Interview with Elisa Trento, young photographer in Milan since 2019, determined and selective, she pursues her path in search of the many ways to capture the “stars” and not only...
HI ELISA, WOULD YOU TELL US WHAT WERE YOUR BEGINNINGS?
Hi! At the beginning it was very hard for me here in Milan, I had bad job experiences that were difficult to cope with. Nevertheless, those few months of instability formed me into the person and photographer that I am today. I think almost all must pay their dues to create their own space within the industry. But the glass half full is that I met wonderful people with whom I still get to shoot and hang out.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT PHOTOGRAPHY WOULD HAVE BECOME YOUR PROFESSION?
Although it may seem a complicated a question, my answer is obvious: I have known all along. Recently someone reminded me I had persisted so much for a digital camera on my first communion that I ended up getting one. A couple of weeks ago I even found it among the boxes at my parents’ house. I had completely forgotten it. I have known all along because when it came to choose, I always threw myself on the artistic course of study where I could go into photography.
HOW DOES ONE GET TO BE A CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHER?
First of all, you must like that world. Indeed, I have always been fascinated by it and many of my friends can confirm that. In the second place, I think it is necessary to have interesting photos in your portfolio to catch the eye of those who follow the celebrities or of the celebrities themselves.
Whether it is actors, singers, or top models you must know what you are going to shoot, and fortunately I have no problem keeping up. Nevertheless, it also depends on the kind of work you must do: you can be a celebrity photographer without having a relationship with them, you can shoot streetstyle outside of fashion weeks or various events, if you know what I mean. There are plenty of ways to photograph these people.
WHAT IS THE SPECIAL FEATURE YOU TRY TO CAPTURE IN SO WELL-KNOWN CELEBRITIES?
Especially when I find myself working with many other photographers I strive to shoot as differently from them as possible: different focus, framing, color grading, and cut out. I often find myself not working alone so there are two options: either you let it go knowing your colleagues are probably taking content that is the same as your, or you do anything to distinguish yourself and make your work stand out.
WHEN YOU ARE NOT PHOTOGRAPHING CELEBRITIES, WHAT DO YOU SHOOT?
In the professional field, among other things, I like shooting backstage at fashion shows, finding interesting locations where to photograph models and so on. In the nonprofessional field I love photographing my friends in the most diverse and fun situations with my mom’s 35mm camera, which works poorly but still gives me a lot of satisfaction.
WHO HAVE BEEN AN INSPIRATION FOR YOU? AND PERHAPS STILL ARE?
They are so many that it is difficult to choose only a few, I take inspiration from a lot of the great photographers of the past and beyond. My best inspirations are Helmut Newton, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, and Bruce Weber. I can also include among my favourites Greg Williams and Ryan McGinley. Although they are a bit younger, I can’t stop looking at their photos.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR WORK IN A COMPETITIVE CITY LIKE MILAN?
I have been in Milan since 2019, and between Coronavirus and all the rest I have only recently been learning how to manage my work. Initially, I was very indecisive and confused about the plans to take and the path to follow. When you find yourself in such a big, dynamic city with so many opportunities, you can also risk making wrong choices. Now what reassures me is that after a few mistakes that taught me a lot I know who I want to work with and who I don’t.
I am not that kind of person who works just for money; I firmly believe in the importance of selecting one’s work. Maybe it will seem like a loss at first, but with time you realize it is the best thing you can do to protect your career. Last but not least: never panic from the amount of competition in the city. The first thing is to believe in yourself.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE ABOUT TO START ON THIS PATH?
Not feeling arrived after the first milestones because it is a job that can give you everything in a short time but also take away as much. Never stop learning, it is essential to feel stimulated all the time. You can come up with an idea walking around the city or at the park, reading a good book or watching a good movie. There is just one rule for me: surround yourself with creative minds. It helps me so much to talk, compare, and hang out with people with large visions. And finally, be stubborn and never give up.
Images provided by Elisa Trento