We’re pleased to introduce you to twenty-eight year old self taught Photographer, Alessio Albi.
Working full-time as a nutritionist, Albi participates in creating photography whenever he can. Albi creates atmospheric, expressive portraits using natural light sources and outdoor settings around his beautiful home in Umbria, Italy. Although his (full-time) profession is not photography, Alessio says that “photography is a big part of my life.”
When talking about one of his series he says “Even if the subjects are mostly different women, the real subject of the series is myself. I see myself through them, with the feelings that have had played a part in the last years of my life”
Join us in this incredibly beautiful honest, open, and real interview with Alessio Albi; where we chat about the use of natural light, pre-planning, post-production, choosing models, having a connection with your subjects and more. If you haven’t seen his work yet, I can guarantee that you’re going to leave this interview wanting to see more.
Photography is not your main work, you work as a full-time nutritionist. So tell us, when and how did you become interested in photography?
It started about 4 years ago, when I bought my first DSLR. A friend of mine, after seeing my paintings and drawings, advised me to try to express myself also with photography.
I was not sure about this in the beginning; I thought it would be one of those things that I would pick up and leave behind. At that time I was 24 years old and still into university studies.
I needed a way to escape the daily routine and avoid apathy and depression; photography changed all about this.
Before photography, did you partake in any other types of art to express yourself?
As I told before, I was into drawing and painting, honestly with not so good results. At about 22 years old I started drawing portraits of my friends on paper and canvas.
What inspires you and your work?
I think that the thing that inspires me the most is music. In both pre and post production, music creates the atmosphere and the mood that I need.
I’m also inspired by other forms of arts, like cinema (as you can see, almost all of my pictures are taken in landscape format, as I try to give the feeling of a movie frame), books and video games.
The emotion that comes through in your portraits is extraordinary. Where do you find your models? Do you usually photograph models, friends or a mix of both?
I began to focus on portrait photography only 2-3 years ago. In the beginning my models were mostly friends (and they still are my favourite subjects), then with the spreading of images through social networks like flickr and facebook, I started to have requests from both professional and non-professional models.
How important do you feel it is to have a connection with your subject?
Very important. My favourite photos are done with the people I am connected to the most. Some of them became really good friends of mine. I really love this aspect of photography, because before starting I was a very shy and introverted person, unable to establish relations easily with new people.
What is your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken?
Maybe the double exposure portrait of my father , titled “Nature Boy”
This was a very lucky shot, an in-camera double exposure that came out so perfectly that I could not believe it. I love this also because it represents my father, a 63 years old man with the youth of a boy, always been in love with nature.
When conceptualizing ideas for new photos, what is your creative process like? Do you ever sketch out ideas before shooting?
Sometimes I sketch it out, but most of the time I go out with a particular mood in mind. The mood is inspired by emotions, by the environment and by the subject that I’m going to portray.
Also, on average how long would you say it takes to create a photograph? (Conceptualize, shoot, edit, etc).
For my style of photography, not so much in pre-production, because my concepts are never so complicated; I don’t need too complex outfits or make-up, or too elaborate locations. The shooting takes me about 2 to 5 hours, it depends on my satisfaction with the photos I take.
The editing is sometimes really easy, about 10 minutes, and sometimes too long. I could stay in front of my pc for 5 hours only to find the correct green tone, because I’m never satisfied with what I get.
How important is Post-Processing to your works? Would it be possible to see a before/after of one your photos?
Very important, especially on color correction. Phlearn taught me a lot about complementary colors, blend modes and color toning in general. I can’t say thank you enough about this to you guys at Phlearn, because color is one of the things that I love the most about my photography.
I am in love with your double exposure series. Tell us about how this project came to fruition? Also, could you tell us about your editing process with this series?
Thank you! All the double exposure photos that you see on my portfolio are done in-camera, with the multiple exposure mode of my camera; so no layers at all.
I only used Lightroom to correct the contrast and the colors, and to cut off some small external elements that remained visible around the faces, only raising the exposure a bit selectively.
That series started for fun, but now I think I’m going on with it. I would like to have at least 10 good images in the series.
In your works you use all natural light. Can you tell us about this aesthetic choice and your personal love for natural light?
I’m totally in love with natural light. In the beginning I was only thinking how to create the perfect light, buying flashes, torches and everything that would help me to get the look I saw on the internet by someone. Then I started to follow the light. I can wait for hours for the perfect ray of light, or the moment of the day when the sun casts softer shadows on faces. My favourite moment of the day is the blue hour in the evening, when the light is really low and the color is a sort of blue/cyan that I love.
Most of your portraits have been taken outside. Does your environment around you affect the way that you approach photography?
Definitely. I live in Umbria, a beautiful region in the center of Italy, where nature is at its best. I also love to travel and explore to find the perfect locations, so it can happen that I find amazing places near my home which I couldn’t imagine existed. The environment affects so much my photography that I have created entire series of portrait around it
Tell us about the inspiration behind your series titled Inner Spaces? Is this series complete or will you always continue to add to this series?
This is one of the series that I love the most, and it is not completed. I try to portrait the inner spaces of people, referred to their inner self, their minds and their feelings. Even if the subjects are mostly different women, the real subject of the series is myself. I see myself through them, with the feelings that have had played a part in the last years of my life; like apathy, emptiness, fear and loneliness.
What is your proudest moment as a photographer?
Well, I think it is this one! I love Phlearn, here I learned almost all I know about post-production and I’ve gotten to know some of my favourite photographers in the world.
What is the craziest thing you’ve done for the sake of photography?
Maybe, running naked on the top of a mountain in the mid of a very dense fog, for a series of self portraits that I’m still working on. I hope no one saw me that day, it would have been a very scary and weird thing for people that didn’t know what was going on.
What are you currently working on?
In 3 days I’m going on holidays in Lanzarote, Canary islands, with other friends photographers and models. There I will continue a series that is inspired by my favourite book series, The Dark Tower by Stephen King.
Then I’m organizing a flickr meet-up here in Italy for next year, with a lot of photographers that I love and I have had the luck to know.
Who are some of your favourite artists and/or photographers?
The one that I’m the most grateful to, and who has been my first source of inspiration is Marta Bevacqua, now also a great friend of mine.
Then a lot of photographers that I found on the amazing flickr community, like Laura Zalenga, David Uzochukwu, Alex Stoddard, Rosie Hardy, Lauren Withrow, Luca Bortolato, Kyle Thompson, Zhang Jingna, Katerina Plotnikova and many more. Of course also giants like Annie Leibovitz, Eugenio Recuenco and Tim Walker are a big inspiration to me.
What is the best advice that you’ve received in regards to photography, art, and/or life?
Do not be downhearted by the negative opinions of others, but use them to improve. The meaning of your art for yourself is what matters most.
Interviewed by: Angela Butler.