marco bottelli – angels

[slidepress gallery=’marcobottelli_angels’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls


Marco Bottelli


play this essay


The project “Angels” was born on the day i saw that dead bird.

It lay in the middle of the street, its wings stuck to the ground, white feathers covering what remained of its body. From a distance it almost looked like an angel.

“Angels” is a non-rational search for angels in our daily life. It has nothing to do with religion, but rather with my inner necessity to find something undefined, something spiritual, as shown through impulses of light on places and bodies which lost their original shape, and became a bridge between what we can touch and see and what we might feel.

This project has been realized between 2005 and 2008 in several places, mainly using a Holga and other old cameras, not in perfect working order, thereby reducing my control and letting the situation play an important part in creating the image. I would like the people who see this work to try to “feel” it. Up to now the project has never been published.



I studied photography at the “Instituto Italiano di Fotografia” in Milan, Italy. I completed my education as an assistant in an advertising photography studio. Since 2003, I have worked in the Balkans, Africa, South America and Pakistan with the support of NGOs who run projects in these areas.


Related links

Marco Bottelli


25 Responses to “marco bottelli – angels”

  • #3 Wow…. Yes, yes, yes….. beautiful at so many levels.

    Loving the black and whites, shadows and highs. I think the holga demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that the best camera is the one you have in your hand. Must get myself a holga.

    I wonder if you had your latest camera tech in your hand would you have ended up with a different result? Hopefully not :)

    nice indeed.

    #13 is another fave from the set.

  • absolutely beautiful work! I keep coming back to look at the images.
    I’ve seen so much work being made with Holgas and have never been too impressed but the Holga was the perfect camera for this project. I LOVE #4. I would die to have a print.

  • no10…plz..no10..
    i need a holga ..i need a holga…
    Ross… i need a holgaaaaaaaaa!

  • I never had any interest in a Holga – but – wow! Excellent; impressionistic, moody, and beautiful.

    I didn’t like the blurry dead bird that much – but I did like all the others. Since the dead bird is what kicked it off, I reckon its an appropriate place to start.

    I will come back and take another look at the dead bird later. Maybe I will like it then.

  • Although my feelings about this essay are closer to demons than to angels, I do like these photos. A lot.

    I guess that my next TRI-X roll will have to be loaded in my yet-to-be-purchased Holga instead of my Hasselblad set. Isn’t photography great? ;)

    Congratulations Marco!

  • Oh yes, Marco, you have captured something here, something illusive and filled with mystery. I just wish my friend Nan, who saw angels everywhere, were still alive to see this. But maybe you will find her shining under a streetlamp somewhere. Maybe she’ll show up in your next edit.

    Beautiful work, my friend.


  • I see that light….
    I feel that light….
    thanks for reminding me….

  • i am so with alicia! #4 is beautiful and so is 6. love the feel!

  • Ephemeral like light… Wonderful Marco.. like a song..

  • There are some great images (the weird shape of the body in #3 is arresting, the almost physical quality of light in #4) but I cannot really “feel” this essay as you suggested, Marco. The theme is as thin as an angel’s feather and at the end there are too many repetitions of streetlamps and nudes, imo…. probably I’m a material guy ;)

  • I like some of these as individual images. 1,2 and 9 work for me. Not really getting the angel angle or the ‘feelings’ the whole essay is structured on. Not sure either what part the abstract nudes play or how they fit with the rest.


  • we, each of us as photographers and swallowers of photography, reacts ultimately to work through our body, through the lens of our physical and emotional encounter with pictures and then the head wakes up and reflects….that is and has always been the real lesson for me with Holga, Diana, Lomos and other toy and idiosyncratic cameras :))

    It’s clear that Michael’s influence is big and I know how persuasive Michael’s work has been among many, as too the work of my good friend Oli Pin-fat. What I cherish about Michael as a person and as a photographer (and like david, he’s done many a workshop in italy, poland, france), is that his personal ideas have been harnessed to his use of cameras and has continued to spread that gospel, as i have tried to do as well here….

    but, what i love about yur essay Marco is that you’ve taken a camera that many photographers love, that itself has it’s own idiosyncratic and yet easily discernible look and made it your own. I actually loved the beginning story and the use of the dead bird. Most of us who’ve seen these poor creatures crushed and have a difficult time getting beyond the splat of bone and blood and wing and feathered inside toward anything resembling beauty, for me often just sadness and that a quick passby as it’s such a quotidian thing and yet this dead bird served as a springboard for you and for reflection. That very principle reminds me of one of my favorite poems: that out of life always comes wonderment, even from death and sadness. I’ll leave the poem at the end of my comment.

    Many of the images are beautiful and as a photographer I rarely get jealous, but a few i thought: damn, i’ll take that image! :))…I actually did like the juxtaposition of the woman (though i need her face, because she is the reality for me here and i dont as much like her as complete abstraction) with the environment and night scenes. More than than, i love the complete white-wash of her, which acts as a beautifully tense friction opposite all the black of the night/environmental shots: a bath of dream, a ‘fade to white’ (as fassbinder would say), an imaginary creature and i find white just incredibly incredibly sensual (which is why i also use lots and lots of whites in my b/w): the cinema of bodies and love and connection. There are a couple of just gorgeous pics too (7, 8, 13, 19, 20 etc), but i rarely pick apart essays, instead i prefer the bloom of the feeling and idea rather than the specific constructions….

    I loved that you tried to detail the ephemeral, the beyond-us with everyday things (those magnificent curtains in 20) as a way to deal with the metaphor and mythology of angel….and as a photographer like myself who uses Holga and Diana’s as well in every project, i was happily carried along…

    The danger Marco, however, is to loose the story and the projects to the camera. In other words, by using all Holga/Diana/cameras with this kind of look, you run the very great risk of loosing your personal voice, the ‘you’ in this work. I see that often now that Holga (as one camera as an example) has become for some the derigeur camera, the way Leica was for many journalists. Because of Holga’s extraordinary freedom, many photographers loose themselves and the projects become more about the camera that the photographers vision or idea, especially because of the beautiful, strange dream-like look of the pictures. The same is true with the extraordinary vision and influence of michael’s body of work. Can i suggest you have a look at Oli pin-fat’s new work (he’s gotta a show opening in BKK on april 4th). For me, the camera is only a tool and only as important as it allows the storyteller (photographer) to clearly get at the things that are important to him/her through their specific expression and vision. Be careful not to loose yourself in that maddening wood of beauty that is the holga. I find selective use is much more powerful, or at least that is how i have resolved the issue myself….we can, and many photographers have been, too easily seduced by that camera, so that at some point all the holga stuff looks more like holga rather than photographer x…but that is the inherent limitation of using camera’s to begin with…it’s the thing that maddens me the most: how to NOT be enslaved by the box but to make it our own :))

    so, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. while i aint a believer in angels (maybe had i been catholic), but i am a believer in the majesty and magic of this wonderous and miraculous planet….and that strange beauty and wonderment is captured in your essay….from a dead bird to the light of this passing life, that’s quite a gorgeous journey….and I’m so happy you have shared it with us….beautiful indeed Marco…

    ok, here is the poem i mentioned:


    User Rating:

    6.0 /10
    (5 votes)

    0 Print friendly version

    0 E-mail this poem to e friend

    0 Send this poem as eCard

    0 Add this poem to MyPoemList

    We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
    A red wing rose in the darkness.

    And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
    One of us pointed to it with his hand.

    That was long ago.Today neither of them is alive,
    Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

    O my love, where are they, where are they going
    The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
    I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

    –Czeslaw Milosz

  • Nude pictures not convince me, but the rest are great.

  • Nice Essay, nice work, Marco. The fact that you used a HOLGA to make some of those images is actually very impressive for those of us who have used one. Something that you used for the lack of control, actually shows great control in order to shoot some of these images with some intent, if that makes sense? 21 through 25 alone are really nice and a great example of that. I too don’t especially like the dead bird or some of the first nudes but I love the rest and do like nude # 6 and maybe #23, where it is a feeling of a person but not just a nude. As singles though the other nudes are still beautiful and impressive. Very nice.

  • Not my thing.

  • Marco

    Congratulations. What an absolute delight to find this waiting for me at this morning as I start my day.

    The overall effect of the series transports me and uplifts me. Yes, my life is beautiful, precious, mysterious, sometimes confusing, and sacred. It reminds me to try to maintain and cultivate my awareness of the sacred, and to try and let my consciousness tune into it.

    Oh my, the nudes. Number 3 stopped me in my tracks. Then the others! You are showing me something new here. They fit in perfectly with the overall theme. Yes, I adore women, and womans’ bodies. #24, the angel is very beautiful.


  • Sorry Marco, but the idea of the angel as ‘spiritual’ metaphor/motif seems greatly overused to me, in both art and literature, and rather sentimental.

    Some of your images are atmospheric, but many others seem unremarkable (5, 11 and 15 for example). The nudes are perhaps the strongest, but appear to be part of another project/series.

    Of course, I completely accept that these images may be spiritual/resonant, etc. to you, and others on this thread seem to agree. But I cannot see that any of these photographs are particularly spiritual; etherial maybe, and certainly ‘undefined’ (and some seem to me to be atmospheric, as I said). ‘A bridge between what we can touch and see and what we might feel’? Maybe, but we (or I anyway) might see or feel just about anything when presented with blurred/unfocused street-scenes, faces and bodies, near-abstract patches of light and dark like segments of Rorschach patterns.

    On the other hand, this area of photography (the edges of dream, the border between the innocuous and truly resonant and haunting) is wonderful to explore. I wish you good luck with it, and happy hunting.

  • really enjoyed viewing this. some ‘wall worthy’ images here.
    i thought the angel concept was not evident enough for me, but i respect that this is a very personal piece and i am in no position to say what does and doesn’t look like an angel!
    very nice control (??!!) with the holga too!

  • Love these images Marco. I love #5 and many of them grab me and bring up many thoughts and feelings. However, none of them speak angel to me. The one of the woman with her hands up and has obviously moved and created a wing effect is the only one that says angel to me. Each one seemed to say something different to me and illicit a different feeling. Number 5 has an object on the roof of the bus that looks kind of like an angel.

    Regardless Marco, I love this essay. The curve of the woman in #3 is beautiful and one that I would love to hang on my wall. Would be proud to have on my wall. There are several in this series that are stunning in their beauty. I am not familiar with this camera as everyone else seems to be but I have seen a lot of work done with the Holga and always appreciate the results.

  • Marco, I really loved this piece. The work for me was very close to a traditional notion of contemporary art relative to photography. The absolute beauty of some images made me really feel something. I didn’t get the bit about angels, more of a spiritual thing for me, not always pretty, but still beautiful.

    I have also been playing with a Holga and just picked up few prints from Toronto Image Works. It really does lend itself to the freedom of photography and how we perceive the world. Then I go back to my D3 and come to perceive a visual hyper-reality. Our photographs form the visual record, the visual tapestry that our culture is based on. So is important to capture the feeling rather than just the “facts”. We need fact and feeling to form a well balanced collective memory and common cultural understanding of who we are. The idea of seeing the world and our place in it on a different plane of existence. To see ourselves from a 3rd person perspective, personally and collectively. The idea of phenomenology as in Heidegger. Just need to be careful it does not lead us down the same path it lead him.

    All the best,


  • …if I was unclear above, just wanted to say I really liked the piece and it made me feel something emotional.


  • I like this. Quite often I think I see someone or something out of the corner of my eye which turns out to be nothing, a lot of the picture remind somehow of this feeling.

  • Beautiful light on the nudes – reminiscent of marble sculptures, taking me back to a sunny morning in late Novemebr at Musee Rodin…

    I’m an arms-length fan of the Holga, and often wonder if the photographer who works in Lomography has learnt the quirks of the camera, or relies on capturing “happy accidents” in a spontaneous fashion. In this essay, I also question whether the expertise in push-processing negative development in such a way as to bring out specular lightwork was done with purpose or co-incidence.

    Either way, the essay was most enjoyable.

  • Some interesting photographs but I cannot follow the outlined topic well.

  • I like most of the images, some are really excellent, though I cannot put my finger on the photographer’s message; I cannot find a coherent “fil rouge” which puts them together.

Comments are currently closed.