Any time a book on the topic of modern body suspension is announced, I get incredibly excited. When that book is by an incredibly talented photographer like Stefano Moscardini, I find myself going from simply excited to checking my inbox daily for when it is ready to release. There are far too few books on the topic, and luckily after today you can add Suspension of Disbelief to your list that you absolutely must have. Stefano is such a valuable part of the European suspension community. He dedicates much of his time to helping document events and suspension gatherings with his beautiful photography. He is one of the rare additions to our community who although he doesn’t suspend himself, finds much of the same joy and love for it that we all feel. He was nice enough to take a moment to tell us a little more about his history with suspension, and his new e-book on the topic, including a sneak peek into the book at the end of the interview!
Misty: A lot of the suspension community is familiar with your beautiful photography from many of the European events, but I know at least here in the US there are a lot of people who haven’t had the chance to get to know you. How did you get involved in body suspension?
Stefano: I got to know suspension mainly through a couple friends who were into bodmod for a really long time and that less than five years ago got involved with suspension. At the time they started suspending, they were so enthusiastic that they kept talking about it all the time, so it’s been quite natural for me to focus my attention towards it. Starting the reportage took me quite some time, but I think it was really inevitable, at that point.
Misty: Have you suspended yourself or do you prefer the experience of being able to step back and witness others as they go through the emotions and the process of suspending?
Stefano: I’ve never tried suspension. For the whole three years I spent shooting pictures at suspendees I kept asking myself if I should have tried it or not. I’m very curious about everything, so when I started attending suspension events I was not really sure about what could have happened. More than once I’ve been very tempted, but at the end I decided that I should have kept my point of view on the outside of the practice itself. And even chosing that, being objective has been a real challenge. I think I rarely experienced something so emotionally involving as a suspension, even from the outside.
Misty: I think it’s wonderful that you are able to relate with the suspendee and how emotional of an experience it can be for them, even without suspending yourself. I see so many photographers that every photo they take of suspension is ‘shock and awe’; they are so focused on the hooks, skin, and blood that they completely forget there is a person in front of them going through this incredible experience. Do you think being able to relate to the suspendee and having so many people close to you involved in suspension effects how you photograph suspension?
Stefano: I definitely think so. I must say I’m not a big fan of shocking imagery. I mean, I’m always looking for subjects that can impress my audience, but not because they’re shocking or disturbing. The emotional involvement of the photographer cannot be completely ignored in a reportage. One should always try to be as objective as possible when telling a (photographic) story, but he must be very aware that his emotional involvement plays an important role in shaping the work. The first time I got in front of a suspension I didn’t know what to expect on an emotional level and I got totally overwhelmed by how empathetic I felt in front of it. It was something I couldn’t and wouldn’t resist, it just sucked me in. And it deeply influenced my work because I immediately realized that those feelings were the actual story to be told.
Misty: Beautifully worded. So that brings us to the collection of your work in this book! Tell me a little about the book. I remember we discussed the idea of a digital e-book that would be available. Could you tell people what formats will be available (and if there will be a hard copy in the works), when it is going to be released, and what is in it?
Stefano: Yes, Suspension of Disbelief will be an ebook. This is a peculiar choice for a photographic book, indeed. It has its upsides and its downsides, of course. An ebook can be published without any kind of backing by an agency or editor and this gave me total freedom when it came to making the actual book. Moreover it doesn’t need any kind of logistics: everybody will be able to read Suspension of Disbelief anywhere. On the other hand, it won’t be a physical object, there won’t be prints of it, and I know many fans of photography will be a little bit disappointed by this. But at this made me set a price that’s really, really far from the one of a printed book. And I hope this can help making it appealing for people that don’t know what suspension is about. They’re the real target of the written part of the book. Regarding release dates, I can say for sure that it’s a matter of a week or two. Italian and English versions of the PDF book have been uploaded to the sites and are ready to be published, while I’m waiting for approval from iBookstore for the iPad version. I’m currently discussing details for a Kindle Fire conversion of the book and it seems quite feasible at the moment. What scares me, really, is censorship from the stores.
We will be keeping our fingers crossed that those reviewing the book will choose to release it without censorship. Stefano really does such a wonderful job of making suspension be able to be seen as emotional and artists rather than graphic, and I hope that they will be able to see that as they make those decisions. Thank you so much for all of your work for us in the suspension community and for the interview Stefano.
And without further ado, here is the preview of his e-book, Suspension of Disbelief which will be available for purchase soon: