Senior Photo Editor at Condé Nast – Glamour, Chiara Zennaro, about what’s behind fashion and beauty photography
By Emily Lucas
Explore beyond the classic beauty photography with seasoned creative Chiara Zennaro, a Senior Photo Editor at Condé Nast – Glamour Italy. Read the interview with Chiara, who will be judging Beauty Category at our Spotlight Awards for Photographic Excellence, to learn how to impress an art buyer, where to put your work and more.
Production Paradise: Could you give us some insight into your background and how you got to your position as the Senior Photo Editor at Glamour Magazine?
Chiara Zennaro: I’ve been working here at Glamour Italy since 2013, and previously I had been working at Vanity Fair Italy for 10 years so I’ve been spending a long time here at Condé Nast Italy. My role has evolved throughout all these years, going on a very classic route. From a picture editor to the leading creative on set. I have tried to make my contribution in order to learn different things and enhance my abilities to give visual shape to an idea. I started to collaborate with illustrators, which is something I really enjoy, as well as digital artists and also collage artists. I really like mixed media. It’s a contemporary way to look at things – a mixture of different things. It’s something that happens in fashion, but also in photography, all the time all over the world. These kinds of artists inspire me.
Working in the editorial field, I don’t have clients spending money on specific projects, like in advertising campaigns. In advertising campaigns, you have to work in synergy with your clients and fulfill their requests – that’s the goal because they pay. Here, in editorial, we are not so bound to the client. We review clients, at editorial stages, but we give our own interpretation of the product, concept, and tone. You have to study their past campaigns and messages of that season and give your own interpretation. From this point of view, I’m lucky, however, I have to reach to a large audience of a widely read magazine, so I cannot give too many edgy elements or edgy interpretations of these clients; I have to find a balance.
Production Paradise: What do you find is the most interesting and unique aspect of beauty photography?
Chiara Zennaro: I feel like beauty photography is my medium. I have been working with travel photographers, reportage photographers, food photographers, but fashion and beauty is more similar to the way I am. It’s purely aesthetic in a way, and not necessarily conveying a technical message like other kinds of photography.
What I try to do is try to think of the same topic, but outside the box. I can find plenty of makeup imagery for lipsticks, for instance, but you need to find the unique way of showcasing this kind of thing and that is the art.
Beauty images can be very classic because the topics are always the same, but you may always find a way, a newer way, to talk about these same things. Sometimes different ways to show things can make it look different. So I look for things that go beyond. At the same time, you still have to watch your context. I work for Glamour magazine, a widespread and popular magazine, so I cannot go beyond visual track lines, I have to stay within and cannot be too old-fashioned or too classical, but just lead my readers step-by-step towards something new. I cannot do it all at once or I will lose consistency between the text, the context and the visual. I have to keep all three together, like one whole piece. You can’t jump too high at once.
Production Paradise: What are the characteristics you’re looking for in a photographer? Not necessarily technical, even personality. Things that make you want to work with someone…
Chiara Zennaro: Choose people after an in-person meeting or choosing them through portfolios is quite different. When a photographer comes to me with a portfolio he or she tries to give the right choice, the right selection of imagery. Hopefully more than one of the images that they have selected can meet my taste or my needs. But sometimes you cannot really see their personality in their portfolio. They come to a compromise, offering what they think I might like, but it is not really their true taste. They try to meet the client’s needs. When I meet somebody personally, I look through their portfolio, I can get their personality, but at the end of it and after having looked at their portfolio, I always ask these questions: what would you like to do, what are your interests now. Don’t show me what you think I might like, tell me what you would really like to do. So I can get in touch more directly with them, and surprisingly some of them are really shy trying to explain what they want to accomplish with their work.
Production Paradise: Where do you find new talent?
Chiara Zennaro: There’s not one single place, I try to browse everywhere; online, some big agencies, of course, Pinterest boards and Instagram sometimes, Facebook, Behance…it depends. There are so many interesting platforms for professionals who would like to show their portfolio so there are no strict rules for me.
Production Paradise: How do you think Production Paradise Spotlight Awards for Photographic Excellence will benefit photographers?
Chiara Zennaro: I think, first of all, that photographers don’t get credit for things that they have created and worked on. Most of the time, audiences see advertising campaigns and they don’t know how many people worked on them or who is behind them. The advertising goes straight to introducing the products, and all the concepts behind the products, but they don’t introduce the people behind the big creation, the inspirational world. I strongly believe in inspirational campaigns. I think people need more expressional campaigns that can really touch people more than daily life campaigns. It will be interesting for people to know there’s a name and a theme, a group of people behind a campaign.
I find Production Paradise a very contemporary and interesting way to review visual events, visual things happening around us. You have a huge overview from the editorial field to advertising. Through Production Paradise, you can really build and follow visual trends around the world. As a journalist, I’ve been using it for years. Visual production and visual language are constantly developing day by day, and it is a very powerful point of view.
Big thanks to Chiara Zennaro for the insights about her work and beauty photography. Her and many other judges are looking forward to seeing your very best work, so hurry up to select your most outstanding images and enter today.