Ale Formenti is, in my opinion, a wellknown name among the "unknown" photographers. What i mean is that out there you can find lots of very talented and easygoing people taking photos for a living and enjoying what they're doing because they shoot what they like. In this case i'm talking about a young man displaying the area where he lives and the people surrounding him in the simplest and clearest way he can. No snobbish assistants, no agents, no fussy behaviours...just a camera, a skatepark, a b&w film...that's it.That's why i wanted you all to start pay more attention to this kind of talent, instead of the glossy and fake one we're used to.
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1 - When did you pick up a camera for the first time? Which kind of camera it was and what were you trying to take a photo of?
I was 13 and my older brother already shot skateboard photos for a magazine called XXX. I started with his camera, a Nikon FM2. Basically i started shooting skateboard tricks and the first good photo i shot was a k-grind by Massimino Panfili on a flat bar, during a contest... i took photos for years for skateboard magazine, i also founded a couple of those magazine. I started taking photos of everything that surrounded me... and that’s it...
2 - I know you're fond of skateboarding and hardcore-punk music; is there any skater and band you're a big fan of?
No i don’t have a favorite skateboarder. I've loved Jason Lee for years, but after he turned actor he joined Scientology or something like that... horrible... i love all the skateboard videos from the 90s. Those time skateboarding was punk and totally fun... even the rappers were punks! Kris Markovich in the first 101 video was amazing, all the Rocco skateboard ads... Questionable and Virtual Reality were very good, i’ll never forget that videos. I’ll remember forever, me and my kids-friends in my bedroom, watching the Koston part in the second 101 video... bum... switch 3 flip down the Embarcadero gap, last trick... we dropped from our seats, litterally... BUM! I love music, music must be funny. funny and wild. I like The Ramones, Toilet Boys and The Cramps.
3- You lived and worked in the United States for a while. What's the difference in they way they work with freelance photographers compared to Italy?
Yes i lived but i didn’t really worked... even in Italy i don’t think i ever really worked, so i don’t know what to say. A magazine in NYC didn’t pay me... even a magazine from Milano. The first told me that the magazine was so big that they gave to the photographers only the opportunity to be in a such famous mag and the italian mag basically never gave me money. They were big fashion magazines. In new york i got in touch with a photo editor from a big music magazine and i had a photo on it... in italy the same magazine don’t even answer to my email... but that’s life. I’m scared of taking picture in italy. Once i went to a meeting with this photo editor to show my portfolio. You know the magazine with naked famous girls, cars, and italian bullshits. He said yeah yeah and then a photographer friend of mine walked in the room. She was back from a shooting. She shot Nek, the italian singer. I was terrified! I’m trying to get a job... and what’s the job i could get? Taking photos of Nek... i was shacking... at least, taking photos in the USA is better because they don’t speak italian and i barely speak english, so it turns into funny conversations...
4- Favourite places in Milan and the surrounding areas?
They both suck.
5- Have you ever had bad experiences while working for magazines or other clients? Could you tell me something about it?
I already told you about the magazines that never paid me... mmm... other bad work experiences...? No i don’t remember, i told you, i never worked that much...
6- When exactly did you realize you were taken seriously as a photographer?
Too late... i’m always late... i had to leave this place 10 years ago. The problem is that in this country no-one produce... and everyone buys. Nothing else. We have Berlusconi as prime minister, we will always be fucked.
7- Favourite magazines and blogs you'd like to recommend?
Thrasher Magazine. Read Thrasher Magazine... and... i’m not into blogs... check out ExploitedBabySitters.com ... have fun... start a blog and let me know maybe i’ll like it.
8- Is there anybody or any place you still haven't had the chance to shoot and you would love to?
I already shot Dee dee Ramone (r.i.p.) so i’m happy...I shot The Dwarves so i’m ok, i’d love to shot Lexi Belle...mmm... Charles Manson before he will die... I’d love to shot Bill FUCKING Murray... and Spike Jonze... my friend Jocko told me that Detroit is amazing... i hope i could be there soon... i love to shoot everywhere, the party is just around the corner...
9 - in your opinion what's the best way for a young photographer to have his work displayed (a personal blog, social networks, exhibitions, internships at magazines, etc)?
Laura you asked this question to the wrong person: i’m totally antisocial. I never believed in portfolios, business cards and all the regular stuff in general. I always had a blog or a website, so everybody could get me in that way. I’m a gipsy, i don’t meet people so... if you want to do the right thing... do the opposite of what i did... but please... try to have fun, that’s the best part. You wanna know how it goes in Italy? Go to every“party”, make a lot of friends, buy the right clothes, smile a lot, don’t really matter what you do but it must be what’s good in that moment... being homosexual it’s not indispensable but it helps... ah ah... no, just jocking. The only thing is that you have to believe in yourself and believe in what you do... only the strongest survive...
10 - What the place you feel most comfortable working in (home, a studio, a hidden bar in the city, etc)?
I don’t care about it, i take photos everywhere, in every condition...
11 - Will you ever go back to shooting in colors (i love your b&w photos but the colored ones were your first works i've seen so i'm curious)?
Sure, i’m sure i’ll be back, dunno when, dunno why but i’ll shoot in colors again... now i’m shooting b/w because i’m in this mood...
12 - We both come from small cities where the punk rock culture and the alternative subcultures are stronger than in other bigger places. Do you see it as a plus or a challenge?
I don’t know. I lived a good teenage full of punk rock records, skateboarding, fanzines, i’m happy of what i saw and heard. I think there are less and less “alternative” stuff around now... poor kids.
Ale Formenti runs his own blog called ZOMBIE TOWN, about the town where he lives: