Today we meet the photographer Enrico Rassu. Class 1996, he’s from Sardinia but he moved to Milan to pursue his goals and thanks to his talent he shot for important Italian and international artists. In his films, we can find some great names like Majid Jordan, Sfera Ebbasta, Russ, Marracash, IAMDDB, Guè Pequeno and many others.
What made you passionate about photography?
It was a natural process: I can’t really tell you a specific event or moment that started my passion. We live in a historical period where we are bombarded and educated to see images of all kinds. Painting, graphic, photography, cinema. Almost immediately, I realized that I didn’t just want to be a viewer, but I wanted to create in my turn and tell stories. Photography was the most direct means for me. The idea of being able to be the person who can stop a moment that will never come back always gives me goosebumps.
When you started, did you already have the goal of making photography a job or did you start it more as a hobby?
When I started at 16 in Sardinia I couldn’t have an overall view of the means potential. My friends spent hours in the garage making music. I immediately realized that I prefer another aspect of music and so I found something that would allow me to be part of that journey. The initial push was curiosity and the need to create something. Over the years, project by project, I started realizing it. After moving to Milan for university (I studied Media and Advertising) I definitely understood that it could really be a job. Among other things, I have a strong characteristic. I can’t see anything like a hobby, I always try to get the most out of it and study what I’m doing, in anything in life, whether work or private. Otherwise, I have the feeling of wasting time. This led me to see photography, almost immediately, from a professional perspective.
As a photographer, how do you make sure the subject appears the way you want? From your point of view, what makes a good photo?
I don’t think there can be fixed canons to say when a photo is good. There are so many ways to tell something. If you put me and 5 other photographers to shoot the same thing we will all have different points of view and different canons of beauty. In my opinion, the canon of beauty is when a picture tells something and makes you understand the soul of the subject in front of you. In fact, my photos have a documentary slant and a strong appeal to reality, because I try to go beyond the only aesthetic of fashion and I am more interested in reportage. The subject appears in the way I want when it really is itself and does not feel forced to change in front of my camera.
In photography , technology progress every year, it always comes out something new. Is it important to stay up to date? How important is the equipment?
Good question. Technology is important but for me, it is only 25% of photography. Today it’s very easy to have a set of digital machines and lenses that allow you high quality. But, in my opinion, it must only be functional to what you are doing. To this day, I am not so interested in that part. I have a digital camera that cost me thousands but I don’t really use it that much. All the photos you see were taken analogically with a 1980s camera that I found in the garage of an old relative of mine. And it’s the one that gave me the most satisfaction and which I brought with me around the world. For me, it’s all a matter of vision and access to the situation. The equipment is not so important.
What are your favorite lenses? If you were to use one for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?
24-70 and 50mm. If I had to choose one, I would probably say the zoom, even if I almost always shoot with fixed lenses. I can’t miss any opportunity and in this case, having more focal lengths in one lens helps!
In your opinion, what is the most important thing to consider during a shooting?
The interpersonal relationship. When you are working with a person and you are not taking landscapes, the connection that is created with the subject in front of you is fundamental. Creating an intimate relationship in a short time to make him feel at ease to open up in front of the camera is essential for a good shooting.
Which are the subjects you prefer to shoot?
People who have stories to tell. Right now I’m deeply immersed in the world of music. I have a great passion for music and what’s behind it. In particular, Hip Hop and R’n’B. It’s not just about shooting a concert but everything else. Capturing the process of creation, the places, the people, the codes and the madness of this world.
How would you define your photographic style? And how did you realize it was the right one for you?
My photography is a cross-section of reality. From the Ernia writing sessions in Barcelona to the hairdresser in Harlem with Asap Ty or the intimate moments of the OVO Sound team on tour with Majid Jordan. Photography was the Passepartout for having access to the most intimate artists’ space that’s hidden to the public. In fact, my photography has a strongly documentary soul: it doesn’t focus on the studio set and the posing images, but supports a more intimate narration, impossible to create without a strong connection with the artist and the study of the context in which he’s immersed. I can tell you that I understood it by living day by day, knowing artists of all kinds and really studying photography and its history.
How important is post-production? Is it something you care about in your photos?
Practically nothing. I shoot on film for most sets so I can’t even work on it too much. The key moment is when you take the photo: do everything to take the perfect photo because you can’t even see it right away and sometimes you have to wait days for developments. I already know what I’m shooting and how I want it.
We have seen that you have worked with many Italian artists and not, how did it all start and how did you get in touch with them?
It’s a long journey that has just begun. First, in Sardinia with the local heroes, then in Milan for many years I worked as a video maker and photographer, getting in touch with many Italian artists who appreciated my vision. It was from Milan that I had the first international push, taking great American and non-American artists who passed by here for concerts or fashion stuff. I shot Russ, Raury, Iamddb, Joyce Wrice to name a few, a stone’s throw from my old home in the Navigli area. Everyone asks me how I did it but I think it cannot be explained in words. I started creating links outside and they started calling me. I just got back from Paris where I photographed for Drake‘s Assassination Vacation tour, with a photographic story of Baka Not Nice and his team.
What is the photo you are most fond and/or most proud of?
It’s really a difficult question! It’s like asking a father his favorite child. I’m proud of the experiences that I had thanks to my photography. It’s so incredible if I think I come from an island where there is really no perspective. I can tell you that the greatest satisfactions are when some great artists told me that I took the best photos they ever had because they say that I was the only one who really managed to narrate them. It has happened with Ernia and Tredici Pietro in recent months, to mention Italian artists.
Currently what music do you listen to? Do you have any artist or track to recommend?
Lately, I can listen to full projects only when I’m traveling. I’m trying not to limit myself to genres and to listen to every style, from the 80’s Rock to Italian songwriters, to be inspired from all points of view. In Italy, I suggest you an upcoming artist who really has a lot to say: Malakay with his project V DAYS. While in America I’m really into the whole R’n’B scene like Partynextdoor, Roy woods, Summer Walker and so on.
What is your goal for the future?
Give more and more value to photography in a time where everything is fast and disposable. Make artists understand the importance of having documents that will last for tens of years, with which they can make books about history and not just Instagram posts. And then get in touch and be able to narrate many artists that I still haven’t had the chance to approach, all over the world. Now I’m going to London for a few weeks: I’ll document some upcoming artists of the R’n’B scene, which is really strong and full of stories to tell.