Having a good eye is a natural ability of the pupil to grasp detail one would normally not notice, all the tiny specs in the air, on faces, sidewalks and corners, dots and lines only a very sensitive eye can read. Carolina Ardizzone (born 28 years ago in Sicily, the island of art) is one of those rare people naturally gifted with that good eye, thanks to which she was hired as still photographer to work in Normandy on the set of the new big screen version of Madame Bovary of Sophie Barthes, airing in theaters across the US next June. Restless, yet tame and emotional soul, Carolina has always travelled a lot. Once in New York she started putting her good eye as well as her wit and soul to use and…
What happened next?
After some hardships I got to meet in NYC people like Sophie Barthes and Andrij Parekh who saw my pictures and footages and were moved by them. After a while they offered me a job as photographer on the set, so I wound up in Normandy for three months. Taking pictures offers the unique chance to observe your surroundings, while everyone else is running around each focusing on what they need to do, you get the full picture.
On your Facebook profile you posted pictures from the set of Madame Bovary: woods, deer, stage technicians, but especially the beautiful poster picture with the close up of Mia Wasikowska which is going around the World. Was the shot planned that way, are you happy with how it turned out?
I really didn’t know how the pictures would be used, but what I did know was that they didn’t belong to me. When the shooting of the movie ended I handed in the photos which were for the actors to approve, so they probably picked that shot for the dramatic expression of the main character of the movie and the costumes of Christian Gasc and Valerie Ranchoux, which totally stand out in the film as well as in that photo. I’m very excited one of my pictures was chosen, though it’s not my very favorite one. Andrij was very clear about what he wanted me to do before starting to work on the movie: “You need to always follow me, way too often I realize the photographers took pictures with different framings from the movie”. Photographers often feel like they’re in people’s way on the set, a nuisance, especially when time and space require precision, photographers need to know how to move discretely around the scene and catch the right moment to step in.
Your photos look like the perfect balance of all elements, the result of an accurate study on subjects and settings, yet clearly some shots are fruit of improvisation, of seizing the moment.
I can hardly imagine sitting there and studying how to take pictures which really are taken on the spot. Still study and improvisation have a connection between them. Experience determines improvisation, little by little you learn to foresee what’s going to happen and that makes it easier for you to improvise. Composition, on the other hand, sometimes takes thinking, other times is a matter of instinct and habit, being able to see things in a certain way.
How do your Sicilian roots influence your choice of subjects and backgrounds?
I want to say it does have some influence on it, I just wouldn’t be able to tell you how, maybe you can tell from the outside, kind of like when I speak with my Sicilian accent. My family has lived in Sicily for generations, so that surely affects me and what I do. But I like to think that each picture talks about me only after what it says for itself first. My photos have a story of their own, I am just the link, but not necessarily a link with a theme or project. If looking at my pictures you get an idea about me, whatever that may be, then I’ve achieved in communicating with you.
There is no one right thing to do, I was looking for a change, if I’d been born in NY I would’ve left for Europe at some point of my life. I do believe I wouldn’t have had the same working opportunities, but I didn’t really give them a try. If I had stayed I may not have had the same disposition to work towards my goals. This is just me of course, the comfort zone of habits and ideals was really just a prison I couldn’t break out of, with no good alternative other than settling. Good things start happening when you feel like you have nothing to grasp, that’s when you either give up or you find the strength to do things you didn’t think you could. So many people feel entitled to a well-paid job because of their university degree, forgetting that the Earth is overpopulated by university graduates competing for a good job. Plus ability is not sufficient sometimes, it takes initiative too, willingness to work hard for what you want, even in Italy. Sitting there waiting for others to give us what we want kills creativity. On a bright side, now in Italy a lot of young people are coming up with ideas; independent music companies producing smart singers, lots of people contributing with good projects in Italian cinema.
What does the future hold for you, where will your projects take you?
I’m working on a couple of things of my own, like “Born on July 18th, 1986”. In fact, let me ask all those who were born on that day to get in touch with me, there’s 399 thousand of us in the World. I’ll be travelling between Italy and Spain till October, after that it depends on whether a big project (not my own) becomes reality, otherwise I’d like to go back to New York.
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