When we created the website (vogue.it
) I asked myself what could be done specifically for photography, I wanted something different from what already existed. My interest for photography is whole; I am not just interested in fashion photography but in photography as a means of communication in all its possible forms, from fine art photography to reportage to the more experimental aspects. Whilst for print there is a limited amount of space, which is obviously dedicated to fashion photography, when you transition Vogue on to the web you do not have these space limits anymore. So since Vogue is, after all, a brand – and in some ways, a ‘way of life’ –, I thought it could be nice to give voice to all photography genres.
In this same period, phenomena like Flickr and Instagram were exploding and I thought that yes, these were all incredible and beautiful things but, lack of curatorship was a problem. Fred Ritchin (Dean of the International Centre of Photography) has been theorizing for years that there is no such thing as a ‘front page’ on the web. Once, if you wanted information, you would buy a newspaper and it would have a front page with all the most important news. So even if you were just interested in pink hair dyes and blue cats, you would still learn that there had been an earthquake somewhere because it was stated on the front page. On the web, this does not exist. Nobody goes to the front pages of the online editions of newspapers; people read news mostly through links they find on social media and this brings them to build themselves a customized world – in an unaware way this is also dangerous, as we've seen with the rise of Trump, the ‘fake news’, etc.
An incredibly positive aspect of the web is the democratic idea of being able to talk about something or showing your images without having to go through a judging figure who tells you if you have enough worth to be put in their publication. You can do this directly on your own. But at the same time, there is a downside where news is concerned. The downside is that you will find out only what you feel like finding out and not necessarily the most important things for you to find out. Where photography is concerned, this marvellous idea of creating your own audience necessarily leads to also seeing a lot of crap.
The other day I posted on my Instagram a photo by Doisneau and I was asking myself if there was nowadays the possibility for an image to become iconic. I was naturally referring to how fast things go in photography today, to the number of images that are produced, to the fact that they are often disposable and in general to how ephemeral photography has become since it’s stopped being a tangible object. And among the comments underneath, a girl wrote, “Perhaps it depends on the number of likes it gets”. I couldn't believe that someone could actually write something like that and seriously mean it. This is exactly one of the reasons why I started Photo Vogue: online photography needs some kind of curatorship. Having a million likes does not mean you are good, there could just be a million of dick-heads who have liked your photo without having any kind of image culture. Culture has always been something for a few, and now we get shocked by seeing which are the most ‘liked’ things, but it has always been this way.
So Photo Vogue comes with this concept: a platform open to everyone but curated. The idea is that if your images are published there, they are probably also good. The platform has various sections, like the ‘best’ or the ‘pic of the day’, from which I myself scout every day who can I get to do exhibitions, shoot for Vogue Italia, etc. You can consider it a kind of ‘gym’ for talents, a precious resource for the public and a place for scouters who are looking for a young photographer for a new campaign. But with a curatorial aspect, which is what I think was missing in other online platforms.