ItalianLondon meets…MASSIMO RUMI

Max Kids


“Massimo Rumi is an Italian photographer who lives in London but makes the globe his home. From a corporate career – and the lifestyle that goes with it – Massimo turned his lens inwards before embarking on an adventure far removed from the finance world…”

ItalianLondon caught up with Massimo in London and were impressed by his array of stories and images from far flung destinations around the world.

Where is home?

Right now home is the world. After spending the last 8 years in Sydney working in Finance for an American company I decided to leave the corporate world to focus on my passion, photography and travelling. At the end of June last year I left my belongings in a storage and I started my journey around the world. Have been travelling since..

Why London?

Before moving to Australia I was living in London. I am now thinking to move back here because it is a great city, well connected with the rest of the world and with many opportunities to display my work.

What are the things you’re most enjoying about London so far?

London is like home for me. I spent 5 years in London before moving to Australia and bought an apartment. Yes, people complain about the weather but it’s a city that has a lot to offer.  In Australia I was having a great lifestyle but I was missing the European culture and was feeling far away from it. Over the last two months I spent here I re-connected with London life.. I like the fact that there is always something happening especially for art lovers like me.


Pic 1: The heart of the earth (Ethiopia) I took this photo on top of the Erta Ale Volcano in Ethiopia.  After hiking for 5 hours at night with 42 degree Celsius I reached the mouth of the Vulcano. That night there was a super moon and I found myself between the energy of the earth and the energy of the moon….

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get into photography?

I got into photography when I was 18. I started shooting in black and white with a film camera. I was using my bathroom as darkroom , developing and printing my images.

At that time photography was a hobby. Over the years I have been trying  to find the right balance between my creative side and my main job but I knew that at some point in life I would have switched to full-time photography.  Three years ago I was working on a global project for my company and I was travelling like crazy. I invested in some professional equipment and I started to spend all my free time taking photos around the world. My holidays were dedicated to photography projects and I guess this was an organic progression to becoming a freelance photographer.  Infact last year I was brave enough to leave the comfortable lifestyle and security of a corporate job to embark on an artistic journey .


Pic 2: Lath mar Holi ( Barsana, India) Local celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi. Holi played at Barsana is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with sticks. Males also sing provocative songs in a bid to invite the attention of women. Women then go on the offensive and use long staves called “lathis” to beat men folk who protect themselves with shields.

How would you describe your style?
I am a purist. I don’t use photoshop because I don’t like to do much digital enhancements on my images. I use lightroom and I tend to do some basic adjustments. I also prefer using small cameras which are less intrusive and intimidating. My favourite camera is a Leica range-finder and my favourite lens is a 50 mm.

I love the humanistic side of photography. People are my favourite subject. I like to capture the decisive moment and tell a story with one image. These days there are plenty of beautiful images but they often miss something! They do not convey any emotions, they are beautiful but flat.  My photography is intuitive but I do pay attention to light, geometry, depth of field …when all these elements are in tune you end up with an interesting story and you can convey those emotions you first felt when in front of that scene. Of course, you need to be able to see things ….a good photographer is sensitive, compassionate and emphatic.


Pic 3: Pasion ( Buenos Aires) A couple dance tango in San Telmo Square.

What’s the longest trip away you’ve had and what were the highlights and low lights?

I have been on the road since July last year. From Australia I went to Italy  where I travelled around Sicily and Calabria (my hometown) trying to document the traditional way of life in some remote part of the south. from there I went to India for the Kumbh Mela, the biggest pilgrimage in the world. I continued my journey going to Mongolia where I spent one month in West Mongolia to document the life of Eagle Hunters, a community of Kazakh people who still practice the ancient tradition of hunting with eagles. I was travelling with a Russian van and staying with Kazakh families in their Gher. From Mongolia I went to Ethiopia for five weeks, with an interest for the Tribes in the Omo Valley. Camping in their villages was an amazing experience but the biggest highlight of this trip was the Danakil Depression and the night I spent climbing the Erta Ale (one of the very few lava lakes Volcano in the world) escorted by armed guards. I was at the edge of the mouth of the volcano feeling the energy of the earth as well as the energy of the super moon. Unforgettable experience!

