Born and raised in the town of Naples in southern Italy, Angelo Formato moved to London to pursue his dream in photography eight years ago. Even though Formato’s first-ever camera was a digital camcorder compact camera from the early 2000s, his parents insist that it was actually a film “cow camera” — a toy made for an Italian yogurt brand that “literally had the shape of a cow.”
Formato was about eight years old at the time. He attributes a huge part of his initiation into photography to his “very big Italian family and their daily activities.” On what were his inspirations in photography growing up, Formato reminisces: “I grew up in a classic Italian family-style courtyard, and my subjects were mainly my family members. It like making a movie with me as the director and my family as the cast.” He remembers his experiments in photography at the time to be full of childlike adventures like “dressing the family up, creating different characters using clothes from their archives — especially from my mum’s wardrobe — who is a tailor and her wardrobe was full of stylish dresses made in the 80s and 90s.” Formato owes a lot of his inspiration in photography to his family who “had a big influence on my work and shaped me as a person and as an artist.” The photographer has since worked for multiple international clients publications such as Vogue, Elle and National Geographic, among others.
“I believe every artist has a big voice, a powerful voice that can change this world to a better place, especially in times like these,” says Formato, on his experiments in the present day — being at home during a pandemic. “The quarantine for me was a beautiful journey of rediscovering myself. It was like going back in time and celebrating what I have and who I am,” he muses.
Take a look at some of the quirky and wonderful photographic work Formato has been busy creating through seven days of quarantine:
Day 1: I have not worn anything else since lockdown started, I feel just like Pulcinella, a classical Neapolitan character from Commedia dell’arte.
Day 2: Although the weather is beautiful in London, everyone is staying in. I wonder what everyone is doing right now.
Day 3: My neighbors downstairs have a beautiful garden with lovely pink roses, my grandmother’s favorite flowers.
Day 4: People are panic-buying toilet paper which got me thinking. A pandemic psychologist says humans see toilet paper as a symbol of safety, a good luck charm keeping them safe. Just like the “curniciello” and other Neapolitan amulets and talismans worn to protect against bad luck.
Day 5: All I do is cooking and baking. I am quite proud of my 24-hour pizza dough that I learned to make during quarantine. It is a big Saturday’s tradition for many Italians — something to be proud of indeed!
Day 6: I realize my third eye – the lens – keeps taking me back home. The light falls on the olive oil bottle in the kitchen, next to my grandmother’s deck of cards. She used to read tarots with traditional playing cards.
Day 7: A London Summer from the past. Looking forward to seeing how things will be different this time around.