Ugo Ricciardi. A fantasy world
Ugo, you area self-taught by choice. Why?
«When I was a kid I asked various professional photographers which photography school to attend, and the answer was always the same: go and try it out. Today, I would give the same advice myself. There are definitely many good schools around, both in Italy and abroad, but learning on the field, in my opinion, is the best way to understand what photography really is. This is especially true for what concerns the more technical aspects. Everything else (style, creativity and culture) is acquired by continuous reading, traveling and studying. A photographer must be curious, no matter what kind of photography they are pursuing».
I can see many famous photographers and studios on your CV....
«Actually, I started from the bottom, as an archivist at the photojournalism agency La Presse, in Milan. It was an illuminating experience, because as soon as I started taking pictures for them, I realized that reportages were not for me. Working at Superstudio in Milan and then for photographer Giuseppe Pino were undoubtedly the most useful experiences ever. Superstudio allowed me tofully grasp the technique and to meet talented photographers, while working with Giuseppe Pino allowed me to acquire knowledge that goes beyond the mere photography. I really learned a lot from him, then of course I explored the field further and found my own way».
Your artistic research is perfectly expressed by the shots of Alidem. Could you explain the Demoni Occasionali tra le nubi (Occasional Demons Among the Clouds series # 1, # 2, # 3, # 4, # 5, # 8?
«Easy to say: watching this project is like lying on a meadow watching clouds. There are not underpinning concepts that need to be explained, there is no hidden interpretation necessary to give meaning to what appears. Of course we are not talking of real clouds, but the inspired feeling is the same. When a coloured liquid dissolves into the water, it starts to move, even if the water is completely still. Slowly, almost hypnotically, it creates shapes: long, colourful streams, which are difficult to stop looking at. Then, depending on what movements and different solutions have been used, the whole looks like anever-changing micro-universe: you can see storms arriving, heavens falling down and demons of the mind or other fantasy figures emerging from the fog».
Do you use alot of digital photo-editing?
«Yes, it is an important stage of my work, not only in order to obtain the best result, but also because it is a crucial part of the creative process. Many good photographers manage to get strong images purely by what they see, but I need to modify my pictures to give my interpretation, to show what I saw and not what I happened to see».
Unnatural differs from other more abstract pictures. What can you say about it?
«Flowers have always been a great passion of mine, so they often appear in my photos. This specific photo is a sort of experiment, as the subject is rather pleasant but also very mainstream, which means I was really focused on being able to show my personal interpretation of it. In general, I am fascinated by change, by transformation; Unnatural is a great example of this passion. Here the flowers are not the most desirable subjects but elements disrupted by a storm which plunges them into a primordial soup, turning them into something completely different. The choice of flowers is also important: I did not want roses or other common flowers, but very peculiar ones instead, almost artificial, that is, Unnatural».
Any future projects?
«I have just finished an important work – supported by my staff - that, from its origin to and its finalisation, kept me busy for a whole year. The title will be Blown Away, and it will address the theme of the end of the world and, once again, of transformation».