I left Ethiopia beginning of November last year , and I embarked into an epic journey sailing to Antarctica with 6 people on a 15 metres sailing boat. Crossing the Drake passage was my biggest fear but that was the price to pay in order to see the white continent in a very intimate way. From Antartica I went back to India for the Holy festival and I just came back from two weeks in Iceland…the journey continues.


Pic 4: Morning Mantra ( Pushkar) With this image I was finalist at Sony World Photography award in 2015. Early morning Hindu man perform a religious ritual in one of the ghats surrounding the lake.

Which images would you say have been the most significant in your career so far?

I was a finalist in 2015 Sony World photo award with an image taken in Pushkar, India. I was also a finalist at this year National Geographic photographer of the year contest with an image of an iceberg from Antarctica ….. but I guess the most significant one is the first image selected by National Geographic as Photo of the Day  which was shared by thousands of people on the Nat Geo Facebook page. It was a photo taken at sunrise of a swimmer at Iceberg pool in Bondi Beach, Australia.

Which trip would you say you have learnt from the most?

Sailing to Antarctica was the most profound and enlightening experience I’ve had so far. I’ve never experienced such mindfulness in my life. For 3 weeks I was always feeling in the moment and alive. My mind switched off completely, a state of mind you normally get to through meditation.


Pic 5: Honey Boy ( Lalibela, Ethiopia) I took this portrait at the Sunday market in Lalibela. This boy was selling honey on a very hot day.

Any places that you keep revisiting or hold special significance for you?

India for sure. I love this country. There are not many places like India where you can walk down the street and see women in red, pink, or yellow fluorescent saris or men with turbans, and camels, elephants and monkeys at almost every turn. All set against a backdrop of 15th century castles and forts.

Top 3 items you couldn’t survive with when on a trip?

My camera of course, my laptop and my music.

Some of the trips you’ve done look quite dangerous such as sailing in the Antarctic, were there any moments that you felt you’ve put your life at risk? And any special preparations that you had to do before going?

A good knowledge of the places you are going to visit is a must! I do a lot of research and I always tend to use local guides that I find on the internet. I always read any feedback before I hire a guide and I establish communication with them well before my departure in order to make sure I can trust them.

I only put my life at risk once. It was in the Danakil Depression on top of the Vulcano. I woke up at 3 am and left the group to go and take some photos. I was using a tripod and moving up and down to find the right composition. It was full moon and some soldiers saw my shadow from far away and they thought i was an enemy who crossed the Eritrea border and I found later that they had asked permission via radio to shoot me .Thanks to a person of the group who was awake I was alerted just in time.


Pic 6: The Spaceship ( Antarctica) This image was shortlisted at this year National Geographic photographer of the year. This was the first iceberg we encountered as we reached the polar circle sailing down the Drake Passage, one of the most dangerous sea in the world.

Who are some of your favourite photographers past or present?

Henry Cartier Bresson was my inspiration. I also like Salgado and Steve Mc Curry

Any other passions apart from photography?

I love kitesurfing and travelling to remote parts of the world ….

How do you plan which trips to go on and which places to visit, do you have a mental list and plan a long time ahead or do you choose your destinations impulsively based on your emotions at the time?

I don’t plan much…. I choose where to go by  reading and researching a lot  based on what I love most…… I love telling people’s stories from remote corners of the world, where globalisation has not yet changed completely their traditional way of life. I enjoy being off the beaten track , where tourism has not been developed yet , but unfortunately even in the Omo Valley I could find the Facebook logo and mobile phones everywhere….I think we are still lucky to find such places, but our future generations might end up playing Pokemon Go with the Mursi in Ethiopia or the Kazakh in Western Mongolia.

Where next?

Thinking about Iran.