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Daydreaming to photographs, wishing you were there, wishing you were them, longing for the location, being seduced by the story… Maybe its because London's threatening to break into summer (any day now…) that photographer Samantha Casolari's portfolio suddenly starts to resonate; long summer nights, psychedelic field dreams, festival ciders and scuffed denim shorts, memories saturated and faded in equal measure, like they've been exposed in liquid sunlight.
Or, maybe it's Casolari's Italian roots; her self-confessed fascination with nostalgia that makes her work so intrinsically romantic and just the right amount of trippy. Balance that out with some healthy NY cynicism and you get the kind of creative outlook that means her style works seamlessly across fashion editorial or photojournalism, be it in the pages of AnOther, Vanity Fair or Vice, photographing Debbie Harry, lady truck drivers or young prisoners on probation from Sing Sing.
Driven by a need to tell stories, and inspired by the Magnum photographers, Casolari's passion was triggered by a summer spent in New York. Since stepping inside her "soft hazy mental bubble" in 2003, Casolari hasn't looked back...
Do you remember when you first fell in love with photography?
I fell in love with it quite late, I was living in New York for the summer when I was 20 and I saw a black and white picture taken by a friend. And even if it was just an image, although quite beautiful, an entire new world opened in front of my eyes. It was as if I had found a new way to live and experience my life.
How do you think your style has been influenced by living in New York? Can you see any Italian influences in your work?
I would never be a professional photographer had I not been here. There's such a great sense of hope, possibility and opportunity here that I have never found anywhere else. But I don't think it has influenced my style that much. I live here, so clearly my New York experience is in my images, and I might be exposed to more things in this crazy city, however with the internet everyone is now...so I believe that geography is somehow irrelevant. As for my Italian influences, I think there is a lot of nostalgia in my images, and that definitely comes from my Italian origins and culture. We are very nostalgic people and quite prone to long for our past.
Who or what's exciting you at the moment?
I have a solo show in a little town in Sicily at the end of June, at the Farm Cultural Park in Favara, and I have started experimenting more with my images and videos and collaborating with artists in other mediums. That kind of collaboration is really exciting for me, as well as quite new. I certainly can't wait to see where it is going to take me.
Your portfolio has a broad scope - from fashion editorial to photojournalism - what do you look for when you embark on a new project?
My main objective is to tell a story, mostly through people and moods. I want to tell it very delicately, yet I want to feel as if you can touch these people and get in the same breathing space they are in. And I love to think that their space is where and when they daydream, spaced out of their minds and thoughts. For me, that is where people are the most true to themselves. I have a deep need for transparency and for genuine emotion and that is what I try to capture....the daydreaming, in a soft hazy mental bubble. So I want you to meet them there as well.
I love that hazy, fading daylight aesthetic. Your work has that real last-days-of-summer feel - where does this style come from?
That comes certainly from my own daydreaming!
Is it fair to say there's a psychedelic influence creeping through there?
Yes there is definitely a psychedelic influence in there, I am quite obsessed with psychedelic imagery, music and visions...it is a major source of inspiration for my pictures. Psychedelia, and also Mozart and his music.
Do you play an instrument?
I actually used to play violin, and it was an incredible part of my life...
It's a shame you don't play any more!
No, believe me it's probably better that I take pictures, for everyone ears' sake!
The ethereal, story-telling quality seems pretty intrinsic to your work...
Even that I think comes as a consequence of constant daydreaming. I think I look at the world and experience it with my head in the clouds. That definitely creates a sort of filter that affects the way I remember and make sense of reality, which becomes constantly blurry and seemingly visionary. That is why I think the world in my head always has that ethereal look to it.
As this month LookBooks is taking PRIDE as our theme, can you tell us what series of work are you most proud of at the moment?
I am very proud of the very first video that I shot few months ago and that is currently being edited. I really cannot wait to see it finished. And I am also very proud of an incredible project I just shot with a band I love, Prince Rama, a beautiful sister-duo, for their upcoming album.
And finally, seeing as the nights are just starting to warm up...What are your plans for the summer?
Brooklyn, Italy and hopefully a lot of beaches as I am just learning how to surf...
Thanks so much Samantha, Happy Summer...