Acid brights and neon tights: An interview with photographer Maurizio Di Iorio

Italian photographer Maurizio Di Iorio has worked for the likes of Vogue, Elle, Wallpaper*, Vice and Bloomberg Businessweek, creating vibrant fashion images and colourful product photography. We chat to him about crafting the new still life, being inspired by everyday consumer culture and creating subtle, likeable flaws

Creative Review: Can you tell me about your background – how did you first get into the industry?

Maurizio Di Iorio: I’m a former copywriter who has worked in advertising for fifteen years. I used to sell words and concepts to clients, but when I got home after the meetings the only thing that remained in my head were the images. That’s how I knew that the time had come to make a change. I bought my first camera for Christmas 2009 and I’m self-taught and never attended courses.

Editorial for Vice USA - Fiction Issue by Maurizio Di Iorio
Editorial for Vice USA – Fiction Issue by Maurizio Di Iorio
Chanel Bag for Forget Them magazine, 2014, and Strawberries, 2013, for it's nice that
Chanel Bag for Forget Them magazine, 2014, and Strawberries, 2013, for It’s Nice That, by Maurizio Di Iorio

CR: Have you always shot still life work, and what is it about the genre that attracts you?

MDI: No, in the beginning my photography was more figurative and traditional in composition. I started doing still life when I moved onto digital photography. I felt immediately at ease with the genre, because everything depends on me, I am the only one responsible for the final result. Moreover, I have a deep-seated love for everyday objects that surround us in our daily life: they are representative of our time. Of course I do other things as well, like fashion, but always with a strongly stylized setting, similar to fine art.

Curves 2013 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Curves 2013 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Untitled, 2014 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Untitled, 2014 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio

CR: Where do you find inspiration?

MDI: In everything that is capable of expressing our time. I only look to the past as a basis for my aesthetic visions, from abstract Expressionist paintings, to cinema, to comics.

Wallpaper* magazine, December 2014 (outtake)
Wallpaper* magazine, December 2014 (outtake), and cover for It’s Nice That, spring 2014, by Maurizio Di Iorio
Untitled, 2014, and Eggs, 2013 (both personal work)
Untitled, 2014, and Eggs, 2013 (both personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio

CR: How would you describe your aesthetic?

MDI: My personal visions, which have a pop taste, are often combined with a more advertising-like aesthetic. This is also why I put personal work and commissions on the same plan. My photography is an expression of this mix. For many, commercial photography is a chance to make some money; for me, instead, it’s essential for my stylistic and thematic research.

I have just exalted the saturated colours typical of much of the advertising and commercial communication surrounding us. It amuses me to revisit and warp those stylistic features by inserting details that give some ambiguity to the image.

Love, 2014 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Love, 2014 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio

All my photographs include a little anomaly. They’re subtle imperfections – not really evident, otherwise it’d feel too easy and cheap. I call it “capriccio” – never shameless or childish, as often happens with lot of pop photography.

For example, the drop falling from a syringe needle looks much bigger than normal – it’s emphasised as a detail, but it’s real, it’s not a trick. Or even the case of the tangerine’s leaves on the cover I did for It’s Nice That – they’re longer than usual, they make the scene more surreal, but they’re real. It took me days to find those tangerines at the market. I try to capture a detail that will make the image a little bizarre, but without resorting to tricks. I don’t like tricks in photography.

Moschino Bags, 2014, for Elle UK by Maurizio Di Iroio
Moschino Bags, 2014, for Elle UK by Maurizio Di Iroio
Chinese can, 2013, and crack 2014 (both personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Chinese can, 2013, and crack 2014 (both personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio

CR: Can you tell me about your use of visual metaphors?

MDI: A part of my production involves creating images that are based on a metaphorical mechanism, and sometimes they require a reference to visual experiences (a scene from a film, or a painting) that contribute to define their meaning better. But I always try to retain immediacy and avoid too many complications.

In the end, I’m interested in plastic, not figurative, language. An image is figurative if it allows for the objects of the world to be recognized in the image itself. An image is plastic if it allows us to find meanings that go beyond the imitation of the reality represented by the image – considering its organization of lines, colours, spaces and symbolic references.

Fishes, 2013 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Fishes, 2013 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Outtake from editorial for WWD Magazine, and Untitled, (2013) (both personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Outtake from editorial for WWD Magazine, and Untitled, (2013) (both personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio

CR: In the recent publication The Still Life, you describe “a sinister relentlessness” in your work – can you tell me more?

MDI: The chromatisms emphasized by my photographs are intended to produce an alienating effect, a sense of vertigo that everybody more or less consciously feels when faced with this infinite and obsessive repetition of images.

A lot of young “pop” authors, instead, focus their attention on the more fun side through the combination of colours and double-entendres. Those pictures, for the most part, are jaunty and lack that ambiguous double – the more terrifying and obscure side of things.

How not to destroy your tights, for Refinary29, by Maurizio Di Iorio
How not to destroy your tights, for Refinary29, by Maurizio Di Iorio
How not to destroy your tights, for Refinary29, by Maurizio Di Iorio
How not to destroy your tights, for Refinary29, by Maurizio Di Iorio

CR: How much work is done in post?

MDI: Regarding colour management, I make an intense use of post-production. However, I don’t like to twist shapes, lines, faces, hair, eyes. My images must be authentic and I always try to communicate this to photo editors and art directors that often think of Photoshop as the solution to everything. I’m a photographer, not a graphic designer.

Toothbrush, 2014 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Toothbrush, 2014 (personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Red apple, 2013, and Pear, 2013, (both personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio
Red apple, 2013, and Pear, 2013, (both personal work) by Maurizio Di Iorio

CR: Are you working on anything at the moment or what’s next?

MDI: In the last three months I’ve had very little time to devote to my personal production. I have worked mainly for magazines. Currently I’m doing two editorials for a German publication and after mid-December I’ll be busy with a campaign for the US launch for spectacles designed by an well-known Italian artist.

mauriziodiiorio.com

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