Category Archives: interview with…

Interview with… Antonio Femia

Researched by Roberta Pastore

ANTONIO FEMIA

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Antonio Femia was born in the deep south of Europe in 1973. After graduating in architecture, he moved to Rome where he has practiced the profession until 2014, when the passion for travel and storytelling led him to leave for a tour of (almost) the world that lasted years, along with his girlfriend. He tells about his travels on European travel magazines and on his blog www.totolemoto.it.

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Going back in time, how was your passion for photography born and how did you get into the world of Street Photography?

I believe it depends on a certain propensity towards image, the same that led me to study and practice architecture, a discipline that somehow starts from the same assumptions to arrive at almost opposite results: they both require knowledge of things and men, an understanding of the worlds in which one operates. But then architecture leads to the vision of something that does not yet exist, while photography describes something already existing. Undoubtedly street photography entered by force in my shots during the first travel in the East, but it was something I needed to remember. For a long time, photography was my strictly personal notebook for jotting down faces and situations.

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Was it easy to capture life while it is happening, in the places you visited during your travels?

It was easier at the beginning when I was shooting for me and disclosure of what it came out was not expected. I would also add that recklessness and unpretentiousness help luck. In any case I always felt a little embarrassed when freezing moments of people’s lives. I think in a sense that “the cholitas”, Andean women with colourful dresses, are right when they refuse to be photographed. They still believe that when you take their picture, you steal their soul. More than once I told them, “I wish! I would be really a great photographer if I did. ” In contrast, there are countries like Pakistan where almost no one pays any attention to someone wielding a camera in his face, making everything much easier. All this to say that, beyond the technicalities and the equipment, photography is made of space and time: framing and defining moment. The rest comes later.

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What is the element that you try to grasp when you’re in a city or a small town?

I do not always succeed, but when it happens I feel really satisfied. The purpose of my trips is to try to understand a little more of this great and miserable thing that it is humanity, that everywhere has the same root but changes depending on local cultures and their mix with globalizing elements. The very mutual relationship of influence between humans and their habitats fascinates me, a relationship that can be harmonious or hostile but in which, in any case, humanity change an ecosystem to make it a landscape, a natural or urban one. And this in turn affects the characters and human types. One of the things that fascinates me the most of the various cultures is popular devotion, a motor that drags the lives of those who have nothing and that is used by those who have everything to justify their actions.

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How do you combine photography and therefore the need to document on the go with the experience of a motorcycle trip, often in solitary?

Travel Reportage is a rather aleatory term and in the end, in hindsight, meaningless. You have to put together landscape photography, architecture, portraits, street photography by applying the modus operandi of the journalistic reportage, the real and serious one. The problem is that the latter requires rather dilated dwell times, that when traveling are often not available for various reasons. One must therefore be quick to grasp the topical elements to tell a place and its culture, with the imminent risk of reproducing stereotypes that misrepresent the reality of things. And by stereotypes, I mean both postcard-like images or any dramatic images of any discomfort: the substance of things is often in the middle and to find it, one needs time. Then there are the technical difficulties related to the medium and the type of client. Apart from the awkwardness of the dedicated technical clothing, the difficulty is when you have to make shots for the publishing industry. The magazines for which I produce my shots, as well as the sponsors, need a certain number of shots with the motorbike running in the environment, something that all things considered, it is correct in the economy of a story. It is a small punishment but a very challenging one, especially when you are travelling alone. In this case, one needs to put up the tripod, set an adequate depth of field and go up and down the street like an idiot. The situation improves considerably when the travellers are a couple: usually for these shots I become the “model” for my wife Alessandra, starting from the frame that we studied together, she moves on the field in search of something more compelling and personal. Her contribution to the reportage was also very instrumental in shots with human subjects since, as a woman and a rather cheeky one, she could interact freely with other women encountered in Islamic countries or in India and gain access to places prohibited to me, as the home kitchens that in those countries are strictly the preserve of women. To be there in two also makes easier to tell the interactions created with the locals with spontaneity.

 

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Although it may be difficult to choose, of which shot and of what situations do you keep the strongest memory?

There’s a picture I am very fond of, portraying a couple in their shop in La Higuera, the tiny village where Ernesto Guevara was killed. I was during the celebrations for the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, with a cumbia band playing in a continuous loop, while everyone drank, incessantly chewing coca leaves to mitigate the effects of alcohol. No one was able to help me solve the problem I had on the bike, turning my stay in some kind of imprisonment, made even more difficult by discrimination I suffered as a “gringo”. The only place open to eat something was the “bodeguita” of this couple, where the woman served me the only dish available: a corn soup with inside the head of a hen, darkly turned grey by the cooking process. The man tried to talk to me, but he was too drunk to hold a sensible conversation unlike his wife that, clear headed and active, was putting aside the proceeds of the day. I took the photo after paying for my meal, taking advantage of the confidence between us. And I really like it because I think it sums up in some way the lives of those people: he tries to be the landlord but is only a facade figure, as stated by his habitual alcoholic lost gaze, while it is his wife that runs the show every day.

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What happens when you’re looking for specific framing, or alternatively do you take photos with an image already in mind?

That’s not always the case. One of the problems of documenting a journey is that often one has to shoot in dark conditions or with other disturbing elements in the scene. My ethics and practice force me to take things as they come, without mystification, and to exploit the difficulties to bring out a usable document. Like everyone, I wait for something to happen trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. Even when I am taking a willing portrait, I avoid to have the subjects take a different pose from the one I found them in. Most of the time I can come up with what I had in mind, some other times I definitely can’t, and I think I should commit myself more. For this reason, I consider an important thing to know the capacity and technical boundaries of one’s equipment, its exposure latitude, the manageability of the resulting digital files, the aberrations and artefacts produced by the lenses.

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Do you usually know immediately that you had found the right shot or do you realize that when you review the pictures taken?

