It’s easy to think of photography as a solitary endeavour. One person goes out alone with a camera and, in that quiet solitude, is able to wait for that perfect shot. Other people would be a distraction: photography is about an intimate moment between photographer and subject. However, for Alessandro Tear and other big-brand interior photographers like him, photography is a collaborative process. Each photoshoot requires a bustling hierarchy of stylists, designers, and their assistants in order to execute the lead photographer’s vision. From this crush of creativity, the whole team can learn and share technical and imaginative skills, while also experiencing a deep sense of camaraderie behind the camera.
‘Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with has been a bit of a laugh,’ says Londnr’s current Photographer in Residence, Alessandro, with a grin. ‘It’s just fun; we tell stupid jokes.’ Alessandro has been assisting on shoots for five years and working as a solo photographer for one. In this time, he has worked for a variety of big homeware brands, including French Connection, Harrods, and Hillary’s Blinds. ‘I love assisting,’ he says. ‘I didn’t learn photography at university, so I learnt doing assisting.’
Although Alessandro hated his university course in product design, you can tell that he still has a passion for analytical thinking. In fact, his favourite part of interior photography is not, as you might expect, the creativity, but ‘the problem-solving aspect’. ‘There are loads of little problems that will pop up on set and you have to find some hack way around it,’ he tells us. ‘I love it. It keeps me engaged.’
Never having formally studied photography, Alessandro instead spent some time working in different genres of the art: he spent a few years at a portrait studio, ventured into theatre, dance, and classical musician photography. Ultimately, the buzzing activity of commercial interior photography appealed to him most. ‘With interiors, you’re working the whole time, moving lights, moving furniture.’ To sum it up in his words: ‘I like making things look nice.’ Indeed, one look at his imagery, the gleaming furniture and the beautifully illuminated rooms, is more than enough. You realise he picked the perfect outlet for his particular skill.
But every man meets his mountain, and some items take a lot of effort to look nice. According to Alessandro, fabrics are the most finnicky to photograph, especially when bold patterns are involved. A team of stylists and assistants have to fluff, wrinkle and de-wrinkle fabrics so that the perfect texture comes across in the finished photo. If someone so much as accidentally knocks over a pillow, the whole set has to be restyled. ‘There’s loads of faffing on interior shoots,’ Alessandro points out. ‘I don’t want to see another pair of curtains ever again in my life. I hate it, every second of it. Absolutely horrible.’
If design and architecture are more up Alessandro’s alley, it makes perfect sense that he has such a great love of our capital. ‘I’ve always loved London.’ He tells us. ‘There are very few places that I would ever want to be that aren’t London … I’ve been to lots of really nice buildings on photoshoots. I’ve been lucky enough to photograph Kensington Palace; I’ve been in rooms that people don’t really get to go to.’
Still, working in a big city like London as a photographer can be frustrating. I ask him if interior photography is stable employment and he laughs before letting out a resounding ‘no’. ‘It’s difficult and you get a lot of no’s, a lot of people ignoring you. For every 10 or 15 emails, I might get two replies and maybe one of them was a “yes” or a “come to a shoot”. It’s a lot of rejection but you’ve got to ignore that. People aren’t going to email you back. The trick is to get over it and move on.’
Although London is where his loyalty truly lies, Alessandro admits to wanting to visit New York, Milan, Amsterdam, and some cities in Scandinavia. ‘I like minimal places,’ he says. ‘That’s why Scandinavian countries and their designs is on the to-do list… but you can find amazing buildings pretty much everywhere.’
Perhaps Alessandro’s attitude can serve as a quiet reminder to all of us to never stop admiring the structures around us.
For more of Alessandro’s work, please visit his website.