Giovanni Riccó grew up in a small town in Italy called Vignola, in between the cities of Modena and Bologna. When he was 10 years old, Riccó started climbing and hiking with the Italian mountaineering association. Every weekend, they would visit different parts of Italy and soon ventured into the mountains of Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia and even France. Being exposed to the many different cultures at such a young age, Riccó was forced to get out of his comfort zone and soon found interest in experiencing and discovering new cultures - a perspective that would later on be heavily incorporated into his photography. "I started comparing my reality and culture with others and found many interesting differences that tended to lead to a certain story."
At the age of 15, he enrolled in Aviation school to become a pilot but soon realised that it wasn't his path. Ricco went on to join the Academy of Fine Art in Rimini, Italy with a major in photography.
What was your first experience with the camera?
I remember buying a red scale negative film from Lomography because I thought it was cool (it wasn’t really) and I took photos with it by the Panaro River near the house where I grew up. I remember this being a happy place in my photography background. The countryside by the river changed a lot depending on the season because of the cherry orchards that grew there.
Do you remember the first bunch of photographs you took? What was that like?
Oh yes, I do. They were pretty bad, honestly, but there are some pictures I still remember with joy. I remember my ability to ruin most of my film in one way or another. One year, I even left all of the film I’d shot over a month in my checked luggage. Pretty dumb, huh?
Giovanni's first photographs
How do you feel your photography has evolved over the years?
It’s evolved a lot, of course. I feel that now I only take photos if I encounter something that reminds me of something else, as opposed to a few years ago when I was shooting everything I happen to chance upon. I am still changing a lot and developing my style, but I feel that I am on a good path. My goal is to produce photographs that use a sort of retro language to make people relax or smile. Some key learning experience I’d share is to learn how to spend less time caring what is trendy on social media, create your own realities and persist. Someone will eventually recognise your point of view. Be prepared to receive a lot of no’s, but if you are sure about your vision then try to develop it further and create something better.
During the summer of 2018, Giovanni Ricco joined by his girlfriend went on a road trip of a lifetime. For 3 months, Ricco was on the road driving up coasts to coasts of the Iberian Peninsula, a mountainous region in Southwestern Europe. This long coast has been occupied by various empires over the centuries but despite their size, locations or cultural and historical dispositions, the coastal towns all share an immense natural beauty and a deep connection with water. "This is a project that started with the idea to document more than a specific place located in a specific geographic position. I think it’s more of a line that connects several realities and if you are following it you can find certain similarities but also find completely different things in this same line."
“The man in this picture is Pedro and I met him while driving when he saw me from far, he stopped me by putting his hand outside the window. He was German but he fell in love with a women from the country side and so moved to Spain many years ago. He used to be a mechanic for Volkswagen and so he knew everything about the engine. So he gave me his number So we exchanged numbers and a couple of days later he started sending me manuals of the engine and started asking me how the trip is going. It was really nice meeting him”.
Some of Giovanni's most played songs during his road trip across the peninsula:
On May 3rd 2019, Riccó held his first exhibition for 5651km in Valencia where he now resides. The exhibition took place in Espai Llimera, a cultural center ran by a friend. These days, Riccó can be found running his photography business, John Mermaid Studio. The space, which is located in a residential neighbourhood of Valencia also doubles up as a rental space for other photographers to work in.
"Besides working to grow my studio business, I am also hoping to start working on two different projects. One has to do with an interesting story that took place in Valencia and would mix landscapes and portraits. The other one has to do with a particular music scene. For the rest, it’s summertime now and there is no better time to enjoy the Mediterranean and its food! :) "