Most of the time I am aware of what I did and that I have a series of good shots with at least a couple better than others. However, sometimes I happened to find photos I had completely forgotten and that instead deserve much more attention. A couple of months ago I was browsing through the photos I have taken in India to send some of them to a magazine and I found several that I had discarded two years earlier. One in particular, a child who turns to look at a girl who comes out of the alley, discreetly moved me: I caught a moment when something beautiful happened, but I had removed that. I did not realize even later, when I chose what to send to the editorial staff of the magazine. It’s not an exceptional shot, but the joy of discovery accompanied me for two days. And these kinds of things are good for the spirit.

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What do you think is the secret to capture the true essence of the road?

Living it from within and abandon it before boredom. Stay into it for a bit, change the observation point by studying the light during the day, talk to those who live it and then move on the scene trying to be invisible while shooting or, conversely, cause a reaction in the subjects. And then leave at the climax, because habit is the enemy of wonder. And to photograph something, you must be at least a little bit surprised.

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As for your works, which are the ones that marked your real entrance in the world of photography?

I never had big ambitions in relation to photography, as I said before it was for “personal use” only. I was forced to take it seriously when I started publishing the stories of my travels in magazines, for which the photos are not a just simple accompaniment of the text but the elements that captures the reader’s attention.

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My training as an architect helped me move in accordance with the instructions of a client, accepting the necessary criticisms and suggestions of those who put together a magazine, without feeling offended by the inevitable initial rejections. The journey of a year through three continents, reported on the pages of the magazine “Motociclismo”, was the training ground where I studied the procedure, almost an artisanship, of putting together the pieces of a story made of words and images: for more than a year, every day it was time to take shots, choose, post-produce, write. All things that I have continued to do after my return to Italy, starting collaborations with “Overland” magazine for England and “Road Trip” magazine for France. After about four years from the first publication, good part of my time is dedicated to editing and writing about past trips and planning future reportages. Nevertheless, I do not think I could be defined as a photographer: I have a lot to learn, and one of the biggest problems I have is precisely how to put together a story that is not a travel story.

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How do you manage the use of color and b / n in your photos?

I seldom use b / n: with the exception of some experiments, from the beginning I have never dwelt into this technique. I have no bias with respect to monochrome, but I believe it presents some important challenges: you have to be concise and to create a palette of greys that do not make you miss the lack of colour. Perhaps I am colour photographer because the world is colourful and I would feel like I am losing something. Certainly, the democratization of digital technology has made this an obvious choice: if I had been born twenty years earlier I would definitely have photographed in BN for economic reasons.

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What kind of cameras do you use and what equipment do you take on your travels?

Reduced weights and compact size are essential on the road, at least as much as discretion is for street photography. For this reason, I have been long using good compact cameras. In the long ride I mentioned earlier, the main camera was a Fuji X20 that I loved for the sensor and bright lens but it was pretty damn delicate. As a matter of fact, it died finally in Peru before the end of the trip. I used it for planned shots, for street and architecture, or in difficult light conditions, but it was really bad for videos. I also used a “tough” camera, the Lumix FT-5, small and versatile enough despite not being capable to shot in raw format. It is perfect in dusty environments and in the rain and in general for shooting video or taking pictures from the bike, as it is armoured. Mounted on a selfie stick it was ideal for shooting ourselves while moving thanks to the moderate wide angle lens: my wife was in charge of it, and at one point she looked like a circus acrobat for the strange things she did with that stick. The FT-5 is still an integral part of my photo kit. When I was on my own, I also used a GoPro for photos and videos, avoiding the super boring POV shots. After the Fuji died I switched over definitely to the mirrorless systems that I consider the cornerstone for travellers. I am a happy owner of a Sony A7 that I use with an essential kit of Nikon manual lenses: 24mm f2.8 AIS, 50mm f1.8 D and a heavy 70/210 f4 / 5.6. Even the tripod must be a robust but compact one and I found a good solution in the Velbon aluminium UT series that when folded measures 30 cm. No flash, no additional lights. I feel the lack of a 35mm lens.

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What determines the success or failure of a photo?

The sentiment, no doubt. It is said that for journalism one must keep the proper distance. On one hand that it is true, on the other hand I think not getting involved with what you shoot means you are losing its essence. Perhaps the rule of the right distance applies if you report press agencies or shoot for a catalogue. But if you tell a story empathy is important, you have to insert yourself into it even if you have to go to hell. It is not a job for everyone. And since I do not rely exclusively on images to tell stories I would like to add that some photos turn out well when you do not take them. I speak of all those situations where a camera would undermine the empathy created with the subject, or when you looking for the good shot prevents you from living in the moment. In those cases, I prefer to live the situation as much as possible to report it later with words.

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Do you plan a photo before the realization or are your images the result of a reflection during the post-production phase?

Post-production is an important moment, a key part of the work that serves to highlight the message picked up while shooting. In addition to correcting the physical limits of the sensors and lens aberrations, it is the moment where feelings unfold. It’s like the sound for a musician. To reason about the pictures you are going to take before shooting is a necessary practice that can give excellent results, but the technology does not help in this regard and I decided to impose myself a discipline, perhaps also forced by the equipment: using completely manuals lenses obliges you to reason, before shooting, about the depth of field and about which is the real subject of the photo, without leaving the choice to the camera between its dozens of AF points.

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To compensate for the absence of autofocus in all those situations where shutter speed and correct exposure are required, I use criteria that everybody knew until the ’80s, as the hyperfocal, the rule of 16 or the rule of the reciprocal of the focal length to avoid micro-blurring. In essence, despite having the latest powerful camera, I take shots as it was done in the ’70s and I must say I do not feel the lack of automation. Besides good photography does not really need any of that: Capa did not have the autofocus or the program mode during the landings in Normandy.

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Is there any specific photographer that inspired you?

From the point of view of photography in the strict sense, I really appreciate the work of David Alan Harvey and the use of colour in Alex Webb work. To a “sacred monster”, quite criticized lately, I talking about McCurry, I recognize the undoubted merit of having created a trend, like  he was some kind of rock-star. Generally speaking, the real inspiration comes from Salgado and Koudelka: more than for their work, which I consider among the most powerful of all, both of them feel closer due to their personal history and the choices they made when it was time to figure out what to do with their lives.

