Interview: Quietly Expressive Faces of Women Whose Eyes Tell a Story

Marta Bevacqua (aka Moth Art) has mastered the art of simple portraiture. The gifted photographer captures stunning portraits of women with facial expressions so powerful, they can tell an entire story with a single gaze. Using simply her camera, a 50mm lens, and natural lighting, Marta opts to shoot organically in the moment with little planning. Each image portrays delicate, natural beauty with a quiet, emotive strength. She transports viewers to hauntingly dreamy and darkly romantic atmospheres, using color and contrast to shape the mood within each frame.

We were so inspired by Marta's ability to create such haunting beauty, we wanted to catch up with her for a Behind The Lens look into her creative process!

Can you tell us a bit about your journey into photography?

I started when I was quite young, at sixteen years old. I started by chance, I was just browsing various web photography platforms, and loved looking at all that beautiful images, and just thought I could try. Then, I never stopped, making that passion become my job after school. I started taking portraits of my sisters and friends, then emerging models, until I got into fashion in 2011. From that moment, I grew up so much, doing various experiences, meeting people, traveling a lot around Europe, and enjoying so much every little piece of all my journey with the camera in my hands.

Right now, I am mainly a fashion photographer, even if lately I'm focusing mostly on fine art and portraits.

What are some of your interests? 

I read a lot, books are like my air. I also write, a bit slowly and sometimes, very rarely, I draw, but I'm very bad at it, even if I have fun when doing it. Since I work as a photographer, I'm always interested in producing artistic projects, just for me, something that goes far beyond the job itself, and everything connected to it–just passion. I also love walking, something I discovered recently.

What does the moniker “Moth Art” represent?

Well, at first I didn't want to use my real name, especially for the web; it was because I really didn't know how much impact the photography was going to have on me, I was just starting and having fun. Moth is because it was an animal present in the first words of a book I love titled “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman. And that's it, nothing special. I just kept the name, even if I mainly use Marta Bevacqua, because somehow it became very special to me.

Where do you call home?

From beginning of 2014, I've lived in Paris, France. I come from Rome, Italy and have worked a lot in Milan in the past years.

What keeps you inspired?

So many things! First of all, nature and the world–the little light in the morning that goes through the branches of the trees, the sunset with mosquitos flying against the light, the wind moving leaves in a cloudy day, or the same wind making a plastic bag fly between the palaces in the street. Everything connected with little things, little lights, and little moments. But also books, music, and movies. I am constantly inspired by everything I see, read, and watch. And also other artists' works (not necessarily photographers) who always inspire me and that I always admire.

How much planning goes into a shoot?

It really depends on the kind of shooting. Basically, for portraits there is no real planning. I just see the light, the place, and the girl I have in front of the camera. For fine art shoots there's planning, like location scouting, model choice, the dresses, the right season and the right moment of the day. For fashion, there is a lot of planning. I always prepare an accurate mood-board, I choose the team–from the make up artist to the models to the assistants, if necessary–then the lights, the props, the location (whether it's outside or not), and so on. I'm constantly talking with my team, sharing inspiration for make up, hair, and outfits.

Your photographs have a way of telling a story, what qualities do you believe make an incredible portrait?

Stories are important to me. It's through a story that we can see emotions and, in my opinion, it's the emotion that makes an incredible portrait. It can be any existing emotion, and everyone can see it personally.

Your models often wonderfully portray a quiet yet powerful sense of beauty. How do you choose your models?

Sometimes it happens that I discover a girl and build an idea around her, if she inspires me so much. Mostly, I work with agency models and, when I have an idea, I always ask myself what kind of beauty I need to express what I have in mind. Normally, I love delicate beauties, with something strong and particular, the kind of girl you don't notice while walking along the street, but if by chance you meet her eyes, you can't help but stop to look at her. The agencies usually send me a package with lots of girls and I just choose the one who expresses the concept I'm working on the best.

Your use of light adds so much power to each photo, do you use natural or artificial lighting?

Natural light, even in studio. I love to “study” the sun and the clouds and the sky, and find the best way to utilize the light. And, natural light is for everyone, it is just there, you can never miss it, that's what I love most about it.

How would you define your style? 

Dreamy, storytelling, romantic.

What message do you want your photographs to convey?

I don't have a precise message, besides beauty, in its simplest form, the one that everyone can get. I want people to feel emotions while looking at my photos, to imagine things, stories and old memories.

What challenges have you faced while creating?

Weather, expectations, constantly changing light, props made by hand that can break during the shooting, etc. I think that each shoot has its own challenge, the thing is just to face it and go on, doing the best.

What's a must have in your gear bag?

The camera! I don't use any other thing than my camera with my 50mm. Sometimes I use other lenses, but the 50mm is definitely my lens–I use it for everything! Occasionally, I'll need to use various things to create light, or to make effects, but basically, I just have my camera. And if I forget something, it's not so bad. The important thing is not forgetting the camera!

Your use of colors add such a bright but delicate touch, how much post processing goes into a completed photo?

Not so much in reality, I work on contrasts, colours and saturation. I don't do any manipulation. For the light, I prefer to use the ambience and light at the best moment of the shoot (working on white balance, temperature etc), using post processing to add atmosphere.

What are your plans for the future? Do you have any upcoming projects?

I have a lot of ideas, but still haven't started anything. I had some jobs, and just want to go on with some artistic ideas now and then a little break! I have some travels in my schedule and really can't wait! At the end of summer, some new projects will be coming!

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

One of the most difficult things in this job, especially at the beginning, is just to go on with it and never become discouraged, even though it's difficult and full of challenges. And you always need to be creative, to grow and grow and grow. So I just say to the aspiring photographers: don't give up! Because if you want to do it, and if it's your dream, then you must go on, always! It's difficult, but it's worth it!

Thank you so much Marta! If you would like to see more of this incredible photographer's work, check out her website and Facebook Page!

Are you a photographer? Would you like to be interviewed for the Behind The Len series? Leave your links in the comment's below!

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