Italian photographer Chiara Dondi lives and breathes as an artist of the old world. Intending to provide a sort of vintage charm and mystique into her photographs, her visual language remains in touch with reality with her contemporary female muses. Allow her to welcome you into her world.
Hi Chiara! Welcome to Lomography Magazine. First things first, what keeps you motivated in your creative life?
I always try to find new ways of expression. When I read a book, look at one of my art books or watch a movie, I try to find something that can inspire me and push me for fresher photography ideas. Yes, I think that this sort of curiosity keeps me motivated.
As a photographer, what draws you to the analogue medium? How did it all start?
I think photography has always been on my mind as a hidden passion. It all started when I was a child when my father would take photographs of me. But, I did not like being the model. Being photographed was very annoying for me, but I always wanted to know more about it.. to be behind that lens. Growing up, I have discovered that I love to paint and draw, and then I understood that photography suits me.. as the person behind the camera.
Your images are highly reminiscent of old, 19th-century photographs only this time they're set to now. Why did you go for this aesthetic?
I think that aesthetic is 50% intended and 50% spontaneous. I want my photos to seem like they came from another ancient world but I want also that the women I choose are the ones who are strong and at ease with their emotions while they're with co-models.
Back to aesthetics, I think it's also the technique that I choose. I've tried for years to join my past as a painter to my present as a photographer and this sort of "watercolors on photo" gives that sort of feeling.
You have a series called "Anthropomorphe". Why are the insects blocking the eyes of your models?
This series stems from my great fear of insects. So I've tried to connect every insect to the face of someone that I deeply love.Some of my models, my friends and my son.
In your opinion, how similar do you think humans are to insects?
Well, I think that we are so full of ourselves that we forget how little we are in this world. We are to the world how insects are for us: very little. Even if they scare me, I have respect for them. I hope that we can start to be respectful of what surrounds us.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
First of all, my background. I have studied art and architecture in Florence and this is has helped me to create a sort of personal aesthetic. Then from movies. I love Truffaut, Bertolucci, Visconti, and Monicelli. And the music that has the power to carry me away. Agnes Obel, Depeche Mode, Air and so so so long.
If you could spend some time with a certain artist, photographer or creative right now -- whether dead or alive -- who would it be and what would you two be doing (doesn't have to be art or photography-related)?
What a beautiful question! Wow, so many creatives. With Mario Monicelli I would love to hear his "bischerate", that means in Tuscany dialect a "sort of mischiefs". With Diane Arbus, I would love to speak about being different. A picnic with Claude Monet. Eating a Campbell Soup with Warhol. Painting with my music idol David Bowie. And it would be a long list.
As an analogue photographer, surely you've faced challenges with the medium today. What are your hopes for the film community?
What I hope is what I can see now. A conscious rediscovery and interest in film photography as something that is not old but something that can teach us how to take another look before the act.
Lastly, any on-going project, or future plans you'd like to share with us?
In these days I've started a series of double exposure portraits with the women of my life. Hope to get the result that I have dreamed.