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PERSONAL LINK :

http://www.totolemoto.it/interviste/

http://www.totolemoto.it/pubblicazioni/

Motociclismo (www.motociclismo.it)
Overland Magazine (www.overlandmag.com)
 
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INTERVIEW WITH … Luigi Chighine

Researched by Roberta Pastore

LUIGI CHIGHINE

Hello! First of all, thanks a lot for this opportunity, I enrolled in “The Street Photography in the World” group in 2013 as a mere spectator and now, four years later, I am here to talk about my street own photography and this makes me quite proud.

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My name is Luigi and I was born in one of the smallest provinces of Italy, Ogliastra in Sardinia. Immediately after the university I moved to Bologna where I have been living for many years and where I carry out my physiotherapy activity. In addition to photography I am a big movie buff, I love Leconte, Von Trier, Mungiu and many other little-known directors not renamed in the mainstream cinema circuits. I think this passion helps me a lot in selecting which scenes to photograph.

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Going back in time how was your passion for photography born?

My passion for photography was born in 2012, I was in New York for a pleasure trip and by chance I saw a photo exhibition. Returning to the hotel I thought about the photos that I had taken during the vacation and I was ashamed of them. As soon as I returned to Italy I promised myself to attend a photography course. In Bologna I had the good fortune to meet Fulvio Bugani who taught me how to photograph and how to understand photography. I attended several of his courses and workshops. In my career I have met several photographers and each of them gave me something, added a piece to my mosaic and I have treasured each meeting.

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Considering your works, Which ones marked your entrance into the world of real photography?

Photographically speaking I am very young, probably 2016 was the most important year for me and the trip to Tokyo was the turning point. Comparing with previous trips, I started with an idea already in my mind, with a design, this also thanks to two photographer friends, Simona and Roberto, who insisted so much for me to create of a portfolio and not just single shot on its own. Making “street photography” in Tokyo was really fun and challenging.

 

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 How do you manage colour and B & W?

I use both: just think that I started photographing pretending that colour did not exist, I shot in black and white “jepg” format so not having the opportunity to change my mind in post-production. With the passing of time I discovered the photos from Webb and I started to appreciate colour. During the last year, I have mainly taken photos in colour even if black white remains my favourite style. Why? It has a charm and a romance that the colour cannot recreate.

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Which kind of camera do you use?

I use a Nikon D700 and prefer to use a 24mm or 28mm lens. The 28mm allows me to practically go inside the scene, with the 24mm I stay afar and I take in as many details as possible.

 

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 What Determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

In principle, a photo must communicate something, it must create an emotion. When dealing with the pictures, the first impression is the decisive one, the one that triggers the reaction … and I am always reminded of a quote by Erwitt

 “The key point is take the picture so that then there is no need to explain it in words”

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When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

Generally, I like to study the places where I am shooting and to remain stationed until something interesting happens. In some cases, you know right away if there is something going on, If the right light and the players you are looking for, will present themselves. In these cases, I am hypervigilant and ready to shoot. I am very patient and I often go to the same places several times until I get the shot I want.

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What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

I could make a very long list, I will only mention Erwitt, Bresson, Meyerowitz and Webb, of the latter I love his compositions, I like to lose myself in his photos. Among the new authors, I follow Matt Stuart and I was quite impressed by the work of Giulio Di Sturco on the Ganges, the cleanliness of his images is enviable.

 

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What was your first camera?

I started with an entry level one, a Nikon D5100 with a 35 mm prime lens and an average 16/85 mm zoom.

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What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

Photography with a click can stop time, capture the fleeting moment, arouse emotions, revive a memory and can keep it intact over time.

What should not be? It should not be a clone stamp !

 

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What is the photo That struck you the most of a great historical photographer?

The choice is a really difficult one, but one of my favourites is a picture of Bresson, taken in Seville, here it is: It ‘a photo in the photo, it is amazing!

 What is your favourite technique?

 As I said earlier, I like to work with 24 or 28 mm lenses and I am a fanatic of composition and image cleanliness. In 99% of the cases I work with the camera completely set to manual. Last year I have enjoyed working at high ISO and aperture, with low exposure times, to enhance blacks, lights and the contrasts that come out of the scene I was shooting.

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Why do street photography?

“Street Photography” represents what we see every day, it documents emotions, relationships, everyday events in which human beings are the protagonists. Of “Street Photography” I love the spontaneity of the subjects I shoot, that almost all the times do not realize that I am photographing them. When you go out in the street you never know what you could see and often in the same place the protagonists will change, I love this unpredictability.

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What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

My favourite shot is dated 2014 and I did in Istanbul on the Asian side. I had chosen a spot that liked a lot even if environmental conditions were not the best, it was raining and very cold.

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Finally, the blue hour came, I felt that something was going to happen: a woman, dressed in red with red umbrella came. I was at the limit of the reach of my 24 mm, she lowered her umbrella and covered her face making me happy. The covering of the face gave her a touch of mystery that I often try to have in my photos, while the atmosphere and rain gave to the scene that almost melancholy feeling that I like a lot.

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What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

I try to be as chameleon-like as possible and I adapt myself to the subject I am shooting and above all to the places I visit. While choosing, and staking out places, I try to be as inconspicuous as possible because I think that you will always have to try to steal your shot. Comparing it to “Photo reportage” you are not obliged to make contact with the subjects, it is a colder relationship and you can afford to be ruthless. Sometimes it happens that my presence is noticed, then the first thing to do is to make a smile then … we will see.

INTERVIEW WITH … Michael “Monty” May

Researched by Roberta Pastore

MICHAEL ” MONTY ” MAY

My name: Michael May – born 1958 in West Germany – married with the best wife of all – two elder sons – two fabulous dogs.
My profession: journalist – working as a staff photographer at a German newspaper for more than 25 years now.

 

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Going back in time how was your passion for photography born ?

