Ben Trovato, curated by visionary Marius Troy, was created as a platform for emerging fashion photographers to get their feet wet. His site gets millions of hits and is a mainstay for fashion magazine editors when searching for up-and-coming talent. Marius understands the nuts and bolts of fashion photography – that it’s not just a pretty girl as seen through a lens – but rather a narrative told through styling and lighting. The photographer must be an expert story teller. We spent some time with Marius recently to get to know the man behind the magic and this is what he had to say:
(Photographer: Sofia Ajram)
LF: Ben Trovato means well found in Italian. What’s your background as a curator, and what inspired you to launch this site?
MT: Fashion photography has been a big passion of mine for a long time, and my shelves have always been filled up with magazines like Numéro, Volt and VS. So a few years ago, during my studies, I felt the need to systemize all the great inspiration I gathered, so I was playing with the thought of starting my very own fashion photography blog.
Being young and fresh out of school I was very familiar with the feeling of standing in the shadow of others, and the urge to prove oneself creatively. Most of the blogs at the time were dominated by photographers shooting for Vogue and such, there wasn’t really anyone standing up for the newcomers in the business. Sure, up and coming photographers were featured here and there, but there really wasn’t any platform dedicated to just them.
And that’s how Ben Trovato was born.
(Photographer: Honer Akrawi)
LF: What most attracts you to fashion photography vs. other styles of photography?
MT: Fashion photography is not only about nice clothes or beautiful models, it’s about communicating a fictive narrative through photos with styling, models, location, and lighting being important elements.
In difference to other more serious genres in photography, fashion photography is entertainment. And just like feature films is brought to life by a whole team pulling together and a lot of work behind the scenes to create what you see on the screen, fashion photography is pretty much built on the same concepts.
I think that’s why most photographers mention films to be one of their major sources of inspiration. What a good film might do to you, a really great fashion story does to me.
(Photographer: Gemma Booth)
LF: What do you look for in the photographers you publish?
MT: Definitely talent. Either it’s fulfilled or hidden, talent needs to be there. I have posted stories and photographers who might not have been mentioned at all by others, but as Ben Trovato is about the new comers my posts aren’t always only about the pictures you see, it might very well be about what it might become. 16-17 year old photographers might not have the perspective or the same developed skill set as a 23-year-old emerging photographer, but it’s pretty much about the raw talent, concepts and ideas they possess.
(Photographer: Robert Harper)
LF: Are you a photographer yourself?
MT: I am, but not at all at the same level as the photographers I feature. Art direction in digital design and advertisement has been my profession for a few years, and I’ve got a Master in Visual Communication.
LF: Do a large part of your featured stories come to you by submissions, or do you seek them out? What are your favorite places to find up-and-coming talent?
MT: The featured stories on BT are a mix of already produced shoots submitted to us, and initiated projects with selected photographers that have expressed an interest of producing stories for us. With that said, we never put any restrictions on shoots for us. We simply want the photographer to have the freedom to explore ideas and approaches without a corporate client looking over their shoulder.
As to were I find up-and-coming talent.. I used to spend two-three hours every day researching and scouting. Now that BT has grown to what it is I have enough looking through the hundreds of submissions we get every week. And I’ve got good network of scouts now letting me know when they find something that might be interesting for us.
(Photographer: Eudes De Santana)
LF: You say on your site that you have “made careers” for some photographers. We want to know how that feels…
MT: Well, I’ve obviously worked up a pretty good network of photographers by now, and most of them are very grateful for what Ben Trovato has given them and the business. It feels good to have done something so well, with only good intentions.
LF: What is it about beautiful women?
MT: Oh. I don’t really think it can be explained in words. I just think beauty wakens the raw instincts and emotions in people. Attraction is a part of our nature.
(Photographer: Danielle DeFoe)
LF: Do most of your featured photographers hail from photo-centric cities … i.e. NY or LA? Or do you find talent in small places?
MT: There aren’t any geographic limitations to being featured on Ben Trovato. I’ve featured photographers for small towns in Poland and Indonesia, and I’ve featured photographers in New York and Paris.
LF: 5 favorite photographs you have ever published on Ben Trovato, and why?
MT: Whoa.,. That is so insanely hard. My favorites change every five minutes, so don’t take my selection too seriously. Oh, and I chose six. Hope that’s good, I just couldn’t figure out which one to cut.
All the photos I chose evokes some sort of emotion in me, and I really appreciate photographers with concepts and ideas that sticks out and aren’t necessarily too influenced by the glamorous side of fashion.
(Photographer: Renata Raksha)
LF: Would you ever consider going to print?
MT: Without revealing too much, I can say that 2011 will be a HUGE year for Ben Trovato.
How do you live FAST?
LF: Fashion talk: describe your style? favorite designer or trend?
MT Don’t really have a favorite designer. I’m a sucker for Wasteland, and I guess my style is mostly inspired by rock.
LF: Art talk: what inspires you? Favorite artist or piece of art.
MT: No big surprises. I can’t live without music. I don’t want to list up any favorite artists because it’s constantly changing. It very much depends on mood, day and setting.
(Photographer: Harper Smith)
LF: Sex talk: what gets you off? Literally or figuratively.
MT: Moments of intensive eye contact is one of the most intimate things I know..
LF: Travel talk: favorite destination(s) or stories you want to share
MT: I’ve been pretty much all over, but I never get sick of California. Coming from a place like Norway where both the climate and people can be kind of cold, it’s refreshing to experience the Californian way sometimes. And my fiancé is from there, so I get to go there a lot.