“Livio Moiana is an Italian photographer investigating and describing human bodies through his pictures. People and emotions are the main focus of his art. He is specialized in black and white portraits where harmony, elegance and proportion emerge. In his most known series “Shapes (of freedom)” human bodies twist and mix one to the other […]”

Getting closer to Livio Moiana

Livio Moiana is an Italian photographer investigating and describing human bodies through his pictures. People and emotions are the main focus of his art. He is specialized in black and white portraits where harmony, elegance and proportion emerge. In his most known series “Shapes (of freedom)” human bodies twist and mix one to the other in creative unusual shapes where emotions come to light. His artworks have been exhibited in Milan, London and Barcelona.

What is your first photographic memory?
I don’t have a special one, I try not to be projected to the past. It is part of my life, it belongs to me, and it comes back to me in a strong silent way through my pictures. However, I prefer future and things that I would like to do next.
Bearing that in mind, I can tell you a nice anecdote about my first shot: it was taken up in the Alps when I was about thirteen. She came to me staring at my eyes. I felt so insecure but I took my courage and looking at her I shot!
My first photo. The headshot of a cow.

Could you describe yourself with a book, a song and a movie?
It’s always hard for me to choose just one title, because I like so many different ones depending also on the moment and the mood.
I will say something  considering my present mood: a book, The Bible. A song, it’s really hard to say one. I adore listening more to the music/melody than to the lyrics. Only about the melody: Wrathchild, by Iron Maiden. A movie, The Warriors.

Which of your pictures would you choose to introduce yourself?
I would probably choose one of my really first “Shapes (of freedom)” images.

I can tell you a nice anecdote about my first shot: it was taken up in the Alps when I was about thirteen. She came to me staring at my eyes. I felt so insecure but I took my courage and looking at her I shot!

A famous person you would like to portray.

Papa Francesco.

A famous picture you would have liked to take.

Any of Salgado’s photos. His work is pure magic.

Human bodies are the main subjects of your artwork. How did you get close to this kind of pictures? Do you take inspiration from someone you would like to tell us about?

In 1993 I was living in Miami and while entering a store I saw some cards representing body photos of Herb Ritts. I fell deeply in love with his photography (also portraits) but it remained a pure “like” thing. Years later, while I was taking photos to a model I saw the shape of her belly between light and shadows. It was love at first sight with body shapes. It all really started in that moment and Ritts came back to my mind, as an epiphany. After few years I walked my way. I confess that I have never studied or followed famous photographers. I’m not really interested into them. Photography to me is a way to express what I have inside. I don’t take photos to please somebody. I do it just to feel good.
I try to improve myself every day but never imitating other photographers. I hate to be a copy of somebody. I want to be myself.

You seem to prefer black and white pictures to the coloured ones. Has black and white a precise meaning in your work, or is it just a stylistic choice?

I like black and white pictures for two main reasons. Firstly. it’s hardly to relate it to a precise period of life. Secondly, it leaves you free to fantasize, to live a photo without conditioning. We are used to living reality in colours. Black and white is a more personal intimate dimension.

In 1993 I was living in Miami and while entering a store I saw some cards representing body photos of Herb Ritts. I fell deeply in love with his photography (also portraits) but it remained a pure “like” thing. It was love at first sight with body shapes.

How do you select your models? Should they have any precise feature in order to be selected? Which element is essential for the realization of your artworks?

First of all I choose my models among all those who write to me because it’s necessary to love my photos to pose for them. If you love them you give 1000% while shooting. If you just do it for money you probably give 80-90%. Even if it is 100% it is far away from giving 1000%. Then, I choose people who can match with my ideas. They have to be flexible, patient and I have to like them as persons.
I can’t work with arrogant unprofessional or impolite people.

While shooting, which relationship do you built with the models? Do you mind to tell us a brief anecdote about it?

