She is the person behind the success of many photographers.
Photo editor Laura Davì follows, encourages, chooses, supports.
Drawing inspiration from Bruno Munari’s method of observation, and from Gianni Rodari’s use of words, Laura Davì leads photographers to the discovery of the new languages of editing.
In 2019 and 2020, she led two of her artists to win the Canon Young Photographers Award, which aims at discovering and recognizing young Italian photographers’ experimentations and new expressive ways.
“Mine is a backstage job. An underground job, almost invisible, behind the scenes. To me, being a photo editor means following photographers along their path to express themselves better, to find a deep meaning, the best shape, every viable solution. It means taking a step back, but still being part of their achievements. At times, though, this underground job resurfaces: a stream of pure water, the clearest spring. Davide Bertuccio and Federico Vespignani allowed my job to come to light. I am incredibly happy, and absolutely proud. Two artists in two years ranking first at this contest confirm the quality of my work, as well as their extraordinary talent.”
Laura Davì started working in publishing in the early ‘90s. She is a professional journalist and has been working as an independent photo editor for many years. “I definitely prefer ‘independent’ to ‘freelance’!”, she stresses. Her experience in publishing has allowed her to get to know the world of magazines, and her curiosity has drawn her close to the kind of photography that is closer to art, especially after she met Luca Panaro, a critic and professor at the Brera and the Bologna Academies. With him, she has built a close professional collaboration that lead, among others, to the exhibition Nello Spazio Fa Freddo (“It’s cold in space”) at the Chippendale Studio in Milan, an educational project on contemporary art created by Panaro (open from October 7, 2020).
The photo editor’s job is complex and articulate, and it cannot be improvised, as it requires a vast visual culture, plus knowledge of history and contemporary photography. It takes good vision and pre-vision skills. Success challenges you to start from an idea and turn it into a project. It means looking into others’ minds, seeing beyond that, sometimes being provocative to trigger a reaction.
“I exaggerate at times, I choose provocation to get out of a deadlock, to encourage people to look for the highest quality. The same approach is also used in the world of sports. I try to encourage photographers to set high standards for themselves. Those who turn to me generally have good basics, years of study and in-depth training. My job is to take them beyond what they have already learned, out of a purely intellectual or already unconsciously standardized approach. Trust is at the core of the relationship between editors and photographers; without trust, it goes nowhere. It is trust that makes them accept my criticism, which is always justified, and meant to create a better project.”
This relationship often becomes a cross-generational journey too. Laura Davì also teaches visual education to young children in schools. This is where her neuroscience studies first plant their seeds. “A young student, Ilaria Sponda, graduated in July 2020 with a work on Visual Thinking, which is also my favorite subject to study. I met Ilaria when she attended my course on Visual education through photography for teenagers. I followed her over the years at the Chippendale Studio, where she created the dummy photo book “Of yourself first and only”, which has now landed in a Dublin gallery while she is featured in contemporary photography exhibitions. Ilaria focuses on the world of art, Federico Vespignani and Davide Bertuccio on contemporary news stories, Filippo Maria Nicoletti favors street culture, Diana Del Franco is more conceptual, Valeria Gradizzi and Alessio Coser are reporters to the core, Luigi Mosca is more artistic, Loredana Celano looks at the world with a poet’s eyes. No matter what language they choose, what is important to me is the dialectic of confrontation, and their personal vision.”