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Bright Young Thing

Francesco Carrozzini, here and below.

Some people seem born into greatness. Their creative prowess develops supernaturally in a process fueled by destiny. When Francesco Carrozzini stepped behind the camera for the first time, at the tender age of 19, it all clicked. What began with a project for Italian MTV quickly evolved into a career producing and directing short films, documentaries and music videos, some of which have competed at the Venice Film Festival and Cannes. His photography is equally as alluring, and has appeared in Vanity Fair, L’Uomo Vogue, The New Yorker, W, Rolling Stone, POP, New York Magazine and Vogue Italia—and all before his 30th birthday. We caught up with New York-based Carrozzini, (now at the ripe old age of 31), as he was wrapping up a music video with A$AP Rocky and Joan Smalls, to discuss working for giants of photography, navigating Instagram and what it’s like to be on assignment for his mother, Franca Sozzani.

Who were some of your earliest influences that have impacted your career?
Definitely the photographers I was surrounded by growing up, and Italian movies from the 50s and 60s. You also had the chance to work with some of those photographers.

What are some of the lessons you learned from them?
From Bruce [Weber], I learned that you can’t just think about the picture you want to take, you have to create it. Bruce has amazing vision, and the ability to execute it so perfectly. I also learned how to hold a boom box very well. Working for Peter [Lindbergh] was the closest thing to what I imagined photography would be like. He works in such a narrative way and gets so much emotion from his subjects. It’s really inspiring.

Among the many publications you’ve shot for is Vogue Italia. What’s it like on assignment for your mother [Franca Sozzani]?
It’s one of the top assignments I can get. I feel it’s one of the best for any photographer, actually. Vogue Italia is quite distinguished because of the freedom of expression and creativity they allow. It’s a different way of working.

Tell us about your involvement in the The New York Times Screen Test series.
I came in after two of the films were made. In collaboration with Lynn Hirschberg and Stefano Tonchi, we changed how the Screen Tests were filmed. To this day, it is still a very successful project that I’m proud to have been involved with.

Your new video with A$AP Rocky was released this fall. What was it like on set with him, Joan Smalls and Michael K Williams?
It’s great to be surrounded by extremely talented people—each in their own right—especially when it’s a 20-hour day. 

You have more than 20,000 followers on Instagram. How do you feel about this explosion in visual communication?
It’s great because it allows me to understand what people like. Because my Instagram is based more on my life than on my work, it’s an interesting way to confront yourself. Often the results are unexpected; I’ll put up a photo of a beautiful landscape that will only get 100 likes, and then I’ll put up a picture of myself on a boat and that will get 500. It’s a funny thing.

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