I love the atmosphere while making those photos. We really work like a team, making the maximum effort we can. We support and help each other. The concentration of everybody involved is totally on reaching the best result. There’s no space for any other thoughts. And I really love it! I love when at the end of the shooting everybody is tired (especially models) but happy because we have done a great job.
They are always ready to say to me, “Livio, if you want to do it again, I’m in!”
When I see people giving so much for my photos and going through pain for them (often they have muscles pain for some days after the shooting), it’s real happiness to me and I feel lucky.
I have a huge respect for the models who help me to create “Shapes (of freedom)” photos.
An anecdote I would like to tell you about is when a person after shooting these photos told me that she understood the beauty of a part of her body that she didn’t like until that day. She’s now feeling more comfortable with herself.
That episode made me melt. It really touched me.

Your pictures are characterized by harmony, elegance and order. What do you look for while making your pictures? Which aim would you like to obtain through a picture?

Usually I love a mix of strength, anger and sweetness, or just one of them.
I like to feel it as a punch. I’m not really fond of middle ways in photos. I love contrast which is not necessary a matter of light.

Moving now to your earliest series “Shapes (of freedom)”: naked bodies emerge from dark surfaces, they embrace each other in unusual assertive poses, and they transform into artistic compositions. They are human and strong “Shapes”, with no visage. Your geometric shapes require a good flexibility and a great amount of creativity. Where do you get your inspirations from? 
I take inspiration from my feelings firstly, but also from everything (or kind of) that catches my attention in life. I love to know as much as I can about everything in life. I love learning and this comes back into my photos.

Watching life with the eyes of a kid and by its curiosity is very helpful. The day I’ll stop being curious, I’ll probably quit taking photos.

An anecdote I would like to tell you about is when a person after shooting these photos told me that she understood the beauty of a part of her body that she didn’t like until that day. She’s now feeling more comfortable with herself.
That episode made me melt. It really touched me.

Your shapes emerge from emptiness, a dark void, a kind of ethereal and silent place.  This reminds us to a number of works made by Mapplethorpe. Do you agree?

I’ve been told by several people that my photos have something in common with Mapplethorpe. Despite he is not in my 100 top photographers list, I’m incredibly proud of it because he is still a myth and always he will be.

All your exposures are unusual and creative: despite being fixed in a picture, they seem to move and bodies seem to mold one into the other with continuity. They are naked bodies full of vital tension, but never vulgar nor provocative. How much does the model contribute to this final result? How much do you influence it? Does one of the two parties prevail over the other?

Models are so important for what they give and express, especially for the energy and the intensity they give in doing it. I have to lead the shooting because I have the final result in my mind. They cannot see themselves while posing. I think there’s a respectful balance between me and them. And I really like it.

How long does it take you to take a picture?

It can take from 10 minutes up to 20.

Light plays a major role in your portraits, it is an essential element of the final composition: it defines them, brushes them and engraves your shapes as they were sculptures. Which meaning do you think light carries out in your pictures?    

Light and shadows are like twin friends; they are part of the same team. They follow body lines like they were alive and could listen to what we are looking for.

Could you tell us something about the title of your series? What does the word “freedom” mean for you? Did you leave it in brackets for an artistic purpose?  How would you like it to be read?

Freedom is one of the most important sides of life. It’s easier to be happy when we are free because we can be who we really are. Unconditioned.
This word needs another meaning inside, a kind of subtitle: respect.

I never give titles to my photos because I want people to be totally free to live them.
In my photography freedom is my richness in creating art listening only to my feelings.
I love to create freely, cages free, without rules, careless of possible judgments. Just me, my feelings and the model/s.

Shapes (of freedom) is that. “Shapes” is what you see at first. “Freedom” is kept in brackets because I almost whisper it without disturbing.

Your next project.

Still have to decide. I’ll listen to some music and follow my feelings. What will punch my stomach, that will be my next project.

Your main flaw and quality.

Uhh… I’ve got many flaw. Laziness, just to mention one. As far as qualities are concerned, it’s not up to me to say if I have any.

Make a wish.

I would like my photos to be appreciated around the world.
I would like to find somebody  interested in publishing a book with them.

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