“MY MOST INTIMATE PHOTOGRAPHIC MOMENT WAS WITH MY GRANDFATHER.” — EMMA FIACCHINI
Settled into the grey couch in the room where we prepped to discuss her creativity, the power of the sun, casting through the large east-facing windows, was beginning to fade, allowing for the evening to come into its own.
But even the dimness of the daylight could not overshadow the glow that emanated as Emma Fiacchini sparked up to share her creative journey. We talked about her passion for photography and the creative process that drives it. For every word she uttered, I took note so I don’t miss a thing in her story to be shared.
Introducing Emma Fiacchini
Emma Fiacchini traces the beginning of her love for photography to her early ages. Then, as a young girl, she would peruse her mother’s art books and draw inspiration. “Nobody in my family was interested in photography so, perhaps, my passion didn’t start at that time but those manuals made me realize the incredible power of an image, of the story that they tell, of its composition and colors,” she told me.
As she underwent her high school and university educations, the Italian did not lose sight of her passion for photography. Instead, she enrolled and took classes, first in her hometown, Arezzo, and then on to Florence. At 18, she was already taking up assistant roles for a number of photographers in her home country. Since then, her focus has been on learning about different techniques and styles of photography.
In 2018, the 23 years old had her work exhibited at the Biennale Arezzo & Fotografia where she connected with a German photographer from Berlin that offered her the opportunity to assist him on a project in Italy, and a subsequent internship in Berlin. In 2020, at the height of the covid pandemic, she followed her dream and moved to Berlin to start a new journey.
Emma the Photographer
What type of photographer would you identify yourself as? Your technique, style, etc?
This is a question that is very difficult for me to answer. Probably the most honest would be that, as in my personal life, at work, I don’t like putting myself in a box. I believe that the key to learning more, in every context, is to stay open.
Having said that, I can strongly affirm that what makes me most happy with what I do is to tell stories. I know it may sound like a cliché but building a narrative path through frozen images is like achieving the impossible. And having access to an otherwise unknown story is a gift.
In order to do that, I use different techniques. Sometimes I have a cinematic eye and approach in terms of composition, colors, and light. Other times I like working on a specific aesthetic, based on the person I have in front of me.
You talked about the subconscious contrast of green and red in your style…
I am very attracted to color contrasts in photography. I think they bring out an intense range of emotions that have a predominant role in the narration of the image and give it specific connotations. I find the contrast between red and green the most powerful one.
Often used in movies, I think it produces a sense of inner darkness and angst that I find very interesting. However, even photographs that show one color predominance are equally fascinating; focusing on a specific emotion and feeling linked to the color used.
Personally, in my style, I very often use chromatic predominances of red, green, or blue. I believe that those are the colors that represent strong feelings.
The image right above is one of my most recent pictures. I was coming back to Berlin with a friend and we stopped the car as soon as we saw this: an army of wind turbines standing on a thick layer of fog. In this case, for me, the predominance of blue creates this sense of darkness and insecurity and I honestly love it.
You did mention expressing your mood through “photographic emotions” instead of a selfie. What are some images that depict that?
Well, let’s say that some photographers use self-portraits to tell about themselves. For me, it’s always been
easier to show who I am through pictures that don’t physically show me. I am actually working on a project like this and, looking at the photos I’ve taken, I see myself in each one of them despite my physical absence in the pictures.
The concept is that we are many things and these things, people, landscapes, or whatever other small detail of our lives can show who we are. I was actually amazed by the fact that so many people who saw my project, without an introduction, understood that it was about me, that I was telling about myself.
However, that is not what I expect people to see. Actually, I always hope that every picture or project that I create speaks differently to different people. I always want them to see something in it without me saying what it is supposed to represent. Below is one of my “selfies”, part of the project that I mentioned above.
You wanted to be a war photographer, what changed?
Yes, when I was younger, I thought about becoming a war photo reporter. As I previously said, telling stories that others don’t have the opportunity to experience and see with their own eyes is an incredible privilege.
I thought that becoming a photographer operating in countries experiencing war was the only way to do it and I was wrong. There are so many stories that deserve attention and they just need to be discovered. Today I realize that, in the past, I couldn’t understand the real consequences of being a photo reporter that stays for long periods of time in war zones and I would not want to fully commit to that kind of job anyway.
I came to this conclusion, thanks to my current relationship with my girlfriend. I simply love her and I could not build a life with her while risking mine. That does not mean that I will never do a war photo reportage, it is an experience that I keep wanting to do but at the moment that would jeopardize my happiness and I have no desire to do it.
What is the most intimate photographic moment you’ve had with a model/subject?
It was with my grandfather. He passed away in 2019, after a long battle against cancer. In the days leading to his death, I remember I wanted to take some pictures. He was still feeling good and I wanted to have that memory of him like that. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to do that.
He passed away on December 8th. I was there in the room with him, silently I grabbed my camera and took
some pictures of him. After almost two years, I’m still grateful I didn’t stop myself. Those photos are the best gift that he has indirectly given me.