Launching our Lens Series, we revisit the work of Italian photographer Saverio Cardia. Born in Reggio Calabria–the city of Gianni Versace, Cardia was inspired to follow in the legendary designer’s footsteps by entering the world of fashion and carving a niche out for himself. Attending the Istituto Italiano di Fotografia in Milan, Cardia began his formal education before the start of the striking body of work he has today. Photographing everyone from Sean O’Pry and Clément Chabernaud to Jon Kortajarena, Cardia has managed to find his own point of view in the feelings of his subjects. Capturing a unique creature of grace that may just happen to exist in a world of fashion, Cardia has photographed several of the industry’s best, while offering a palette of thoughtful emotion.
How is life treating you?
Saverio Cardia: I’m good. Full of love!
When did you first pick up a camera?
Saverio Cardia: I think at 6. I shot my little sister Alessandra and my father on the beach.
What is your preferred method of shooting?
Saverio Cardia: Just feeling my models.
Do you prefer to shoot in black an white or color?
Saverio Cardia: I like both. I like to mix them. But at the moment, I feel myself much more in colours. I shot a lot of black and white.
When did photography turn into work for you? Was there hesitation?
Saverio Cardia: When after a lot of hesitation I decided to leave my own city because it was the only thing I wanted to do. Photography!
How would you describe your point of view as a photographer?
Saverio Cardia: Clean. And really in love with beauty and shapes. I’d say pure and silent.
What is the primary difference between shooting male and female models?
Saverio Cardia: I don’t feel any difference. They can be strong and fragile, feminine and masculine in the same way.
Do you have a preference?
Saverio Cardia: I love male! But I love female too!
Comparing work past and present, your male subjects come across as creatures of grace, who just happen to be inserted into a fashionable context. Is this intentional?
Saverio Cardia: I’ve never though about it but you gave me the right description.
What direction do you normally give models? How should they feel? Should they feel?
Saverio Cardia: I want them to feel themselves. I never say how they must feel. If you “must” you can’t feel!
Do you typically look for a certain quality or characteristic in models?
Saverio Cardia: It’s hard to say. I look for faces I like. I can’t say what’s the characteristic. It’s something about attraction. They must be perfect even if they’re not.
What is the mood on set like? Music playing?
Saverio Cardia: It depends on my mood. Sometimes I need music, sometimes I just want to feel my model’s breath.
Do you have a favorite shoot or series?
Saverio Cardia: All about Brian Shimansky. With him everything is perfect! And Ash Stymest. With him everything is a surprise!
Saverio Cardia: Last shooting with Will Lewis. He was perfect for that “survivor” mood. He’s wild in the heart.
When you shoot top models like Sean O’Pry, do you have an expectation? How does that typically pan out? With Sean? Jon K?
Saverio Cardia: Generally I don’t have any expectations. I just wonder if they’ll be nice or not. Sean is on the top to me. He’s kind and so friendly. I think he’s got “body and soul”. It was like shooting something perfect and full of sensations. He’s one of a kind. Jon is a really good guy. We met years ago at a friend’s place but we worked together two years later. He’s a good player with the camera. He’s great and full of experience.
What are your interests outside photography?
Saverio Cardia: I’m a collector. Fashion and photography books collector. I’m a Madonna collector (Vinyls, magazines). I love antiques and interior design. And I love drawing.
What is a typical day like in your shoes?
Saverio Cardia: If I’m free it’s walkin’ in and out of book stores and vintage shops.
What is the last thing you purchased?
Saverio Cardia: Tom Munro book.
If tomorrow you had to put down your camera for good, what would you do instead?
Saverio Cardia: Painter.
What’s up next?
Saverio Cardia: Who knows!
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
Saverio Cardia: Close to my friends/lovers.