The kind of paparazzi, how to steal a moment?

Photography in a style of paparazzi needs a different set of attitude and preparation. In the mid 90’s, I had several occasion to spend time with the kind of paparazzi in Rome and saw him work in action. I’m sharing several names of photographers who are “paparazzi” and they have taken many memorable and iconic images.

Here are some of my favorites books from these paparazzis:
Ron Galella: Paparazzo Extraordinaire
Paperback – 2012

Jackie: My Obsession
Hardcover – 2013
by Ron Galella

Warhol by Galella: That's Great!
Hardcover – 1. May 2008

Rino Barillari – The King Of Paparazzi
Hardcover – 4. October 2018
by G. Scarchilli, M. Spano

Backstage Dior
Hardcover – Illustriert, 2009
by Roxanne Lowit

Please also take a look at a list of other reference books:

What I learned in the first 2 hours in a conflict zone was the most important thing for a survival

My first trip to a conflict zone was Afghanistan and the very first 2 hours of our arrival was overwhelming in many different ways, but it taught me one important lesson what to watch out for in a such situation. This trip was after the successful fund raising event in Paris with Sergio Silvestris of Pomellato and we traveled together to look at how the fund was going to be spent. Alberto Cairo, a long-time friend of Sergio greeted us at the airport and showed us to the orthopedic center in Kabul. One of the hospital facility was in the middle of the front line, but it was nothing like I imagined it to be.

Book I was reading in this video:

People and Places with No Name
by Michel Comte

By Michel Comte

Please also have a look at a list of other reference books.
Episode Talk: Double exposure portrait with Charlotte Rampling

Working with Charlotte Rampling was one of my dreams come true. I was truly moved by her performance in “Night Porter” and “Un Taxi Mauve” and I was looking forward to meeting her. On this day, I took a memorable portrait of Charlotte using double exposure on film. Working with her was as flowless as it could be. She was able to transform herself from a chirpy girl to a tough guy in-between a session. It was amazing to see her transformation and professionalism.

Here are reference movies and books I talked about in the video, please check them out if you're interested to know further:

The Night Porter (Blu-Ray Format)

Un Taxi Mauve (DVD Format)

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 2012 Remaster (Mp3 Format, Amazon Music)

Toros y Toreros Hardcover – August 1996
by Pablo Picasso

by Michel Comte

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte (Blue book)

Please also have a look at a list of other reference books.

Episode Talk: My current topic – Red Rain

I started my work on ‘Red Rain’ series when I was in China. Red rain is a climate phenomenon that occurs in several different parts of the world. Although its cause and components are not yet clarified, it is a dreadful scene over and above red river or red haze. A case of red rain phenomenon is sited more and more in the recent years and my interest toward this subject grew bigger. When I was in China, I remembered a book I read a while back – A Biography of Chairman Mao written by his doctor. In the book, there was a passage of Chairman Mao jumping into the toxic river in despite of attempted interference by his close advisors. He then held a meeting in the water to discuss how to make the river clean. So this year, I’m continuing my red rain series in my favorite part of studio in Zurich.

📖The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Zhi-Sui Li
Hardcover – 11. October 1994

📖The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Zhi-Sui Li
Kindle Edition – English

📖Mao: A Biography Revised and Expanded Edition by Ross Terrill

🎥Introducing my new works at Contemporary İstanbul
Red Rain I – Red Rain II

🎥Studio Tour with Michel Comte

Please also have a look at a list of other reference books.

Episode Talk: Adventure in Asia Part 2. From organizing, packing, shipping to remounting

This is a part 2 of my adventure in Asia exhibition of my artworks. After I finished firing 600 ceramic pieces, I moved to a different studio space to layout all of them in order to re-order the installation. Some ceramic came out unexpected colors so we had to change order for a few pieces. The new studio was in a large former national factory of ceramic, turned into a modern galleries, cafes & restaurants and modern facility workshop. We rented a studio room and our hotel was in the same complex. I didn’t talk in the video but this is the place I tasted the most expensive coffee in the world;) After we returned to Beijing, mounting of ceramic pieces onto the gallery wall was another set of challenge. We used two wooden pieces for hanging system. However each ceramic is handmade and the thickness of hanging point had a variety of 1-3mm. That was too big of discrepancy when we see them in one large installation. We had some miscommunications and discussion until we get to a system that worked for straight line.

