Alessandro Casagrande is a film photographer based in Milan where he gained a BA at the Italian Institute of Photography. He was fascinated with photography from an early age and it became a way of communicating his vision and capturing dreams and desires along the way. In this interview, Alessandro reveals what are the benefits of being a film photographer and how did photography change his life forever.
Hey Alessandro! Welcome to our magazine! What is it that you are currently working on? What sparks your inspiration at the moment?
I am currently working on a new photo book and I will release a new magazine about photography and art later this September. I can’t go into many details about it but it will be something very special. All I am thinking are mostly this two projects and my inspirations comes directly from what I am doing.
The books are always an introspection of my feelings of how I see what is surrounding me and what I want to communicate with. It gives me the opportunity to focus on my consciousness and understand better what I like.
I understand you were born in Caracas, Venezuela, but you’ve been living in Italy most of your life. When did you realize photography was something you wanted to pursue?
I lived in Italy all my life – I was born in Caracas but we moved in Italy when I was two months old and I went back just ones for Summer holidays when I was ten. I didn’t spend enough time in Venezuela but I have very good memories of my beautiful birth country. About photography – I realize that was something I loved pretty early. My father used to have a collection of vintage 35mm cameras that passed to me.
When I was kid I was fascinated by those objects and so he taught me how to use it and gifted me my first camera. Since then I always kept with me and shot, mostly friends, family and travels. Photography was and it is fun for me.
What does photography mean to you? In what ways has your life changed since you started taking photos?
Photography for me is a way to communicate, to show dreams and desires, fears and melancholy, through memories and fantasies. Sometimes I think my mind could blow up without it. I need something for express myself. I am writing and painting for the same reason. With the photography I can capture moments, the light and shadows to create something that in a way or another will let us travel with the mind.
From when I started taking photos my life changed because I started to travel much more often. I never been longer then 3 – 4 months in the same place. It is exciting and it fills you with experiences - new places, new people, different cultures, the inspirations and ideas are blooming. In another way, I missed that feeling of being home.
What is it about analogue photography that attracted you to work on film? What are the benefits of being a film photographer?
I feel very free when it comes to work with film. I like that it's instinctive. I don’t get along much with the digital cameras, for me they are so distracting, with all those buttons and the screen that brings you to control constantly the result of the image. Shooting with film is beautiful for the authenticity. The entire process of shooting/developing/scanning is like a ritual, it makes you fall in love with your work.
Can you tell us a bit more about the creative process behind your photography work? What is it that inspires you the most?
The light is what inspires me the most. I believe that it can be interpreted by everyone in different ways and give us the chance to express ourselves naturally. I use natural light for my images because it always surprises me with beauty and new emotions and it leads me to new creativity’s inputs. I love the light because reveals what you want to show and hides what you want to keep hidden. Your fragility, your intimacy, sometimes what is uncomfortable to be shown. The whole expression it comes naturally with the light’s touch, invested by passion and beauty. My work always reflects my state of mind that most of the time is dreamy and nostalgic, but is not easy to define.
Besides all the photography work you are also a painter. How do you manage to keep both pursuits in your life?
I have took back the painting recently this year. I had a long break. The photography took most of my time in the past years and the fact that I was traveling so often didn’t left me many chance to paint. The latest series I had made was from 2013 – This year I am based between Milan and Los Angeles and I am finally happy to able to be focus again also on the painting. I now working on few new series.
Do you use your paintings sometimes as an inspiration for your photographs, or is it vice versa?
For now it was vice versa. I used for a series of collages on canvas some of my photographs. The paint came along with the selection of the images – but the creativity process behind the photography and the painting for me are much different and it is far more complicated to explain the one behind the painting. Most of the time when I am painting, I don’t think anything because painting it is just another form of thinking.
Can we hear more about your book “Dentro”? What was the process like, from gathering all the creative ideas and turning them into an actual book?
The book was born by chance and came naturally. I didn’t think to do a book at the beginning I was just shooting my intimacy. It was my way to stop the instants that without the camera they would be lost and kept just in our memories. The idea to make a book came later when I started to look at all the pictures together. It was the perfect representation of my evolution, personal and artistic.
My aesthetic evolved so much during the time I dedicated to the creation of “Dentro”. Since I was documenting something so private, it helped me to be more connected with my inner feelings. I learned to be more careful at the small details and the storytelling.
What’s a day like in the life of Alessandro Casagrande? What can we except next from you when it comes to work?
I don’t sleep a lot so I wake up pretty early – coffee and music are the first things I need. For the rest of the day I don’t like to plan if not needed, I prefer to do what I feel at that moment. What can we expect? - I am excited to see what the future will bring!