Q&A with Italian photographer Renzo Chiesa, passion for rock music and 50 years of work in the music field

"We photographers make a profession of disclosure of what we see happening around us. It is a work that, however, often takes on different meanings. Often the fault lies with the media manipulating the images. We do not have great power, indeed we have little, we just have to continue to do our work with tenacity and conscience, it will be others who will judge us."

Renzo Chiesa: Rock n' Roll Lens

Renzo Chiesa is an Italian photographer. Cremonese by birth, 1951, in 1960 he was adopted by Milan. Milan, the city where he studied, he developed and grew professionally. The passion for the image was already born in the late fifties, after the family bought the first television. Jimi Hendrix and Rolling Stones the first shots stolen from under the stage. Renzo says: "Many have walked past my lens, many have used my photos for their LPs and CDs. A large collection, about 180 artists I have published in my book "CINQUANTA", 50 years of work in the music field."

(Renzo Chiesa, 2022 / Photo © by Carlo Caruso)

Renzo Chiesa’s passion for rock music blossomed as a boy, when with his Nikon F around his neck he went to concerts to photograph his favorite rock stars. Her photos contain all the rock movement, all the strength of the sound and the musical swings that have revolutionized the “feeling” of many since the sixties.

Interview by Michael Limnios        Photos © by Renzo Chiesa / All rights reserved

How has the music (and the art) influenced your views of the world and the life's journeys you’ve taken?

I have always thought that a better world would be without borders, neither geographical nor mental. This is music, free to walk the world in search of its sublimation. Often, perhaps always, it hits the mark. Like music, I too have traveled the world in search of those who could appreciate mine work.

How do you describe your photo art's philosophy? What's the balance in photo art between technique and soul?

My photographic art does not carry any message, that is what postmen do. My photography only tries to show the "other side" of the musician I am photographing. To do this I need to be in complete harmony with him and he with me; a complicity is created that brings down barriers that sometimes the camera can create. Technique is the basis of everything, but it is often overcome by the emotion of the moment.

What touched and what  do you love most about the photo art? What do you think is key for a good one photo/image?

Since I was young I have loved the photographic portrait, in all its various forms. To Involve those who are in front of the lens to the point of being able to make them make those small movements, imperceptible but unique, which make the shot unrepeatable, well, it is for me the greatest satisfaction. The portrait is not about clicking with a figure in front of the lens, it is almost a psychoanalytic session.

"The lesson I learned is that to take beautiful original photos, during live performances, it takes patience, a lot of patience. You must have the eye glued to the camera and follow your artist waiting for him to make that move, that gesture you least expect. But patience generally takes every shot you produce." (Lucio Dalla & Jimi Hendrix / Photos © by Renzo Chiesa)

What´s been the highlights in your career so far? Are there any specific memories that you would like to tell us about?!

Those who follow Italian music will surely remember a photograph of me portraying Lucio Dalla. A photograph that has become iconic of the character. A photograph, as always in my working style, born with the slow approach to the character, to his being, to his desire to appear mediated with my expressive way. This photograph portrays Lucio Dalla, the peculiarity of the image lies in the cut that is right under his eyes, while his gaze is turned upwards to look at his glasses resting on his black cap. A photo built shot after shot, with small movements to arrive at the last definitive movement.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music photography?

The lesson I learned is that to take beautiful original photos, during live performances, it takes patience, a lot of patience. You must have the eye glued to the camera and follow your artist waiting for him to make that move, that gesture you least expect. But patience generally takes every shot you produce.

You're a veteran music photographer. What would you say characterizes Italian music scene in comparison to other European scenes?

The Italian music scene is almost completely in the hands of the major majors, as I believe in most of Europe. Music is globalized to the detriment of some realities, sometimes local, which are unlikely to find their place in the media. Our music is Mediterranean, very close to Greek, Tunisian and Spanish music. I have always hoped for a Mediterranean nation that combines music, food and lifestyle.
A lifestyle that the rest of Europe perhaps envies us.

"My photographic art does not carry any message, that is what postmen do. My photography only tries to show the "other side" of the musician I am photographing. To do this I need to be in complete harmony with him and he with me; a complicity is created that brings down barriers that sometimes the camera can create. Technique is the basis of everything, but it is often overcome by the emotion of the moment." (Frank Zappa & Bob Marley / Photos © by Renzo Chiesa)

John Coltrane said "My music is the spiritual expression of what I am...". How do you understand the spirit, music, and the meaning of life?

John Coltrane was a great one, his life philosophy passed through the reeds of his sax. As a person I am deeply atheist, as a photographer I consider myself a "maverick". I think that each of us must seek within himself what he seeks in religions or political doctrines.

I try to be critical of how I behave, what I do and how I do it, I'm certainly not a Taliban, with all due respect. I also have my weaknesses, but they must never override that imaginary line that separates good from evil.

What is the impact of art on the socio-cultural implications?  How do you want the Art (music, photography, fine art)  to affect people?

We photographers make a profession of disclosure of what we see happening around us. It is a work that, however, often takes on different meanings. Often the fault lies with the media manipulating the images. We do not have great power, indeed we have little, we just have to continue to do our work with tenacity and conscience, it will be others who will judge us.

Renzo Chiesa - Home

(John Mayall & Mick Jagger / Photos © by Renzo Chiesa)

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