Recommended books:
📖Michel Comte: Light

📖Jingdezhen to the World: The Lurie Collection of Chinese Export Porcelain from the Late Ming Dynasty
By Teresa Canepa

📖Humanity (ISMs)
Hardcover – 20. March 2018
By Ai Weiwei

Hardcover – 30. January 2013
by Ai Weiwei

Please also have a look at a list of other reference books.

Related Video:
🎥Episode Talk: My adventure in Asia, first Hong Kong then in Beijing and in Jingdezhen

Episode Talk: My adventure in Asia, first Hong Kong then in Beijing and in Jingdezhen

I’ll be talking about my first exhibition in Asia, which started with Art Basel Hong Kong with a bad surprise… I had to come up with a solution very quickly and in unconventional way. Then my adventure continued in mainland China. In total we spent about 2 and a half month until the opening of my show at Galerie Urs Meile in Beijing. Needless to say, it was a fantastic experience from the beginning to the end and such experience that will never happen in our parts of the world. I’m sharing a few behind the scene images and videos from my memory in China.

Related videos:
🎥Studio Tour with Michel Comte

Recommended books:
📖Michel Comte: Light
Episode Talk: Line between photography and art?

For many years, I was often asked whether I was an artist or a photographer and I used to answer photography is not an art, it’s an art form. But things started to change the last 20 years. Line between contemporary art and contemporary photography has shifted. In this video, I’m talking about the most important thing when you work on a project, your idea. Categorizing yourself in a box of a title might make you feel certain in a way. Or trying to create an image or an artwork that nobody has ever made might sound like a way to be the one. But that’s not the only way, actually that’s a very rare case if any. There is much more important thing to remember.

Francine Fleischer: SWIM

Gerhard Richter: Atlas in 4 volumes

Michel Comte: Aviator (preorder is available now!)

Michel Comte: Light

Walter Mittelholzer: Alpenflug

Nan Goldin: The Beautiful Smile

Reference Video:
Episode Talk: How did my transition happen?

Please also have a look at other reference books from here:

Episode Talk: Opportunity at the last moment

While I was working on my first exhibition with LIGHT artworks, suddenly another big opportunity arose at the last moment. My team and I decided to move on with this new opportunity and started working on another large installation. It was extremely challenging with the timing and logistic, but we managed to put it together in a very different way, with the same concept of LIGHT. In this video, I’m sharing how it happened and why I kept going.

Related video:
Episode Talk: How did my transition happen?

Books and designers I was talking about in the video:
Michel Comte: LIGHT

Alvar Aalto: Second Nature

Alvar Aalto: Object and Furniture Design by Architects
Episode Talk: How did my transition happen?

I have been slowly transitioning since about 10 years but it really begin in 2017 when I did my exhibition at MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century in Rome. Exhibition was about my works from LIGHT series focusing on the nature impacted by climate change. My grandfather took the first flight over Swiss Alps to photograph an aerial view with his partner Mittelholzer, and I was fascinated by those images of snow-covered, white mountains since I was young. Those scenery was particularly special to me but that was dramatically changing in my life time. This is how I started my project on LIGHT. As I collected more photographs, documents and concepts, I realized difficulties to convey museums and galleries as they expected different works from me. In this video and the next one tomorrow, I talk about how I went about it and made this exhibition.

Recommended books:

Michel Comte: Light

HADID: Complete works 1979 – Today

Please also have a look at a list of other reference books.

Related videos:

LIGHT by Michel Comte at Museo Maxxi inn Rome – Video Installation 1

LIGHT by Michel Comte at Museo Maxxi inn Rome – Video Installation 2

LIGHT by Michel Comte at Museo Maxxi inn Rome – Video Installation 3

LIGHT by Michel Comte at Museo Maxxi inn Rome – Video Installation 4

LIGHT by Michel Comte at Museo Maxxi in Rome – REQUIEM

LIGHT by Michel Comte Presentation

Episode Talk: What is my favorite portrait I ever took...

I'm often asked what is my favorite photograph I took. It's a hard question to answer but oftentimes, one image comes into my mind and it is the portrait of Louise Bourgeois. On that day, I learned something new about printing from her. And her attention to details and insistence was remarkable and reminded its importance.

Louise Bourgeois: Structures of Existence, The Cells

Louise Bourgeois: An unfolding portrait, Prints, Books and Creative process

Josef Sudek: The Window of My Studio

Paul Strand: Aperture Masters of Photography

Michel Comte: Object Carpet

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration 1996-2016 by Michel Comte (2016-02-23)

Please also have a look at a list of other reference books.

Episode Talk: The theme of the story was food, what did I do with that concept...

Franca Sozzani from Vogue Italia called me to shoot a story around a table. One table, one chef. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and I called up several young upcoming super chefs in town to create beautiful tables. I this video, I'm sharing how I found my inspiration and how did I put them into practice.

Here are list of inspirations I took for the food story of Vogue Italia. Some books are becoming rare and might not be easy to find but I hope you get to see them. These are amazing artists and incredible body of artworks.

📖Caravaggio. Das vollständige Werk (Deutsch) Gebundenes Buch – 12. April 2019

📖Flowers, Flowers, Flowers by Andy Warhol

📖Irvin Penn: Flowers

📖Deborah Turbeville: The Fashion Pictures Hardcover – 11. October 2011

🎞Barry Lyndon [Amazon Prime]

🎞La Grande Bouffe [Amazon Prime]

🎞The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover [Amazon Prime]

📖Pieter Bruegel. The Complete Work


📖Erwin Blumenfeld. Studio Blumenfeld, Color, New York, 1941-1960

📖Sheila Metzner: From Life

📖Helmut Newton Sumo

📖A Message for You by Guy Bourdin

📖Dali. The Painterly Work

Please also have a look at a list of other reference books.

Further videos you might want to check:
🎥Vogue Italia “Help Yourselves, Please” by Michel Comte

🎥Hennnessy Flaunt by Michel Comte

Book I was reading in this video:
📖Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration 1996-2016 by Michel Comte (2016-02-23)

Episode Talk: When I photograph artists...

I'm sharing my memories of two great artists of our time, our meeting happened in a separate occasions but both equally inspiring and charismatic. I met Jeff Koons when he opened a show "Made In Heaven" in Sonnabend Gallery in New York. On the other coast, I visited John in his studio in Venice, CA. I was invited to his perfectly curated and organized chaotic studio and he greatly reminded me of Alexander Calder.

Das Jeff Koons-Handbuch (German) by Schirmer/Mosel

John Baldessari: Pure Beauty by Prestel Verlag

Museum of the Future by JRP Editions SA

Catalogue by Sonnabend is hard to come by, this is not Jeff Koons’ catalogue but still a beautiful catalogue by the gallery.
Mario Merz by Galerie Sonnabend

Please also have a look at list of other reference books.

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte: 20 Years by Schirmer/Mosel (Blue book)
Episode Talk: Miles Davis gave me a nickname... M***F***

I have so many great memories with Miles Davis and it makes me smile every time I think about him. In this video, I'm sharing the very first day when I met Miles and how he gave me inappropriate nickname.

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte (Blue book)

Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration 1996-2016 by Michel Comte

You’re Under Arrest by Miles Davis

Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis

Time after Time by Miles Davis

Episode Talk: How I started Safe Sex Campaign with Playboy magazine during HIV outbreak

HIV took so many of my friends and colleagues' lives away and it was extremely horrifying. I was living in New York at that time and I remember at some point, I went to three funerals in a week. We lost so many talented people, interesting characters, funny friends, indispensable co-workers. I started a project called "Safe Sex Campaing" together with the Playboy magazine. A large list of incredibly warm-hearted celebrities participated to bring awareness of this terrible disease. I'm sharing a fraction of memories from this campaign and I hope this will lighten up your day while we fight for a new virus.
Episode Talk: What I learned from His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I was very fortunate to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama with an invitation from Kai Diekmann from Bild Zeitung in 2008. It was right before the Beijing Olympic and Axel Springer (owner company of Bild) hosted an exhibition with my photograph from Tibet in 1986. About a year later, I had an opportunity to interview one on one with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and there is a very important message that is universal and relevant today to all of us. Please watch the video until the end in order to listen to his own words.

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration 1996-2016 by Michel Comte (2016-02-23)

Some of the photographs from Tibet in 1986 can be found in this book:

People and Places with No Name

Important message from Michel Comte

I have a message to all the people who have to stay at home during the current circumstances.
Episode talk: Monocled Jeremy Irons' portrait was created like this!

