A story from our time – La folla

There are days I fear the sun will never set and I will find myself trapped in a never ending loop of fears, boredom, despair and nostalgia, but some days are on the contrary too short for all the things I would like to do. I suppose these are feelings we are all having while isolated at home with the world outside fighting the invisible enemy.

When I wake up in the morning, I take a few minutes to reflect on how to spend the hours ahead, if working on my photography business, in the way I can, if reading all the books I could not finish in these past months, if studying all the things I have not even studied during my University years, or if writing, collecting present impressions, reviving past ideas, and letting my imagination free, which means to create just for the sake of it, and to be happy in the moment. Well, the short story I am sharing with you today (I am very sorry, but it is just for the Italian readers!) was not something I had thought about for very long, but rather something I used to contain the emotions of the time we live in.

Below are also some recent photographs done in collaboration with fashion designer Bianca Elgar and with beautiful model Opor Kunk.

La folla

  L’uomo aspettò che la folla si fosse dissipata prima di rimettersi in cammino. Così qualcuno incrociato per strada gli aveva detto di fare, e lui, senza porsi alcuna domanda, aveva seguito il consiglio.
La piazza fumava di sole, e la luce che rimbalzava dalle finestre dei palazzi rendeva abbagliante anche l’aria. Seduto all’ombra di una grande statua il cui volto brunito e consumato dal tempo appariva ormai irriconoscibile, l’uomo seguiva con gli occhi la scia d’ombra lasciata dall’ultimo gruppetto di donne che gli era passato davanti. Erano in cinque, tutte vestite di bianco, ampi cappelli di paglia stretti sulle tempie, e sandali slargati, di quelli che alleggeriscono la stanchezza dei piedi e danno sfogo ai gonfiori delle caviglie. Dal modo in cui si guardavano intorno, fotografando con gli occhi, laddove prive di altri mezzi, la bellezza che si lasciavano alle spalle, si capiva che quella fosse la loro prima volta in città.
Senza fretta l’uomo si mosse dal suo angolo d’ombra dopo averle viste sfociare rumorosamente nelle stradine intorno alla piazza. Casa sua non era molto distante; poteva vederla, spingendo lo sguardo attraverso l’arco di mattoni che dalla chiesa dei gesuiti, costeggiando un sentiero fitto d’alberi, portava a un cortile raccolto e da lì al quartiere in cui aveva sempre vissuto, in cui erano nate sua madre e sua nonna, e in cui entrambe, sotto i suoi grandi occhi verdi, se n’erano andate diversi anni prima.
Aveva ormai quasi raggiunto la chiesa e l’arco, quando un nuovo gruppo, misto di uomini e donne, gli sciamò davanti. In realtà, non si capiva neanche esattamente da dove venissero tutte quelle persone; pareva uscissero da ogni anfratto della terra e calassero insieme a ogni raggio di sole scoccato dal cielo, moltiplicandosi una volta raggiunto il suolo. Di colpo, la porta della chiesa si aprì, e pure da quella ne sgusciarono una trentina, forse di più. L’uomo cercò di contarli, ma perse il filo. La sua bocca secca faceva fatica a scandire anche un solo numero, e la sua mente, silenziata dallo stupore, ne era altrettanto incapace.
“Tieniti lontano dalla folla!”. Le parole udite poco prima da uno sconosciuto gli risuonarono alle orecchie.
