Federico Chiesa talks Horror Vacui

December, 2013
Reading Time
4.5 mins
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Image © The Interviewee

Federico Chiesa suggests what happens to movie villains when they get old.

Federico Chiesa is a photographer with a captivating visual style and diverse portfolio, making him a much sought after shutterbug within the industry.
Last year Federico’s notoriety skyrocketed following the publication of the project  ‘Horror Vacui’ which envisions classic movie villains in their old age.

In this exclusive interview with Frederico Chiesa, we discuss business and inspiration and of course Horror Vacui.

See more from Federico Chiesa on his website.

Hi Federico Chiesa, how long have you been working as a photographer and how did you become involved in the industry?

I took a degree in photography in 2005. Since then I’ve been involved in advertising photography (starting as an assistant in a well-known studio in Rome) and in retouching.

Federico Chiesa

Where do you find your inspiration?

I try to find inspiration everywhere. I am curious; I love watching things. I try to buy a lot of photography book as well as comics. I love movies and I found that I love to give my picture a “cinematographic” feeling.

Horror Vacui

You have a great style, what are your influences?

As an advertising photographer, I try to conform to what the market asks. Since I do my own retouching, I have a large palette of possibility. My reference in advertising are photographers like Recuenco and Crewdson, but I also love classic photographers. As a hobby, I take a lot of street photos


How much of your work is post production and how much is in-camera?

I think that a good photo starts with a good pre-production. I always know what I’m going to do during the shooting and retouching. I never say thing like “we’ll fix that in Photoshop”. Retouching is a powerful tool, but it seems that menu of the young photographers invest less in the shooting phase and end to spend hours and hours in front of a monitor.

I use a lot of retouching, but I pay a lot of attention in getting the right picture.

“I always plan to add more villains, sooner or later I will do! Pinhead and the girl from “the Exorcist” will be the first!”

Horror Vacui

Where did the idea for your ageing movie villains projects come from?

I was asked to create something related to the concept of crisis. So I started to think that the worst crisis you can face is the loss of your personality, of your “meaning”. I tried to be a little ironic, but also I was thinking about how things change while we are growing up, how I was excited by the villains I photographed when I was young instead of the apathy of these times.

Darth Vader

After the project became so popular, was there any villains that you regret not including?

Many!! I always plan to add more villains, sooner or later I will do! Pinhead and the girl from “the Exorcist” will be the first!


The project has gone viral, has the rapid exposure brought about any significant changes to your career?

I surely had a lot of exposition and got many interviews, and it helps to get in touch with many interesting people. Things are fast on the web, and I guess to that become famous for a single project is not enough in the high-level market, you have to keep pushing your work to the right people and add interesting pictures. What I learnt with this project is that it’s smart to work with icons that people love, it make your work spread faster and wider!

The 7th 366 Award goes to Federico Chiesa for his outstanding creative work.

Michael Myers

The Shining

And finally, if you died and were reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?

Well, this is a good question. I love music, and I also have a couple of bands. What song would I like to be? It depends on the mood of the day. I could be a Tom Waits song like “innocent when you dream”,  Buddy Holly ‘s “everyday”, or a sad song about growing older and missing the simple thing of my childhood.

Everyday (1958)
Buddy Holly
Play on Apple Music
Play on Spotify
Play on YouTube
What began as a fun question to end an interview, has now become a wonderfully eclectic collaborative playlist by 161 people (and counting).
Federico Chiesa
Our Forest