By 2014 Massimo Sestini started focusing his visual research on zenithal perspectives, producing photographs that are taken from a point perfectly perpendicular to the subject portrayed. This type of images led him to change his approach to photography and he embarked on several long term serial projects.
2014 represented a proper turning-point in this direction: on that year, Massimo Sestini, who was already collaborating with the Italian Navy, had the opportunity to be on board of the Bergamini Frigate, during the Mare Nostrum Operation (MNO) organized by the Italian to rescue migrants and refugees risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
On the 7th of June 2014 after many stormy days, when Sestini and the crew spotted an extremely crowded boat, flew over it with an helicopter and he was able to take the photograph - titled Mare Nostrum – that was selected for TIME’s Top 10 photos of 2014, won 2015 World Press Photo Award in the category General New and has been published hundreds of times on numerous international magazines (including among others Photo France, The Guardian, Internazionale, The Economist, L’espresso, Die Zeit). This particular image has also been featured in some international humanitarian campaigns, like for example UNHCR’s Millions Have Fled Conflict- Please Help Today and Google’s TOGETHER fundraise campaign to help refugees.
Encouraged by the interest of several leading photography experts and collectors, Sestini gradually developed also a deeper interest for fine art photography. In march 2014 in fact decided to print the photographs of the Zenith series in a limited edition of 9.
All the photographs featured in the series Zenith represent a very rare example of zenithal images of Italian landscapes and national major events.
Before each flight Massimo Sestini carries out a preliminary study to locate specific areas and their natural or architectural elements he will focus on. The photographs, taken from an helicopter flying 2000 meters high, surprisingly makes us discover some details from our daily life that would remain ignored otherwise. The particular zenithal perspective gives them a new visibility. Although his photographs are a series of freeze frames, they have been taken from a helicopter flying at 200km/hour. This rather high average speed was the only way to stop the heat of the engine to cause a blurred effect on the final images, which would have happened if the helicopter stopped right on top of the subject.
Aside from Sestini’s unusual ability of shooting such detailed images while been on board of a helicopter, in Italy, unlike in other countries, you need a number of legal special permission to fly over residential areas and city centres, which makes Sestini’s series even rarer.
Thanks to his years’ long experience, Massimo Sestini can offer us a very peculiar perspective of Costa Concordia Ship laying down on its side, abandoned boats in Lampedusa island, people bathing in the pool, the whitened coast of Rosignano Marittima, scenes from sport events, national celebrations or Italian natural wonders. Under Massimo Sestini’s lenses, they all become unique, nearly abstract, patterns.