For once behind the lens

Publish date 19-05-2024

by Claudio Maria Picco

A friend rather than a collaborator left us
NP Nuovo Progetto owes a lot to Alberto and his teachings. Below is a nice chat from a few years ago

Can we take a photo of you? I thought he wouldn't accept being on the wrong side of the lens. She, on the other hand, smiles, turns towards Andrea as if to say: come on, get the car out and we'll do it. He himself turns on the lights and poses. We met him years ago when rescuers accompanied a drug addict who had fallen into the river that flows nearby to the Arsenal of Peace. We have stayed in touch ever since. Alberto is an established photographer, he has worked for many Italian and foreign newspapers, he has been to war theaters all over the world, he is the official photographer of the Teatro Regio and does not like to define himself as a photojournalist.

Reporter is someone who goes and reports things – he says – whereas the photographer is someone who tries to capture things a little behind the facade of the event. The point is: do I photograph the collapsing building or the eyes of the person who is watching the collapsing building? The collapsing building is filmed by television, which captures the movement live. The photographer does work linked to psychology, work that is slightly behind the scenes of the event, which he tries to understand why."

We are sitting in a room of his studio located in a basement. The environment is essential. With the cigarette still burning between his fingers he tells us that he is tired of the photographer's profession being cloaked in a somewhat false myth: «You necessarily have to be warriors, heroes; instead, although it has human implications, that of a photographer is a job like all the others, linked to professionalism rather than to the soul".

Andrea wants to know how the world of photography has changed with the advent of digital. «It has changed a lot, because it gives the possibility of having photographs immediately. First there were rolls of film to develop, then there was a period in which the rolls had to be scanned. Now with digital the ball is still in the net and the office is already sending the photo of the goal just scored. A situation has been created that gives anyone the opportunity to arrive anyway; any photographer has the possibility of accessing all newspapers."

So what do you recommend to a young photographer? «First of all I would wish him well, because there aren't many spaces. However, I would recommend paying attention to quality which in the end is the only thing that pays off." Alberto Ramella is just like that, a little against the grain, like that time in Kosovo: «There was a little girl dressed in blue who was crying, she had a little dog in her arms that had just died, there was a beautiful light. It would have been a beautiful photo both aesthetically and emotionally. I didn't feel like photographing it. Other times in other parts of the world people who witnessed crimes have asked me to be photographed. This makes you think about how important ethics are. Before the money, before taking the photo, before the fact that you have to return with the photo at all costs, there must be ethics. You are dealing with a human being and if you understand that it is not the case, it is not the case and that's it! Okay, you will have lost out, never mind, it happens in life."

We're at the end, but he doesn't give up. "I thought you were asking me something more serious like: do you believe in God?". What you just told us seems serious to us, but if you want: do you believe in God? «Of course I believe in God!... I don't believe in everything that man has falsely constructed around God for the convenience of a few, and this concerns us all».

Claudio Maria Picco
NP April 2024

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