Meet the Professionals – Fabio Forin, Photographer.

This month, Layla Pacha, interviews Fabio Forin. A photographer whose work was recently shown at the National Portrait Gallery,

What is a typical day for you?

To be honest I haven’t got a “typical day” really as I can’t say I have already established a workable business with my photography and, at some degree, I believe that’s a good thing as it gives me creative freedom.
Beside the commissioned work, I always try to keep my mind busy with my photography, even when I’m not taking pictures. I often look at the work of other photographers and try to come up with new ideas to work on. There is also lots of writing involved in what I do, which is really takes lots of time, patience and energy.

What skills/qualifications/experience do you need to do your job?

Like in many other fields nowadays, mostly related to the Arts I guess, photography is a really tough game.
It’s mainly because of the huge competition, which is getting bigger and bigger thanks to the fact that anybody with a smartphone can take a picture and put it online in a matter of literally seconds.
That is a great thing on the one hand, because it means everyone can express their creativity and give a shot at whatever they want to do with it. On the other hand though, that also means that the stuff you are trying to make as an artist is just a drop in the ocean once you put it out there. It’s a funny paradox: there is more chance for visibility but, because of that, it’s much harder to cut through the “noise” around you and manage to get “seen”.
In terms of skills/qualifications/experience I’m not sure what to really answer here. Perhaps I should say “Yes, an MA in Photography (Documentary, Fashion or whatever else you want to do) is definitely what you need”, but I don’t really believe that – or at least I don’t believe that anymore.
Higher education is great, don’t get me wrong, and I’m sure that it’s the best option to go for if you want to build a career around your talent, but it’s not just skills that make an artist. I believe that’s something you can’t really teach.

How did you get to where you are at the moment? 

It has been a tricky journey (and still is). My background is journalism. I moved to London to complete my academic studies and I got an MA in journalism in one of the best universities. After I graduated I started working as a TV freelancer, I did bits here and there, I also worked on a programme for BBC. It didn’t really work out though. Why? At some point I realised that wasn’t really the direction I wanted to take, so probably TV wasn’t meant to be my path.

I don’t really have any academic background in photography, never did a course or anything like that. All I know is that I’ve been taking photographs since I was 20 and
I always had some sort of fascination with the medium, but I never thought it could be something to pursue in my life. Then last summer I found out that the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize is a photography competition not open only to professionals but actually to anybody, so I decided to give it a go. When they got in touch to inform me that my portrait was selected, I took it as a sign.

What kind of person do you need to be to do be successful in your industry?

You definitely have to be resilient and you have to be a “people-person” as well, which doesn’t mean being able to do chit-chat at meet ups (although I’m sure that is handy), but you have to be able to deal with your subjects when it comes to take pictures of people you’ve never met – I guess that would translate into emotional intelligence?


Who is your creative inspiration and why?

I just happened to educate myself through the work of those photographers I was “envious” of in a way, those who I felt they would look at the world in the same way as I do – Diane Arbus and Anton Corbin are definitely the ones who inspired me the most. 

By “envious” I mean the feeling you have when you look at a picture someone else took and you think “I want to take photographs like that!”. 

I think envy could be a good thing for an artist, for it means you resonate with what others are doing and you are motivated by the need of doing it better. 

I also have to say that those who inspired me and I always “carried in my heart” if you like, are not just photographers. Even though probably it’s not gonna make much sense to you, I wouldn’t be the photographer I am today if I didn’t come across artists such as Nick Cave and Patti Smith. Even though they are song-writers, I know the way they do what they do and how they do it had a huge in they way I grew up as an artist. 


How did it feel to have your work hang in the National Portrait Gallery?

It’s something still difficult to process to be honest. I’m aware of the fact it was an incredible thing to happen and, perhaps because of that, until a point I kept finding reasons to justify it instead of simply enjoying this achievement and being proud being exhibited in one of the most important museums in the world.
Beside that, it makes me really happy to know the judges chose “Wing” among the four I sent them. They say that, in order to take a good portrait of someone, you have to look in their eyes carefully and see if you can find your own reflection there. That’s what I think me and Juan managed to do in that moment. When I look at that photograph I don’t see only him, I see us.
What advice would you give a student looking to get work in your field?

Always question yourself. Always ask yourself “why am I doing what I am doing? Why did I pick photography in the first place? Is it for the CV, for my mum or for my peers? Why am I taking that type of photographs? Is it because of who I am or because I believe that’s what is gonna work and eventually sell?” Understand (and accept) that you are truly alone in whatever is that you want to do in your life, the rest is just noise all around you.

Do not get distracted by that noise and keep asking yourself “why?”. That’s my advice.


Have a look at some of his brilliant work below:


WING_Fabio Forin


Check out Fabio’s exhibition, called “L I M / N A L” (yep, with the ‘/’ in the middle)
The opening night will be on the 30th at the Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green and the show will be on for a month.
This is the link to get tickets for the event:
Keep updated on his Instagram:fabio.forin and his website:

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