Pur non riuscendo a immaginare la ragione che stava dietro a quel monito, l’uomo sentì improvvisamente di essere davvero in pericolo. Fu come una premonizione, qualcosa a cui la sua mente e il suo cuore reagirono in contemporanea. Allora spinse gli occhi oltre la folla, verso quei rari, sfuocati punti in cui il cemento della città tornava a vincere sul brulicare dei corpi molli, pigiati tra loro, gonfi di sole e risate incontrollabili. Se avesse aspettato di capire in che direzione ciascuno dei gruppi si sarebbe mosso, forse avrebbe potuto precederne gli ultimi passi e trovare una via di fuga nel mezzo di quelli.
Solo che l’attesa, quella volta, si dimostrò più difficile di quanto avesse sperato. La folla raddoppiò, triplicò in volume. La gente prese a calarsi dalle finestre, dalle terrazze, urlando come scimmie, per poi atterrare sul marciapiede senza neanche un graffio e con sul viso l’espressione serafica di un bambino che si è appena risvegliato da un sonno ristoratore. Anche le saracinesche delle botteghe chiuse si aprirono, e donne statuarie, rotonde, talune flaccide, iniziarono a sfilare sul marciapiede di fronte. In braccio ad alcune c’erano neonati che i loro ventri molli sembravano aver partorito da poco; altre, invece, stringevano filoni di pane come mazzi di fiori, facendoli odorare alle compagne intorno.
In men che non si dica, l’uomo, stordito dal frastuono e confuso, si trovò circondato, e capì che evitare la folla fosse non solo impossibile quanto pericoloso. Avrebbe dovuto andarle contro, remare in direzione opposta alle onde, quando l’unica scelta possibile, a quel punto, sembrava di seguirla o addirittura abbandonarsene. Spinse dunque lo sguardo verso il cielo, come per prendere fiato, e quando una raggiera di visi gli si parò davanti, sostituendosi alle nuvole, allora iniziò a correre, a scansare le braccia che gli calavano addosso, i petti che lo spingevano, i piedi contro cui i suoi talloni si trovavano a sbattere, e a schermarsi con un fazzoletto di stoffa dagli spruzzi di saliva che lo bagnavano e offendevano. In pochi minuti il rumore dei corpi ammassati, il caldo emanato da quelli che si sommava al caldo della giornata, l’aria rimbombante di parole incomprensibili, forse attinte a lingue diverse, sovrastò del tutto l’assediato che così cadde.
La folla, proprio quella da cui avrebbe dovuto tenersi lontano, lo travolse, e non ci fu modo, per lui, di rialzarsi, se non a sera, dopo che il mondo intero gli fu passato addosso, egoista, cieco, irrefrenabile. La prima cosa su cui i suoi occhi andarono a posarsi allora fu la chiesa, poi l’arco di mattoni, e giù in fondo la sua casa. La luce dello studio era accesa. Ebbe la sensazione che dall’altra parte ci fosse la moglie che, come ogni giorno, ordinava i libri che lui aveva lasciato sparpagliati sulla scrivania. Avrebbe voluto chiamarla, pur sapendo che non sarebbe mai riuscita a sentirlo, ma la sua voce, già prima fioca, gli rimase intrappolata in gola. Si alzò; respirava a fatica, e anche il suo respiro non produceva suono.
Costeggiati i negozi chiusi, si specchiò su ciascuna delle loro vetrine, e in quel momento lo vide. Vide, in carne ed ossa, il motivo per cui avrebbe dovuto evitare a tutti i costi quell’orda senza controllo. Un uomo che non gli somigliava più storceva la bocca sul riflesso del vetro; sembrava quasi avesse una maschera cucita sulla carne, impossibile da togliere. I suoi capelli erano passati dal grigio al bianco candido, la sua pelle si era raggrinzita, rughe profonde, spesse, avevano allentato le sue guance, e tolto mobilità alle sue mani. Il sangue affiorava già alle sue labbra.
Pensò allora alla moglie, ed ebbe paura che lei non lo avrebbe riconosciuto, o che addirittura non avrebbe fatto in tempo a raggiungerla, a dirle addio. La luce accesa nel suo studio si era fatta più fioca; sembrava lontanissima, lontana la casa, lontana la città stessa. Restavano una piazza vuota e un cielo insolitamente stellato.

