by Martina Pellizzari
Today he’s considered one of the most talented fashion photographers of our time and for sure one of the most loved ones.
Joey grew up in a small town just a few miles from Milan.
“and when you live and work in Milan in the 90s you breath fashioned air and you smell of style in every single corner of your town.”
During this interview he talks about the girl next door Kendall Jenner. But also about the beautiful legs of Kaia Gerber, the incredible eyes of Jessica Lowndes, the new Marilyn Monroe called Anna Camp and the last fashion legend called Richard Avedon.
We met Joey on location in the South of France while shooting a new campaign.
How and when did you start with photography?
I was studying economics and I was getting bored day by day with bills and stocks. My professional soccer career had a bad stop for an accident and I was looking around to find my way in this life. But I’m a dreamer and I was looking for something that really inspired me.
The only thing I knew it was that I never wanted to work in a bank or any office for hours and hours each day. No matter what that was not my life.
What did you shoot at the beginning?
At the very beginning I was shooting horses. I got in touch with some horse’s magazines and every single weekend me and my bro were out shooting whatever was about the horse world.
Meanwhile since the beginning I started doing some tests for models in Milan; then fashion shows in Milan, Paris and NYC and concerts in the evenings… and of course weddings during the weekends (for the money).
The money I had like a full time worker and the money from the weddings helped me and my brother to build our own darkroom and to pay the expenses to develop our slides and films.
It was hard but so much inspiring. And working side by side with my brother that was technically full of talent in a darkroom I learned a lot.
That’s how today I can handle talking about composition, exposure, papers, grain and filters.
Do you still shoot with films?
Of course, I will always. It’s not something you can call it commercially correct but sometimes I love to shoot with films, mostly black and white.
What’s your fav location?
Each location in every single place in this world can be fascinating if you are shooting the right storyboard.
Probably the ones I will always fall in love with are some places at the Keys, Florida. I could live there.
What’s your fav light?
Sunlight, I absolutely hate with all myself the artificial light, flash or whatever. I just hate it and I never use it if I can.
What about digital?
In 2004 in Miami Beach after a shooting I said the assistant to bring the films at the lab to develop them. My friend Paul, that’s always been smarter than me asked: “what a lab is???” It was the right time to cross the line.
Well, today the digital photography is the photography we use and we work with. The commercially correct. Then if you want you can even shoot with films or daguerreotype, but it’s up to you. Today there’s no digital photography anymore to talk about, today photography means digital, period.
What about fashion photography?
Fashion photography is something we should care more about.
It’s part of our cultural background. In the 80s and 90s a lot of people were collecting Vogue or Elle issues. I still remember in the 90s I was watching the fashion editorials even 100 times. Today the fashion photography is missing that point, the inspiration that Avedon or Newton gave us.
Fashion photography got lost in the last 10 years because of the digital that made things easier but also cheaper.
And whatever is cheaper in this business is low level.
Who’s the sexiest celeb you’ve been shooting?
I could make a very long list and it’s not fair to pick up just one name.
Do you prefer black and white or color?
I was born shooting and developing my own images in my darkroom using black and white.
I’m still inspired from some black and white campaigns in the 90s signed by Peter Lindbergh for Mariella Burani.
Image composition and exposure or aperture are part of a very huge plan that grows in our minds that is depending on what you are feeling right in the moment that you are pressing the button.
I hate people showing you in post-production that every image can turn black and white or color… that’s the most irritating thing you can listen about photography.
We can’t let a software to turn what we have in mind in a different shade of grey or color.
You’ve been shooting a lot of controversial campaigns. How do you know if a campaign will have the right exposure?
The last thing you need to do doing this business is what the 99% of the professionals try to do every day using social networks.
You don’t have to shoot waiting for Likes or comments to know if you did a good job. That’s crazy, that’s the opposite of what creativity is all about.
What do you think about this new generation of Instagram supermodels?
I love them. Kendall Jenner is like the girl next door, the pretty face, the funny girl you want as a friend. They are smart having success in a very competitive world.
It’s not easy and the people has to know it. These models must be smart enough to know how to handle all of that fame.
What photographer inspired you the most?
Elliott Erwitt and Ansel Adams
Who’s the funniest celeb you’ve been shooting?
It’s always funny with the most part of them.
We both do a hard job, and it’s not the one most of the people is thinking out there.
Sometimes we find each other in hotel rooms at 10 PM shooting for some magazines and we have a very short timeline.
We must be fast, professional and creative and of course we must have fun otherwise it’s gonna be a very hard time.
What is your fav place in the world?
Wherever I am with my daughter.
What’s in your playlist?
I don’t know why I like this guys called Lukas Graham.
What’s attracting you the most in a woman?
The personality rules the women’s charme. Then her legs and her eyes can kill you forever.
What is your relationship with the social networks?
I’m so bad with that. I had people managing them because I had no time at all, but it turned out to be a very bad idea.
I needed to be more real and much closer to the people sending messages, so I decided to do it myself but I’m really bad and I’m still learning… to say it right, I will never learn.
What a girl must have to be a model?
The world of models has changed a lot. I come from the Milan and the Paris fashion industry, and the idea of a model is a beautiful, skinny and tall girl that is probably like 0,01% of the girls around. But today everything has changed. Today you are a model if you just post some pictures on Instagram and get likes enough to be famous.
And I like it, I mean I like and I respect it totally. You must be very intelligent to make it as a living.
In any case if you want to be serious and you want to be a model, it takes a lot.
Beauty, charme, professionality, brain, taking care of your body and your skin every day.
It’s a real job and it’s not easy. Not for everyone.
The prettiest new face around, or a new upcoming star?
Where and how did you learn to make a woman look beautiful?
I just realised in the last 25 years doing this job that every woman can be beautiful, they just have to know that they really can.
Then, the way we follow to reach our target it’s a matter of make up and hair style, not forgetting the styling.
Did you ever fall in love doing your job?
I fall in love each day with my job, not with the people I’m working with.
How many sets a day you can work on?
We worked many times in LA with 3 sets a day, I never tried 4, but who knows maybe one day…
Is it real that you wanted to take a break right in the best moment of your career?
I didn’t want to take a break. It just came the perfect time to stop for awhile when 4 years and a half ago my daughter jumped into my life.
These years have been the most amazing times of my all life and whatever will happens tomorrow I know I did the right thing spending that time with my daughter.
After 20 years working and traveling every single day, I really needed to take it slowly and I’m happy I did it, no matter what.
What kind of camera do you bring always with you?
Actually I always have a Hasselblad H5D with me when it’s possible but most of the times we rent the cameras.
What’s the perfect shot for you?
There’s no perfection in whatever is creativity. Otherwise people like Newton, Penn or Avedon already reached the perfection and we would have no chance to look any further.
Let’s play this game, I’m telling you some names, I wanna see what comes to your mind right after…
Jessica Lowndes - 2 of the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen in my life
Adam Rodriguez - a very nice guy, the one you want to drink a beer with every time you are in town.
Sarah Hyland - like a beautiful tiny dancer for Elton John, with so much power inside.
Deborah Ann Woll - lovely person
Nicole Anderson - the beauty
Lori Loughlin - women’s beauty at the highest level
Francia Raisa - the glamour, even when she’s drinking a cup of coffee.
Is there a new Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood?
Anna Camp shocked me for how many great shots we had in a few hours. She’s amazingly talented for the way she naturally shows her beauty in whatever she does.