Massimo Rana – Fotografo

FRONTSTAGE, Portraits on stage

120 unpublished, and never seen before, pictures of memorable concerts.
by Massimo Rana

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Project Description

Frontstage – Portraits on stage –

120 unpublished, and never seen before pictures of memorable concerts.
by Massimo Rana

Massimo Rana FrontStage – Ritratti dal palco AC-DC – Crowdbooks PublishingAC-AC-DC | Photo © Massimo Rana

Years ago I read these words in an article by Michele Smargiassi, journalist and writer who deals with photography and visual culture: “ Photography is mute, music is blind: but what a show, what fireworks when these two different arts meet ! ”

It seems impossible to us, but many years ago the faces of musicians were completely unknown, except for the few who could see them perform live on stage.

Massimo Rana FrontStage – Ritratti dal palco – David Byrne – Crowdbooks Publishing
Photo pass for David Byrne concert in Milan – 1992 | Photo © Massimo Rana

We, born in the 60s, are used to seeing covers, photos in music magazines and posters that we have hung in our teenagers rooms … In those images, which were the background to our daily life, this meeting was celebrated, in those images we found the marriage between music and photography.

How do you photograph music?

Massimo Rana FrontStage – Ritratti dal palco RAMONES – Crowdbooks Publishing
Ramones’ concert, Milan | Photo ©Massimo Rana

I have been a concert photographer for many years. I experienced crazy, surprising and magical moments from under the stage: “You find yourself shooting while immersed in the sound wave that envelops you like incense. In front of you, you find the artist holding their guitar, drenched in sweat… or with a microphone in their fingers, or with red and swollen cheeks blowing into a saxophone…”

Your photo pass says “Three songs. No flash!”

And this is the directive to follow, the time you have to do your best.

Massimo Rana FrontStage – Ritratti dal palco Jackson Browne Pass – Crowdbooks Publishing
Photo Pass of Jackson Browne’s concert © Massimo Rana

This was been my life for many years. Until, bitterly, I had to start working in other fields. I had a family to care for…

Years passed and my photographs, the ones that hung in my living room, the ones I was trying to escape from, wanted to talk to me. They had been there for nearly twenty years. All those images did not want to be forgotten. They wanted to live…

When I came up with the idea of going back to my archive, the first step was to put the stripes of negative rolls in order. What an opportunity to review all the film material ? It was such a surprise! There were a lot of photos I didn’t even remember I took; some shots had never been printed even as “proofs” because I did not consider them “suitable”.

Massimo Rana FrontStage – Ritratti dal palco – GIL Gilberto – Crowdbooks Publishing
GIL Gilberto | photo © Massimo Rana

The pictures you’ll find in the book are, of course, only a small part of my black and white film archive. They have been scanned only recently and are almost entirely unpublished because newspapers and magazines mainly required color pictures.

In the images I chose to propose in “FRONTSTAGE – Portraits on stage” different styles are brought together. There’s a mixture of genres, characters, gestures, subjects and visual events that, without photography, would have no meaning nor memory.

And then there are the eyes of the artists on stage…which only the photographer meets and reaches so closely.

Massimo Rana FrontStage – Ritratti dal palco – Lenny KRAVITZ – Crowdbooks Publishing
Lenny KRAVITZ in concert | Photo © Massimo Rana

Thanks for collaborating in the edition of this book :
Paolo Bertazzoni, Fausto Pirito and Eddi Berni, music journalists.

Omar Pedrini (Timoria) and Flavio Ferri (Delta V), musicians and music producers.

Federico Scarioni, writer.

Claudio Trotta, music events promoter (Barley Arts)

Book Specifications

Cover:On paper Gardapat Klassica 350gr with open flat binding (180°)
ISBN: 9788885608450
Category: Libri fotografici, Musica

Author Informations

NameMassimo Rana
Country Italia


Massimo Rana was born in 1962 in Rho and grew up in Pero, the suburbia of Milano. He attended the I.T.S.O.S. in Milan and, in 1982, obtained a high school diploma in the course of Visual Communication.

After a couple of years he found a job in a photo journalistic agency that mainly deals with sports. Initially he works in the darkroom and in the archive but, gradually, he proposes himself as a photographer’s assistant for the most demanding services.

The Agency, in the coverage of international events, is a partner of the Associated Press and this proves to be an excellent professional experience. In 1986 he began his experience as a Free Lance and collaborated with various agencies.

At this juncture Massimo Rana devotes himself to two great passions: social reportage and music events.

The passion for music leads him to follow the many festivals of the “new Italian rock” where he begins collaborations with Italian groups. The results are encouraging and the collaboration with the daily newspaper Il Manifesto allows him to access the stages of international stars.

Since 1986 he has followed several hundred concerts under the stage: the best of international music.
But this job is changing. The world of photography is also changing. The truth is that the freelance photographer can no longer survive with his work. The advent of digital photography gives the final blow.

Massimo Rana decides that the family, which in the meantime has been formed, is much more important than his passions.

Suddenly, the stage and everything that surrounds it disappear from his everyday life. It is time to change. Bitterly. His photos, his films, his cameras are stored in drawers, in archives and remain there for a long time.

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