Swiss photographer Claudio Rasano’s work may cross countries and continents, but there is one thing that features centrally throughout, people.
People are the focal point of his work, whether it’s schoolchildren in South Africa or cigarette sellers in Tirana, the story of the country that Claudio is working in is told through its people.
“I love to explore the relationship between spaces and humans, the subject within the space and the space as the subject itself,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I work with people from similar backgrounds, circumstances and experiences – environmental portraits and landscapes depicting a quiet anthropological commentary. It is important for me to see that there is a strong relationship between environmental portraits and landscape images.”
His work is focused around the human stories of an area, but in many cases it is not just the person that is of interest. The composition of many of his images, even when portraits, provides a snapshot of the landscapes and built environments that are around the subject. This contextualises many of his photographs, helping you to build a more rounded impression of the individuals based on their surroundings too – the perfect example of this being his image of South African workmen in sodden clothes.
Claudio’s interest in photography has been a long-held one, stemming from family moments during childhood. “I used to constantly look at my grandmother's photo albums with the wonderful black and white photographs. I was so fascinated, that I started taking pictures myself – first of my grandmother, and then of all the people around me,” he explains.
The medium itself was one that he was drawn to, and that he felt was best suited to his personality. One of the main benefits he cites is how it allows him to be in the present, whilst also preserving the moments for the future. “I chose photography as my medium because it gives me the quality I am looking for,” he says. “While working, I forget time and I drift into a sense of eternity, I am also genuinely interested in people and different cultures. Photography gives me both eternity and actuality. That sense keeps me going and inspires and excites me deeply.”
Claudio, who is based in Basel, considers his style a mixture of a variety of components: “I would probably describe my style as genuine and therefore identifiable, somewhere in between documentary and fine art practices.” His creative process, on the other hand, is far less considered, relying on chance more than meticulous planning: “I never really have a plan; the projects arise spontaneously by walking or driving by. Then I just stop and ask if I can take some pictures. It is really all about a spontaneous creative process.”
Surprisingly, one of his most planned pieces is also the piece of work he is most proud of. In actual fact, it is also one that strays stylistically away from his more context-led portraits mentioned earlier, and into a curated and cleaner aesthetic.
“I would like to point out one body of work, which I value the most, the 2016 series Similar uniforms: We refuse to compare from Johannesburg, South Africa. I focused on issues of preserving individuality in the context of school uniforms. All the pictures were shot in daylight, outdoors and in front of a plain white paper background,” he says. “It is one of the most concise and focused series I’ve made, and therefore represents the essence of all the other series.”
Claudio Rasano: Same Place
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.