Massimo Vitali looks at the wonderful beaches from afar

Massimo Vitali Beach Series 2

Massimo Vitali was born in Como, Italy, in 1944. He moved to London after high school, where he studied Photography at the London College of Printing. In the early ’60s he started working as a photojournalist, collaborating with many magazines and agencies in Italy and in Europe. It was during this time that he met Simon Guttmann, the founder of the agency Report, who was to become fundamental in Massimo’s growth as a photographer. He now lives and works between Lucca and Berlin. 

At the beginning of the ’80s, a growing mistrust in the belief that photography had an absolute capacity to reproduce the subtleties of reality, led to a change in his career path. He began working as a cinematographer for television and cinema. However, his relationship with the still camera never ceased, while he eventually turned his attention back to photography as a means for artistic research.

Through an aesthetic made of light overexposures, light contrasts and pastel colours, the photographer expresses his need to be close to the people he photographs, even if he usually shoots 5 m higher than hid subjects. In his perspective, his pictures are portraits that add some meaning to the aesthetical matter.

About ‘Beach series’– words by Massimo Vitali:

Over the past years, he developed a new approach for portraying the world, expressing and commenting through photography, mostly using it as having characteristics of an anthropological and sociological operation. In 1995 he started working on the Beach Series, seeing them as an equalitarian place that reveals the costumes of the people who live there, beginning right during the drastic political changes in Italy. For Vitali, beaches are the places where relationships are shown and changes in society are macroscopic. Massimo started to observe his fellow countrymen very carefully. He depicted a sanitized, complacent view of Italian normalities, at the same time revealing “the inner conditions and disturbances of normality: its cosmetic fakery, sexual innuendo, commodified leisure, deluded sense of affluence, and rigid conformism”. [Whitney Davis, “How to Make Analogies in a Digital Age” in October Magazine, Summer 2006, no.117, p.71-98.]

Massimo Vitali is a man who has built a career at the point where land and water meet. Regarding the enthusiasm for beaches, has earned the Lucca-based Italian photographer comparisons with Martin Parr, but where Martin’s lens zooms uncomfortably close to his sand-coated, sunburnt subjects, Massimo’s images cram in as many sunbathers as possible.

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Time to read
3 min
Words by
Published on
19 August 2019
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