Let’s talk about the life and production of the 74-year-old Maestro who welcomed me to his studio in a friendly atmosphere?

How did you become a photographer?
Because of one of my father’s friends, a famous art critic who was a mentor of Italian artists in those days and was quite close to the still-life painter Giorgio Morandi. My father’s friend gave me a camera at the age of twelve. Today, I think that there are people who wouldn’t use a gifted camera because they are too common. However, at the time the camera was a very valuable object, and there was great significance in receiving it. From that time I started taking pictures. From the age of 15 when I wanted to do something different, it gave me more and more power.

Why did you study in London?
In Europe, in the 1960s, the only college institution where you could learn photography seriously was the London College of Printing. So I went to London. After graduation, I worked as a professional photographer for a long time mainly for commercial photography and cinematography.

Did you decide to become a photographer afterwards?
Yes. In fact, the relationship between me and photographers was not a good one. What do you want to do? I began thinking about it and sought a way to make me happy. As an answer, I thought that I should make my own work. Besides, becoming the best in commercial photography is very difficult. While today wonderful pictures and funny images are easy to disseminate through the Internet, nobody was concerned about the quality of the photos at the time of the 60’s and 70’s. Also in the 1990s when I began taking my pictures, photography had become a trend to be recognized as contemporary art. In the field of art, photos have been neglected until then, but it has finally come to the spotlight.

Rosignano Solvay, 1995.

Why did you choose the beach as a subject?
For me the beach is the perfect place to observe people. In other words, we go to the beach to take pictures of people, not to take pictures of the beach. The beach is the most suitable place to observe human beings’ behavior, the existence of us human beings. How do people share the space on the beach, how are they staring at each other, or are they looking the other way? This is more important than geographical elements. Moreover, I think that one of the most important elements in life is “water”. I am interested in the moment when people are playing with water. Water is a symbol of life, everyone grew up in the belly of their mother for about 9 months and was born and brought up in the water. Humans relax in the water. Also, I think that our character and personality is different from usual.

Has the beach itself changed? And what about people?
Humans are changing more than the beach. For example, when I returned to a beach I had photographed 20 years ago, it seemed that a big change had happened. It was not that the beach had changed geographically, rather it was the people that were changed. For example, how to maintain your body, tattoo motifs, and swimsuit style. But the biggest change is “attitude”. People now show their bodies to others. Are Selfies a good example? I took Selfies on my mobile and posted it to Social Networks, showing my presence. In general 20 years ago people rarely took pictures at the beach. Also, many people spend time watching their mobile phones at the beach. People who are reading magazines and books are nearly gone. In the past, everyone seemed to enjoy the beach more. Because of technology, something has happened, and human beings themselves have changed significantly in the past decade or so.

Malbacco Desiata, 2017.

What does it mean to shoot in wide angle?
The best way to include a lot of people is to take a wide angle. By using the large format, you can sharpen the whole picture. It is impossible for a small camera to sharpen the entire image. Since I am seeking a sharp and fine image, use a tripod to secure the camera and shoot with the camera tilted a little downwards. Regarding shooting from above it is similar to the Renaissance painting angle. Also, since the photograph entered the field of contemporary art, we predicted that large size prints would be absolutely necessary.

Why is your work known worldwide? How did it happen?
When I started making this work, I liked my images. People around me said, “A picture of the beach is not funny.” However I had faith in what I was doing, so I just continued. There were no people doing lighter prints until then. At that time, everyone assembled a dark and tight print. But I wanted to create a different image. I came through my own style and it was the key to success.

How do you make lighter colors?
For film, I just develop normally and just simply print bright. When color balance adjustment is done, in the case of color, I brighten up to the point where white edges appear, maintaining the gradation so that the black does not become too dark. In the case of the beach, the sand beach is mostly white, so it tends to be lighter in color. The same can be said with digital. I do not retouch to change colors in Photoshop. Just like with analog photos, I do not change the photo itself, rather I adjust the brightness when printing.

How many pictures do you take when you shoot at the beach?
I usually take 1 or 2 photos. I usually go in the morning, find a good spot, set up the tripod and the camera, take 1 or 2 pictures and finish. In the past two decades I have produced 4176 negatives total, including failed ones. For commercial photographers, it is a number they reach in two days. If you include the cost of film, development, and contact printing, it will cost around 200 euro (about 26,000 yen) per sheet, so I will focus on it. I use both an 8 × 10 camera and an 11 × 14 camera. About two years ago, I started using a camera that uses a middle format digital pack. Digital does not cost much, but I still will not do much shooting.

When you overshoot, you lose your balance.

Kyoko Kasuya, Interview with Massimo Vitali in IMA, July 11, 2018.