My career as a photographer started in a wake of a desaster.

It was the time, when I studied sports at the university in Münster in 1980. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle during a football match in such a complicated way, that I had quit sports studies and activities completely fhus becoming a sports invalid looking for a new challenge. I restarted my life with photography.

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Considering your works, which ones marked your entrance in the world of real photography?

One day somebody gave me a ticket to visit the library at the graphic and design institute in Münster to look for some buried treasures. There I found all these magic photobooks featuring the old masters such as Henry Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész , Eugène Atget, Samuel Brassai, Andreas Feininger, Bill Brandt, László MoholyNagy and August Sander. I could borrow these books for weeks and so I did.

I cannot say with with absolute certainty, which particular picture was the initial spark to getting seriously with photography, but it was definitely a black and white one. Maybe this eye-opener by André Kertész:

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Even my two dogs like Kertész. (This snapshot was taken in our living room.) A magic performance without posing.

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This following picture I took in 1982 with my first (used) camera (MINOLTA XG9) on orthocromatical film material (AGFAORTHO 25) in Umbria. It was my first film as a newbie in photography and the first picture to be proud of.

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How do you manage colour and B&W?

I started my career with shooting with Black and White films. B/W was the only category in photography that seemed to be accepted in the artistic photo world in those times suggesting credibility when used for documentary and social reportage.

Colour photography was synonymous with amateur photography; even Ernst Haas of MAGNUM did not publish his fantastic colour work, because no editor was really interested in this kind of stuff.

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But regardless I made thousands of colour positives for exercising my personal skills in  lighting and full framing. For  a long time I went out with two camera bodies. One for B/W and one for colour. Nowadays in the digital world it has become much easier to solve this „problem“

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Which kind of camera do you use?

Fuji X100T. The best  purchase ever. I even use this camera in my newspaper job for street photography, classic concerts, theatre performances and situations which are difficult in terms of the amount ofavailable light. For the „categories“ (such as sports, tele, studio and flash photography) I prefer my NIKON D-700, which is an excellent allrounder.

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What determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

HCB would have said, „you have got a good picture if you turn it upside down and the composition still works.

A good photo from my point of view is a timeless shot, which works on different and complex layers, memorability and iconic qualities of some decisive moment, and lastly has been expertly printed and presented on a gallery wall or in a photobook. Nothing more and nothing less….and last bot not least, humourous, quirky and intriguing.

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But if we raised the bar of quality very high, even the best photographers in the world would only have about 100 top pictures in their portfolios.

When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

Sometimes, yes, when I find a very interesting location and have enough time to wait and see how a scene may develop. I do take my time to make some blind shots and check lighting systems, composition and framing to be ready for the decisive moment 

As I never crop my pictures, the final post production (developing the RAW files in Capture One and processing as 16-bit Tiff-files in Photoshop) can do done pretty fast.

In my personal work-flow it’s just fine tuning at the end, provided that the RAW material is perfect from the beginning.

 

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Museumsinsel Hombroich

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What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

 Before I started with photography I learned all the techniques and theory from specialised books. So I was a really self-taught amateur before I began a practical training in documentary photography and darkroom work as a photographer at the newspaper.

Photobooks have always been a source of inspiration have always been photobooks, the tutorial work for the adult education centre and meeting so many well-known Magnum and National Geographic photographers, who had their exhibitions in our high-regarded „Städtische Galerie“ in Iserlohn

http://www.iserlohn.de/kultur/staedtische-galerie/

This is Magnum photographer Richard Kalvar in my studio:

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Magnum Fotograf Richard Kalvar

What was your first camera?

My first camera, as I mentioned above, was a MINOLTA XG9, followed by MINOLTA XD 5 and XD 7. In 1994 I bought my first LEICA M4, some years later an M6 and CL. At the newspaper I worked with NIKON FM 2 and F3 until we bought our first digital NIKON cameras.

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What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

It’s my job, my hobby, (my wife) and my life. Life is in a permanent photographic flow and from time to time the whole family is very much involved in my activities, but they give me a lot of supports for example in organising „Observations 2017“ our second Street Photography Festival in Iserlohn, which will happen between 07/14. –  07/23. next year.

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What is the photo that struck you the most of a great historical photographer

This iconic shot by Josef Koudelka:

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 An intriguing shot, which turns a real street scene into surrealism in a very subtle way. Top Notch!!

What is your favorite technique?

Shooting with 35 mm and fixing all camera systems into manual mode. Focussing hyperfocal, manual ISO, manual lighting, manual flashing. As I have been shooting for 35 years now, I trust my own skills, parameters and personal experiences more than any computer systems in cameras.

Why do street photography?

For one, I am a member of the Observe Collective, a group of street photographers from nearly all over the world. Consequently doing street photography makes a ton of sense. For two, apart from that it is the photo genre, I always loved most in my photographic life, even before I’d ever heard of its existence. To me it has always been shooting candid people in their environment. In order to document public/social life and behaviour, though not necessarily only in the streets. 

As Bill Brandt once said: „I am not interested in rules and conventions – photography is not a sport“ .Maybe he was a sports invalid too

What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

Less is more, keep it simple and make it clean, clear and perfect is my personal credo and this picture represents it all.

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Sometimes persons and elements come together for a decisive moment in the viewfinder of your camera for a split of a second to celebrate a feast for the eyes. Then they drift apart and vanish completely.

If you recognise the potential of a scene and get that decisive moment perfectly, you will be a winner and take it all, but if you missed it, you missed it and there is no further need to tell the world what and how and why you missed it – you didn’t score the home run this time, but…. don’t worry, your once-in-a-lifetime shot is just waiting around the corner.

What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

I always try to be the invisible man, the silent predator. Still I don’t shoot from the hip or with a tilt screen. I shoot candidly with the camera in front of my eyes. So everybody has a fair chance of recognizing what the fuck man? I am doing. In those cases I try to explain myself in a friendly way. Street photography is not very common in Germany and you can get into serious troubles, if you publish pictures of people without their consent. My (as I hope) eloquence and combined with my press card have thus far helped me a great deal in difficult situations. And if all fails: Press the delete button…as much as it may hurt.

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Personal Websites:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/monty1958/
http://www.observecollective.com/
https://www.instagram.com/montymay/
https://www.instagram.com/observecollective/

INTERVIEW WITH … Emel Akar

Researched by Roberta Pastore
EMEL AKAR

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I was born in Ankara, capital city of Turkey. Due to my father’s duty, my school life has moved from city to city. I grew up alone because my mother worked and I have no brother/sister. At university I studied mathematics and then I started to work in the public institution. I tried to get my loneliness in life by getting hobbies. The most favorite of them is to play piano, archery and Argentine tango. 

 

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Going back in time how was your passion for photography born?

I think my passion started when I was very young. I had to stay alone in the house and I found my parents’ photographs; in their childhood and youth years, their engagement and wedding ceremonies, the meetings they attended, the happy times they had with relatives, and the other moments of their lives. I separated these photos by chronological or black and white tones. Without those photos, I’m sure there will be more questions about my parents’ lives than I already knew. I think photographs give clues about life that I do not know.

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Considering your works, which ones marked your entrance in the world of real photography?

It’s hard to say clearly because I feel so new in photography, but my first marked entrance when I was shooting of a basketball team’s championship celebration. Photos I took were published on the Facebook page of the winning team fun club and one of these photos selected as a cover The Street Photography in the World.  3. How do you manage colour and B&W? I love my photographs more in black and white format. I always shoot my photographs in Raw format and after I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom program for editing them.

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Which kind of camera do you use?

 I am using Fujifilm X100S. The ease of use made me impressed.

What determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

My approach to a photo is usually based on the effects and associations that the photo has caused to me. There are many things that make a photo “good one”; emotional impact, technical and aesthetic competence, having strong story as well as mystery it contains are effective when I make a decision.It’s a bit hard for me to say it’s not a good one. I can say it does not make any sense to me.

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When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

My mood when I am shooting, makes me very impress. When my mind is full of images that I want to capture, I usually do not see anything else. But generally, I usually let the street to move me, I try to feel the air and the ambiance in the street. Shooting is actually the result of the desire to transfer the image of the story in my mind that I saw on the street at the moment. I generally see the image when I am shooting sometimes as a result of a post-production.

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What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

My photography adventure has begun November 2014. I attended in a small group in Izmir to take basic information about photography. I’m very impressed for the first, Vivian Maier when I saw her works and learned her life story from “Finding Vivian Maier”. Then I met my friend/my teacher Anıl Aydın by chance who is also a street photographer. He gave me a lot of support and a lot of information about technical and aesthetic aspects of photography. He won me vision and I’m grateful to him.I have special interest of Magnum photographers. I am reading Frank.Capa’s life story right now. Ara Güler is my favorite from Turkey

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What was your first camera?

When I started photography, I bought second hand Nikon D 90    camera with 18-105 mm and 50 mm f1.8 lenses. I generally used my   camera with 50 mm lens.

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What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

There is a method we all use to understand life, to add value to our lives and to tell ourselves. Photography is an expression for me.

What is the photo that struck you the most of a great historical photographer?

It’s really impossible for me to answer this question. There are many impressive photos and it is really hard for me to pick out one of them right now. Maybe later.

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What is your favorite technique?

I don’t have a favorite technique yet. I am using manuel focus now.

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Why do street photography?

Because street is live, dynamic and everything is inside. I am an office employee working for government from 8.00 to 18.00 a day for about 20 years. You never know what street photography means to me. I think, We-office workers- learn the life from movies, from images and from books. Working in a closed space drifted away me from the city and everyday life. Whereas I love to observe streets, people and their behavior, acts. Street photography makes me connect with life.

What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

This is reminded me of this question: “If you had to go to an island and you could only take one photo which one would it be? If I had a photograph that included everything I thought or felt…

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What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

I pay attention not to make any contact with the street and the people on the street in order not to be affected. If I absolutely have to communicate, it is not difficult for me because I like to chat and share. I do not plan on the streets, how do I behave like I do.
I do not want to bother anyone on the street.

Thank you very much for giving me a place such a high quality street photography community. Best wishes from Izmir, Turkey December 2016
https://facebook.com/akar.emel
www.flickr.com/photos/emelakar/
https://www.instagram.com/blue_linn/

INTERVIEW WITH … Alessandro Prato Atko

Researched by Roberta Pastore

ALESSANDRO PRATO ATKO

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Alessandro Prato Atko fotografia di Francesco Di Marco

I was born in a little town on the French border called Ventimiglia in 1969. After several trips for business reasons I moved to Imperia where I have been employed since as a technician. Although no one in the family was familiar with photography, I got passionate about it by chance in the 90’s. After a long hiatus the passion re-emerged and at the end of 2013 and I did look out to the social world; in 2014 I opened a daily diary on Tumblr from where I did come across the first personal satisfactions and new stimuli.

Going back in time how was your passion for photography born? What was your first camera?

To answer you I have to make a leap to 1991. During my military service in the dormitories there was a guy that documented those days with a camera. Honestly I didn’t understand his dedication, but I  fascinated , although it was not yet a real passion, I think that the seed of photography has planted in me in those days. In December of 1992, my mother asked me which was my wish for Christmas; without thinking I replied “A camera! ” I got a Nikon F401X. I started taking my first photographs regardless of their type; family, friends, landscapes; often the results were disappointing and, in my city, the chances of comparison were almost non-existent. At those times, unfortunately, the opportunities to gather information and study Photography were not as accessible as today and my finances were not so flourishing; slowly, and unconsciously, I stopped taking photos in 1995. In 2008 I started to travel with regularity and I bought a compact digital camera. I took pics without pretensions, photographs to show to family and friends. At the beginning it was thrilling but soon it got boring so I decided to buy a digital SLR that allowed me more control in taking pictures. Shot after shot the passion resurfaced, grew up and  strengthened. I began buying books, studying systematically the work of great photographers with obsessive frequency; I began to surf the net in search of authors of which I had only heard the name, information about the photographic technique, hours and hours of study, if I had had the same dedication during my school career, today, probably, I would be a nuclear  astrophysicist.

