Interview: Alessio Trerotoli – Photographer

Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
I was born in 1981 in Rome, it’s the city where I grew up and where I’m living. I like to think I’m a “romantic traveler” and an “errant photographer.” My graduation was in 2009 in Disciplines of Arts and Cinema, with a specialization in History and Theory of Cinema. In the same year, I started to travel in Europe and in America, taking pictures and making experiences. My first exhibition was in 2010, in a gallery in Rome, where I displayed pictures of my travels. Since then my pictures were shown in several Italian galleries. In 2012, I published my first book, “Fuori dalla caverna” with notes, tales and some pictures of my travels, and at the end of the same year I began my most important project, “Urban Melodies.” In 2013, I won Abstracta Festival with the picture “There is a Light that Never Goes Out.” The year after, I won another prize in the Urban International Photo Contest. In 2015, I realized other projects like “Roma Coast to Coast” -a 21km walking trip through my city, and I finished my first 365 Project on Instagram.

Interview with photographer, Alessio Trerotoli on Jung Katz

How did you get started doing what you do?
I always had a passion for photography. There is a moment I can’t forget, when I was 10 years old, I was showing my grandmother photos of a little excursion I made with school in a place not far from Rome. My album was full of pictures of my schoolmates and my grandma asked me, “But where are you?” In that moment I realized that there wasn’t a picture of me in the entire album because I always was behind the camera. It was the first time I saw myself like a photographer. Later, after my graduation, I began to travel by myself: in Europe, and then in the United States and in South America. In that moment I didn’t know how to be a photographer, actually I didn’t know who I was. But my camera was with me, and walking through the streets and the alleys of Paris I suddenly found a huge inspiration, an inspiration that followed me in every city I visited since that moment. I didn’t choose to photograph, it was just something in me that told me to do it.

Interview with photographer, Alessio Trerotoli on Jung Katz

How would you describe your creative style?
I try to create by superimposing different pictures- abstract representations of urban landscapes and contemporary life from modern metropolises like Rome, New York, Paris, Berlin and many others. By juxtaposing different images, I would show a common image in a conceptual way. I see my superimpositions like melodic images: similar to the musical notes in a melody, each picture can stand by itself, but layered with the other pictures, the new image expresses a richer meaning. All of them, if linked to one another and concatenated in a bigger context, can create something different, and most importantly, something unique. They can reach a different meaning and become part of the melody: this is why the project is called “Urban Melodies”.

What’s your inspiration?
I absolutely love the street, the stories that every corner and every building can tell. I need to search the soul of a place, what that place can tell me. Through my photographs I try to catch the real soul of a street or a building, with something that belongs to its history and at the same time, to its daily life. I try to feed my inspiration walking for a while everyday and taking pictures of daily life in the city.

Interview with photographer, Alessio Trerotoli on Jung Katz

What is art to you?
Well, I think that my life is like a sum of phrases and art is its punctuation. It can’t make sense without commas and dots. This punctuation is not only photography, but also movies, songs and books.

What does your typical day look like?
More or less I usually wake up at 9am. After breakfast I sit in my office (my room) and I turn on my computer. I spend all my morning working on my pictures, responding to emails, and updating my social networks. At 1:30pm I eat and then I stay two more hours in front of my computer, reading blogs, looking at pictures and finishing my work. Then I go out (often with my camera), walking through my city, meeting friends or looking for new ideas and inspiration. At night I usually watch a movie, read a book or have a drink in a bar. At 2am I go to sleep.

Interview with photographer, Alessio Trerotoli on Jung Katz

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
It depends. Sometimes I finish a new “Urban Melody” in thirty minutes, sometimes I work on it for two or three days, looking for the right combination of images. Superimposing photos is an art that needs creativity, fantasy, curiosity and most of all, lots of patience. It’s like a puzzle, an enigma to solve- a solution exists, the right combination exists, but we have to find it. There are no preset rules, only the rules that we decide to impose.

How do you keep motivated?
I need to keep my eyes always open. Other photographers’ genius is a great motivation for me- I always observe their work and find a huge motivation to do my best. Photography is not only my job, it’s my passion, my life and I don’t want to do something else.

How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
As I said before, street is my inspiration and walking is the best for me. Paris, and my travels in general, were very important for my formation, but Rome was fundamental. Rome to me is like a wife that knows me very well, that knows what I need and how can I reach it. I’m lucky because my generation was maybe the last one to grow up on the street, playing with other children in the alleys and in the streets of the city all day long. When I was a child I spent all my days playing soccer in the street and enjoying life outside my house. I’m sure that this way to grow up influenced a lot my life and therefore my work.

Interview with photographer, Alessio Trerotoli on Jung Katz

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
It’s strange to say, but in my personal point of view, I think that I would multiply my existence. Every photographer is obsessed with time and space, I guess, so I would live on the walls of other people, in their libraries, in their houses, during my life and after. I can’t be everywhere and I can’t travel everywhere, but I hope that my pictures can do it for me.

How have others reacted to your work?
Lots of people write me on my Facebook page or by email to tell me how much my work inspires or touches them. This is the best satisfaction for me, more than an exhibition in a gallery or a feature in an important magazine. I love to read comments and reactions, they really are my engine.

What do you want others to take away from your work?
First of all, I hope to give inspiration. I’d like to inspire others to find beauty in every detail of their life. If in my “Urban Melodies” you can find something of beauty in a traffic jam or in a building in ruin, maybe you can learn to find beauty everywhere. Once I read a quote that is perfect: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Interview with photographer, Alessio Trerotoli on Jung Katz

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Maybe I would tell him some sentimental advice or to do something in a different way, but finally I think that I’d prefer don’t tell him a word: life will be the better teacher for him, as it is for me!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I have a story about it- in 2010, during one of my travels in Paris, I was talking with a friend of mine on a bench, not far from the Centre Pompidou. I was talking about my life, if I had to follow my dreams and go on trying to do my art, or if I had to turn my life in a surer existence, with “normal” work, a fixed salary, summer vacations and things like this. Suddenly I saw a writing under the bench, that writing was in Italian and said: “La vita è una sola, vivila come tu vuoi” (“Life is once, live it as you want”). I know, maybe it’s banal and not so original, but in that moment something changed in my mind. I never forgot this advice.

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Good things happen to those who wait, so don’t be discouraged if results are hard to reach. If this is your real passion it means that you only need more time.

Interview with photographer, Alessio Trerotoli on Jung Katz

What’s your dream project?
My dream is to travel every year taking pictures of people and life around me, discovering new places, new countries, new cultures but at the same time having a family in Rome, or wherever my job will bring me.

What art supplies do you use?
I’ve always admired photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, and I also love Margaret Bourke-White and Vivian Maier. But not only photographers. Movies, songs and books are my daily food. I find inspiration in music, books, movies, and people around me. My personal heroes are Bruce Springsteen and Antoine Doinel (the protagonist of a lot of François Truffaut’s movies). Movies like “Boyhood” or “The Tree of Life” or “Les 400 coups” fill my soul with love for the art, inspiration and motivation for my work.

Any other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?
I really like a Chilean photographer, Rosario Oddo, that works with film and realizes, in my opinion, something unique. Then, Iranian artist Ehsan Mehrbakhsh is one of my favourite illustrators, his work really mesmerizes me. Other talents that I admire are the Italian photographers Jacopo Ardolino and Carmelo Battaglia– they really deserve to be discovered.

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