ALESSIO BOLZONI – THE LENS OF FASHION
Today we welcome London-based photographer, artist, and director Alessio Bolzoni. With a remarkable track record including shoots with brands such as Christian Dior, Valentino, Louis Vitton, Off-White, and Fendi, Bolzoni has definitely seen a lot of fashion through his lens. In addition, he was part of creating the iconic publicity pictures that went viral worldwide for the award-winning film Call me by your name (2017).
Currently away from high-end brands and Hollywood celebrities, Bolzoni is present at the Hazeltine Commons at Brown University prepared to share some of his experiences through the lens of fashion. With a charming Italian accent, he commenced the talk by saying “ Hello I´m so excited to be here!”. This instantly put a positive vibe to the atmosphere which remained throughout the session.
Bolzoni initiated by telling the story of how he came to love photography. As a child, he was fascinated by his mother’s camera and the technology behind it. He was from start hooked by the technical feeling and at the age of thirteen he got his first camera and started to develop pictures with the help of a man working at the local photo store. Bolzoni speaks with love about this and remembers how this man supported a young and curious Bolzoni in learning the technical process. After a lot of begging, his father built a darkroom in their garage and that is where Bolzoni ended up spending his summers creating pictures on his own.
Moving on, Bolzoni described his journey into the fashion industry and how it happened rather naturally. People that he liked to work with wanted to proceed in fashion and he emphasized the importance of surrounding yourself with the people that you feel a creative connection with. “It is magical to work with people that understand and challenge you simultaneously.” Furthermore, Bolzoni pushed on the importance of relationships in the fashion industry. Your network is a huge part of the platform for your job. However, this can make the industry seem difficult to someone with no previous connections, as a person in the audience voiced. To this Bolzoni agreed, nonetheless, he said that if you value a relationship where you feel a true connection and even a true friendship, you will have a good chance at success.
One significant story to Bolzoni was the process of shooting the pictures for the film Call Me By Your Name. Luca Guadagnino, the director and Bolzoni’s close friend, reached out and asked for a favor. It turned out that the movie had a very limited budget, so Luca, therefore, asked Bolzoni to do it. Bolzoni agreed on the condition that he got total freedom in the process and that Luca first afterward could judge the work. After a worrisome morning of pouring rain, the sun broke out in Bolzoni’s hometown in Italy, where the movie was shot, and everyone turned out to love the project in the end. With this, Bolzoni highlighted the importance of being persistent, valuing your friendships in the business, and trusting your voice.
Trusting your own voice to Bolzoni is the most crucial part of reaching success. The worst thing a photographer can do is follow the stream. It might be difficult sometimes and even lead to hard times at first. Bolzoni knows this firsthand since when he started out, the world of fashion did not have the same values as it does today. Bolzoni wanted to desexualize women by portraying people in the same way regardless of sex. However, this was not appreciated and it resulted in Bolzoni solely working with male models for a while since he never got female models to participate in his projects. But by not giving up, the industry started seeing changes, and Bolzoni’s unique attitude became tributed. “Being different in the business is what is going to make you and your work stand out.” This is something incredibly valuable, especially today. Bolzoni elaborated on how much the industry of photography has changed since the use of social media has exponentially grown. “Everyone can be a photographer these days.” What this implies though is that every time a fashion house or director comes to Bolzoni, he knows it is because they want his personal touch on the project. It is satisfactory to know that and at the same time, it again emphasizes how important it is to keep your personal touch and aesthetic in your art.
The talk later opened up for questions and I was lucky enough to ask about what advice Bolzoni would give an aspiring 20-year-old photographer who wants to make it in the fashion industry.
“Study. Stay in school and learn as much as you can. You have your whole adulthood to work, and I’m still learning. A key aspect is to be interested and not interesting. If you keep being curious you will learn new things about yourself and your surrounding, which most likely will benefit your work.”
Captured in this article is only a fraction of the interesting dialogue and inspiring work that Bolzoni shared. It was amazing to listen to such a talented and successful individual who at the same time is down to earth with a warm personality. I find it very impressive and I’m thankful for having this opportunity. Thank you to the people at F@B that organized the event and especially to Bolzoni for joining us.
Still, there is much more to tell about him, even though it can’t all fit into this article. Please look at his website - alessiobolzoni.com - to further explore your interest and check out his Instagram: @alessiobolzoni. In conclusion, a major takeaway for me was how Bolzoni managed to turn his fascination with cameras and photography into his profession. It can be assumed that true passion, even if it is pushed back by norms as in this case, is what has fueled Bolzoni’s success, and I believe that this is an important aspect that students need to remember.