February 9, 2016 by Samantha Areman
Giorgio Cravero is a talented advertising, food & drink and still life photographer from Turin, Italy. His style is a combination of traditional photography and digital/new technologies. He often combines several techniques to emphasize and communicate his way of perceiving objects and space, using light to describe the shape and materials.
Giorgio recently won the prestigious Hasselblad Masters 2016 in the “product” category. In his interview with us, Giorgio explains his journey as a photographer, the inspiration behind his winning image, and more.
Production Paradise: How did you discover that photography was your passion?
Giorgio Cravero: After High School, I went to University and studied Economics. After two years, I realized that spending the rest of my life in an office analyzing numbers and data was scary, so I quit. I have always been a very curious person; very visual. Images have always been a very strong component of my thinking process and so photography was a good fit for me. After a few years, I realized I liked it too much for it to be just a pastime. Another part of my personality entails a nearly maniacal precision for everything I do. Rather than engaging in photography as a leisurely hobby, simply doing courses and workshops, I decided it was going to be my life: I enrolled at the European Institute of Design and three years later, I graduated with top marks in Visual Communication.
During the three-year course I supported myself and my studies by working. I also started working as an assistant for some of my school professors. Right after graduation, I opened my own photography studio. That was 15 years ago.
Production Paradise: You dedicated some time to architecture photography in the beginning of your career. How did still life photography become your main focus over the years?
Giorgio Cravero: At first I was really fascinated by architectural photography. It felt like the right sort of thing for someone like me, with a natural inclination towards observation. It was the triumph of observation! Observing the way light interacted with the object and continuing to observe until the final composition worked out.
As with all perfectionists, I always felt the need to have total control over what I did and not being able to totally control the light made me feel frustrated. This, and the dwindling demand for architectural photography in Italy, is what inevitably guided me toward studio photography. I am not a “fast photographer”; I need to think and to try out lighting and composition until I am completely satisfied. I immediately loved still life photography – being as precise and shy as I am. I let my instincts take over and throughout the years I managed to shape the visual language that became the foundation of my work. Besides being a working photographer, I strongly believe in the craftsmanship component of my job. I am always researching new ideas, starting new projects (without clients) to improve my experimental portfolio. A continuing mission that allows me to better define my personal style.
Production Paradise: How did growing up in Turin, Italy influence you as a photographer? Did you ever consider moving elsewhere?
Giorgio Cravero: Turin is a strange city and you start to fall in love with it as time goes by. It’s regal, sad in a certain way, and very closed-off. But in the last ten years, something started to change. There’s a rebirth, especially in the creative fields. I don’t know if the mood of my city has influenced my job or not – maybe it’s a little harder than elsewhere – but I believe you can be successful anywhere. It’s now possible more than ever to work in any part of the world, no matter wherever you live. It’s not easy, of course, but it’s possible.
On the topic of moving elsewhere, I’m not opposed. I am content, but if a great opportunity knocks at my door in the future, I will seriously consider it.
Production Paradise: Were there famous photographers you looked up to as you were starting out? Who or what influenced your style?
Giorgio Cravero: I think that your personal taste evolves as you do. I continue to admire and feel inspired by the classic Masters: Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. These two, more than others, are the basis of my education. I’m also very inspired by photographers who use the light as the core of an image – like Erwin Olaf, Gregory Crewdson or Peter Lippmann. But, there are a significant number of professionals in the industry, and there’s an increasing average of the quality. I often take some time during the day or in the evening to look at other photographers work. Production Paradise helps me do that. Even though it can be intimidating, you have to observe what other photographers are doing – even if they work abroad. I need to know where the market is going and keep myself as updated as I can.
Production Paradise: One of your images from the Color series was the prestigious 2016 Hasselblad Masters Winner for the “Product” category. Tell us more about it: what’s the idea behind this project? Where did you get the inspiration for it?
Giorgio Cravero: This photograph was part of a project where I researched food, man and nature. I attached the project statement below to explain what inspired me to shoot these images.
