Photographer Mila F. // Interview

Mila F. is an independent Italian photographer and visual artist currently based in Padua, always on the lookout for melancholic and dreamlike compositions, working with digital, film and mixed media formats.

For many years she has chosen photography as her preferred language to express the complexity of her oxymoronic universe, made up of dark atmospheres and expressionist poses, post-punk rock sensibility and nostalgic dreams.

She posts her personal projects mainly on her instagram page and her website, but she sometimes collaborates with digital magazines, such as Fashion Grunge, Nakid Magazine, Kaltblut Magazine, Sticks and Stones Agency, Grunge’n’Art.

Much of your artwork seems infused with mysterious power, what are some of the qualities that make a photographic portrait powerful?

I have always been attracted to perturbing and captivating emotions, by a certain type of atmosphere that immediately catches my attention thanks to its own mystery.

For me, a portrait is powerful when it pushes the viewer to look deeper. It’s not just about making the subject look good, there has to be something more. What exactly I have no idea, but when I see it I feel it.

It is a very intuitive process, sometimes things just don’t work, but other times the atmosphere, the general aesthetics and the attitude of the subject, all combined together at the right moment, make it just “right“.

How and when did you become interested in photography? In your early days with a camera, what genres of photography you started to do before you specialized in portraiture?

I started around 2005-2006, with whatever crappy digital camera I found in the house, just to learn how to take some decent self-portraits, since I never liked how I looked in anyone else’s pictures of me (I still don’t); and I was also fascinated with the beautiful dreamy editorials I found in magazines and wanted to try to emulate them.

That, combined with the fact that I’m quite an introvert soul and I was basically the only subject available all the time, made me learn all the basic stuff about lighting and portraiture. Then, I slowly started to call some friends to pose for me and I found out that it’s so much easier to photograph someone else! It’s also a great way to push myself to know new people and get a bit out of my usual isolation.

Recently I have also become interested in other types of photography, mainly landscape and street, and also mixed media stuff which I really enjoy making when I’m in the mood. 

Black & White vs color – What is your preference and in which situations you use one or the other?

I’ve always had a thing for black and white imagery, like black and white band pics or black and white films. My favourite color is black, my overall mood and aesthetic is usually quite nostalgic and melancholic, so black and white is always my favourite way to go.

It’s also much easier for me to visualize contrasts and shapes, and I find it more iconic and eternal. I’m just not that much comfortable with colors, especially when I can’t control them. I often find them to be uninteresting, but lately I have this obsession for strong neon colors, they are a great way to create contrast and dreamlike vibes; otherwise I’d just go for muted, analog-like colors if I feel an image doesn’t work as well in black and white.  

Could you tell us about your editorial project “Dark Snow magazine”?

It’s a fun project I started with my friend Alessia in 2017. We used to shoot editorials together and submit them to digital magazines to get featured, so we noticed that Instagram was full of these magazines, some very popular, that were constantly emerging and disappearing, but there was none that fully reflected our vision.

So we thought: “why don’t we create our own mag?” A place where we can post all the pictures that inspires us the most, while featuring exclusive submissions as well.

We also made a website and did some cool interviews with photographers and creatives, but after some time personal and professional commitments have prevented us from dedicating as much time as necessary to it, so we eventually decided to close the website down and just keep sharing our favourite stuff on our Instagram page, which has become our moodboard for inspiration and just stuff that we find cool.

Who would you say influenced your work early on in your career? Any contemporary photographer you look up to or admire?

Fashion and music magazines were my first source of fascination and inspiration back in the day, so I was deeply influenced by fashion photographers like Hedi Slimane, Mert and Marcus, Nick Knight, David Sims, Paolo Roversi, Tim Walker and Corinne Day, just to name a few; but also rock photographers like Anton Corbijn, Kevin Cummins, Derek Ridgers or Mick Rock. Among my current favourites artists and photographers there are Jesse Draxler, Regine David, Paul Sinclaire, Brian Ziff, Cameron McCool, Zhong Lin, Bil Brown… but the list is long!

Besides photography and visual art, do you have any hobbies, something you like to do in your free time?

Despite being a very lazy person, I always feel the need to create and make new projects, so besides photography and Dark Snow I also have a music project with my boyfriend called Electric Drama, which is basically a shoegaze-dreampop duo. We have released a few singles and we are currently working on our first EP, which is almost finished.

One of my favourite thing is also to travel, I was lucky enough to visit Iceland during the pandemic in August 2020 and made a photo book out of it called Nowherebound, which is available to buy for anyone interested.

I also love reading books and watching movies, which is something I’ve done a lot during this all isolation-situation. Don’t know if I’m ready to face the real world yet… but I’d feel lost without my artistic projects, that’s for sure. 

PH from
IG: @milafphotography