Behind the Photo – Massi’s Dam Cover
There are several stories behind the making of Massi’s cover shot on the current issue of Alliance Wake, all of which, when combined, make it one of the more unique covers we’ve run in a while. First off, we weren’t even supposed to be in that location. Our itinerary coming into the Italy road trip was laid out, planned out, and all but dialed in well before we got there. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas. As soon as we landed Red Bull Italy’s Marco Galli – our organizer and chaperone for the week – basically said the plans were out the window and we had to start driving south to try to stay in front of the weather. One of our last stops of the trip was now becoming our first, and from there everything else was a toss up. While we were on the road driving south toward Rome Massi decided to call his friend Claudio Ponzani, the owner of CNVS Wake on Lago Del Salto.
An hour or so east of Rome, Lago Del Salto has a rich history in Italian wakeboarding and it is where Massi spent much of his time as a grom learning tricks, riding for the National team, and probably becoming the character we all now know as Piffa. Without hesitation or even a single question, Claudio made sure we were taken care of and had boats and his System 2.0 ready for us to use for whatever we needed. As soon as we arrived at the lake Massi started talking about using the kicker under the System 2.0 to do a wall ride on the dam. He’d been looking at that dam since he was a little kid and figured now, during a big Red Bull trip, could be the best time to try something. After a morning boat sesh we spent the afternoon figuring how to best set up the kicker (and avoid the authorities). Fortunately CNVS Wake usually has the lake to itself, which meant we didn’t have too much to worry about.
When Massi first started hitting the dam I was shooting straight at it from the side, wanting to show the kicker, as much of the dam as possible, and how high Massi was going. I knew this would be a safe angle for a solid action shot, and I also knew it would take Massi at least a couple tries to really get comfortable launching himself onto the wall of the dam and getting some solid wall rides in. After he did a couple he wanted a sequence doing a front roll out of the wall ride. Of course in complete Massi fashion he stuck it first try. That was his third overall hit and he was already feeling the effects on his body. He wanted to get higher though and I wanted to try some tighter shots (I was thinking a standard vertical cover could be an option if the shot turned out). Massi’s next couple hits were huge. He was really pushing off the kicker, riding the wall a good ways, and even able to press it out a bit.
We were all stoked and Massi said he was gonna go for one more big one. I moved more toward the landing area to look back at Massi as he came toward the camera. This angle didn’t work as well because the boat was in part of the frame, as was the rooster tail and wake, which really took away from the dam. Massi was gassed and said he was done, but as he was taking off his board I had the chase boat go closer to the dam to look at the angle. That was the spot we needed to shoot from. I asked Massi for the infamous “just one more” and told him that I thought we could get a cover. Those magic words always have a good effect on riders, and Massi was game. He strapped back in and went for one last launch at the dam. I fired away as he came at me and I knew immediately we got the shot we wanted. I shot it as a landscape knowing that it could be cropped to fit a vertical cover or work as a gatefold. I really liked the entire photo though as it showed the side of the dam, which brought a cool visual element to the whole frame.
Props to Massi for charging this spot, but also for getting us there in the first place. Many thanks to Red Bull and Red Bull Italia for making the trip happen, and many, many thanks to Claudio and the entire crew at CNVS Wake for hosting us for a couple days, driving boats, setting up the kicker, and everything else. This cover would not have happened without them.