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Weekend Recap: Adam Franzino Debuts "MUSES" At Milk LA

Last Friday, SoCal native & Milk fam Adam Franzino showcased his first solo photo exhibition, “MUSES”, at Milk Studios LA. Hundreds of guests attended the opening to view his work, which emphasizes the beauty of the supermodels and icons he photographs. 

The curation of the show “MUSES” centers on Franzino’s attraction to landscape backdrops and asymmetrical composition, with on-location editorials and behind the scenes snapshots. And”MUSES” isn’t just a show about natural beauty; the portraits on display also benefited the TONIE GARM FOUNDATION, as a portion of the proceeds from sales will go to this foundation to provide educational opportunities and advancement for girls in Africa.

Franzino moved to New York in 2005 with a background in fashion photography. After a decade of working in the industry, he has created countless iconic images and directed various projects for Victoria’s Secret, Harper’s BAZAAR, Vogue, and more.

We sat down with Franzino to talk more about the “MUSES” exhibit and his journey as an artist; read the full interview below.

How did your love for photography develop?

My love for photography developed from day one having a camera on program in high school to continuing to understand how to balance light properly. I love daylight and I love the way it can be shaped and once I started understanding that I became a huge light nerd. Watching movies pausing scenes and looking at photographers work I love trying to figure out how everything was being lit.

You do a lot of your work outside on location. How do you pick your locations? Do you prefer shooting outside? Are you inspired by your locations / environments?

I get asked this question a lot. Do I prefer studio or location. Like I said, I love natural light. I love locations because you have so much more to work with then just a set or a cyc. Sometimes I’ll be inspired by a location sometimes I’m Inspired by the fashion and then will find a location that works . But at the end of the day once I’m on location I let the light dictate everything. I follow the light all day and chose where I’m shooting and how to build the story around the sun.

Who are some of the most influential photographers / artist that you look up to?

I was real confused when I went on my own. I was inspired by so many different photographers and styles that I was having trouble knowing who I was. I had a meeting one day at American Vogue with Ivan Shaw who was the photo director at the time that made the light bulb go on. Without going into detail he pretty much said, “I think you’re a good photographer but you’re lost and all over the place.” Knowing my background where I was from and what he thought the strongest images in my book were he helped me hone in big time on developing my style. From that day on my favorite photographers and who I started studying more of was Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier, Jeanloup Sieff and Helmut Newton to name a few. They have had major impact on me and my work.

Talk to us about your first exhibition, “MUSES”, what does this exhibition mean to you? I am sure all of your photos have a special meaning to you, but if you had to pick your favorite piece from “MUSES” what would it be and why?

“MUSES” is my very first solo show. I wanted to do it in LA, my hometown, in front of my family and friends. I wanted the people most important to me to be there since they have been there since day one through this insanely difficult journey of becoming a photographer. It was so special, 1,000 people RSVP-ed, the room was packed and people were taking pictures in front of my images and that was amazing to me. Each one of these images has a story behind it on the way we shot it or got the image in the end. For that reason I don’t have a favorite as I’m too close to these images and the stories behind them. I will say though, seeing them all hung and framed together was a moment for me for sure.

You have been a photographer for over 10 years, how did you pick what pieces of work you wanted to select for your first exhibition?

I have an archive of images over the years of all the personal work with these girls. Editing down to two or three of the same image is the easy part but choosing the actual image to hang not so easy. I have help editing as I’ll actually sit with the girls after and see what what images they are drawn too. I like their opinion. I like to see how they see themselves looking best. I’ll then ask a couple more people I work with and trust for their opinion and make the final select.

How do you see your photography developing as your career grows?

As my career grows I want my eye to grow. I’m constantly seeing more as I grow and shoot. I am accompanied by such legends in this field and even some of my old assistants that are now shooting on their own make me jealous with some of their images they are putting out. I like seeing that. It pushes me internally to constantly be better, to push harder to try and take better pictures. I was recognized on the night of my exhibition but now I forget that and jump back into this small sea with big names and try to become as good as them one day.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your years of photography?

My biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years is PATIENCE! I have none. I thought I was ready to be shooting major campaigns and editorials when I was 25 and if that would have happened I would have failed badly. This process of growing as an artist is important.  On the commercial side there are so many variables on a shoot day so many things thrown at you that no one can prepare you for. It’s all about watching that while assisting, understanding how this business works and then hopefully when your day comes you’ll step up and be ready.

Images courtesy of Carolina Isabel Salazar

Stay tuned to Milk for more from the west coast.

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