©2020 Flavia Catena

FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_01FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_18FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_02Opor_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_05FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_03FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_04FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_05FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_06FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_07FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_08FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_09FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_10FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_11FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_12FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_13FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_14FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_15FashionPhotography_BiancaElgar_FlaviaCatena_16

Female photographers: Joceline Allen

Bodies seem trapped behind a veil; delicate young women trying to escape from the dream they move inside. Hands, faces, melancholic eyes are in and out of the frame, between lights and shadows.
I immediately fell in love with Joceline Allen’s photographs, when I found her page on Instagram, and I could not stop looking at them. My first though was: “this girl must really love what she does!”. On a daily basis, browsing around social media, I keep seeing so many works alike and images unable to instill any emotion. This is not the case with Joceline’s work. That’s why I have decided I had to meet her and include her in my series about female photographers.
And we did meet, one day in February, in the beautiful location Gunnersbury park. Joceline appeared to me as I had imagined her: kind, passioned about her work, honest, humble. We had a very long and pleasant conversation, during which Joceline told me about how she entered the photography world. She was still at school, in London, dreaming to be a fashion designer, when she moved her first steps towards this new media, and her love for it must have grown day after day so much that she decided to attend Falmouth University, in Cornwall, studying fashion photography.
Her style developed with strength during and after those years at University. Her romantic and fragile women got a voice in her images. Photography itself became a kind of therapeutic process, Joceline said, a way to deal with all the doubts, the heavy or disorientating thoughts each of us have to face while moving from youth to adulthood.
She is strongly inspired by a variety of artists among which Todd Hido, and by the theatre and film photography industry (I can see that from her dramatic use of lights) towards which she is dreaming to move one day. I really wish her dreams come true, and most of all to keep creating with passion and enthusiasm what we will recognise as the special signature of her heart.

Thanking you Joceline so much for working with me on this project, I invite you to look at her work online. Website: http://www.jocelineallen.com; Instagram: @jocelineallen.

@2020 Flavia Catena

Joceline_FlaviaCatena_17riJoceline_FlaviaCatena_16riJoceline_FlaviaCatena_10riJoceline_FlaviaCatena_12riJoceline_FlaviaCatena_05riJoceline_FlaviaCatena_04ri

Admire below a selection of Joceline’s photographs!

Joceline1Joceline2Processed with VSCO with b1 presetJoceline4

Portraits in Oxford and London

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.” Emily Dickinson, Hope is the thing with feathers

Here are a few portraits taken at the end of last year to some beautiful and talented girls I worked with in Oxford and London, focusing on natural beauty and candid moments.

Alisa
Alisa_FlaviaCatena_03riAlisa_FlaviaCatena_02Alisa_FlaviaCatena_07riAlisa_FlaviaCatena_12riAlisa_FlaviaCatena_16riAlisa_FlaviaCatena_17riAlisa_FlaviaCatena_24riAlisa_FlaviaCatena_26ri
Odella
Odella_FlaviaCatena_Portrait_01Odella_FlaviaCatena_Portrait_02Odella_FlaviaCatena_Portrait_03
Agnessa
Agnessa_Test_04Agnessa_Test_07Agnessa_Test_12

On Renaissance and daily melancholy

“Il mio segreto è una memoria che agisce a volte per terribilità. Isolata, immobile, sul punto di scattare, sto al centro di correnti vorticose che girano a spirali in questa stanza dove i miei cento orologi sgranano battiti diversi in diversi timbri. Se alzo il capo li vedo fiammeggiare, e ad ogni tocco di fuoco corrisponde un’immagine. Sempre sono trascinata fuori di me dalla tempesta di vivere. Che cosa è il tempo, e perché deve considerarsi passato? Fino a quando viviamo esiste un solo tempo, il presente. Una forza struggente mi prende alle viscere: costruttiva o devastatrice non mi è dato di sapere; è senza regola, almeno apparente.” Rinascimento privato, Maria Bellonci

Images from last spring photo-shoot with the lovely Leonie as model and the talented Meg Wakefield as make up artist.

