Boating in A Portrait | Gianni Risso: “I have made almost all my dreams come true. Now I would like to photograph the NASA astronauts training in the pool”

Freelance journalist since 1972, with his over 6 thousand published articles and over a hundred covers for dozens of titles in Italy and the world (including ours), he remembers and honours the fathers of diving, many of whom are not known to most people.

Gianni Risso, freelance journalist since 1972, with his over 6,000 articles published and over a hundred covers for a dozen titles in Italy and the world, including ours, is the historical memory for scuba diving. A title which he is proud of and which finds him working even harder to remember and honour the fathers of scuba diving, many of whom are unknown to the majority.

Risso has dived in a number of underwater paradises, photographing almost all the world champions in deep diving, many champions of underwater fishing, and a number of people passionate for scuba diving. He is the founder and president, since 1963, of the CI CA SUB Seatram Bogliasco. For the last few years, he has been directing, together with Sergio Barello, the program “Nel Blu”, discovering the most beautiful dives, on Fifty episodes have already been filmed.


Gianni Risso, how did you get into scuba diving?

I discovered the underwater world a bit later on. First I played tennis and football but without much satisfaction. At 18 years old, during the summer, I was introduced to underwater fishing in free diving thanks to a very good friend: G.B. Marsano, known as Puny. I followed him on the surface while he fished in the Gulf of Ligia and off Capolungo. He was incredible, and he taught me many of his secrets for fishing out of burrows. A while after that I started with photography, in particular, action photography which makes me happiest.


What is your favourite shot?

I love many of my images, but there are three in particular. The photo I took of Giorgio Falck at the helm of the Rolly Go in the Ligurian Gulf on a stormy day. The weather conditions were perfect to simulate ocean navigation. That photo, thanks to a specialised agency in Milan, gave me the highest commissions ever and a level that none of my underwater photos were able to achieve.

Another very successful image was a photo which was published on the cover of a number of magazines. I took it on the Isola di Cavallo, of His Highness, Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoia, while he was exploring the sea floor with an underwater scooter. He was looking for archaeological findings and only found a golf ball. And, as my third photo, a shot of a beautiful Russian model, Masha Stoukalo, in a thermal cave, with her coming out of the rocks like Venus being born.


Is there a photograph that you would have always liked to take but haven’t yet had the chance?

Honestly I have made almost all my dreams come true, but the one I still haven’t managed is to photograph the NASA astronauts, when they train for zero gravity in the big pool.


What is the current state of scuba diving nowadays?


After many years of constant growth and number of learners, over the last few years, the number has stabilised. In the boom years, we estimate there were about 500 thousand between underwater fishing, free divers, and scuba divers. Currently there are probably around 300 thousand. But free diver numbers are growing, as well as snorkelling and technical diving. I could say the numbers have gone down but those who practice it are much more knowledgeable and consistent.


What is your advice for someone interested in learning to dive?


Before free diving, underwater fishing or scuba diving, you need to do a basic course for the specialisation you want to practice. Always dive with a partner and carefully follow the rules and advice given in the courses. Never go beyond your limits and you need to get into the underwater environment…fins first!!


Giuseppe Orrù


Photo by Claudio Colombo


BOATING IN A PORTRAIT. A project by Liguria Nautica and Claudio Colombo showcasing a gallery of Ligurian people or those who have ties with our region, who have left their mark on Italian boating, or who have deep rooted connections with our sea. For each of them, we present a photographic portrait take by Claudio Colombo and an interview with our journalist, Giuseppe Orrù, to better know each person, in their personal lives as well.

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