A portrait of Jeremy Irons in black and white, he is wearing a monocle on his right eye with a cigarette in his mouth, a tear is running down. This is one of my favorite portrait and among the most famous image I photographed. Spending time with Jeremy is and always has been very inspiring and charismatic. This is a story of how I remember that day where I shot this picture for interview magazine.

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration

Die Affäre der Sunny von B. (German, Amazon Prime)

JS Bach: Goldberg variations by Glenn Gould

Please also have a look at list of other reference books.

Episode talk: How I started my digital era with MILK Studios?

I learned photography from Time and Life photography books and admiring long list of mater photographers such as Cartier-Bresson, Avedon, Outbridge Penn and many more. My attitude to photography has always been manual and I was not planning to change to digital until I met a co-founder of MILK Studios, Mazdack Rassi. Since then, slowly I switched to digital photography. A few years ago, we published a book together to celebrate our long history of collaboration and I'm introducing how I started working with MILK.

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration 1996-2016 by Michel Comte (2016-02-23)

Please also have a look at list of other reference books. I included some of my master photographer's books as well as my only photographer teacher, Time and Life Photography books.
Episode talk behind: How I started my career as a photographer?

I'd like to share how my very first day as a professional photographer started. It was a chance in a million years and it suddenly stood in front of me. I was working as an art restorer at the time, in a preparation for a retrospective of Yves Klein at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The next few weeks have changed and shaped my entire life. All the people I speak in the video are generous, open hearted and extremely charismatic. Their way of being has stayed as an example and a mentor.

Book I was talking in this video:

Guy Bourdain Polaroids

Guy Bourdain (Phaidon)

Exhibit A: Guy Bourdain

It's Modern: The Eye and Visual Influence of Alexander Liberman

Please also have a look at list of other reference books that might be interesting to learn further.

Episode talk behind: My introduction to Formula 1 and the first meeting with Michael Schumacher

My passion to Formula 1 started long time ago when I was 7. My first F1 race was at the Silverstone in the U.K. with a Swiss driver Jo Siffert. Years later, my first encounter with Michale Schumacher was also at the Silverstone, and he was driving for Benetton team. Since then, I worked many years with Michael, on and off the circuit. The reason for our meeting was an assignment for his portrait but I didn't take his picture during the given time frame. Instead, I asked him to walk around the track. I still remember the shine in his eyes when he talked about driving. That 30 minutes lead to a long history of friendship and collaboration.

Book I was reading in this video:

7 91 Michel Comte on Michael Schumacher

*The above book is very rare so you might find these one better.

Michael by Michel (Steidl publication)

Michael Schumacher: A Driving Force (Steidl publication)
Episode talk behind "Mike Tyson for Interview Magazine": How I met him and a story of white doves

This is a story of the time I met Mike Tyson for the first time and how I come to take pictures of him with white doves. It was a pure coincidence yet he was open to share with his gentle memory and kindness. The story was shot for Interview Magazine with a creative director, Tibor Kalman and a fashion editor, Patty Wilson.

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte (Blue book)

Episode talk behind “Beauty and the Beast”: How I started my 1st day on the shoot in Mojave desert

I shot a story called “Beauty and the Beast” for Stern magazine with Jamie Richar and Tatjana Dragovic in teh mid 90’s. It was in the middle of Mojave desert in California with many wild animals. I had the idea to photograph wild animals in a vast open area after I was faced with a heart breaking news of certain extinction. I have been an animal person myself and I had a black panther I raised from a cub. The story became one of the most successful and memorable shoot. I’m sharing some moments behind these images tha I remember very vividly.

Book I was reading in this video:

Michel Comte (Blue book)
Introductin my new works at Contemporary Istanbul 

I’m introducing my new works with pigment painting series “Red Rain”. Red rain (aka blood rain) is a phenomenon caused by dust mixes with rain and falls onto the ground with reddish color and it is thought to be linked to pollution. We are seeing more and more cases of red rain around the world. 

First day at Contemporary Istanbul 2019 with Dirimart

My first participation at Turkish art fair at Contemporary Istanbul with Dirimart gallery. My three new works were shown at the fair.
Art Basel 2019 Walk Through with Michel Comte and Rebekka Steiger

Studio Tour with Michel Comte

My studio has just been finished and I’ll walk you through my first day at the studio.