It all started when my friend and colleague,  Marcella Fava, called me out of nowhere and invited me to exhibit at Fotografia Europea.

“An Exhibition?! Me?! Are you sure?!”

Keep in mind that I'm a fashion photographer. I mainly shoot clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry… not exactly exhibitions stuff. Sure, my style is very romantic and evocative, but nothing to do with true artistic photography.
But Marcella did not think so, and who am I to say no? If she asks me to do something, I just answer yes.

At that point I found myself with a shooting to organize and a theme that was extremely ample: Maps of the time. Memory, archives, future. But as any creative will tell you, flexible themes are the most feared: having no limitation paralyses you. You could do everything: so many possibilities, so many options that you eventually end up failing to do anything.

After some thought, I decided to auto-limit the theme a bit. Since I was a child, "time" fascinated me, but of all the facets of time the theme of past is my favorite. I could spend hours and hours immersed in memories, fantasising lost in my memory and thinking about all the experiences I have experienced so far. The emotional discharge that it gives me are always very strong. A mixture of melancholy, happiness and sadness pervades me and this, inspires me to create.

Grēotan [02] Chen You.jpg

It was decided: the central theme of my shooting would have been Past.

I started moving relatively early: once I patched up the moodboard I asked two fantastic girls with whom I had already collaborated, Susanna and Camilla, to deal with the styling and makeup respectively.

The idea was to organize the project as if it was a fashion editorial: a model, six or seven different looks and a pair of locations.

That is roughly where I ran aground. The new season had just began, work overwhelmed me and I completely lost the project.

Let’s jump forward to a month to the show. All the other photographers were ready with their projects and I was still without a model and without a location… it seems a pretty inconsiderate/desperate situation, but reality is I was quite calm. The fashion world often has crazy turnarounds and I am used to working quickly.

The search for the model was perhaps the most difficult phase because I was looking for a girl who had reddish hair and very delicate features. These characteristics are already pretty rare in themselves, but the period of time I wanted coincided precisely with the various fashion weeks… no luck with agencies.

Fortunately, after looking everywhere and asking everyone, I found Giorgia! I liked here immediately. Also: freckles!

Regarding the location I would have liked to split the shooting in two parts: one part outdoors and one part interior. My ideal for the outdoors part would have been a decadent park, a bit out of the world… almost abandoned. After some scouting, I chose the Stibbert Park.

The search for the interior location - which I thought would prove to be very difficult - ended instead almost immediately thanks to the kindness of Gherardo, the manager of the antiques shop Gallori Turchi. Just before entering I looked through the glass front and said aloud "they‘re going to laugh me in the face, it’s such a beautiful store, look at all that stuff"… Gherardo instead accepted immediately. (Among other things, his store is the only one in Italy to specialize in vintage weapons! If you are even vaguely interested, I highly recommend it!)

The actual day of shooting went quite easily. Giorgia managed to come to Florence from Bolzano the day before, so we could start early. After an hour and half for hair and makeup, we moved to the Stibbert Park. We scheduled three look changes, going back to the studio and having lunch, changing the makeup and set off on time for our appointment with Gherardo.

Needless to say, we were late despite our good intentions and we had to run for our lives. After some ups and downs to find parking (have you ever tried to find a parking spot in the center of Florence’s traffic?), we arrived, set up and started shooting.

We had to do five changes in less than two hours… with very little space to moveand surrounded by many delicate and very, very expensive objects. It was no easy task.

“You, why do you always put yourself in such situations?”

Yeah, sometimes I ask myself the same question..

No, truth is that I am one of those old geezers that rant all the time but are happy inside. I love to push over my limits, try my best and come up with something more. To continue to get better is the only way to remain competitive and be able to offer a bigger pool of competences to your clients.


Photography: Chen You
Models: Giorgia Dallago
Styling: Susanna Fabbrini
Make-up: Camilla Cantini
Assistant: Antonia Visone
Location: Gallori Turchi