One can’t help but smile when someone takes their childhood passion and doesn’t just ride it into adulthood, but evolves with it. Matteo Marchi first stepped onto the courts at eight-years-old. Over the next 25 some years he did everything from play to coach. Then in 2003, he began a career in photography and when it came time to pick a subject he said, “It felt kinda natural to shoot hoops.” He also pointed out that as a player he wasn’t always the greatest. So in the grand scheme, it’s good he chose to shoot pictures instead of 3-pointers.
Since his start in photography Matteo has dealt with a lot of different types of photography, and that is where we begin this back and forth between a girl whose sole knowledge of basketball are the Monstars and a man who lives and breathed it so much, he made a career after capturing every second of it, and then some.
Kendra: How do those compare and contrast to when you’re on the court or a field with athletes doing what they do to shooting concerts and portraits?
Matteo Marchi: In my life, I think I shot every subject. I started doing press (local newspapers that meant homicides, accidents, gossip, events, and so on) and sports is really my thing. For me, I prefer to catch the moment instead of creating the moment. I have a sort of respect of what I shoot, and I don’t wanna intrude, like a sort of spectator. I get bored pretty easily so I’d like to see (and feel) action close to me: portrait and concerts are just not “action” enough for my taste.
Kendra: Color me insanely jealous because you’ve shot the Olympics, twice. Which event was the most stressful to shoot each time, and did you get to enjoy any of the games as a mere spectator or were you always working and on the go?
Matteo Marchi: The Olympics are the highest thing for people like me: it can’t be bigger than that. But when you are there, it just works, sleep, for a couple of hours every night, and work again. So you don’t “enjoy” as a spectator would do, but you still have the goosebumps of the moments you live. You see everything through the camera, but for me, it is more than enough. It is very stressful, and at the end of the whole thing you feel like you need to sleep for a week, but it’s worth every minute.
Kendra: Other than a Jordan (because even I’d pick him – Space Jam is my jam), which sports figure do you wish you could’ve shot in their heyday?
Matteo Marchi: I would have loved to shoot three different people, two in basketball and another one outside the field.
- Magic Johnson, for me, has always been the best basketball player ever. His smile, his way to the hoop, his joy for doing that as a job. That was real showtime!
- Drazen Petrovic, the Mozart of hoops, died too soon. As a European, he was one of the first guys who America accepted as one of their own. Probably the best Euro guy who ever stepped into the NBA.
- Mohammed Alì. The real GOAT. No caption needed.
Kendra: Thinking back to where you started and where you are today, how do you feel you’ve grown as a photographer?
Matteo Marchi: Every single day you grow. And you know what? I always feel like I haven’t been grown enough. This sort of feeling is a sort of curse, but also a blessing because it forces me to push and do my best every single night. When you start feeling like you are at the top, or better than anyone, you stop creating. You stop the hustle, your work is gonna get south. At that point, sell your stuff and change job. It’s time to go.
Kendra: Being based out in New York City, what borough would you say is the most photogenic?
Matteo Marchi: I live in BedStuy, Brooklyn, and my borough is by far the best one. Every corner, in his way, can be photogenic. And it’s getting better every day.
I don’t go out and shoot stuff like that, I think there are enough NYC photographers on Instagram, so no one needs me, but this city, and especially Brooklyn, offers countless opportunities to find great corners and magic locations for your shoots, of whatever subject. You just need to find yours!
Kendra: What do you have going on in the next few months in terms of photography?
Matteo Marchi: Working for NBA, the season is almost over. In mid-April, the regular season comes to an end, and I look forward to maybe shooting some playoff game. In September I will be in China for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. I am very excited. In the meantime, I really hope I will have the chance to spend some time home, in Italy, for a couple of projects that I’d really like to follow on my own. Some of them aren’t really related to photography, but who cares? I am also pursuing the idea about doing a book with my work, but nothing serious yet. I need to find the real inspiration!!!