©2019 Flavia Catena

Leonie_June2019_FlaviaC_04riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_02riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_05riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_07riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_08riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_09riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_06riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_10riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_11riLeonie_June2019_FlaviaC_14ri

On Female Photographers – Olga Gridina

I had already met Olga in person once, before seeing her again for our portrait photo-shoot, on a gorgeous summer day, in London. We had been chatting online and following each other for around a year.
I still remember Olga’s first message to me, surprisingly asking about my work as a hobbyist writer. I happily found out we both love writing stories, and you can easily see how Olga is great in doing so also with her beautiful photos.
Originally from Russia, Olga Gridina attended the University in Yekaterinburg, where she received a Master degree in Arts with a specialisation in Architecture. She worked for many years as graphic designer, in the advertising, film and game industry, travelling around the world and living in some amazing places such as Spain and New Zealand. This until she moved to London, eight years ago.
Since then, she worked as a portrait and fashion photographer creating amazing images which are featured on magazines and platforms all around the world.
Her models are both strong and beautiful creatures. Very often they are redhead girls of renaissance inspiration, who dance in the wind and become one, in beauty, with the nature. Olga is also a very talented photographer of children, and her “painting” skills become evident in some of their beautiful portraits.
She loves connecting with people, when she works; and she encourages everyone to bring their own ideas to the shoot, to be themselves and have fun. Although she reckons this industry is a very competitive one, and jealousy is often a predominant feeling among photographers, she knows how to enjoy the little spot of quiet and creativity she found in it.
Talking to Olga, you can just smile and appreciate her lovely personality. She is a generous, down to earth, lively person whose positive feelings definitively shines in the eyes of those she photographs.

I thank Olga so much for the beautiful time spent together and I invite you to follow her work on Instagram: @olgagridinaphotography and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/olgagridinaphotography.

©2019 Flavia Catena

OlgaGridinaPortrait_FlaviaCatena_07riOlgaGridinaPortrait_FlaviaCatena_02riOlgaGridina_FlaviaCatena_02OlgaGridinaPortrait_FlaviaCatena_09riOlgaGridinaPortrait_FlaviaCatena_14ri

And below some stunning portraits by Olga!

3Q8A1482_cRAW_noise_FB3Q8A4548_cDesat2_FB3Q8A7828_c2_FB3Q8A0248_c_FB

 

Ciera and Abigail from M+P Models

I can still feel the sun on my face, I can hear the word “summer” beeing repeated by countless people on the loud streets, on trains and buses, in every house whose windows are wide open, and I can breath the trepidation all around me, the promise of a new holiday, a new adventure, another beautiful long day to get inspired and be optimistic again. Autumn is approaching quickly, though, and as it happens every year I find myself wishing for the gold, youth-smelling, vibrant season not to go away yet!

Before I start planning new shoots, repeating to myself that for a romantic person as I am the autumnal landscape is even more beautiful that the summery one, let me share with you these images taken in July to the lovely and talented Abigail and Ciera from M+P Models. I like how candid and natural they look; do you agree with me?

©2019 Flavia Catena

Abigail&Ciera_FlaviaCatena_01riAbigail&Ciera_FlaviaCatena_02riAbigail&Ciera_FlaviaCatena_03riAbigail&Ciera_FlaviaCatena_05riAbigail&Ciera_FlaviaCatena_06riAbigail_FlaviaCatena_06riAbigail_FlaviaCatena_08riAbigail_FlaviaCatena_09riCiera_FlaviaCatena_05roCiera_FlaviaCatena_08riCiera_FlaviaCatena_09riCiera_FlaviaCatena_10ri

 

 

Jen – Natural beauty portraits

I haven’t post in a while, as busy with work first and then happily distracted by the sun, the blue sky, and the sea! I have been in Berlin for a few days, and in Italy for two weeks. I still can’t believe holidays are finished already! Could summer repeat itself again and again?

I have so many photos still unpublished, so I will start from a test done at the end of last spring. Jen was stunning without make up; I feel her natural beauty and bright personality really stand out from every image we took! Do you agree with me?

