Massimo Vitali is a man who has built a career at the point where land and water meet. An for enthusiasm for beaches has earned the Lucca-based Italian photographer comparisons with Martin Parr, but where Martin’s lens zooms uncomfortably close to his sand-coated, sunburnt subjects, Massimo’s images cram in as many sunbathers as possible. “Because if I were to photograph it close up, I always fear that I’m missing something,” he tells us.
In the 70s, the photographer, then in his 20s, began his career as a photojournalist, but the time the 80s were underway he had grown disenchanted with photography and found work as a movie camera operator. In 1995, Massimo took up a fine art photography practise, using large format film cameras to photograph Italy’s sunny beaches in an attempt to expose the inner and exterior lives of the nation’s people. “It’s not necessarily only around beaches and pools, but around beaches and pools these things are easier to detect and describe,” he explains. “I think it’s the best possibility to easily study our society and its changes.”
It’s no surprise then that Massimo’s latest show Disturbed Coastal Systems returns to beaches once again. “Yes, it’s still only beaches, but different beaches,” the photographer says. “Today’s beaches have an impending sense of doom. Not the careless leisure of the beginning of the century.”