[A]driana Napolitano is a photographer and set designer from Rome, now based in Berlin. Her surreal and cheeky self-portraits recently caught our eye on Instagram. Using her skills in crafts and post-production, she transforms herself into anything from a metallic fried egg – to a girl with her head in the clouds. We caught up with Adriana to talk set design, social media and the selfie as an art form.
How did you get into photography?
When I came here in Berlin I didn’t know anyone to work with. My old, trusted video crew was in Italy and I had to start all over again. So I was trying to create connections and build my network again, but in the meantime I needed to keep creating to be happy. I needed something I could make by myself. Luckily, my boyfriend is an amazing photographer and he gave me the biggest gift ever: a brand-new way to express myself. He taught me all the stuff I needed to know to start taking good photos. Then I tried my hand at that combining it with my crafts-and postproduction-obsession, and I loved it!
What is it about the self-portrait that interests you as a medium?
I love self-portraits because they allow me to show how I feel, and to share the images I have in my mind exactly how I “see” them. I am just a vehicle. I am just an instrument, just like my camera. And I don’t mind to look goofy, funny or “not so cool” if the pic needs it. Plus, it’s super fun.
You also work as a set designer, how does this inform your photography?
Building my own sets and props, understanding how to fix them on Photoshop and how to place the lights to make them look good – gives me so many possibilities to make my imagination real. The amazing thing is that I have no limits and still full control of what I’m creating.
Tell us about the process of setting up one of your self-portrait shoots - what is your starting point?
The process is a kind of a rollercoaster and it’s never the same. And, I cry a lot, ahaha. Usually the starting point is an emotion, an idea, or something funny (or not) that’s happened to me. I think about concepts, and then I try to visualize, build them and find a way to make them “clear” to others, too. I really try to be clear. I love when someone tells me, “Wow, I feel the same!”
Can the selfie be seen as an art form, or is just pure narcissism?
I think they can be an art form. As long as there is something to communicate, everything can be an art form. But even if it’s an art form, I still think a little bit of narcissism is there. I think it’s pretty much everywhere. I mean, I’m not a cool girl; I’m a regular one. Super insecure about a lot of things, but I still believe someone could love my pics or smile from looking at them. Isn’t this a little bit narcissistic?
Which other creatives on Instagram are inspiring you right now?
I follow tonnes of magazines, I really love scrolling and seeing so many inspiring images. There are Flora Borsi, Yayoi Kusama, Zim&zou, Meetkvell and soooo many more. Everyday I find a new one to follow. It’s a never-ending inspiration source. Love it!