Considering your works, which ones marked your entrance in the world of real photography?

Once a man said “If you can smell the street then is SP “. Surfing the net we can read nonsensical talk with which people identify the Masters; at first glance those are only words used to give one a tone, but then you come across something where those words echo something in you, revealing a most intimate meaning. The shooting about the “street women” was impulsive and it was the first time I felt that “smell”; the sitting woman, with her look and posture, goes beyond the theatricality of the scene.

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How do you manage colour and B&W?

The question does not arise when you shoot in film, but when you enter in the digital world things can get complicated: you run the risk of focusing on some preconceived ideas without considering other possibilities. I confess that was true for me; at the beginning the B&W was a “must” as long as I came across the work of Saul Leiter, Joel Meyerowitz, Alex Webb, Matt Stuart and many others amazing photographers. I have changed my preconceptions and today I don’t think that colour is an element of distraction, even if I think many photographers take refuge in the B&W conversion in an attempt to transform a photo devoid of content in an impacting one. Volumes, shapes and converging lines, silhouettes, street portraits, surreal scenes, high-contrast scenes, basically pushed me to shoot in B&W, but of course there are exceptions in which the colour is an essential ingredient and, without it, the photo does not make sense, or the salient features of the subject would not be highlighted. I think it’s always a matter of balance and harmony; during my photo-walks it often happens that my interpretation of the scene is suggested by the scene itself.

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Which kind of camera do you use?

In my kit there are two Fuji that I use daily, a D600 that I carry with me in my travels as second body, two Olympus OM-1 loaded with B&W films at different sensitivity, a Nikon FM2 and of course my first love, the F401x. I like to work with prime lenses, ranging between 28 and 50 mm and from time to time I don’t mind using a disposable camera. I would love one day to achieve a little dream add to my kit a Leica M6 and a Plaubel Makina W67, GAS affected ? I hope not! I love to challenge myself!

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What determines if a photo is a “good one” or not?

To find the right answer, to be applied as a mathematical formula to each photograph, it would be like winning the Montecarlo’s Jackpot. Jokingly I talked about a mathematical formula . Subject, context, energy, action and interaction, ambiguity, abstraction and surrealism, atmosphere, are some of the variables of such formula; the right mixture of all these elements, or some of them, may result in a “good photo”. I think that a “good photo” should have, first of all, a universal language. Among the fans of  Street Photography it is often referred the crucial nature of the Decisive Moment, but is it not as crucial the moment when the photographer performs its editing? Observing your own work with the necessary detachment is, in my opinion, the first step that determines whether a photo is a good one and not a beautiful one.  Good Photography is not a fleeting moment, it captures your attention for more than a few seconds, it hits you in the stomach by stimulating genuine emotions, it has a pinch of salt that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary, it renews its strength every time you see it. The Good Photo is the one that you probably would like to print and hang on a wall.

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When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

Usually I watch the light; if it’s cloudy or raining I put in the bag the film cameras and flash, but if it is a sunny day I choose the mirrorless camera. Without expectations I go out for my photo-walk, I rely myself on the case and on my mood. I live in a small town and often my walks become cyclical and tedious; nevertheless, it’s a great workout for the spirit of observation, and more than once I was pleasantly impressed by the surprises that the street has given me. When I work on a project, however, I focus my energies where I hope to find the useful conditions for the project itself. I shoot exclusively in Raw and therefore the post production is a required step; even if I consider myself an “undisciplined maverick”, over time I gave myself a few rules and strangely I follow them! Avoid cropping or, exceptionally, limit it to the minimum; avoid manipulations which alter the content of the image, remain as faithful as possible to the nature of the image. In my workflow the photos are edited so that they can be printed respecting the original colour space destination; the excess of saturation, clarity, vibrancy, sharpness, break the harmony; I think that  overdoing, sometimes, transform a good photo into a bad one. For  films the process is similar; after the developing phase I scan the negative and, if necessary, I apply a little curve that simulates the darkroom’s “dodge and burning” process.

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What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

I’m a self-taught amateur; as I said, the network has been a great source of information and inspiration. If I think how all started, I smile. I was with some friends in Genoa to watch an exhibition and take a walk in the historical centre. Some of them started taking pictures of people; my spirit of competition drove me to emulate them, but like a slap in the face, I realized that I was not responsive , that I was thinking too much, that my SLR had not a good setting: a disaster!! I decided to search and buy a book that could help me. “Street Photography” by Alex Coghe was the first response to my needs; that was followed by many others. I began to store the first names and study the works of the masters: Weegee, Winogrand, Gilden, Leiter, Robert Frank, Parr, Webb, Meyerowitz, Moriyama, Doisneau, Erwitt, Friedlander, Koudelka, Scianna, Gardin, Salgado … In 2015 I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop with Joel Meyerowitz, amazing and unforgettable days , from that day my flickering thoughts have consolidated and my photographic vocabulary has been enriched. I honestly don’t know if there is one photographer who has inspired me more than the others, but certainly the works of the great masters, together with those of many friends I’ve met online, have profoundly changed and influenced my way of doing photography.

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What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

The Photography for me is like a record where satisfaction and frustration play their tunes regardless  all other things. Photography is a part of my life, pure passion. A never ending journey that allowed me to have extraordinary experiences; the photography should not be a cliché, a sort of competition between people, a manifestation of the ego. Photography is freedom of expression; it is an applause to the subjectivity of the individual.

What is the photo that struck you the most of a great historical photographer?

The photographic heritage is so vast that I find very difficult to identify  one that caught me; in the Scianna’s “Religious Celebrations of Sicily” the child’s posture pointing to the sky, linked to the woman’s face, hits my emotional cords every time. “Wake” in the Koudelka’s Gypsies and ” The Bus” from Trent Park are other pics that I love. The Hedda Hopper portrait of Weegee is a pic that I love in a particular way… maybe because I recognize in it my attitude.