From a technical point of view, I tried to get the utmost results during the shooting phase (something I try to do as often as I can). We hung fruit and vegetables, shot them, partially dipped them into tempera paint, and then pulled them out and waited for the best “drip” moment. We chose the best photos and Ivan Nikodimovich, the studio’s post-production supervisor, worked on them in post-production; de-saturating, cleaning and adjusting the color parameters in order to match the color between the tempera and the objects.
“Men are poison for the earth. Behind this work there’s the story of what we are and of our arrogance when we think that we really count. Nature will outlive us: in the fruit and toxic vegetables, where color slides away, there’s the upper part which firmly holds the color of life. Do we really think that we can make a difference? Do we really think, in the age of technology, that we can lay down mankind’s law to the extent that we dominate the law of nature? Nature defeats us in silence, or in any case, it will stay here for longer than us, it will be run-down, but it will still be there. We fall ill and we die to create space for other man and to ensure the continuation of species. Nature doesn’t give a damn about our pain or our profit logic. The blackened chicory, the abandoned carrots are the clear image that – ok – we needed a knife to tear the meat off our preys, therefore we are technical beings for survival, but Earth had also imposed on us to be humble, and we -in reply- became arrogant. Nobody shall escape the retaliation for that arrogance, this is what the ancient Greeks tell us and they are a people of indescribable greatness, if nothing else because -before anyone else- they became aware of mortality and suffering and they wrote the greatest literary production of all the time on the topic. Here, in that cabbage which was sadly left to its fate, lies all the tragic meaning of our smallness and of our short memory, because we should have stayed there, close and loyal to the Earth, we should have stayed humble.” –Giorgio Cravero
Production Paradise: Is it important for you to be recognized and awarded as a photographer? Does it give you more motivation for new projects or bring attention from new clients?
Giorgio Cravero: Well… both. On one side there’s my “Fine Art” production that is starting to be “recognized” now. I’ve always thought that was important to me to push my job in different directions: I dedicate part of my time to personal projects – to explore my creativity and to express what I feel and think. I can’t give you more details right now, but there could be some “international news” coming soon.
At the same time the award brought a new attention on the commercial side. New opportunities and collaborations are emerging and I hope this will increase my international presence – a path in which I’ve invested a lot in the last two years, working on my portfolio and new contacts.
To me, this is both an arrival and a departure point… An arrival because it feels like all the hard work I put into it has been recognized. It is also a departure point because I am very ambitious. And this prize, the opportunity that Hasselblad is giving to me, and their collaboration (at different levels) are definitely a big help – it motivates me and is an opportunity to get closer to my goals.
Production Paradise: You are also a talented video production artist; what are the main differences between shooting video and photography? Do you prefer one over the other?
Giorgio Cravero: I started experimenting with video almost three years ago, and I’m still learning a lot. What I’m trying to achieve right now is the delineation of my style and vision in both photography and video. I think that joining photography and motion is the biggest revolution in this world since the “Digital” evolution. Combining the two offers significant opportunities, but also a lot of risks. You have to deal with heavy pre-production, much more than what you’ve been used to in photography. There are many more people involved, everyone with a specific skillset and it can be challenging making them all coincide. In video production, you always work in team which means you can’t predict and control everything – this, I think, is one of the major differences between still photography an motion. It’s time-consuming work, and you have to plan carefully before starting. Of course, there’s a pre-production process for photography, but I find it less time-consuming, maybe just because I’m more familiar with it.
I still consider photography as my main business and love, but I can’t deny that video demand is rising, and I’m very attracted to this challenge.
Production Paradise: What impression do you want people to have when they view your work?
Giorgio Cravero: As I mentioned before, I’m a perfectionist; in my life and in my work. I am very meticulous when it comes to details – experimenting with different light approaches and different compositions before choosing the right one. When other people look at my work, I want them to feel the care and preparation that was put into the shot.
In some projects, I simply want to evoke emotion with my images. Other projects are more commercial, or technical, but I want all my work to be perceived and characterized in the same way that my creative work is.
We would like to thank Giorgio for taking the time to share his story with us. You can see more of his work on Production Paradise Spotlight photography magazines and find Giorgio’s full photography portfolio on his website.
If you want to show off your latest work to the industry in the next edition of Production Paradise’s Spotlight or Showcase magazine, contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com