Marco Fava’s photographs document the human traces left behind on Italy’s natural and industrial landscape.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I live in Piacenza, a small city in north Italy and I work as a freelance architect.

I became interested in photography many years ago, but it wasn’t until my university studies that my approach to photography changed; I became more dedicated to it, and became passionate about landscape and architecture photography in particular.

In the last few years, my photographic research has became more clear with some concrete projects – mostly focused on suburban areas and on the interaction between human presence and the environment.

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Your work is reminiscent of Alec Soth’s, especially in the way you trace the river in your Separations project. Would you say he’s an influence? Which other photographers inspire your visual style?

Every image that touches me deeply becomes part of my own visual consciousness and, inevitably, influences the way I photograph.

I’m inspired by with a variety of styles, like Guido Guidi, Jeff Brouws and some very talented young photographers. However, I have difficulty trying to figure out which photographers are my strongest influences, because in addition to the large number of photographers who inspire me, there are so many other fundamental factors – like personal experiences, studies, one’s own character and the place and context in which we live – that strongly affects our ways of seeing, of composing a frame, of taking a picture.

Back to Alec Soth, I can say yes – he certainly influenced me. I remember that – in front of those huge prints I saw some years ago in Milan in a Soth’s exhibition of Niagara and Sleeping by the Mississippi work – I was truly struck, almost petrified. I can absolutely say that something had changed in my mind.

Which other artists inspire you?

My biggest influence starts from the great landscape photographers that since the seventies have shown us suburbs, small towns, cities. Masters like Gabriele Basilico or Stephen Shore are those that have contributed most to my passion for photography. Over the years, I have turned my attention not only to landscape or neo-topographic type photography but also to wider range. Now I follow with great interest photographers like Alexander Gronsky, Bryan Schutmaat, Todd Hido and many others. I could write a very long list.

However, I think the strongest and most unexpected inspirations could come from other sources. It could happen, for example, that the idea for a new project could come listening a Sufjan Stevens’ album, reading a Carver’s short story or an essay about architecture and so on.

How do you go about making photographs; what’s your working process?

I don’t usually work in one particular way. In most cases I go out with a precise idea as result of well-consolidated thoughts or because I want to continue with a series I’ve already started. Sometimes I start shooting without any particular goal and later I try to figure out if those pictures could be a part of an ongoing project or just interesting material for a future one.

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Tell us a story about your most memorable photoshoot.

An important project for me, Separations, about the Po – the longest river in Italy. It’s a series that already has a well-defined body even if, usually, my works tend to be ongoing. For me, this project will always be memorable because it really involved me. I’ve spent a lot of time alone in those places – in all weather conditions – and each time, I found something touching in observing those river banks.

What would your dream project be, if there were no limitations?

I think it’s normal being attracted to places, situations and themes that are very far from the context in which we grew up. So, if I think, for example, about particular historical events – from the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Union, to the Berlin Wall, Yugoslav Wars or thousands of other tragic and strong situations that have built the history of the last century, I start to imagine great photo projects about some aspects of those.

However, in my dreams, there would be a project exploring the same themes I usually show in my current series, but on a wider scale. I think about a very long work across the world, where I photograph city suburbs, territories, and compare them to figure out common elements and different signs. A sort of atlas of human modifications on the landscape.

In this work I’d see an alternation of landscape and portrait pictures, printed in different sizes and finally, collected in a publication because I always tend to see my series in book form.

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Why do you largely choose to omit human presence from the landscape in your images?

Usually I shoot landscape without people because, often, my aim is to show their traces upon it. It’s like seeing the picture frame as an empty theatre set; just left by the actors, but in which you can still detect their presence.

I love portraits and in my plans for the near future, there will be works with people but, It will be a gradual process because my natural inclination is for ’empty’ landscape pictures and I have to slightly change my approach to photography and improve my skills.

What would you like people to experience when they view your work?

I would like viewers to feel something similar to the way I do while I photograph, and I would like for them to be intrigued about possible stories behind the picture itself. This is the empathic part, but, more rationally, I would like that they could ask questions to themselves, for example, about how much we are changing our territory, about nature, about architectural quality of new builds around us and so on.

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What makes a good photograph?

That’s a very hard and interesting question.

I don’t think we can speak in absolute terms or give a definitive answer because there are too many variables we have to consider – like context, historical period, features of photographer and spectator.

Personally, I can consider a photograph good for very different reasons; when it makes me think strongly, when it reminds me something else or simply, because it has an interesting geometric composition or a fine colour palette, etc.

But, in my opinion, the focal point is how this ‘good’ photograph is used and how it works in a series with a clear concept or in a particular work – but with this, we risk opening up a more complex conversation.

What advice would you give to graduates wanting to work in the creative industry?

From my experience, I could say two simple things, always try to remain independent and never never wait to make things (I mean projects, dreams) because you think you have time.

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You can see more of Marco’s work at www.marcofava.net