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What is your favourite technique?

I think that the technique that every photographer adopts is closely related to his attitude; my shooting is very physical, I like close distance and  “face-to-face” is a recurrent happening. There are no secrets in my way of working; camera in manual-mode, zone focusing, point and shoot; lately I don’t mind the use of flash. I don’t seek the wow effect, but a personal light control, and a surreal atmosphere from which my subject pops out. I lied maybe I’ve a little secret. You never know which music I am listen during my walks!

Why do street photography?

As I said all started by chance, a challenge to myself; in the beginning the goal was not to make Street but to dominate the photographic medium. Then I stopped and I looked and I thought , without being aware of it, I was a witness of the everyday, I started to gain awareness, to free my imagination, to give room to emotions, to perceive the energy, and those small details who had no relevance now took on an unexpected meaning. Today we take thousands and thousands of photographs: what I wonder is whether all this work will produce some effect on future generations. Maybe it is utopian, but I love to think that this work can offer the same emotions that our predecessors have offered us.

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What is your best shot and what does represent for you?

It’s easier for me to identify the worst one; I think that for every photographer it is difficult to answer this question, and, when he does, he normally chooses a shot that doesn’t have the popularity of others. Obviously I have some pictures that I particularly like, first for the picture itself but above all for what it reminds me; “The nuns at the café”: a wonderful day with two dear friends; “The silhouettes in the tunnel”: the solution to a pic that I’ve studied for a long time; “The clothes in the sun”: Joel Meyerowitz and the rules of the case. Which is the best one? Honestly I don’t know. I hope there are many others behind the corner, and I hope to be able to catch them.

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What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

Generally, I have a resolute approach; I always follow my instincts, my mood and the perception that I have of the surrounding environment; I don’t interact with my subjects, but sometimes people ask me ” Why? “. In these situations, a peaceful dialogue is triggered after which you realize how many people like to tell about themselves. Sometimes people laugh amused, sometimes they ignore you.  Sometimes one collects some bad words in the bag, who has not?

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personal web site :

http://alessandroprato-atko.tumblr.com/ https://plus.google.com/+AlessandroPrato-Atko https://www.flickr.com/photos/alessandropratoatko

 

INTERVIEW WITH … Alessandro Cinque

Researched by Roberta Pastore

ALESSANDRO CINQUE

Born 27 years ago in Orvieto, lives and works in Florence. Professional photographer since 2009 thanks to the passion inherited from his father that, at the early age of 10, gave him his first film camera. A passion that soon become work in 2012 with the birth of his photographic studio, the “Studio Fotografico Firenze” together Florence born photographer Nicola Santini. The experience gained snap after snap allows him to specialize working with national level companies, international ones (ENI, SNAI, BRUNELLO CUCINELLI etc .. etc.) and industry professionals like Alessandro Del Piero, Andrea Bocelli, etc. etc. His passion led him in recent years to travel, to travel the world with a backpack and his inseparable LEICA M9 which allowed him to describe places, stories, people and emotions that only through a photo could be told. Involved in social work with various non-profit organization that, in addition to producing reportages about integration in Italy, he has travelled several times in Africa and Asia. Its leitmotiv? “Inside of me there are two types of photographer: one that does it as a work and one that does it for passion.”

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Going back in time how was your passion for photography born and how did you start in the professional world of photography?

I have the great luck to have a photographer as a father and he taught me everything I know about photography and how you manage light and space. At only 16 he introduced me to the working world, giving me the opportunity to assist him during his shooting, at 18 I had my first photo shoot on my own, I still remember it, a couple of Scots that came to Umbria to get married, at the age of 20, in 2009, I opened my own photography studio in Florence.

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ALEX3576Considering your works, which ones marked your entrance in the world of real photography?

I must say that I consider my last job in Africa, “Contrast” (“Contrasto”), a good job, definitely the best I’ve done so far, given that for the first time I was able to tell a story I cared about without any string attached. What I consider “real photography” is something else, I am inspired by the great masters of what I call Photography with a capital P, and it’s not up me to say if this latest work has remotely approached such levels, though, if this were true it would be a source of great pride for me and a sign that I’m on the right track.

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What is photography to you? And what should not be instead  ?

Photography for me is testimony and storytelling. What should not be? It should not be a falsified testimony by a influenced photographer, a photographer who wants to exploit a fact, an event in order to impose his views. I believe that a good photographer is the one that while telling us a fact, makes us understand what his opinion is, without “slamming it in our face”, taking us to his point of view, but without being insistent. On one hand the story that takes place, on the other hand the opinion of the photographer. Photography must not be used for personal purposes, for ulterior motives, but to remember, to be a useful tool for those who benefit from it.

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How would you describe your style?

I do not think I yet have my own style, I think that for a photographer that is the hardest thing to build, if I should succeed in that at the end of my career, it would be an important milestone. With all the books I’ve looked at and read, I think that for now, also given that I am quite young, I am influenced by the great names in photography, and that, even if unconsciously, I am also inspired by them in some shots and compositions.

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 What is the photo that struck you the most of a great historical photographer?

Alex Webb, Bombardopolis, Haiti, 1986. That is not a photo, it is a story, it is an album of photos, there we see the great skill of a great artist, that toying with the composition and managing maniacally spaces can tell a “world” in one click.

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What was your first camera?

My first camera was a Yashica FX-3 super 2000, I am very fond of it as it was given to me when I was 10 by my father for my first holy communion. A funny story about this machine is that it was the first with whom I “worked”, I remember in fact having this machine always hanging from my neck, any day of the week, I used to go with my grandmother to the cafe of the village where I lived, and there I took photos at all her friends, photos that I later sold them, once developed, to buy those “essential goods” that serve to a 10-year-old child. Still today I charge some film in it and I award myself shooting afternoons with my trusty camera.

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What is your favourite technique?