Model: Jen White

©2019 Flavia Catena

JenWhite_FlaviaCatena_02riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_03riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_06riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_08riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_11riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_10riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_15riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_14riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_19riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_20riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_17riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_21riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_22riJenWhite_FlaviaCatena_23ri

 

The Photographers Series: Madara Freimane

A lilac summer dress, long blonde hair, porcelain skin and a sweet smile, Madara Freimane welcomed me on a warm spring day in the colourful neighbour of Notting Hill, London. We walked around Portobello Road looking for a place where to sit down and have a chat about her work, and we ended up in a lovely cozy cafe with beautiful windows facing the busy street.
Madara is a great freelance photographer and a strong, independent young woman promoting sustainability in the fashion industry through her successful platform What’s your legacy (WYL).
Originally from Latvia, she started taking photos while still living in her country. After a short period of time spent in Vienna, she then moved to London where she attended the London College of Fashion. It is during those years at University, immersing herself in a world which often shows us only its shining side, that she became aware of what’s behind the high street brands, of how clothes are produced – exploiting people and the environment – and of how depersonalising some trend can be when forcing us to buy and wear certain outfits due to their popularity.
The shining world then became dull if not even dark, and Madara decided to look more into sustainable brands whose clothes were both beautiful and ethically made, saying goodbye, with no regrets, to the high street ones.
The idea to offer other people the right tools to make their own decisions also when it comes to fashion, brought What’s your Legacy to life.
Madara now shoots for ethical brands, take videos interviewing people whose talent has been dedicated to the mission, and fill the online platform with amazing contents.
Also as a photographer, she looks for honesty and simplicity. She likes a portrait taken outdoors, with natural light; she loves working with trusted creatives and with models who are confident with their own bodies, who are guided by their personality, not by set rules. Her photos are candid, fresh and yet captivating, as the brands she works with and she promotes.
It is our responsibility, in the same way it is theirs, to make a difference, to show our unique faces and to work together for the world we value.
I thanks Madara so much for working with me on this project, and I invite you to have a look at her work at https://wylstore.com/ and to follow her on Instagram @wyl_store.
©2019 Flavia Catena
Madara_FlaviaCatena_19r
Madara_FlaviaCatena_02rMadara_FlaviaCatena_04rMadara_FlaviaCatena_08rMadara_FlaviaCatena_09rMadara_FlaviaCatena_10rMadara_FlaviaCatena_13r
Madara_FlaviaCatena_01r
Madara_FlaviaCatena_16rMadara_FlaviaCatena_18ri
Here below some of Madara’s photographs:
IMG_0885_editsn_2sm3z3flavia_5

Freckles and flowers

The purity of youth, the candid beauty of flowers, and the perfection of the painted freckles make this beauty shoot one of my favourite work so far! Thanks a lot to my team, to the talented make up artist Micaela Congia, to the great hair stylist Giulia Piras and to the sweet model Bella Ford, from M+P Models, for helping me taking these honest, natural and romantic images!

©2019 Flavia Catena

BellaFord_Beaty_FlaviaCatena_02riBellaFord_Beaty_FlaviaCatena_01riBellaFord_Beaty_FlaviaCatena_07riBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_07ri.jpgBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_01riBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_02riBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_03riBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_17riBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_15riBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_05riBellaFord_Beauty_FlaviaCatena_06ri

Spring is here! Elizabeth’s portraits

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” Rainer Maria Rilke

A selection of photos from a test shoot done in March with the lovely Elizabeth, a Canadian model who was in London for LindenStaub’s agency. We explored Holland Park whose trees and plants were showing their best colours and flowers with the arrival of the spring!

©2019 Flavia Catena

Elizabeth_FlaviaCatena_02riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_01riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_03riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_04riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_05riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_06riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_07riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_08riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_09riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_12riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_13riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_14riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_15riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_16riElizabeth_FlaviaCatena_17ri