Colour and Light: An Interview With Portrait Photographer Alessio Albi

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Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Is the internet one of the best things to happen to photography? It certainly makes it easy to view the work of and connect with photographers from all parts of the world. Last week I interviewed Cristina Hoch, a Spanish photographer, the interview before that was with Oded Wagenstein (Israel) and this week the interview is with Alessio Albi, a young photographer from Perugia in Umbria, central Italy.

I like a lot of things about Alessio’s portraits. The use of natural light, the subtle use of earthy colours, the interaction of his models with nature and the way he shoots through glass and adds reflections to some of his portraits. I’m sure you’ll like his photos too. Here’s the interview:

Alessio Albi interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from and where do you live now? How long has photography been a hobby of yours and what motivated you to get started?

I’m 27 years old and I live in Perugia, Italy. Photography joined my life about four years ago, when a friend of mine (my first photography teacher) suggested that I buy a DSLR. I wanted to find another way to express myself beside drawing, my other big passion (a passion that I still carry on, but without good results, honestly).

How would you describe yourself and your personality? This may be bit of a deep question, but how does your personality affect the way you take photos?

I was a very shy and introverted person, until I found photography. These two parts of my personality are still here, but photography changed so much the way I relate people. Maybe the introverted part of me is still visible in some of my photos, especially in my self-portraits (you can’t find many of them on photography social networks, but I have tons on my hard disk) and in some portraits with my models.

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

What camera equipment do you use to create your portraits? And out of all your lenses, which is your favourite for portraits and why?

I don’t have much equipment; I mostly use only my DSLR (a Nikon D600, at this moment) with two prime lenses, the 50mm 1.4 and the 85mm 1.8. I love them because they let me shoot in very low light and they have almost no distortion. I also sometimes use a 5-in-1 reflector and a flash.

I can see that you use natural light for most of your portraits. Why is that, what is the appeal of natural light for you?

Yes, natural light is my way. I sometime use artificial light to fill shadows, but this is mostly done with reflectors in natural light. I love natural light because it creates amazing shapes and volumes that I can’t obtain with artificial light (maybe because of my technical limitations). I could spend an entire day waiting for that precise ray of light coming through my window and shoot hundreds of photos only with this light source, because I love the way it interacts with the human body. I also love cloudy days for my outside shooting, because clouds create the perfect light diffuser and add lot of atmosphere to pictures.

How would you describe the quality of the natural light where you live? How does it change with the seasons, and how do you use this in your photos?

Natural light here in Umbria is amazing. During winter we can have a bright sunny day and the day after a wonderful fog (I use that fog very often, especially on the top of a moutain near my home; you can see that in a lot of my photos). Summer light is a bit more difficult due to hard shadows, but I love it because I can shoot in water, in a small river near my home that I love since I was a kid, where the trees attenuate light and create an amazing mood.

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

I’ve noticed that quite a few of your photos are taken in low light. What is the appeal of low light for you?

I love low light not only because it adds a lot to the atmosphere I want to create, but because it helps me to exclude a lot of details that would distract from the subject. As I said before, it’s only with low light that I can concentrate on that precise ray of light coming through the window.

Most of your portraits are taken outside. How does the environment you live in affect your approach to photography?

Umbria and Italy have a vast variety of environments, from lakes and big plains to mountains and woods. I only miss sea (but that’s about only two hours by car from my home) and desert (sadly that’s quite far from here). We also have a lot of abandoned places that I love to visit with my friends, to plan the next concept.

Who inspires you? Who are your three favourite photographers, and why?

I have to say that I’m mostly inspired from the “internet era” than from the classic and world famous photographers. Of course I love also the big names (I truly love Annie Leibovitz) and of course studying them is important. With internet and social networks I’ve found a lot of amazing artists all around the world. I’ve met some of them in real life, I talk often on internet with others and I’ve only had the opportunity to admire the work of many others.

I think that the possibilities that internet gave us are truly amazing and I honestly don’t think that my photography would have been the same without it. I hate hearing people saying that giving the opportunity to take photos and share them to everyone is a bad thing. That’s a good thing. Maybe I wouldn’t have started otherwise, and maybe some of my inspirational artist neither.

So I can’t give you three names, because I have at least 100 of them on the same level.

Where do you meet your models? Do they tend to be people you know, or strangers? How important is your relationship with your models to the creative process?

The vast majority of my models are my friends. And if not, they often become my good friends. My favourite photos are created with the models I have the better relationships with. The more complicity and trust I have with the models, the better they express themselves and I express myself. The models I don’t know personally I find on internet social networks.

Finally, what are the most important lessons you have learned about portrait photography so far?

I don’t ever think I’ve finished learning, learning never ends. Somewhere there’s always someone better than me to learn from.

And maybe the most important thing for me, photography can create beautiful relationships between people.

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi


You can see Alessio’s work on both Flickr and 500px.

Photo Gallery

Here are some more of Alessio’s portraits:

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Natural light portrait by Alessio Albi

Further reading

The Natural Portrait ebook coverMore interviews with portrait photographers:

Colour and Contrast: An Interview With Portrait Photographer Cristina Hoch
The Creative Portrait Photography of Tori Mercedes
An Interview with Miss Aniela
An Interview with Photography Patrick Wack

Click the link for a list of all my interviews with photographers.

My ebook The Natural Portrait teaches you how to take beautiful portraits in natural light.


All photos Copyright © Alessio Albi. Please contact the photographer for permission to use in any way.



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One Response to “Colour and Light: An Interview With Portrait Photographer Alessio Albi”

  1. […] What will be inspiring for you, is the photography she produces with such limited equipment. Click here for an interview with […]

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