Zeitgeist: Francesco Nazardo

A strong sense of the absurd makes Francesco Nazardo the perfect photographer for a recent trend in fashion brands embracing fun and frivolity

“I think it’s kind of an absurd market, the one I work in as a commercial photographer, and I think it wouldn’t be honest if my work didn’t convey this,” says photographer Francesco Nazardo. In his images, models fly upwards on jetpacks, lean into the camera from weird angles, and karate kick one another. Nazardo sets his work in everyday scenarios, juxtaposing high fashion with locations such as fields of cows, local gyms, and suburban homes decked out with chintzy sofas and china dogs. In a recent Off-White campaign, a boot appears, inexplicably, in a stainless steel sink. 

Nazardo had a slightly unconventional route into photography, originally studying economics at SOAS University of London. He did an internship at ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi midway through his degree – which he says he loved – but graduated in 2009, in the midst of a recession. “It was really difficult to find a job at the time, so I took photos of my friends at parties, or my girlfriend,” he remembers. “I didn’t have a job or much to do, so I started to take it a bit more seriously.”

FW19 Priscavera campaign, with styling by Anna Carraro

The photographer had the idea of moving to New York when a friend relocated there, and after writing to a couple of photographers landed himself an assistant’s role – and a spot on his friend’s couch. “Things started picking up from there,” says Nazardo. “At the time it wasn’t really fashion photography that I was doing. It was a time when there was Flickr, and Tumblr was starting, so there was a sense of community. I met a lot of people in New York through those digital platforms.”