INTERVIEW WITH … Riccardo Villani


Researched by Roberta Pastore


My name is Riccardo Villani, I was born in Monza and I live in the province of Milan. I studiedlaw at university but I left school before finishing when I realized  that was not what I reallywanted to do in life. Later I studied fine pastry at ALMA and have worked for several monthsin the laboratory of Ernst Knam. I am currently  looking for a new job and probably ;ll  bemoving to another country, perhaps Germany, in Berlin.The photo acts as  the frame to all this and my dream is to turn my passion into one of thecontents of this frame.


Going back in time, how was your passion for photography born and how do you come in contact with the professional world?

I have always been attracted to all that is visual art, I was very young when picking up my father reflex camera, I felt it was something special, like a magic item with which capture reality and make it  something different, something of my own. I bought my first SLR only 4 or 5 years ago, with the boom of photography and began simply to play, as everybody does and as I still do nowadays.




With reference for your works, which are the ones that have marked your entering into the world of photography?

There was a time a couple of years ago when I decided that I wanted to make photography my actual work, never choice was less apt .. Economic crisis + saturated market .. for a while I swas the assistant for a pair of photographers and in the meanwhile I did some promotional shots for emerging bands, but it never took off. I also began to appreciate a genre new for me at the time, street photography.




How do you manage color and b / w in your photos?

Generically I take pictures always in raw + jpeg and then transform the files in monochrome or otherwise work on it with photoshop. For street use purely Lightroom, much faster and more convenient.




What kind of camera do you use to shoot?

I own a Canon 5D mark II and a Ricoh GR, which recently replaced my old GRD IV. Lately;I’ve been using only the GR with great satisfaction, I’m really in love.

What determines the success or failure of a photo?

Surely the subject and light are important, although what really makes the difference is the taste of the author, his interpretation of reality.

When you shoot a picture, do you have an image in mind? Do you have a project of the finished shoot before the realization or your images are the result of reflection during the post­ production process?

When shooting around the city I find it hard to imagine a finished image before shooting and post production, everything is in real time, I have to be quick to capture what I see in the shortest time possible. Every second that passes is different if translated into an image. Obviously I cannot take pictures of everything.. but just of what particularly attracts my interest.



Which is your best shot and what does it represent for you? 

I do not have a favorite one among my photos, there are a few that I find more successfulthan the others, who give more emotions. I am constantly changing and I always need new shots because I get bored quickly of the old ones. My photos are representative  of myself  in the period in which I took them, and I remember of that particular time .. but this is my point ofview, others are perfectly free to give to each shot of mine their interpretation and I am very happy of this .. everyone should give free rein to his own imagination.

 What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

As previously said the “street” for me is like a great plat where I capture in my own way what intrigues me. I have no relationship with the people I take pictures of, I’m a spectator, I wish not to take away any of their naturalness. Maybe in the future I might experiment with other techniques but for now I feel fine with this approach .


What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

I am totally self­taught, I feed off the endless images that surround us and of fantasy. My tastes change with me as time goes on and so do the authors from whom I take inspiration. As for the street I have to say to be very fascinated by the Japanese aesthetic taste, in particular by Daido Moriyama, while among Americans I can name for example William Klein and Diane Arbus that I appreciate very much.

 What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

Photography for me is a form of art, a personal expression, not a technicality. The knowledge of the technique and the tools with which you work are just the way to achieve the desired result.


Which is the photo that struck you the most of a greatest photographers in history?

I could think of dozens of great pictures, but I have to mention one, perhaps the most strange, magnificent especially for what it represents for the author: Stray Dog by Daido Moriyama, its almost a self­portrait that really fascinates me.


 Which is your favorite technique? 

I do not have a real technique when it comes to street photography. When I can I walk around the city without a well defined path with my GR in hand, without stopping. I look at the light, the places, the people who inhabit them and choose where to go based on the interest that emerges. When I see the faces that give me something I raise my camera and I try to getas close as possible and shoot. The proximity to me is really important, I use a 28mm lens and if I want to get a close portrait this means I need to be about 1 meter from the subject or even less. I use almost always “snap focus” usually set at 1 meter and I keep the diaphragm fairly closed while trying to maintain high speed shooting.







 Why do street photography?

I do not know if I do street photography or something like that, I know that I love to do portraits, I have always been attracted by the faces of the people, from what they can transmit, by the stories they tell and the “Street” allows me to photograph everything in the most natural way possible. Taking this kind of picture really gives me a lot of emotions, the city is set fantastic and alive, something that you can not recreate. It ‘s true. And it is interesting to try to break away and look around as if we were spectators.






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