Oliviero Toscani: So, here we are, tell me about yourself.
Massimo Vitali: I was born in Como on January 1, 1944 and I attended the Leonardo Da Vinci high school in Milan.
OT: Were you good at school?
MV: No, I was terrible… a disaster!
OT: Why are photographers such poor students? Not one was a good student… They were all dunces! That said at that time schools were horrible, there was still a fascist residue… We had to stand up, say good morning to the Principal, march… After high school, what did you do?
MV: I attended the London College of Printing in London, now called the London College of Communication. It’s become a university, but once it was a school for photographers, the kind who develop…
OT: It was a very important school. I also attended a school that is now a university of the arts, a very cool one…
MV: Of course, things have changed. Before those schools were like a refuge for people who had photography shops, a father sent his sons so that they could learn how to develop film.

Bar Basso, Milano.

OT: And why did you go there?
MV: First, I didn’t want to go to university in Italy. Second, I wanted to get away regardless, any excuse to leave worked for me.
OT: Had you already been taking photos before going there?
MV: Yes.
OT: So, I want to know why you started taking photographs.
MV: There were a man working with my father, his name was Lamberto Vitali, he gave me a camera.
OT: Lamberto Vitali, the critic? He was great!
MV: Yes, it was him. He gave me my first camera as a gift when I was 12 years old and when you have a gift like that… Today you put gifts down the toilet, but once they were a real opportunity for your life! I couldn’t say “I’ll do something else”. Then I started to hang out with Mulas and his group, and we talked, we argued…
OT: You were in the group of milanese intellectuals?
MV: Exactly… intellectuals, so to speak…
OT: The group of the artists, Mulas… who were the others?
MV: I knew Mulas, then I also knew the gallerists, Arturo Schwarz, I knew all the painters, the ones from Brera…
OT: At the Giamaica Bar in Milan… Were you a jamaican?

Oliviero Toscani, "In my fifties I understood that I didn’t have to do reportage anymore" in La paura - Lezioni di fotografia, n. 21, Il Corriere della Sera, p. 99.