Toni thorimbert photographed by sonia giottoli
Settimio Benedusi: which three photographic books you’d buy again, and why?
Toni Thorimbert: I answer this with pleasure but I’d like to state in advance. If my studio really had to burn down today, I don’t know if the answers would be the same. Lets say that the game will rather take me to tell you about those books that counted in my visual formation from the beginning of my path to today.
I am not at all of a nostalgic nature, and I would probably take advantage of this incident at my studio to decisively turn the page towards something unknown and possibly audacious, while the answers that follow are after all conservative. But, seeing that this post is after all an escamotage to tell, together with my friend settimio, what has been important for our professional formation I’d say that one of the first books that I’d buy is:
“tokio” william klein.
I will never thank giovanna calvenzi enough, at the time she was just my history of photography teacher at the umanitaria institute in milan, in getting me to know the works of william klein and especially for getting me to know him from a prospective: klein vs cartier bresson. A point of view which to this day I still use as a watershed when I have to decide how to approach or judge a job. Infact as soon as you compare these two authors you come to the realisation that as soon as you pick up a camera you have to first of all choose sides: you either take part with the type of photography without being seen, or in any case where the presence does not interfere with the course of reality, like cartier bresson or you behave like klein that with his ways of physically becoming part of the act unavoidably he modifies it, so much that the consequent photograph is a result of this interaction.
At the beginning it was like choosing a party, “klein’s party”.
I didn’t like Cartier bresson at all, then with time I began to recognise his great stature, while klein became, especially after getting to know him, more obscure.
So, my way of approaching reality with a camera around my neck comes from there, from klein, and from the first book on photography that I bought.
“white women” helmut newton
Also this was one of my first books. A real beauty. The woman, the sensuality, the photography, the power. A world of white women, dangerous and independent.
Thin and terrible title. I mention this book because it is the one that made me aware of newton, but all his books, even if a few are debatable, should be owned. All his work, for a photographer, is extremely important because it is absolutely inimitable. One can try and take a “newton photo” but the more the result is similar the more it would look ridiculous and absurd. Helmut newton is a real mystery, in his very subtle way of being so powerful… maybe partly revealed by a famous portrait, taken by his wife Alice Spring, where he’s wearing high hills.
“an autobiography” by richard avedon
Even though my/his favourite book is “in the american west”, this autobiography contains avedon’s essence, in the good and evil, as a whole. Avedon’s is preeminently the modern time photographer, with his unmatched ego, his theatrical tricks, his schizophrenia between commercial photography and art, between introspection and glamour. To study, love, and at the end even maybe hate, and in no ways can he be disregarded.
SB: You are a photographer, so you need some equipment. Name three photographic cameras that you cannot be without?
TT: a 6×6 rolleiflex bifocal with an 80mm 2,8 planar lens. Not because it’s a fetish, but because there isn’t a digital camera in the world, at the moment that can do what only the rollei can do with this optic, can do so well: a photograph in full colour taken at sunset and backlit and, once printed it recreates also the smell, and the transparency of the air, and the sentiment of that moment with the same truth and fullness.
An optical bench 10×12. The abc of photography. It is necessary to know how to use it as to know to read and write, like breathing. Professionally the best camera in the world, with which against some beliefs you can do, well, absolutely anything. It deserves a book on its own, let figure a post. Who has never used it should do themselves a favour and leave the canon and start from the beginning with modesty, from the emery lens, with the image upside down.
1 small compact digital camera.
I need it for the blog, the locations, the holiday photos.
Of all the others, after all I’d be happy to get rid of them.
SB: Three digital equipment pieces?
TT: a Mac Book Pro laptop
A server (at least three terabytes)
I can’t think of a third thing… a mouse?
SB: To keep up with the time, you go to the newspaper kiosk… name three magazines you’d buy.
TT: I have a deep relationship with the newspaper kiosk, almost morbid, even though nowadays I go much less. I mean that niccolò, my assistant, goes and gets the magazines, but sometimes I do go, perhaps at night I go to the “bad newspaper kiosk” and I start sniffing, paging, piling , buying. A totally compulsive shopping which varies from time to time, from what inspires me and what doesn’t. I buy everything, from horses to australian fashion magazines, interior design, houses, architecture. But I can think that this time I would buy:
“motosprint”, in case there won’t show the moto gp in jail and “superbike” because I do not want to miss the latest motorbike which I won’t buy anyways. Also because “superbike” is the last magazine to have the naked pinup in the middle and the motorbike on a white background. It’s courage that has to be awarded.
“vogue paris”, not to look like someone that only reads motorbike magazines.
American “vanity fair”, not to confuse it with the italian one. Let’s say, to be polite, that they are two different things and the american one keeps me up to date with what is happening overseas. I read it all, it’s written very well and also because there are lebowitz’s pictures which, even though they are a bit mincing, they always have to be seen. Besides it is better to see them in the magazine than in her books because with the layout and the titles and the explanations I see them at their best.
“interview”. In the new look designed by fabien baron. I am ashamed of saying this but I still find his graphics really beautiful. It makes me feel cool. It’s a bit like jazz, like miles davis, in reality the stuff is a little outdated which bores after a while, but if you put it on it will always make you look good.. Like: “who’s this?” “well.. It’s miles davis” like that, as if it was by chance. Baron’s graphics are like that: super cool even though it is definitely very, very bourgeois. But it is like a cashmere jersey, soft and to have it is not a bad thing.
“numero”, “pop”, “purple”, “!D”. Or the fashion photographs that I will never do. I like them, sometimes they inspire me, but they are not my kind, at all. Infact I buy them often, because then I can reassure myself of what I am NOT.
SB: At an electronic store you buy an iPod and a television with dvd player. You also buy 3 Cds to gladden in the background your next photo shoots, (assuming that, after many years in jail, someone will still hire you) and three movies that are of paramount importance for a photographer.
TT: Massive attack, protection.
An album that not only carries me, but the whole wide world, armies and luggage, from the mediocre repetitiveness of rock to the more intense, contemporary morbid and facetted. This was recommended to me by the editor of mademoiselle in new york of which I had a crush on. Before massive attack I lived in some kind of musical prehistory and I used to listen to a miscellaneous post melodic sounds of guitars and drum sets. (you want an example?sting) I bought the tape (the tape!) at the virgin megastore in los angeles and I drove to it to san francisco. Since then it got under my skin. Probably, if you could put me in a cd player and you spin me around its the sound I’d reproduce.
Madonna’s latest, whichever one it is. when in the studio you have a model yawning because of jet lag or the hair and make up is slightly pissed off, you put on madonna and you can never go wrong, you are sure to get one or two photos.
SB: three movies
TT: blow up, michelangelo antonioni.
Off course. It is the movie that says everything about photography and photographers and not only because david hemmings drives a convertible rolls royce and white levi’s, or because he rolls around between backdrops with models, but also because, at the end, he not only discovers that photography lies, but that life itself is an illusion.
This said, all of antonioni is to watch. There was a period of time (a rather dark period) in my life where I used to keep in my studio a television always on with antonioni’s movies on loop, to always have a constant flow of incredible images. Now, thank god I have recovered, but I do not deny that I’ve done it.
“2001 a space odissey” by stanley kubrick
A classic. Perhaps a banal choice. But 2001 is not a science fiction movie, it is a movie about the mystery of life and death, packaged like a conceptual art piece but easily comprehended by everyone, equipped with the best images accompanied by the most spot on music in the world.
I thought it was a good excuse to spend 9,90.
Anyways besides kubrick as a photographer (not the greatest but, his photography book is a rather useless present) all his movies, besides the last one, deserve a box set. I mean, if one wants to understand how to put images together, a story, how a camera panes, how to direct actors, I would say that stanley cannot be set aside and I would add that it all reveals with time very, very useful when you go and take a picture…
Eraserhead. By david lynch.
His debut movie, I think was made for his final exam.
Ugly. Dark. Anxious, slow, crumbled, absurd.
All this makes it extremely important.
The dark side of the matter. Everything I said for the other two directors also goes for him: besides “dune” (never understood it) all his movies are incredibly good but also bad, and don’t even get me started on his cartoons where horrible people fart and burp or kill. A disaster. But the lighting.. Man!you have to learn! And how he films and photographs interiors is beyond me. And his women? Beautiful, also, a little quirky, of twin peaks.
Now I see he directed some gucci ads.. I guess he also has to pay off some bond…
You can find my answers to the same questions on toni’s blog: http://tonithorimbert.blogspot.com/