After studying Fine Arts and Graphic Design in Lyon, French-Italian still life and beauty photographer Benjamin Vigliotta’s career has followed an interesting path. Following university, he joined Atelier Franck Durand as junior art director and began his still life photography journey by ‘shooting dead flowers’. Since then, he’s spread his versatile expertise across editorial and fashion and luxury houses and served as Art Director for Rihanna. For our April 2020 issue (W*253), he teamed up with our Watches and Jewellery Director Caragh McKay, turning his ever-elegant eye towards Chanel Fine Jewellery’s ‘Tweed de Chanel’ high jewellery collection.

Wallpaper*: Describe your style and process

Benjamin Vigliotta: I am fascinated by the beauty and vanity within everyday life, I become obsessed with turning something trivial into something interesting. Whether it’s an object, a texture, a detail of a scene that you could live - all my ideas come from this state of mind. The process is natural, I wait a lot, think just a bit. So I believe that my style is effortless, it should look natural, a simple gesture. Some people say it is melancholic, hopefully not in a dark way, more like a testimony of something that happened. I am simply trying to focus on an emotion, a feeling. I don’t want my pictures to look like I spent three hours building a set.

W*: Tell us about how you brought your way of working to our Chanel Fine Jewellery shoot

BV: The idea for these images was to create a softened light that would compliment the elegance of Chanel jewellery. The model had beautiful reddish hair so I focused on that, the light and the gradient on her. So that became the secondary subject of the picture after the jewellery. It’s actually probably a still life photography approach, but just with a model.

‘Frange’ earrings, part of the Tweed de Chanel collection, in 18ct white gold and diamonds, by Chanel Fine Jewellery. Photography: Benjamin Vigliotta; Watches & Jewellery Director: Caragh McKay

W*: What do you think is the most interesting thing happening within photography now?
BV:
The fact that almost everyone is now in possession of a device that can create good pictures is a big challenge for photographers. As a specialist, you have to do something outstanding. If you don’t, your pictures are anecdotal and you have failed. 

Maybe this is what made most of the photographers go beyond the sole picture; now we play with textures, mediums and techniques, able to jump from film to digital. We need to find new ways to appropriate and shape photography.

W*: What’s on your radar?

BV: I discovered a weird free TV channel recently. It just shows paintings, often from the Renaissance. As classical music plays, they zoom in and out, focusing on particular details. It’s totally hypnotic; I calm down and begin dreaming instantly.

I also recently spent a lot of time looking at paintings, coming across a contemporary still life painter called Jesse Mockrin. I was very moved by her art. I also met a young artist; Marina Mankarios who does amazing damaged and distorted classical sculpture

Benjamin Vigliotta, Scene 12: from the market, 2018

W*: What’s next for you this decade?

BV: Currently, I am working on a still life correspondence with a photographer friend. I am also documenting the notion of beauty, not what it is but what happens when you feel it. I would love to find a way to share this research with students. I have plenty of personal projects in mind. But of course, I spend most of my free time shooting things I added two years ago on my ‘to-shoot’ list. §

Benjamin Vigliotta’s still life photography of Givenchy bottle
Benjamin Vigliotta, Scene 57: Monsieur de Givenchy, 2019