What was the first camera you ever owned?
My dad gave me a Polaroid when I was 10 or 11. That was my first contact with photography. And yes, I still have that camera and the first pictures I took with it. I like to look at them every once in a while.
Your photos seem to be immediate and raw. How would you describe your style?
It’s very hard for me to define “my style” since I haven’t thought much about having one. I always carry my camera with me, so that if something catches my attention… Pictures seem to happen, there’s no need for me to look for them.
I like b&w photography, I think it’s because it’s more immediate, aims at the substance of things and lets you imagine thousands of other colors. I like to observe and lose myself in the details, although I don’t try to give too much info in my photography. I think I’m a bit of a voyeur. It’s imperative to be honest with yourself and your vision and, most of all, be free from any prejudice.
What is it about the aesthetic of analog photography that attracts you?
People talk a lot about analog vs. digital photography. I have been using and testing both, and tried many different techniques. I still use and work with a digital camera, but the thing is, to me analog photography is a much more interesting and satisfying process and it fits me. What happens inside a darkroom has a lot to do with magic and creation, and the results are definitely unique. I know I might sound pretentious or snobbish, but to me analog photography feels like going back to where it all began, to when I started taking pictures.
I’ve read that you’re not that into fashion, so how did you start working with Slam Jam?
With “I’m not into fashion” I meant to say that I’m not that interested in fashion trends, and I don’t consider myself a fashion addict. Probably this is what makes my collaboration with Slam Jam particular. Since I don’t have a visceral enthusiasm for fashion, maybe I can have a more detached point of view. I worked for them from 1998 to 2000, I was a skateboarder then and we made some very cool things, thanks to the open attitude of Slam Jam’s founder and his team. Those were the years of the Slam Jam Brigade, of Slam Trick, of the endorsement of artists from the underground music scene. Then we met again in 2004; I am the official photographer, and together we try to interpret the taste and style of the company, through images, shoots and still life.
You’ve gone from photographing the underground skate scene to working with a major global streetwear brand like Stussy. Has your approach to photography changed ?
This is essential. I always try to keep “my” photography and what I do for work separate. Sometimes it’s hard. When you do commercial work, you need to meet the clients’ expectations and standards while I usually “think with my stomach”, so my vision can be quite hard to explain. So I really appreciated working for Stussy: The Company gave us free rein to create this campaign, which was shot in Rome where the light is always amazing, and with a great team of people.
Aside from your passport, what makes you an “Italian” photographer?
Sometimes I feel I’m “too Italian” in the sense that I’d like to be able to travel a little more and change my perspective, see new things and faces, smell different smells…
You listen to Punk music, have a series of photographs that capture the punk scene, and your wife used to be a DJ. Are there any songs that you never get tired of listening to?
Oh, there are many! I love music, and my wife has an unbelievable music culture. Of course, since I come from skateboarding I have a soft spot for punk, hardcore and heavy metal, but I also listen to a lot of old folk and stone rock. If I were to choose a genre that I never get tired of, I would say glam rock, 90’s post hardcore and American songwriters from the ‘80’s.
If you were in a nightmarish parallel world where there were no cameras, what would you do instead of taking photos?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting, but since I don’t have my own technique or method, I get easily frustrated. Other than that, I could be an ufologist (I love science fiction), a teacher (I studied philosophy but never graduated), a martial arts teacher, a Italian Spinone dog breeder… I could be a rock star, although I’m very shy about playing in front of other people. Or maybe a chef, which is very popular nowadays. I’m a curious person, so I’d definitely find something else.
If this parallel world was a nightmare, I would probably be working in a place where people are constantly told what to do and how to do it.