Within the 7th issue of C41 magazine you can find the interview done to the incredible personality of Maria Teresa Salvati. Maria Teresa Salvati is a personal branding consultant. She helps photographers to find their own “spot of beauty” and personal vision, advising them on how to build their identity, and communicate via the most appropriate channels.
John Donne wrote: “No man is an island”. How do you relate with this sentence, and above all, how do you feel while getting involved in so many lives?
“No man is an island” is something that resonates with me, and always has, even before I started to work and teach personal branding. I’m aware of the individual responsibility each of us has, and the impact even small acts can have on a bigger scale, or in the Universe if you are a spiritual person. Getting involved in so many lives in a such deep way makes me feel, in fact, responsible and grateful at the same time. Responsible because I see people trusting what I say, and in this sense, I need to make sure I say things that are coherent and truthful to their own practice; and grateful because I see the gratitude in their face when I write their ‘spot of beauty’. Most of them get emotional, some say things like ‘wow’ or ‘this is illuminating’, and so on.
There’s when I feel I’m doing the right thing.
How do you address your “patients”? Which is the typical tone of voice that you find yourself using with them?
I wouldn’t call them ‘patients’ either because I don’t solve personal issues, or because I’m not a therapist. I work with photographers, storytellers, visual artists, but also creatives and freelancers in general.
I guess I pulled together all my learnings, hard and soft skills and made them available for the people I work with. Probably empathy and the ability to listen help a lot in under- standing the others, and most of the time, helps them to trust me. I don’t reveal anything new: the ‘spot of beauty’ is something they have within, but most of the time they are not aware of it, or don’t know how to use and formalise it as their inner voice, or to use it actively as their driving motivation for the creative practice.
The tone of voice is obviously very friendly and reassuring, but this is part of who I am, above and beyond work.
Which is your own spot of beauty?
Five years ago I moved to Bari, after 7 in Milan and 10 in London. I went through a personal crisis; I didn’t know what to do with my experience, also considering that the photography market or the advertising industry were very different from London, and I didn’t want to go back to advertising. I happened to have a good chat with a lovely lady I met through friends, who is a “zen manager” consultant, called Daniela Mattia. She asked me “have you thought of doing personal branding”?
I remember being pretty intrigued by the idea, so I started to researching videos and info about it. I stumbled across the ‘Personal Branding Canvas’ and decided to apply it to myself.
I realized that my experience in advertising, my knowledge of the photographic language, and my passion for psychology, together with my attitude and interest for human behaviors, was my ‘spot of beauty,’ and mostly I found it very useful and revealing for my life, really.
I think what I do now is the most natural landfall: the sum of everything I learned and who I am, made available to whoever may find it useful. My father taught me that “if you have learned something in life, you have the moral duty to pass it to others, otherwise whate- ver you learned will die with you and your life would have been worthless”. The forerunner has been the photography school in Bari cal- led F.Project, which has really been a gymnasium for defining my course, adjusting it and making me feel comfortable to take it around. I now teach at the IED Roma, Officine Fotografiche Roma, and I’m guest lecturer at the London College of Communication and the University of West England, Bristol. I also work with photographers and creatives in different country, remotely.
What is truly beautiful to you? Don’t think too much, just reply going with your thoughts.
Beauty for me is much related with authenticity and imperfection. Authenticity has to do with showing one’s true nature and beliefs, and for me this is extendable in many areas of living, from external factors to the inside world, which necessarily comes out in whatever one does, the relationships built with others, the connections with the world, or the work of art produced, which becomes the language to communicate with the others.
Imperfections, asymmetries, flows and cracks, being them physical or emotional are things I consider beautiful because they allow to show the most vulnerable side of a person, and so to reveal light – quoting Leonard Cohen, “there’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in”.