Europoort by Fabrizio Alzati

Oct 10, 2018 9:34AM

An "Artist Diary" by the Italian photographer for IMAGE IN PROGRESS magazine. A new way to discover Artists' personal projects and s.

Fabrizio Alzati Crossroads, Maasvlakte 2 area, 2010

Fabrizio Alzati Green houses, Hoek Van Holland, 2010

Fabrizio Alzati The Shipping and Transport College, Rotterdam, 2010

Fabrizio Alzati Light pole, Rozenburg, 2018

Fabrizio Alzati Street view, Rotterdam, 2018

Fabrizio Alzati


Born in Milan on September 6, 1972, Fabrizio Alzati speaks fluent Italian, English and Japanese. After eight years spent as a graphic artist in Italy, he moved to Japan, where he lived for six years. There he became a project manager for a firm of architects in Tokyo. His love of photography was rekindled when he moved to Kyoto, a city that fascinated him because of the marvelous natural environment surrounding it. It was here that he developed an interest in documenting the areas of Japan and other countries the lie off the beaten tracks (currently he is working on a project on the Suez Canal). His documentary style pays increasing attention to landscapes and locations where the synergy between man and environment is strong. Presently, Fabrizio lives in Milan with his Japanese wife Ayako and a 5-year-old son, Leo, but he travels often throughout Italy, Japan, France and North Europe.


ph-t: Fabrizio Alzati

My Previous Life.

When I met Emanuele Cucuzza, at the Furniture Fair in 2007, we started talking about publishing and photography right away. Back then I used to work for a Japanese firm of architects with offices in Tokyo, Osaka, New York, Los Angeles and Milan. I traveled a lot for them and I never left home without my Leica M7.

The Photo Around The Corner.

I was more than just a photo buff and the temptation to follow my instinct and to become a full-time photographer was already strong. Years of photo reports went by, when I finally made my decision. So, I updated my website, took stock of my situation and slowly revived some old contacts. However, Emanuele – whom I had talked to for some of my first photo reports – got in touch with me before I got in touch with him. He talked to me about Image in Progress – his new publishing venture – and asked me to tell my story. To be honest, I was a bit uncomfortable because, even though I worked in communication, it was not easy all of a sudden to zero in on myself.

The Choice.

So I decided to talk, though not about me but about Europoort, one of my recent photo reports. What you see here are obviously only some of the photos available on the website. I left the choice of the photos to be published entirely to Emanuele, because I think that editing a magazine involves a personal touch that reflects the style of the publication. After all, even though it is hard to be objective, I made my choice at the beginning and, also from an emotional point of view, I have problems in summarizing in a few photos a project that lasted months or years and involved many trips… Maybe a full account can be given only with a book.

Memories From Japan.

Anyway, before I start talking about this project devoted to Rotterdam’s port, I think I should relate first of all to a previous trip to Japan. About a couple of years ago, as I was going by taxi on the highway connecting Osaka’s airport to my hotel, and running parallel to the sea for several kilometers, I observed with interest a long series of warehouses, wood storage areas, steel plants, incineration plants, petrochemical plants that, all together, created a single industrial complex that extended along the coast up to the city of Kobe. Besides the view in itself, which I thought was kind of “extreme”, I was fascinated most of all by how the Japanese, and human beings in general, have been able to domesticate and then change nature, often with negative effects. Right then I began to think about documenting the part of the gulf that I had observed from the car, that is the area between Kansai international airport and the center of Osaka. This research is making progress and I hope to complete it soon.

Why Europoort.

The idea to photograph Rotterdam’s port was a natural consequence of the research begun in Japan. After I returned to Italy, as I was going over Osaka’s work, I started considering the possibility to monitor an area of equal interest in Europe. I picked the Netherlands and, specifically, the area between the Ocean and Rotterdam, with its enormous and storied port. I went through this project in the same order as that shown in the gallery on the website, that is starting from the mouth of the Meuse river and then going upstream until I reached Rotterdam, which is located 30 km inland. I find it much more interesting to communicate to the viewer of my photos what I felt during this research, starting from the coastal area next to the entry of the Europoort and then slowly, going against the flow, showing human settlements up to the most urbanized areas. Europoort is a world in the world, a continuum of container loading and unloading areas, fuel tankers, refineries, warehouses, with a constant vessel traffic in the background. All of this is surrounded by the beautiful Dutch countryside, the eternally moving sky and the city of Rotterdam, which I liked a lot for its liveliness and for some of its great buildings, including the Kubuswoningen by Piet Blom and the KPN Building designed by Renzo Piano.

How To Take Photographs.

With respect to personal projects I try to work in an intuitive manner, getting often involved in what I find interesting during my research. Given my nature as a procrastinator, the best way for me to work was to set a strict schedule – which I usually can keep up with – even though over time I have come to discover that often my best photographs come from unstructured situations, when you least expect it and when you are not particularly focused. I always shoot in analog with a Leica m7 and a 35 mm lens or with a Mamiya 7. For some specific outdoor architectural works I use an optical bank Horseman 45 FA. I always take care of postproduction personally but, typically, I just make little chromatic changes. Occasionally, for some indoor architecture works, I use digital by shooting in raw. I am not a nostalgic and do not make any distinction between digital and analog, yet I continue to use film for all those nuances and tonalities that digital has so far been unable to re-create.

How To Show My Work.

I do not have an agency because generally I seek to establish direct contacts with clients. Promoting oneself and one’s work is one of the hardest things to do and that is why I try, as much as possible, to select carefully my prospects, making appointments to explain in detail (though briefly) the concept on which the photos that I am promoting are based. Right now I am thinking about organizing a photo exhibition to show some of my photos of three major ports - Osaka, Rotterdam and Genoa. That is why I am trying to identify the right sponsor for this project in Milan and, eventually, in Paris.

Follow Image in Progress on Artsy