Marco Fava (b.1978) is an architect and photographer from Italy. His documentary-style photography mostly revolves around urban/suburban landscapes and transitional spaces to manifest their dialogue with human presence and activities. His images do not portray any physical human character in the frame, and rather draw viewers’ attention to whatever hints at mankind’s paradoxical relationship with its environment. His objective in photography seems to absorb and engage the viewers in an extraordinarily ordinary landscape that deserves our attention for its raw beauty.
The images in this feature are selected from his series ‘Separation’ and ‘Marginal Passages’. More from Marco Fava in the interview below:
Please tell us about yourself.
I live in Piacenza, a small city in north Italy and I work as a freelance architect.
How did you get into photography?
I started photographing when I was teenager in an occasional way and without any precise aim. It was only during university studies that my passion became deeper and I started to take pictures with clearer ideas and in a constant way.
How does your being an architect affect/influence your photography?
I think photography and architecture are complementary. There is a very similar approach in thinking about a space in architecture and when you compose a picture - the way you try to figure out how light, geometry, proportions etc. would work.
Do you have an artist statement as a photographer?
The immediate and simple answer is, that taking pictures is my way to dig in my deepest thoughts and a way to solidify them. But, photography also has a sort of ‘therapeutic’ function to me… walking alone with my camera, observing slowly the environment around me - it makes me feel fine and conscious to be a part of ‘something’… can’t explain it exactly.
Your photostream is almost devoid of physical human presence but traits of human activity is captured in a very masterly manner. What’s there in relationship between mankind and its surroundings that you seek to exhibit in your images?
Yes, in my current projects, this is a fundamental point. My aim is try to highlight how strong and constant this relationship between human and environment is. Often, I look for a small human trace in an apparently uncontaminated natural landscape and this contrast can give to pictures a particular feeling and a good starting point for discussion, I think.
Tell us about your creative method and approaches in photography:
Usually, I take notes about everything it could be an interesting theme for me, then, with a precise idea, I start a research about it and I look for a proper location (often, Google maps helps me a lot).
But it is not always the same. Sometimes, there is a more emotional approach. I just wander (most of the cases, in places I already know) and I start to take pictures. Later, I try to figure out if those pictures could be part of something interesting or just a ‘daily diary’ sort of pictures.
I have no particular rules regarding a specific scene. I only try to find the right balance between the concept and the aesthetics.
Tell us about your current projects and the core idea behind them:
As I have outlined earlier, my current projects are about several aspects of relationships between humans and environment. From this macro-theme, I have extracted some series (mostly ongoing) in which I try to observe, for example, relations between rivers and people that live near them, or elements in landscape that show us an unstable condition, temporary passage, modification.
Tell us about the camera and lenses you mostly use and your views on editing and digital manipulation?
I have fully returned to film photography (I used to shoot with some digital cameras in the past) and now I use medium format cameras and I like to use normal lenses, not (too) wide or tele.
About scanning negatives, my photo editing is very simple and essential because I want to preserve the ‘genuine’ aspect of image. I hate fake Photoshop manipulations.
Do you have a favorite photo or a project having a great story behind?
I put the same passion in every project i start, so, I don’t know if I had a more memorable project than other. But, surely, an important project for me, is the series about Po, the longest river in Italy, because it really involved me. I’ve spent days and nights alone in those places, in all weather conditions.
What do you think about contemporary photography?
I want to see how Photography has changed over the last few years, in a positive way. In this moment, I think that advantages are more than disadvantages and that ‘Bad Photography’, or on the contrary, ‘Great Photography’ stays the same, regardless of how many ‘selfies’ are loaded on social networks every second. Now, the increased visibility has given chance and opportunity to some very talented photographers to emerge (and, as a consequence, spreading of photographic culture has relatively increased). Of course, the downside is that we are surrounded with voluminous ‘garbage’ that we wouldn’t want to see…
What are your future plans/projects, ambitions, inspirations etc.?
I’m still working on my ongoing works and I also started something new, still related on my usual themes, but in more conceptual way. I want to see all my projects appear in a book form, sooner or later, and I’d like to have a publication.
Please share your favorite stuff: photographers, quotes, films, books, music etc.
My passion for photography embraces photography in a wide way and even if my first love was landscape and new-topographic photography, I follow very different artists. I can mention (in a very random order), great masters like Guido Guidi, Stephen Shore, Robert Adams; new generation photographers like Alec Soth, Todd Hido, Bryan Schutmaat, Lucas Foglia and many others.
Of course, my passion for art is in general, in any form. I’m a music and movie lover in particular in independent panorama.
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
Hard question… maybe, an important thing, it’s to be a bit ‘obsessed’ with your passion (photography, in this case) and never stop to ‘make things’ because you have less time than you think.
Other fundamental point is to always search for stimulus from other artists and other art forms.
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Note: All images used with permission. Please do not copy or distribute without the approval of the photographer.