Behind every photograph there’s a particular view or concept, usually linked to the photographer’s own point of view. In Alice Schillaci’s case, it couldn’t be more obvious: she’s inspired by everything that surrounds her, nature’s fascinating shapes and eye-catching singular beauty – and this definitely translates into her work. “What I love about photography is the world behind that beautiful and magic instant”, she says with the same passion that you can perceive in her photographs, beautiful compositions that combine human form and nature with an original use of light.
When did you decide to be a photographer?
Unfortunately, my love story with photography is not such a romantic one. I never decided to be a photographer or made it my goal, it came naturally and first of all gradually. Probably the main reason is that both of my parents have always worked with images. I grew up in a context where movies, photography, art and taste in general were a massive part of the everyday environment. Every element around me was suggesting something and today I realize how much it has influenced my vision. To answer shortly I started working as an assistant when I was 20 while I was studying photography in Art School after my study in Classical Literature. After that I tried to make it work and here I am, still trying.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a huge limit, simply because it is about an instant in a frame. No time, no dimension, no narrative, no sound. This limit to me, even though it’s been existing over a century, is still very fascinating as from day one. In this hypermodernity I think that having limits is a very rare and potential resource, so from my point of view, photography is first and foremost a job that I recognize the limits of, which makes it very challenging.
A common denominator in your pictures is simplicity, cleanness and a particular lightning as well as a great attention for detail, do you think those factors also define your style?
To me fashion photography is the perfect field for my deepest curiosity of the act of imagination. I never did reportage, it’s very rare to see me holding a camera in my hand by chance, unless I’m on a set. I do spend a lot of time in preparation: I work a lot on defining the concept and then all the rest comes step by step. I love working on lay outs where every element is strong by itself but linked to the others in an organic result. Details allow me to be more abstract catching the smallest and intimate particular that might give a different balance to the whole story. I think that speaking of style is a topic that we have to redefine in this era, but about my work I can say it defines itself more and more with my growth and consciousness. It’s an ongoing exercise which helps me clear my vision day by day.
What inspires you?
You show a lot of compositions in which the simplicity of a model in a studio opposes to the complexity of nature, and the result is a natural balance. Do you think both things, the human form and nature, complement each other?
Beauty is about equilibrium, especially in a frame where every element has to deal with a specific space. I always think in terms of telling a story, made by a precise concept or just by color and shapes, so layouts and diptychs are part of it. Nature is of course always fascinating. There is nothing so beautiful that lasts for so long in its never-ending perfection.
In your pictures everything seems to fit to perfection: the light, the model, the styling… At the end of the day a fashion shoot is a team work and the final result depends on several components. How do you usually choose the people you work with? Do you change depending on the shoot or you have an established team?
I love team work and It's always very captivating to see how much each component can give different shades and results to the same starting idea. For me, every set it’s like a ‘family for a day’ so the human attitude is pretty fundamental. Of course I have a few people I love to work with and I do believe that a small team that keeps working together can do nothing but improve itself. On the other hand, I’m very open to meeting new people with different visions, this is the most wonderful fuel that this job can offer in terms of inspiration.
The models you work with have very particular looks, we could say they are not traditional beauties – even though today that concept is totally out of order. What does it attract you to a person when it comes to shoot them?
Casting is essential. My photography is above all about the concept and the idea I have in my mind. Since the model can really change the whole mood and story, I spend a lot of time with the casting and I prefer to postpone the shooting in case I’m not very satisfied with it. I cannot say precisely what attracts me, in fact it depends from each story but I can truly declare that as far as I'm concerned it's really about the instant in which I see a face and I am sure of my choice.
Nowadays social media, specially Instagram, has become a very important platform of exposure for new photographers, what place do social media have when it comes to showing your work?
I'm not really into social media. Anyway photography intended as a job has precise rules and dynamics and today social media are a very essential and democratic platform to get your own space. My Instagram is basically an updated digital portfolio and I'd be lying if I said it did not help me in implementing my network and knowledge of the filed.
There’s an apparent comeback of analog photography, even though you work mainly with digital. Do you prefer one over another?
I did analog but at the moment my work is completely digital. I do not care too much about the medium because to me the most important thing is the lighting and the world I imagine and consciously construct in front of the lens. I’m not at all a nostalgic of films. We are in a digital era and I’m completely fascinated by living the contemporary.