“I never thought about a career as a photographer, my background is very far from everything that could be considered creative,” says Guen Fiore, an Italian photographer currently based in London. Having grown up in a less-than creative environment, Guen initially steered towards industrial engineering before garnering an interest in photography while studying in Rome. At first a passion, her picture-taking soon became a distraction from her studies and, just one year ago, she decided to take the plunge artistically.
During this time, Guen entered the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize and was accepted for the exhibition – “I found the motivation I needed to drastically change my life,” she tells It’s Nice That. Thus, she left Rome and decided to move to London. With no particular reason, Guen chose the city as her next base for learning everything she needed to know about photography and her soon-to-be-deciphered practice. “I just felt that the photographic community here was closer to what I wanted to be,” she says. Initially planning to stay for a few months to work on her portfolio, everything evolved rather quickly and soon enough she was shooting her first project, was offered various commissions for magazines and new opportunities started to flood in – “so I managed to stay here longer.”
Recalling the time when she first picked up a camera, Guen cites a memory of finding a couple of fashion photographers via MySpace – she followed their work and gained the incentive to then photograph her sisters and friends, “imitating what other people were doing,” she says. “This was the first sneak peek I had into the fashion world,” and a time when she had not yet developed her own style. “Soon I started to develop my own point of view and I was very inspired mostly by movies. I wanted to create stories, and I would pick the right subject to basically perform a character,” she explains. “Now, my approach has drastically changed – I’m just very inspired by people and the reality that surrounds them.”
Intensely personal, Guen’s portraiture and serene photographs of women are beautifully honest. Achieved through an active approach to finding a narrative, she believes that you don’t need much to create a beautiful story: “If you’ve got the right face and good light, then you’ve got almost everything you need.” Casting is of high importance while producing the shoot, and sometimes, she will approach a story having already planned a subject in mind. “I like when I can bring to life the personality of the subject and a bit of their inner nature. I want to give an idea of who they really are.”
Often, Guen will find her subjects on Instagram – if not, she will approach modelling agencies and “ask for the girls in town.” She adds: “I like to portray people that I find interesting and beautiful in some way. It might be for their look, or for the story and the experiences that they want to share.” Although not explicitly presenting her subject’s story – say, through written text – Guen’s imagery tells more than first meets the eye. Whether it’s the soft embrace of two subjects, an observing gaze into the camera or subject baring all, each is as intimate as the next.
In fact, the female form is her focus point and something in which she addresses, quite vocally, throughout her photography work. “Nowadays, apart from reportage or social photography, people tend to judge the subject of a photograph only on aesthetics, especially if it’s a young woman,” says Guen. “The reason why I think it happens is that the mainstream has impoverished the concept of women’s beauty. I like to think that I can bring back a hint of honesty and humanity in my work, proposing portraits empowered just by the person and the atmosphere that they depict.” Succeeding, to say the least, Guen’s documentary-style portraiture, shot in an open and personal environmental, is the utmost pinnacle of what it means to tell a story through the lens.