How to Create Legacy With Your Photos: Talking With Gian Paolo Barbieri

Gerard Ortiz

Alongside with only a number of other luminaries of his technology, Gian Paolo Barbieri assisted to generate the foundations of fashionable trend photography. By pushing style pictures further than vogue commerce, the depth of Barbieri’s pictures forces us to take into account them as art as significantly as commerce. I experienced the possibility to question Barbieri a number of thoughts about becoming a pioneer in his discipline and what it takes to build a legacy.

For in excess of 60 decades, Barbieri has been just one of the most influential international photographers in the environment of vogue.

Collaborating on some of the premier advertising campaigns for international manner brand names such as Valentino, Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferré, Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, and Vivienne Westwood. His operate has crammed the internet pages of Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, Vogue The united states, L’Officiel, GQ, and Vainness Fair.

Barbieri has a new exhibit at 29 ARTS IN Progress Gallery and an eponymous documentary biopic from Preferred Cinema, about his existence and perform, that will be widely accessible early in 2023. 

Barbieri’s get the job done is legendary and proceeds to be relevant right now, a long time just after he started out shooting. Barbieri’s operate has these types of longevity because he photographs tips and engages inclined viewers. Barbieri’s shots are not just fairly photographs, they are conversation starters. 

Aspects Make The Image 

Barbieri is regarded for his attention to depth on established. Very little appears to be to be far too compact a element for Barbieri in producing his visuals, advertisement strategies, editorials, or own get the job done. 

His phase is rigorous, meticulous, prepared in the smallest specifics.”

For illustration, Barbieri’s photos of Laura Alvarez immersed in the Orinoco River subsequent to a caiman in Venezuela for Vogue Italia and Armani, 1976, is one particular of his most well-known. Famed in part simply because Barbieri related the pink of Armani’s selection with the qualities of Venezuela, building the coloration a vital factor in the photograph and encouraging the picture pop with relevance virtually 50 years later on. By applying pink feathers and pink orchids traced again to the local flora and fauna present in Venezuelan character and employed in Venezuelan cultural costumes, the photographs are not just manner, they’re about the area.

Digging deeper, Barbieri experienced Mr. Mori, a nearby craftsman, make plexiglass masks to assist amplify Alvarez’s terror at remaining flanked by caiman and piranhas. By paying out so significantly time taking into consideration each and every single component of his photographs, Barbieri transcends vogue pictures, developing surreal dreamlike visuals that let for interpretation. His illustrations or photos have interaction his viewers, encouraging them to do much more than examine the fashion developments of the working day, to also inquire queries about the photos and their meanings, and to encourage viewers to include on their own.

Deep Inspiration 

Most surely the clothing that Barbieri photographed impressed his visuals. Having said that, good style pictures go past the clothing on your own, they attempt to make connections with bigger concepts and therefore create larger images  images that encourage additional conversation and in the long run thought. Because Barbieri was a baby, the attraction he felt for cinema, theatre, and art, in typical, has normally affected the way in which he viewed the entire world. Barbieri’s curiosity to see and know more about the entire world all around him has been the motor of his life’s get the job done. A thirst for the new is some thing that aids Barbieri, and any photographer for that issue, to keep on to mature and shock, even on their own. 

I have usually loved artwork, in all its incarnations. Given that I was a youngster the inspiration of theatre and cinema played an important role. Reading through extensively, studying classical artwork, wanting to the great masters of the previous or just wanting all over me at what animated my surroundings, I cultivated my inventive eye.

In current several years, Barbieri has been operating on a job inspired by Shakespeare, prepared all around the 4th centenary of Shakespeare’s loss of life. For Barbieri this undertaking is about finding Shakespeare by way of his own ideas and vision. Listed here he selected people from Shakespeare’s will work and interprets them in a modern-day way by his own lens. Once more, generating area for conversation within the viewer outside of a uncomplicated reflection of popular tropes and imagery. 


Most likely just one of Barbieri’s finest extensive-term influences is the thought of seduction. Not just purely sexuality’s seduction, while that unquestionably plays a component of it, but seduction in the sense of temptation and charm. Barbieri has put in substantially of his existence making an attempt to communicate about attraction. 

I have usually tried using to seduce with images, for me pictures implies accurately that.

Seduction is just about everywhere in Barbieri’s get the job done. It is in the strains of his bouquets, rocks, and surf in Tahiti as very well as the curves and sexuality of his industrial vogue perform. Trend images from the 70s, as significantly as fashion pictures right now takes advantage of sexuality and seduction to sell. I uncover it exciting that Barbieri’s strategy of seduction tends far more toward women that are additional self-conscious. In an era in which the objectification of females or the gaze of the male voyeur is what generates major budgets, Barbieri’s function doesn’t appear like exploitation, it however feels like a discussion. The moment again, an tactic that affords his do the job a perception of relevancy that a whole lot of contemporary fashion photography, permit by itself his contemporaries, doesn’t have.


Barbieri mentions in the film that pictures is various based on who’s keeping the digicam. If you are just photographing what is in front of you, if you’re not inquiring questions, not analyzing your very own suggestions, not making a dialogue, you are not creating a legacy. You require to be developing strategies, not just images. 

I desired to halt time to truly have an understanding of the joy that caressed me and rather it slipped by way of my fingers.

For Barbieri, the only regret he would seem to have is not getting stopped long adequate to notice and listen to himself. By shelling out far more time with your own feelings and partaking in the entire world about you, your visuals will be richer, they will be discussions and thoughts, not just pixels. 

All pictures courtesy of Gian Paolo Barbieri, Courtesy of Fondazione Gian Paolo Barbieri and 29 ARTS IN Progress Gallery. 

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