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Martina Giammaria is an Italian photographer whose refined and sophisticated work is marked by a suspended atmosphere reminding us of the mysterious images of Guy Bourdin. We met the Milan based artist to get to know her better and to gain a deeper understanding of the message behind her photography. Our intense conversation led us on an interesting journey through her unique personal world, where you will find some thoughts concerning chaos and order, culture and business, Rome and Milan, ideas and reality.

Tell us about your background. What brought you to photography?

I never thought I would have ended up being a photographer. First I thought I wanted to be an analyst, then I ended up studying Archeology and I started working in that field. It’s something that requires a lot of passion that I actually didn’t have. I completed a specialisation in filing systems and methods, I studied historic documents. I’ve always been very concerned about everything coming from the past. At the same time I started shooting photos, my parents taught me the technical bases. I attended a photography school in Rome, where I met some very important people: some of my closest friends and my partner. He started working with photography before me, and, when my job contract ended, I felt encouraged to make photography my only job.

How does your creative process work? What inspires you?

It’s all about images in my mind, on the internet or an idea, a concept. It can also be an object or a specific place. It’s the desire to represent a certain atmosphere. These are my starting points. I find it difficult to concentrate, and there’s always a risk of getting lost along the way, before these starting points are developed. What is always really helpful for me is keeping everything as concrete and tangible as possible by using some school inspired tools: making prints of images that inspire me, pasting them in my ‘ideas copybook’ and then writing what I like about each one, making collages, even drawing scenes I have in my mind. I need to be tidy in order to be ‘creative’.

What is the message behind your work?

At the moment I’m mostly shooting fashion works, thus I would not really speak about a message. The reason I work in fashion is not strictly connected with any passion for it, but because it allows me to experiment more. It gives me the opportunity to work with people whose work I admire, since it allows me to get in touch with their own ideas in order to create something that I would otherwise have kept in my head, in a sort of embryonic state.
What I really want is to develop an atmosphere, to transform it in an ambiguous story that can be open to different interpretations. I never want to give a univocal and clear vision. Also I don’t want to assign any sentimental aspect or elements to my photography. I look for uncertainty rather than romanticism. I want my images to be disturbing and uncomfortable, I would like to deliver the sensation that things aren’t at the right place.

What are your favourite subjects?

The human presence is essential to my work, both in fashion and other kinds of projects. For a while I thought I liked working with inanimate objects, more for the easiness that something lifeless can give to your hesitations and because you can work on it over and over without any care for them. But it’s actually so boring, meaningless and exhausting. The energy of a human presence is incomparable in terms of what it can give both to the image and to you.

You come from Rome but you currently live in Milan. How do your origins influence your work? What is your relationship with these two cities?

I’m actually from a little city near Rome, called Anagni. I lived in Rome for many years and there I had the chance to spend time with very interesting people and a milieu connected with photography. There is a richer cultural panorama over there. It seems like in Milan you never find any culture if not strictly connected to business, and this brings people to evaluate other people by their potential utility. I really miss Rome from this point of view, but, on the other hand, it’s extremely hard to work there, more than in Milan.

How is working with photography in Italy? Have you ever thought about moving abroad?

It’s very hard to work here, but it also depends on what kind of work you are doing. Anyway, even though I already have the chance to work with many clients from abroad, there is always this feeling that you can go up to a certain point. All the rest is happening far from here. I do not want to restrict my working experience, but I’m also very pragmatic and I know what I need. I don’t think I would permanently move abroad. Here in Milan I have my home that I love and where I feel safe and not temporary – this is a very important aspect that influences my work. The best solution for me is trying to spend some time abroad in order to enrich my mind, being aware that my home is here.

Do you like Instagram? How do you use it? What are your favourite accounts?

My Instagram account is a mess: it’s a random mix of phone photos, unpublished projects, self promotional photos of real projects… I put a bit of everything there. I do not want to be tidy there, Instagram is my chaos. This is why I don’t actually have any favourite account.

What’s coming next? What do you wish for yourself for the future?

I wish to always keep learning and to never stop being curious.

Words and portrait
Serena Belcastro

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