Short profile

Francesco Gioia was born in Florence in 1991 and now lives and works in London. According to his own statements, he „became a photographer almost by accident“ when he took a job in a photojournalism agency in the historic centre of Florence. He often approaches his subjects outside didactic terms, which makes his images seem particularly authentic and unadulterated. In the interview, he tells us more about his first camera why German cinema in particular inspires him and which photographers are role models for him.

Francesco Gioia.


Can you tell us a little bit about how you became a photographer?

In my early 20s, I worked for several years at a photojournalism agency located in the historic center of Florence. During my time there, I was responsible for curating an extensive archive consisting of over three million images taken between 1944 and the 1980s by the agency's founder, Giulio Torrini. I used an old Canon camera, which was given to me by my employer, to carry out small photographic assignments.

As a self-taught photographer, I honed my skills shortly after relocating to London in 2015. It could be said that I became a photographer almost by accident.  

Wall showing Francesco Gioia`s art.

Photo: Francesco Gioia

Please share something about your images. What is your special interest? How do you choose the colors, composition, themes etc.?

When I photograph, I try to keep the scene unchanged, respecting the subjects and situations. During the shooting phase, I look for all those narrative devices typical of cinema, art, and literature to emphasize the aura of mystery and uncertainty around the moment I pre-visualized. In this process, the choice of the cut, the study of light, and the subjects act.

Tension, ambiguity, irregularity, hesitation, and mystery often come to my aid and lead me to explore narrative paths with multiple variations. Each photographed moment is casual, happened at that moment and, perhaps, a premonition of further future developments. Searching for these elements, and doing it without falling into easy stylistic exercises, is a very long, uncontrollable and laborious process, but rich in enormous satisfactions.

Overall to me it's all about capturing moments candidly and emphasising shape, colour, and form over thematic content. My main interest lies in shadows and colours, textures, surfaces, and abstractions. People in front of a photograph or painting usually expect an instantaneous revelation, a clear message, or the direct expression of a feeling, rather than an obstruction.

Wall showing Francesco Gioia`s art.

Photo: Francesco Gioia

I see my photographs as visual allegories or metaphors that represent something else. Personally, I find it exciting to be faced with an enigma, something that does not already have pre-established parameters or an easily accessible and obvious interpretative key.I don't like to define or explain my photographs in didactic terms. From my point of view, there is never a written story or a right or wrong way to interpret photographs and for this reason, I like to think that each of my images has its own story, a story that manifests differently depending on who is looking at it.

There is no particular theme or theory when I shoot, it's mainly about instinct and feeling, I don't like playing by the book or explaining what I do, I want the message to be found and created by the individual viewer. Letting people fill in the gaps and making up their own stories is essential to me. Some recurring themes include eyes, hands, architecture, people, flowers, abstractions, and reflections. I always try not to get caught up in themes or genres, I attempt to work in a variety of directions at the same time to allow for a continuous flow of ideas and experimentation. Whatever I choose to do, the process is pretty much emotional, I tend to express what I’m feeling at the time and usually I start improvising and the result is always unexpected.

Wall showing Francesco Gioia`s art.

Photo: Francesco Gioia

Where does this interest come from?

My special interest stems from my love of painting and cinema. Many shadow play and certain atmospheres are inspired by German Expressionist cinema, film noir, and filmmakers such as Fritz Lang, Orson Welles, Robert Wiene, and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. Many of my aesthetic choices are influenced by the Bauhaus movement, Precisionism, Vasily Kandinsky's expressionist paintings, and Joan Miró's surrealism.

How do you get inspired? And what inspires you the most? Films, books, or magazines? Or what surrounds you?  

I am fascinated by the unknown and by images whose meanings are obscure and multifaceted. In my work, I have realised that letting go of control can be very useful. Therefore, I tend to avoid being fully aware of what I am trying to achieve. Being open to mistakes and unexpected events can have a positive impact on the final result, so I always allow it to happen without preconceptions.

Wall showing Francesco Gioia`s art.

Photo: Francesco Gioia

Cinema has always been a huge source of inspiration for me. Hitchcock's studies of colours and perspectives had a big impact. Some of my favorite directors include Roman Polanski, John Cassavetes, Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, Woody Allen, Federico Fellini, Claude Chabrol, Mario Bava, Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog, and Orson Welles, among others.

When it comes to photography, I am influenced by authors from the 1920s and 1930s such as Minor White, Germaine Krull, Man Ray, Florence Henri, Walker Evans, André Kertész, and Ilse Bing. I also admire photographers like Ernst Haas, Saul Leiter, Keld-Helmer Petersen, William Eggleston, William Klein, Ralph Gibson, Erwin Blumenfeld, Garry Winogrand, and Ray K. Metzker. The list would be even longer.

What are your plans for the rest of the day?

In my free time, I like to explore different forms of art and culture. I enjoy going to the cinema to watch the latest films, visiting museums and exhibitions to appreciate different styles of art, listening to music and attending concerts, and reading books that stimulate my imagination. I also find pleasure in simple things like taking a walk in the park, trying out new recipes and cooking, and spending quality time with loved ones over a nice dinner.

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