Enrico Rassu‘s story begins not so long ago. Born in 1996, Enrico has been interested in music and photography since he was a teenager. But if in the field of music he has never been able to stand out for his talent, in the one of photography he immediately shines.
So, with his suitcase in one hand and his camera in the other side from Sassari to Milan, a city that allows him to study Fashion, Advertising, and Communication, but that above all represents a springboard for his career, because, from the Milanese environment, which remains his headquarters, he arrives in London, but also in Paris, New York.
Today, after many trips and experiences, Enrico stands out from his colleagues thanks to his talent and ability to capture the faces and atmospheres related to the rap music scene. From the result, you can perceive both the skill of Enrico Rassu, who from self-taught has managed to create a unique and recognizable style and the passion for what he photographs and that passes in front of his lens.
We, fascinated by his work, asked him a few questions to let us tell a little more about himself and his work.
You almost always shoot in analog, what do you think, instead, of digital photography?
Yes, almost all the photographs in my portfolio are in analog.
I think that digital photography is a great advantage and a simplification for the photographer’s work. The possibility of being able to control dozens of commands, not having to choose a film in color or b/w, take hundreds of photos and see instantly on a screen the result makes photography controllable. In general, I reduce the risks.
For concerts, I think that digital photography can give a better performance in the management of lights and colors. But in reality the camera is just the medium, we are the photography. An interesting shot can be taken with any camera, the important thing is the idea behind it.
What really pushed me towards analog photography is uncontrollable and unexpected. Not being able to know until days after the result, shoot less and think more; the reaction of the chemists who change from film to film has made each of my photographs unique.
How did your passion start? Are there photographers who have influenced the way you conceive an image?
It was a natural process.
I spent a good part of my teenage years in dilapidated garages, often underground, which we called “small rooms”. My friends of the time used to spend hours making music, I immediately realized that I was not good with an instrument so I found something that would allow me to be part of that journey. Over the years, after moving to Milan for university (I studied Media and Advertising), I realized, project after project, that it could really be a job. I grew up in a historical period where we are bombarded and educated in the vision of images of all kinds. I understood that I didn’t just want to be a user, but that I also wanted to create and tell stories. Photography was for me the most direct medium. Annie Leibovitz, Anton Corbijn, Ferdinando Scianna and Guido Harari were great masters for me.
What do you want to communicate about this music scene? Do you have a favorite song or an artist to whom you are particularly attached?
The back of the lights and aspects of an artist’s life that the public doesn’t see. My photography has a strongly documentary soul: it doesn’t focus on the studio set and the posing images, but it favors a more intimate narration, impossible to create without a strong bond with the artist and the study of the context in which it is immersed. At this moment in Italy, I have created a strong bond with the singer Tredici Pietro. We met at the beginning of his path and now I’m following him throughout his tour. We are working on something important together, which will last over time and does not fade with a click.
The world of trap/rap is also known for its colors and eccentricity, why do you almost always choose black and white to represent it?
When I started to approach photography I used to spend hours looking at jazz and rock ‘n’ roll photo books. Most of the shots of that time were in black and white. By starting to follow the early artists I wanted to give them the same powerful, timeless image that the grayscale and black and white contrasts evoke.
I think that for my research it can be more effective, the color always distracts the viewer who looks at a photo, we focus more on the color than on the content and the moments that are caught.
At this moment, if we open the profile of any rapper, all the photographs are perfectly balanced, posed, colored, all the same. The digital and the filters have completely flattened the photograph. I prefer the grain, the error, all the elements that make a photograph alive.
You managed to collaborate with many Italian and foreign artists; how do you manage to establish your personal bond with the subject in the shooting phase? Do you have an anecdote about one of these moments?
One experience that I always carry with me is certainly the one in Copenhagen in 2017.
I am chosen by Milk magazine together with Ovo Sound to photograph the Majid Jordan concert. At the end of the performance, I had ten minutes to meet the artists and take more intimate portraits and then return to Italy the next day.
I wait for the singers in a hall, they arrive and we start to talk about Sardinia that they know well, and many other things that we have discovered to have in common. The shooting session lasts more than 30 minutes and they decide to invite me to the after-party with them to continue the many speeches.
There, at 3 a.m. during the DJ set, they take the microphone and ask me to follow them until the end of their European tour. They tell me that they were impressed by my energy and the vibes that were hovering in that meeting. I get on their tour bus, a few degrees below zero without even a jacket that in a hurry I forget there and start incredible days.
Thanks to photography, mysterious intertwining with the artists in front of me is established, whom I have often never met before that shot and with whom I have created beautiful stories.
What is Enrico Rassu’s biggest dream and where do you want to get at?
Where I haven’t been.
The aim is to bring my vision and my story not only to music, but also to document fashion, cinema, and popular culture.
Is there a particular artist you would like to shoot in the future?
There are many of them, Drake is one. I was lucky enough to follow some of the dates of his Assassination Vacation Tour in Europe and find him next to me. I would like to shoot it in the house where he grew up in Toronto, with his father.