Paolo Puopolo is an italian photographer. He worked as retoucher and graphic designer for an important Italian website and he is an expert on post-production. Since 2009 he is focused on fashion photography. His studio is located in an ancient palace of the late eighteenth century and is considered one of the most modern and best equipped working lab for digital photography in south Italy. Naked Truths interviewed him about his thoughts on the body and photography. In this article you can also see some original photos from his interesting series “Through the Light” made without postprocessing.
How essential do you believe the post-production is in the realization of a photograph?
I think that the post-production is a necessary phase for those who work with the image, even if we take into consideration different kinds of photography. Like, for example, photo-reportage and fashion photography. The development of the “digital negative” is part of the workflow exactly like the negative’s development in the darkroom was in the past. There are obviously remarkable differences between reportage images intended to show reality and an advertising fashion image. I think that for the first is correct not to go beyond a “normal” basic color correction but as regards to the adverting, I think that the “creative license” can go beyond this border.
In which way do you look at the bodies that are in front of your camera?
I’m always inclined to look at my subjects as “forms”. During a photo-session I’m searching for the movement, compositional elegance and the balance between plenum and voids in the image.
Speaking strictly about fashion and adverting photography, what kind of relationship do you think that it has with reality? I mean: in your opinion what is shown in the photographs must be perfectly adherent to what was in front of the camera when the picture was taken? Is it correct to conceal skin’s imperfections or alter the body of the models?
To be honest we have to deal with the reason behind a photograph. The role of the commercial photography is obviously to sell a product. A common mistake is to pretend the photography to depict the reality without any filters. As a matter of fact the post-production is simply one of the steps that lead to the final image, exactly like the pre-production, set and lighting design and the make-up and styling. These are all technical interventions that alter and forge in some way the image perception. There is a lot to say about this practice and the morality behind it. I have an uncritical vision on the subject. I think that it is sufficient to consider the photography for what it is: an expression of the human creativity. To ascribe beforehand to the photography a misleading role is like to be angry with Botero for the flourishing woman depicted in his paintings. Maybe people are misled by the photography because it “depicts” reality in a more credible way than paintings on canvas. In this second case you can see that the brush strokes are more noticeable in the reality’s manipulation. I think that extremely “weak” subjects like teens in the middle of their physical maturation are led by this misunderstanding to compare themselves with unattainable beauty ideals that don’t exist and they obviously suffer due to this comparison.
Let’s talk about advertising. There are advertisements that propose the body, especially the female one, in a provocative and sensual way. What do you think?
The practice to use the body as a sexual symbolism has been, for years, the shorter and easier way adopted by the marketers to catch attention and strengthen the advertising message. But I think that the overproduction of these images are making these tricks much less effective with totally different consequences and is, perhaps, leading to opposite effects. The advertisers are perceiving this disease so they are moving towards new communication techniques even if the sexual persuasion is still used in the advertisement industry.
What, in your opinion, is the difference between a photograph of the “nude” and one of the “artistic nude”?
I think that the purpose is different. The artistic nude praise the forms and the body by nature, free from sexual pulsion. It eternalizes the grace and proportions without pretension of seduction. It has nothing to share with the erotic nude that has more “material” goals. I say this without minimizing the works in this last fields.