Marco Tenaglia: Photography is a lifestyle.

Oct 10, 2018 8:15AM

An "Artist Diary" by the Italian photographer for IMAGE IN PROGRESS magazine. A new way to discover Artists' personal story and vision.

Marco Tenaglia


Born 1971 in Rome, Marco Tenaglia lives and work between Rome, New York and London, and is known for his unconventional black and white fashion portraiture. His bold and intriguing photographic vision is the result of a mixture of both contemporary and classic styles. Tenaglia’s women aren't classical expression of beauty. Often photographed in recurring poses, placed in luxury or decadent settings, they show a strong personality and a sort of cold sensuality. His photographs are balancing on this fine and sometimes tricky line between fashion-beauty-glamour and erotic-sexy-trashy, resulting in an elegant and sophisticated black and white photography with a timeless quality and the perfection of imperfection. Renowned for being easy to work with, Marco ensures a comfortable, friendly but always professional atmosphere for every production.

Photography is a lifestyle

Ph.-t: Marco Tenaglia

Although this is called “Artist Diary” I don’t like to be called artist, I’m a photographer. I know it sounds controversial because photography is an art, but I never thought to make art, I make photographs, and I make them to please myself first. You know, if you try to please everyone, you end up to please no one.

Photography is more than a job for me, it’s a lifestyle. I mean, it’s not that kind of job which you stop to think about when you get back home, or when you take some days off. As a photographer I’m never off, I feel like I’m working 24 hours a day, or I could say I’m not working at all… it’s a point of view!

A matter of inspiration

I look at photographs almost everyday, beside books and galleries, sites such as tumblr and pinterest are perfect for a quick view, and I have a folder where I put all the photos I like. It’s a matter of personal improvement. I especially love to see at the masters from the past. Brassai, Newton, Bourdin, David Bailey, Bert Hardy, just to name a few, I guess I’m influenced by them, but inspiration comes from the everyday life, you know, just walking a street, or by taking a lunch in a restaurant, or whatever I do, anything can be of inspiration. I often look at people, a sort of voyeur, I like to see what they do, how they move, how they wear, and I imagine stories or situations, about them. Some time ago I was in London, walking fast, and I had my camera with me so I just shot some pics, I was inspired by the atmosphere, almost the same of my dreams. I’m now planning a series of shoots based on it.

A niche market for anyone

My market spans from private to commercial clients, actually anyone who like my style and my vision can hire me. In fact my photographs have been appeared in a variety of magazines from lifestyle to fashion, from automobiles to airplanes, from glamour to erotic. This is something that I like because I don’t want to stick with one market only or being labeled as a “fashion photographer” or “portrait photographer”. I have one vision, and I put that vision in each and every photo. Actually my clients buy my vision. It’s some years now I’m working with private clients as well. I mean, people, especially couples, who want to book a private session at their home, or hotel room. They want me to shoot their intimacy with my style. I love that. It’s very stimulating and challenging, and I have the chance to know very interesting people. Those photos will never get published, but I love to think there are people around the world who own my photographs as a memory of a very particular moment of their life. A memory that last forever. By the other side, marketing is my weakness, I don’t like it at all. It’s not funny, and I feel like I’m invading the privacy of someone else. Maybe because I care about my privacy and I don’t want to be disturbed with unsolicited stuff. It’s good only when people contact me directly. Thankfully the word of mouth is still a good marketing tool.

An autobiography photography

There is all myself in my pictures. I live my contrasts, my passions, my obsessions, and I put them all in my photographs, which are a sort of an autobiography. Lately I’m more focused in storytelling, there can be a whole story in one single photograph. When there is a story there is a memory. I’ve noticed the more I grow old, the more I look at photos from the past. They tell a story, they’re evocative and emotional. I never considered that much this aspect of photography. When I look at an old portrait photo I travel with my mind, I try to imagine that person in her life, in her era. That’s what I want from my photos, and it’s funny because anyone can build a story starting from a picture.

Making the workflow easy is the key

I like to make things easy, that's why I put much time in the pre production, I want a hassle free shooting. So I set almost everything in details, and I have a team of selected professionals that can handle my requests at the very best. A good pre production work also makes clients feeling more comfortable, actually the clients care is very important to me, I love to make them happy and proud. When it comes the shooting, I bring with me only the strictly necessary equipment, I hate going with unnecessary stuff which is not functional to what I have in mind, and it's the same thing about my team, I work with the less people I can. The post production is up to me because I want the total control over the whole process. I never retouch the shape of the face, or even worse the body. My post production is limited to dodging and burning, and contrast adjustment. I do the same things in both a real and a virtual darkroom.

Commercial vs Private Clients

They're the two sides of the same coin. The goal is different because the commercial clients need of photos to sell their product, while private clients want photos to delight themselves. Said that, my approach to the work is almost the same and the workflow is similar except for some things as the castings - of course there are no casting with a private client -, or the styling job, actually the stylist use her or client's own wardrobe for privates, while for commercials the clothes and accessories comes from the designers. In any case I lean on stylists who can take anything I need.

Never in studio

Well, never say never, but it's a real fact that I don't like to shoot in a studio. My shoots are always on locations, they can be outdoor or indoor, luxurious or decadent, hotels or homes. The locations play an important role in my photos, I use them as a complement of the story, there is always a strong relation between the locations and the subjects of my photographs.

How much does it cost to hire me?

Enough to make me happy and willing to work.

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