother, sisters and aunt. Other times, I go to the dressmaker with some sample image. Unfortunately, I don’t have a fashion designer (the same for the accessories) in my team.
MG: You’ve started taking pictures only of nature not so long ago. For me personally each of these photos is absolutely precious because your vision of nature is out of words, really. So do the feelings while working only with nature differ from the feelings while working with people, and how?
Fabio: Actually my first genre of photography was nature (when I started the school). I always said that I would become a landscape photographer. But being on the second year of the evening school, we studied nude and fashion shooting, and that was the moment when I changed my mind and started shooting people. Since I like both genres, I wanted to mix people and nature. Working with people gives me the opportunity to create ideas that go through my head, and taking landscape’s photos is relaxing me.
MG: And what music do you listen to?
Fabio: I don’t have a specific genre of music. I like a lot of kinds of music, and it depends on my mood.
I really like Silent Hill soundtrack (both videogames/movies), Twin Peaks soundtrack, The Piano (movie) soundtrack, M83, Royksopp, Chromatics, etc. By the way, when I was young I went to dance only to hip-hop and rap music.
MG: And what about the cinema? Does the cinema (or / and music) inspire you on photographing?
Fabio: Of course, cinema is one of the strongest inspiration in the colour correction, shots and atmosphere. I prefer thriller (especially psychological ones), horror, fantasy and mystery movies. I also like watching animation movies (like Studio Ghibli productions) and yes, some Walt Disney, but only when I need to smile a lot (laughing). In the last years I begin to watch a lot of TV series. The most series I like is, of course, True Detective (the first one). I like the opening, the story, the toning and everything about it.
MG: By the way, I can’t help asking you about your fabulous works with Phantasma. Could you please tell us about the developing of conception for this project?
Fabio: With the Phantasma‘s project, my job was to photograph, interpreting with my own already existing story, wrote by the talented Charlotte (Charlotte Wessels, the Phantasma and Delain’s vocalist and lyricist – interviewer’s note). I was very happy when she contacted me via email. I couldn’t believe someone would like to work with me as a photographer with my own style and vision. It’s all because here in Italy, I am contacted only for the shooting like events, daily life and weddings – in other words, it’s a job that is lacking the creativity. Imagine how happy I was when I was chosen among many photographers for doing something great! At the beginning I couldn’t hide how worried I was, because my English is not fluent and I should have worked with people who speak English fluently! So, my worries disappeared after meeting Charlotte and Georg (Georg Neuhauser, the Serenity’s frontman – interviewer’s note) in person: two nice, willing and friendly people! I spent some nice days with them, and I’m absolutely satisfied with the final result of the project.
MG: Do you yourself like “The Deviant Hearts”? What does this album mean for you? What’s your favorite song from this album?
Fabio: Oh yes!! I like this album so much, the story and the meaning.
Without any doubt, my favorite track is “Runaway Grey”. I feel that the mood of this song is really close to me personally. Especially I like the beginning of the song:
“October blocked my roots so
Clouds and rain are weighing down on
A rootless tree won’t last a many storm…”
MG: Moving on to the exhibitions, do you remember your first one? How would you describe this feeling – to see all these people coming to have a look at your artworks?
Fabio: Well, as for my painting exhibitions, they have not always been taken positively, especially the last ones: I have portrayed pictures depicting fallen angels. It’s a metaphor of what I was experiencing during a period of my life, and in generally, I would describe it as abandonment. I have been criticized a lot, but it doesn’t matter. Here, where I live, people have a very closed mindset, they are used to seeing pictures of mountains, flowers, blue skies and something like this. Imagine their expression when they saw my works (laughing).
On the contrary, with photography it was different. My pictures have been enjoyed by the audience right away, and I particularly remember the first «real» show. I exhibited with my friend, and with the organization of my friend we have (for two consecutive years) paid homage to a Milan poet Alda Merini (she was locked in a madhouse). The first «Camere Oscure» (“Dark Room” in English) exhibition was the place where the locked people lived, and we tried to convey the suffering and discomfort that poor people had to live in. (Here we played with words because “Camere Oscure” can be interpreted in two ways:
1. the rooms of the psychiatric hospitals and
2. the rooms where the photographs are developed and printed)
The second «ControVersi» show was more mature. We shot portraits, without ever seeing the face of people (the faces were covered with various materials). Suffocating and claustrophobic portraits. The choice of black and white emphasized more than we wanted to convey. In addition, we decided to write some parts of Alda Merini’s poetry on the people’s bodies. Both exhibitions have been a success. We exhibited at the castle in a country near the place where I live, and it was such a great wonder that so many people have come!
MG: What about drawing now? Do you still draw anything? How does the experience you get while drawing differs from the experience from taking photos?
Fabio: I rarely draw these days. I wanted to try to bring my paperwork back to digital, so I bought a graphic tablet with monitor (which I also use for photography) and started to draw again. Drawing, like photography, helps me to relax and run away from the world around me. It’s a sort of “heaven”, and when I don’t want to express anything with the drawings, I simply copy already existing illustrations. And I’ve always been fascinated by manga. With the painting, I started a project about Fallen Angels — a metaphor concerning abandonment, then continued in photography.
MG: I’ve also noticed that you usually don’t take photos indoors (don’t use studios, etc.) Why so?
Fabio: I don’t really like to shoot indoors (in general), I think It’s more limiting than taking pictures outdoors. As for my photography, it works very well when I shoot, being surrounded by nature. For me the best time for taking pictures is from October to February.
I love the natural light (in particular when the sun is behind the clouds) because it looks more magically. The flash is too fake for me, and I like to play with the fuzzy effect.
MG: The last thing I would like to ask you is to formulate your own motto and advice something to those who try to find their way in photography and creativity in general.
Fabio: Everything about art is not easy because your work is not always appreciated. Talking about Italy (except fashion), there is still a strong conception of photography as a memory, the idea of it is old-fashioned here. I have to move abroad, one day (smiling). And actually I don’t have my own motto, but long ago, one person told me: “Many people love art, but few are rejoined”. Since that moment, I sometimes used to say it. First of all: believe in what you do! Unfortunately, the road of photography is very hard, and there are a lot of photographers now. Let yourself be inspired from nature, music and devour pictures from the web, books and other sources. Attending a school definitely helps in technical aspect, but the rest comes from looking deep inside of you. Trust yourself, be who you really are, feel. Thus, you have to separate from the mass (it’s what I’m trying to do).
You can find more Fabio Interra’s artworks following the links: