The Surreal Black and White Photography of Michael Ticcino

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Anthony Loved to Fish

Anthony Loved to Fish

There’s a genre of photography that has always appealed to me and that I dabbled with a little when I first started using Photoshop, but have never pursued. I think of it as ‘surreal photography’ and like to see it when it is done well, especially in black and white. Which is exactly why I like the work of Michael Ticcino so much. His imaginative photos show how it is possible to use Photoshop to create imagery that exists only in the imagination.

This type of image making has been made much easier by digital photography, and it’s interesting to look at Michael’s photos in the context of the ongoing debate about the use of Photoshop in photography. To my mind, the debate is nonsense, and photos like these show what’s possible when an imaginative mind explores the creative potential of photography and Photoshop.


How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of feel do you try and create in your pieces?

I’m not so sure I have a photographic vision.  I don’t really consider what I do photography or myself a photographer.  I’m more of an image maker who uses a camera as one of my tools.  Although I love to use my cameras, they are only a means to an end.

What I try to accomplish with these images is a sense of realism with a twist.  In other words it is a believable scene that never could have existed.

What made you decide to explore photographic digital media as a means of artistic expression?

Burn-out and hedonism.  I’ll briefly explain.  I worked as an art director/creative director in advertising agencies.  In the beginning it was challenging and fun, but after over 30 years of creating to please others, I needed to please me, and only me.  To seek no-one’s approval or acceptance of my work.  It is easy to lose sight of that sometimes, because of the way I was groomed.  When I find myself in creative slumps, that is usually the reason.  Please don’t misunderstand, I find it rewarding when a respected peer is complimentary, but not necessary for me to continue.

Your surreal images are very creative. Where does the inspiration come from?

Most of the time the inspiration stems from something I see.  Unlike the true definition of surrealism, it does not begin with the desire to “release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.”  I’m not that deep.  I only have one piece that was done with a purpose in mind.  The piece is titled, “Anthony Loved to Fish.” I did that to pay homage to my father, who has not be with us for quite some time.  As a child we had many fun and memorable fishing trips together.

Talk us through the process of creating one of your fantasy images. Do you use your own images or other peoples? What thought processes do you go through as you the image comes together?

I try to keep my mind a blank as possible (not real hard) and allow myself to be influenced by what I see.  Sometimes it works and the result is rewarding. It satisfies me creatively.  Other times I think it works but when I revisit the piece it does not hold the same excitement.  Still, I won’t trash it.  I’ll look at it from time to time.  I have many of those “in-progress” pieces.

As far as elements, I use a combination of “attribution” pieces and my own.  I live in a very suburban setting and don’t get to travel much, so if I need an image of a dry lake bed I need to find an appropriate licensed image that works.

Name three photographers or artists you like and why.

Jerry Uelsmann.  Fantastic thinker and technical master.  He creates amazing, thought-provoking pieces from negatives, not digital.

Thomas Barbèy.  Why?  Just look at his work.

Yves Lecoq.  He combines humour with the surreal.  That adds another dimension to the viewing experience.

Why do you work in black in white? What draws you to the medium?

I work in black and white because colour is not necessary in order for these pieces to be rewarding to me.  In fact it gets in the way.  When I first begin, the elements are roughly assembled in colour, because that’s how they come.  I quickly convert the assembly to black and white and alter the colours to pleasing tones of gray.  That changes the dynamic.  The piece begins to have more unity.  I love colour, just not here.

Talk about the titles of your pieces.

I title most of these as I am working on them.  The titles are very important because they complete the visual.  They are a large part of the viewing experience.  The image should never be displayed without its title.

Where is your photography going? What future photographic projects are you excited about?

I have absolutely no idea where I’m going.  I have no real direction and I like it that way.  The only exception was the “Anthony Loved to Fish” piece.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do before I began.  As for the future, who knows.  With no direction I am free to go wherever.

Links and contact details

Michael Ticcino’s Flickrstream

Email: michael [at] ticcinocreative [dot] com

After This We Are So Outta Here

After This We Are So Outta Here

Desperate for Attention, Carl Sat and Waited

Desperate for Attention, Carl Sat and Waited



Elizabeth Waits for an Adult

Elizabeth Waits for an Adult

For Amanda It Would Be A Lifetime of Acceptance No Matter The Cost

For Amanda It Would Be A Lifetime of Acceptance No Matter The Cost

Maddox & Terrance On A Weekend Road Trip

Maddox & Terrance On A Weekend Road Trip

This Time Charles Took Samantha for a Proper Walk

This Time Charles Took Samantha for a Proper Walk

All photos Copyright Michael Ticcino. Please contact the photographer for permission to use in any way.


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3 Responses to “The Surreal Black and White Photography of Michael Ticcino”

  1. Bella Tozini says:

    Very nice Interview!

  2. Michael Ticcino says:

    Many thanks, Andrew!

  3. Colin Campbell says:

    Thanks for introduction Andrew. Wonderful work Michael!

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