Chess Portraits

Oct 8, 2013
Photographer News

By Karrisa Olsen


This is a phrase Francesco Ridolfi learned early on in life, as his father taught him the game of chess at a young age. Francesco has always had a fascination with the game–playing with friends and on his free time. The concept of humanizing the pieces of a chess board came to him a few years ago, and has been brewing in his head since. He finally began bringing it to life recently, as he researched costume ideas for his cast of characters: the King, the Queen, the Bishop, the Rook, the Knight, and the Pawn.

The most interesting part of the project, he says, was creating those personalities twice, in black and in white:

“Highlighting different and sometimes opposite parts of human nature, often coexists in each of us. As a portrait photographer, I’ve always been interested in these differently feelings that could emerge in the subjects in front of my lens.”

King - White King - BlackQueen - Black Queen - White

Casting calls were time consuming, as Francesco had to select models that would appropriately mold into each character. His team worked tirelessly designing and creating the wardrobe, extensively searching the region for the perfect fabrics. Francesco’s behind-the-scenes video, which can be seen below, shows the significant amount of detail put into each portrait.

Bishop - White

Knight - Black Pawn - Black

After a seven month process, Francesco can now bask in the final results. Since launching the project site, he has started promoting it in Italy and around the world with the hope of getting a gallery exhibition.

Take a look at the video below that documents the process of the chess project, and view more of Francesco Ridolfi’s work here.

Tags: chess francesco ridolfi portraits