Where does the passion for photography come from and when did you decide to turn it into a profession?

When I was 12, my father’s friend, Lamberto Vitali, art critic, gave me a camera. At that time people used to buy two pairs of shoes during their whole life. That camera was a symbol for me and I felt obliged to use it and to develop a passion for photography. In high school I used to take pictures for a knitting magazine and with that money I bought better cameras. When I finished school, I bought a train ticket to Baghdad to take photos there. I arrived in Afghanistan, I was arrested by the police. When they released me I carried on with my trip by bus. At that time I had a specific idea about the reportage, but I changed it.


Because what you do has nothing to do with reality. I worked on commission for the terrible ’70s and ’80s Italian newspapers. Then I worked in cinema. When I was around 50 and it was time to get retired, I decided to do what I really cared for: after two years The Beach Series came out. It happened all by chance. My cameras were stolen from the car, all of them but they left a 20×25 (8×10) camera that was too heavy. That camera had a very limited depth of field, but I could correct it shooting from a high place. So I took a tripod and with a friend of mine, an American sculptor who lived in Pietrasanta, we built a sort of alluminium tower. I took the first photo, the one I call “00”, in Pietrasanta. I went to the beach, put the tripod in the water and took a shot in black and white exactly every 40 minutes using the same framing. By chance there was a colour film in the camera. Black and white pictures were terrible, but the colour ones were not so bad. One year later, I had shot all the most important beaches in Italy.

Ottavia Zanetta, “Massimo Vitali’s Photographs At Ronchini Gallery” in The It Factor Magazine, May 24, 2016.