LONDON - Massimo Vitali’s Animaletti 2 is one of several works by the artist in the forthcoming Photographs sale at Sotheby’s in London – here he talks about his work and this particular shot.

Artist Massimo Vitali.

Why did you start to use large format images?

One of my initial aims when I began my beach series in the mid 1990s was to start using large format photography and explore the huge amount of detail that I can get from it. My pictures can be seen as a whole, but also as a number of individual portraits and scenarios.

How did you develop the series of which Animaletti 2 is part?

Only once in my recent photographic career have I done commercial shooting that was actually much more part of my artistic work. We were in the Canary Islands on a fake beach – in the sense that all the beaches are dark sand but this one has been made with white sand imported from the Caribbean – and, of course, I also had fake beach people! Animaletti, in fact, was shot right at the end of the day and I moved a group of extras that I had used in my previous shots to a spot that I really liked. This is the only photo I have ever done with hired extras and not spontaneous beach-goers.

Massimo Vitali's Animaletti 2. Estimate £20,000-25,000.

How much of the content of your shots is spontaneous and how much is pre-planned?

Everything is pre-planned up to the last detail and my style of photography is totally about concept rather than about finding situations, but in this case while I was doing my planned shot, I found a different situation that I really liked.

What drew you to fine art photography from photojournalism and film work?

Essentially, at a certain age I really wanted to be able to do what I had in mind without having to report to anyone else. Today I do commissioned photojournalistic work very rarely, but in a way that is totally different from what is considered photojournalism. I say this in the sense that my artistic way of looking at photography has changed my perspective and approach to photojournalism.

Which photographers or fine artists – contemporary and historic – have had the most influence upon you?

In the planning and building of my pictures I have always kept in mind most of art history, so it would be too long a list! That said, if I can say what has influenced me most among contemporary artists, it would be Gerhard Richter and the Duesseldorf School.

London, 7 May