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Beyond the Frame: Ottavio Marino

3 years ago

Italian photographer Ottavio Marino enthuses over the immense love Maria Teresa feels for her daughter Emilia. Sensitive to the pair’s inexperience in front of the camera, Marino tells us how he fell into the shadows to capture this intimate shot. His portrait was shortlisted in last year's Portraiture category in the Open competition.

‘I met her and Emilia on an afternoon in the summer of 2019. It was a very hot day and I remember the extraordinarily light in the spot where they sat. The summer light of southern Italy is magnificent, it is so powerful.’ 


I met Maria Teresa and Emilia, the protagonists of my project Mother Love through a social network. Among all the things that struck me about Maria Teresa, I was particularly taken by her very strong bond with her daughter, Emilia. The more I looked at their lives from their social media accounts the more I became fascinated by the story of this incredible mother who made toys for her little girl. I was struck by her extraordinary love for her beautiful creature. 
After some time I decided to ask Maria Teresa to be part of my photographic project that showcased brave mothers. I asked if I could photograph her with Emilia. I was shy to ask and she was shy in her reply. She told me she was not used to being photographed and nobody had asked to take her portrait before. She trusted me however and said yes. I was very happy with her answer – happy yet anxious because I felt a huge responsibility to tell this wonderful woman’s story. 
I met her and Emilia on a summer's afternoon in 2019. It was a very hot day and I remember the extraordinarily light in the spot where they sat. The summer light of southern Italy is magnificent, it is so powerful. Maria Teresa and Emilia immediately found themselves at ease. We talked for a while before I started photographing and when I picked up my camera it was as if I wasn’t present. I asked them to forget I was there and do what they usually did. I was using my Sony camera that day. 
I believe so much in this project because I feel so strongly that we should share those human beings who have important stories full of courage to tell. Maria Teresa is above all a woman and a courageous mother who works hard and always finds time to play with her little girl. Emilia is a very sweet child, she was very good during the shoot, she didn't really notice me. Her and her mother played together as they normally do in their daily life. Maria Teresa has been a victim of prejudice for her body and this has marked her yet despite this she still has faith in others. 
The photographer has a big responsibility to tell certain stories, to give voice to those incredible humans like Maria Theresa. When she talked about the love for her little girl, it made me think about the extraordinary love that can break down certain prejudices and change the world. A few days later I published the photographs on social media and there was a wave of admiration for Maria Teresa and Emilia. People were taken by the mother and her beautiful baby girl. Even today Maria Teresa is stopped on the street and recognised for that photograph. 
When my photograph was included in the shortlist of the Portrait category in the Open competition of the Sony World Photography Awards 2020, I was so happy and proud not only for myself but also for Maria Teresa and Emilia. I cried because at that moment the whole world knew the story of that amazing mother and her little girl and for this I will always be grateful to Sony and the World Photography Organisation for giving me this incredible recognition. I will remember this for a lifetime. 

Enjoy Ottavio's Instagram here