Lele Saveri Interview
Incubi et Succubi
Italian born photographer Lele Saveri divides his time between Milan and New York, and I think this makes for a strong precedent in his work. Having just published a new book entitled Incubi et Succumbi, what better time would it be to sit down and fire some questions his way. Talking about his first experience of picking up a camera to his desire to stay on the move and the hope of shooting the Pope it was a real privilage to talk with a genuine talent like Lele.
James Oliver: Can you tell us what your first memory is of an impulse to take photos and to become a photographer?
Lele Saveri: In Belfast, Northern Ireland. A group of kids were building a huge bonfire out of trash. I had a camera and I started composing pictures for the first time of things that weren't my life and friends, and I was very excited.
JO: Can you tell us what interests you about photography on a daily basis and how you maintain a fresh approach?
LS: I think what I love of photography is still the chemical process of it, how it freezes an exact moment on a negative (or a chip). I don't think I have such a fresh approach to photography. I try not follow so much what's happening in the modern photo-world, maybe cos everyone else is. What fascinates me really is the way pioneers were using this medium. They didn't have that many references to look at so they were experimenting as much as they could.
JO: You divide your time between Milan and NYC, can you tell us what you like about both cities and how the diversity effects your work?
LS: I mostly like not to be in both city for too long. As soon as your eye gets used to see what's around, then I lose interest in photographing. So by moving all the time, I distract myself and I find excitement again. NYC is still pretty new to me, which is why I still like to take pictures in the street. Milan is more familiar, so i much prefer to work inside, in houses and studios.
JO: How has your style evolved and grown since you first began?
LS: I started off doing only BW reportage. Then I moved to music and theatre performance. Then tried some fashion. Now i'm trying to combine all of this styles to create my own. I think its pretty clear in the book, where you have street photography, more serious reportage, more staged portraits, all into one project.
JO: You have recently published your first book, Incubi et Succubi, can you tell us the concept and theme of the book?
LS: I pretty much wanted to represent visually what I was seeing in my nightmares. So I shot different series that were inspired by my fears and tried to mix them all together. It took me about a year to complete.
JO: Can you please explain the title of the book? How does it explain the body of works?
LS: Incubi et Succubi were this two demons ( a male and a female) that were used in the past to explained very vivid nightmares. People would say that if you had a very scary dream, an Incubus (or a succubus, if you were a man) had come to your bed and had taken your soul through sexual intercourse. I wanted to have a guide-figure in the book who would take the readers into this journey, and that's the lady dress in black (a Succubus).
JO: How did your approach to creating the book differ from other types of work that you have done, like exhibitions and editorial?
LS: I don't really work so much for exhibitions, so I couldn't tell you how different that is for me. But it was actually pretty similar to my editorial work. I worked for 4 years as a photo-editor, and every month we had a theme to which we had to create projects for.
JO: Where do you want to go from publishing your first book? Is this a start of what we can expect to see from you, more printed matter?
LS: Making books is probably the way most photographers love to work. You do your things and you are pretty much only dealing with yourself. I loved doing this and I'm hoping I will be doing many more books in the future..
JO: Who is the most interesting person you have captured? Please explain.
LS: Probably Giulia, my girlfriend. She's the Succubus in the book. Probably cos I've been shooting her so much in the past 4 years, and still to this day she would act in front of my camera every time differently from the time before, so it's a constant surprise.
JO: Who is someone you really desire to shoot?
LS: The Pope.
JO: Are there any other mediums of work you wish to pursue?
LS: I've been doing some movie-pictures, which is probably what fascinates me the most right now.
JO: Finally, words to live by?
LS: Do it your way.
Photographer - Lele Saveri | Portrait by Ari Marcopoulos