Matteo Verre’s Self Portraits May Raise More Questions Than Answers

All selfportraits by Matteo Verre. Used with permission.

“How do we develop our identity?” asks Matteo Verre. He adds, “how much of what we are is unique and original and how much is the result of our experiences, our education, sensitivity, culture?” Verre is a photographer that uses art to shed light on human behavior. He is keen to understand, not only who we are as humans, but who we are as individuals. Over the past three years, Verre has created a series of selfportraits to help understand his own identity. He says the series is on-going, yet he already has a body of work that is eye-catching and sparks curiosity.

His Essential Gear for Self Portraits

Nikon D610
Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm
Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G
Ravelli tripod
Nikon remote control
Natural light (thanks mother earth!)

Why Self-Portraits?

Working from his home studio, Verre spent quite some time perfecting his craft – 10 years to be precise. And it’s through his selfportraits that he has been able to better understand himself, from more than one perspective.

“On one hand it (the work) expresses our innate self-centeredness (we all perceive ourselves as the center of our universe), on the other hand it allows me to see myself from the outside, shifting that same perception. The subject is always at the center of the composition, and the use of a neutral background focuses even more attention on it.”

— Matteo Verre

Some of the images are sure to raise eyebrows. It’s not everyday you see someone take a portrait of themselves with a toilet seat over their head. But it’s clear he is experimenting with the mundane, while trying to understand how he fits amongst it all. How can a man, who’s clearly a deep thinker, live in a world that’s often void of excitement? It’s clear that this is a question Verre has gone on a path to find the answer to.

A key detail to note is that throughout all of his images, his eyes are not visible. The eyes are important for a deeper level of connection. They give meaning and purpose to a person’s identity. This suggests in the greatest possible way that he is continuing to discover himself, and his photography plays a crucial role in understanding who he is and what his place is in this world.

How He Perceives Himself

On the topic of identity, we asked Verre how he perceives himself as a photographer? “This is a question that holds particular value for me. In recent years I have been working mainly with self portraiture, and precisely around the theme of identity.” He continues, “the photographic process for me right now is one with the research on identity: how we build it, what influences this process. My identity as a photographer is based precisely on the search for identity itself.”

It’s this personal and creative journey that he’s on that makes photography so important to him. “It is my way of expressing ideas, concepts, emotions and feelings in the freest way possible. Not a day goes by when, even if I have to do other things, that I don’t think about creating images.”

His Creative Process

Aside from just the physical process of creating photographs, The Phoblographer wanted to learn about the psychological aspect. Verre, who sees himself more as a creator rather than a documenter, gave us some detailed insight into what happens when he is working in his studio:

“Often my creative process is not linear. I don’t always start from a specific idea, often the beginning of new work happens instinctively. The first images are born from an unconscious need, a feeling, a reaction to an emotional state.”

“At that point, I start shooting, trying to translate what I think and feel into images. With selfportraits, there are moments when I can shoot for two consecutive hours without even realizing it, if not when I insert the memory card into the computer and realize that I have taken even 50-60 shots.”

“Then I observe the shots, select the images that best express what I wanted, where I find and define the connections that allow me to give structure to the work and continue in a coherent direction.”

Once he is satisfied with his stills, he moves into the editing room, a process he says he thoroughly enjoys. To give further depth to his work, Verre edits in Camera Raw and Photoshop. Editing isn’t overdone, instead he uses his tools to make minor corrections, confident he has done most of the work inside his camera. And like many in the modern day, he relies heavily on his Wacom tablet, something he says is extremely useful when retouching areas that require great precision.

How Others Perceive his Work

We wanted to give Verre space to sell himself. We wanted him to go beyond the images, put aside his own feelings, and share with us why he felt the public needed his photography. Why, in an over saturated market, should people care about him? In his words:

“I would like readers who look at my work to question themselves too. What I would like to convey is a sense of continuous research and expressive need, and I believe that everyone can recognize themselves in some aspect of this process. In this sense my work is not sectoral, it is not aimed at those who are passionate only about portraits, or fashion, or landscapes (obviously), or anything else.

Although they are actually portraits, what I would like to be perceived is the research behind them, which arises from questions, and which instead of finding absolute answers leads to other questions, in a continuous flow. A bit like life.”

— Matteo Verre

His Journey Never Ends

We adore the energy that goes into his creative mindset. And we respect his ability to be vulnerable through his images and in the public space. It has been a long path of self-exploration for Verre. It’s something he thrives on and uses to keep being the fantastic creator that he is. But it’s a path that’s yet to meet a destination, and that’s something he is completely content with, “I believe that the evolution of one’s expressive language is an endless path, and this is precisely what I find fascinating and inspiring.”

You can see more of Matteo’s work by visiting his website and Instagram page.

Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host of professional photographers within the industry.