10 minutes with Stefano de Luigi

Interviews with Photographers June 25, 2014 1:02 pm

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

I felt that photography could be my “way of life” when I was serving my year in the army.
Photography was a good way for me to “escape” from the daily life of a soldier such I was a that time.
Later on it become my way to see the world and relate myself to the others. A way to tell the stories of the people I knew and the people I have met along these last 25 years.
I quit the University and I got through two years of Photographic school, then I started to work as photographer.
Since then I am still in love with this “way of life,” even if time is changing partly the language of photography.

Who were the first artists that inspired you?

In the very beginning I was quite impressed by the work of Bill Brandt Don McCullin and Ralph Meatyard and Duane Michals.
I was unsure about the language, and scared to get too close of a certain “surrealistic mannerism,” quite easy thinking.
I was influenced hugely by some directors as well, Fellini, Kubrick and Peter Greenaway with his “The Draughtsman’s Contract” which was quite a shock for me at that age.
Then when I get to school I discovered Robert Frank and suddenly I had not doubts anymore.
He was, and still is, my master.

What would your dream assignment be?

I have most of my dreamed assignments already realized, because since 2000 I am the biggest client of myself.
In others words, I work on projects which focus on my needs of documentary photography.
Then I try to sell them to the editorial.

If I should think to a real assignment:
I would really love to follow as backstage the entire production of the next Quentin Tarantino movie.

How do you come up with ideas for your projects?

A project comes up with the time. Its a subject that maybe has interested me for a long time but I do not feel that the time has come to start a real photographic project because I still am thinking in which way I am going to work.
A project has difference steps. First is the idea than is the language (how to use the tools that photography gives you to enforce your own proposal) then there is a time for dialogue with some specific people who I trust a lot in order to clear the way on how to go forward. Only after that I start to take photos. From the moment I have an idea and the moment when I start to shoot could takes months or a year.

What is the process like in finding editorial clients to publish your work?

My clients have been more or less the same for the last ten years. They know me and I have discussions with them on a regularly basis.
They are aware of my project, sometimes even before I start, so it is quite easy for me to understand if they are interested or not in my proposal. If I really care to do a project (like the case with my last work, Idyssey) I do not care if my clients are interested or not, when I feel I have to go, I go anyway. Then it happens most of the time that they will support my work along the way.

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

Honestly If I could, I would like to go back of 20 years. In that case I wouldn’t had waste time with all sort of editorial assignments, and I would have focused immediately on my own long term projects. And if I could go back to my beginning, I would change the destination of my first big trip (long trip) from South Africa to Germany… it was 1989… I totally missed the fall of communism as the biggest story of the last part of xx century.

Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?

Be curious, and stay curious all along your life.

Stefano is based in Milan, Italy. See more of his work, here.

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