Since the release of his book Bowie, Texas earlier this year, Italian-born photographer Pierluigi Macor has stayed very busy. One particularly striking project, which was commissioned by SZ Magazin, saw Pierluigi travel to a small town near Naples popular with the local population’s elderly citizens. “We didn’t know anyone there so we simply decided to show up and see what might happen,” Pierluigi tells It’s Nice That.
Together with a small team of stylists and art director Alexis Zurflüh, Pierluigi went about exploring the town’s local haunts for intriguing characters. “Initially we wanted to scout out some unique locations,” the photographer explains. “However, we changed our minds and decided to look for interesting-looking pensioners and base the shoot around them. We ended up going to bars and cafés asking if anyone would pose for us, or alternatively, if they knew anyone who might be willing. Everyone was very helpful — we didn’t encounter a single no.” With no location checks necessary, Pierluigi and his team began meeting the people they were photographing in their houses, taking pictures straight away. It is this dimension of authenticity that renders the series both sensitive and personal.
Elderly women drink tea, snap pictures or go for a walk while the men drive cars or fix some fishing tackle; Pierluigi has managed to distill the small town’s spirit into his series. “When I look at the images I see my grandmother — although I can’t say she was quite so chic. I can imagine that, at least Italians, might look at these images and see our elderly relatives,” he says. Despite it being a stylised fashion series, Pierluigi’s intuition-driven, intimate series manages to sensitively capture the individual personalities of his sitters.
Despite the beautifully coherent series, Pierluigi’s photographs weren’t without their challenges. “The weather wasn’t great – we were there for two days during which grey and rainy weather was prominent. That’s why we decided to take most of the portraits inside the people’s houses and it actually turned out much better, I think,” he explains. Pierluigi made use of the natural light, lending the series its understated elegance. Without certain luxe details — head-to-toe Céline outfits aren’t exactly commonplace on daily afternoon walks — the series could easily be a candid portrayal of everyday life in one of Italy’s small coastal towns.
“I like photographing people who don’t like cameras. Most of the time they are better to shoot because they can act natural in front of a lens. I try to put them at ease by doing something silly — you tell them a joke, make them smile and show them they’re beautiful. They don’t have to act like some famous film-star or model, I just tell them to be themselves.”
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