Affectionately Spanning the Inter-generational Gap Through Intimate Portraiture

Niko Giovanni Coniglio from small-town Tuscany is the photographer whose portraiture series of his mother, the delicate Daniela, has won him international recognition and a score of exhibitions across the globe. Numbering among his clients as a professional photographer Montblanc Italia and Sony Music Italy, the accomplished artist’s principal focus has, nevertheless, been on continuously exploring the relationship he shares with his mother.

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Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela

The portraits are a model examination of subject: Daniela’s images capture a headstrong woman as candidly when she’s wrapped in a plastic cape as when she’s lounging in an empty fridge. With the unapologetic honesty that underpins the relationships we share with our nearest and dearest, Niko presents his mother to the viewer precisely as she is presented to him. In their more conventional portraiture iterations, the images evoke the Flemish masters; in their more unique instances, they draw on a unique and mischievous tone all of their own.

The images are taken always with a fondness and lightness of touch that lets the relationship breathe from within the frame.

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We caught up with Niko to hear more about how this ongoing focus in his personal photography has changed over the years…

The Plus: You’ve often won in the family and people categories in competitions. Why do you think this a particular strength or interest of yours?
Niko Giovanni Coniglio:
I’ve often won in family and people categories because of the project I was entering in each case, Daniela, portrait of my mother. My main focus is portrait photography: I like to know people’s stories, and tell stories about people and their lives.

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TP: So how have your portraits of Daniela changed for you as time goes by?
NGC:
In the beginning, taking pictures of my mother was a way to learn how to use a camera, and a way to spend some time with her. Over the years I came to understand that I could tell something about her and about myself too. So it’s not only a witness of our moments together, but also a way to tell our story: the story of my family.

Daniela, portrait of my mother

TP: So you have purposely avoided using models, focusing instead on your Mother as model?
NGC:
If I had used a model, the meaning of the project would be lost. I mean, this work is a journey together with my mother, a way of spending some time with her, and witnessing and recounting our moments together. It’s not only about the story I want to tell, but also about our relationship.

Daniela, portrait of my mother

TP: Is this series is as much about you as it is about Daniela?
NGC:
This project is also telling a story about me: it includes all my passions and interests. In this project I try to represent her life’s situations or events, but also the ones that have directly impacted on me, as well as my own family experiences.

Daniela, portrait of my mother

TP: How do you choose the location and image for the different shots?
NGC:
It depends on what I want to say. Sometimes I know exactly what I’m looking for, sometimes I see a place that could be great for a shooting and I try to find some ideas that could fit the location. When I choose a picture I look at the expression of the subject, the body language, and the composition.

Daniela, portrait of my mother

TP: Is there anyone you would love to sit for a portrait of yours?
NGC:
I’d really like to shoot Roberto Benigni and Sean Penn

TP: What’s next?
NGC:
I have another personal on-going project, “Untitled”, about our social system and the way it can manipulate and control our way of thinking. Daniela, portrait of my mother and Untitled are absorbing much of my time…so I don’t have too much time for other projects at the moment.

Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
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Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela
Daniela, ritratto di mia madre
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, ritratto di mia madre
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, ritratto di mia madre
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, ritratto di mia madre
Daniela, portrait of my mother
Daniela, ritratto di mia madre