 I really enjoy taking pictures in slow times and small aperture, I love the 1/24 sec time because it is the midway between a photo with a little movement and a photo quite still. For now, I prefer the 28mm and I’m training to use this lens, managing space with a 28mm is not simple and even its usage is not easy, since it forces you to be very close to the subject. My dream is to get to use a 21mm lens and to realize dynamic photographs, filled, with no gaps. It will take a long time and a lot of work, but I have age on my side.

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How do you manage colour and B&W?

In these days I am reading “Colour Theory” by Itten. It is important to understand what are the colours that may or may not go together, so that while shooting you can go find matching pairs. Manage color or B/W is not simple, it all depends on what you want to tell, in my last job I decided to use “Black and White”, because since in some pictures there is blood, I did not want the red colour “screaming” too much, distracting the viewer from what I want my message to be. With B/W you can also tell sad stories in a sweeter way. Mimmo Jodice, that I consider a great photographer said: “Colour is the description, black and white is imagination.”

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 Which kind of camera do you use?

Currently in my kit I have a Canon Eos 5D Mark III and a Leica M9. Two completely different machines and my approach to photography with them changes profoundly. The camera does not make the photographer, that’s obvious, but the way of operating the camera that I have with the M9 and the rangefinder is very different from when I shoot with Canon, the M9 gives me time to study and to see the photo in advance. Surely it is a psychological thing, but with the LEICA I have another type of relationship.

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 What determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

For me the good photo is one that is well done, it says something, leaves a message and it works.

When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

 I compose my images during shooting, I am absolutely opposed to distort reality with the help of post-production, as I said before to me photography is a testimony. The photographer is like a journalist and instead of writing with words, he does it with light. I try to imagine the shot while I’m doing it and that’s why the rangefinder helps me a lot, it makes me see what’s going to happen before it enters the camera field of view. Sometimes when I see a specific picture I wait to realize the right shot even for a few minutes.

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What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

I was and I am inspired by the great Magnum photographers, I have studied many many books, I have visited photo and art exhibitions, I have seen photographic projects, I have met other photographers and I have compared myself with them. Next year I will participate in a workshop with Ernesto Bazan and I am very eager to meet him in person to try to learn as much as possible from a great photographer like him.

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 What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

Very often the favorite shots of each photographer are not the best ones they have taken, because in those pictures the author can see a memory, an emotion, a feeling, and he can remember word for word the path that has brought to realize that shot. My favorite at the moment is one that I have taken in Burma in 2015. I really like the contrast between the subject and a dog, both characters seem to taking the same motion.

What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

I try to give back to the people I take pictures of what they are giving me, as soon as I see an interesting situation I try to build a relationship with the person I’m going to shoot, even if only with a nod with my eyes. After making a shot that I like, when there is an opportunity to talk, even just to say hello I try to do that; with the mere fact of being there at that time, they gave me a memory, a testimony that without them I could not have told.

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Tell us about your project Contrasto, how was it born? What were, if there were any, the difficulties to carry it out ?

My project “Contrasto” stems from my encounter with an Italian non-profit organization: “Oltre le Parole / Beyond words” that totally trusted me to tell what they have done in these last 20 years. With their aid, four hospitals were built in Uganda and also lots of schools that have given more than 400,000 children the opportunity to study. I wanted to tell the “contrast” that I found in this land of strong “contrasts”. Where joy and sorrow meet and clash, where the screams of joy of the children broke the deafening silence of the hospitals.

Personal Web Site :

https://www.facebook.com/AlessandroCinquePhotographer/?fref=ts

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INTERVIEW WITH … Reuven Halevi

Researched by Roberta Pastore

REUVEN HALEVI

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

Going back in time how was your passion for photography born?

For as long as I can remember, from early childhood onwards, the physical experience of vision has played a significant role in my life. That said, photography as a phenomenon, as an activity and aesthetic expression, was for the first decades of my life off-limits. I don’t think I ever dreamed about being a photographer, as if I had come to the conclusion early on that I would never be able pick up a camera and have the mind, heart and skills to convey what I saw to the rest of the world in a meaningful way. That said, I have always had a long-distance relationship with photography and the masters. And there are several identifiable moments in my life when photography came to redefine the paths I chose. Like the film The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), and the photojournalism of the character Teresa. I had a wild desire to do exactly what she did. But again, I shrugged and carried on with other plans as it seemed…well, off-limits to me. However, I did incorporate photography into my work in cinema and especially when directing for the stage. To keep it short: I believe I have always had an immense passion for photography, to the point where I more or less consciously had to force a lid on it. Until of course I could no longer stave it off, which happened only a couple of years ago. And here I am.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

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Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

Considering your works, which ones marked your entrance in the world of real photography?

The last time I directed for the stage, and the last time I location scouted for a film novella I wanted to do (both happened more or less at the same time). I realized I was deeply unhappy with the nature of directing. I could not carry on with all the dissipation of energy, all the compromises. The core of what I wanted to express and convey couldn’t survive the mundane processes of production. I ran out of steam and felt paralyzed. Not to criticize theatre directing per se, it was more a question of mutual incompatibility. So I eventually got a camera, but didn’t really know what to do with it. Until one day I was sitting in front of the computer doing my taxes and growing increasingly weary of numbers and the general meaningless of most things in life. I suddenly got up, grabbed the camera and said to myself “now I am going to step out into the world and take a real photo”. And I did. BTW, never again have I been able to repeat this feat. It seems impossible to place an order for the taking of a really good photo and then actually do it.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

How do you manage colour and B&W?

That is very much part of an ongoing debate I have with myself. I have no trouble admitting that I could – at times – go either way. But I have several series in colour that wouldn’t make any sense in B&W, and vice versa. Most likely I’ll never settle for either or as a general rule of thumb. Of my work on the city of Rome, 70% of my photos are in colour. Maybe because Rome is an extremely chromatic place, and the colours make up for a lot of its peculiar identity. Also, while I was all B&W in the beginning it all changed once I moved on to Fujifilm’s X cameras, and the wonderful Classic Chrome colour profile. It fits snugly with my aesthetics. While I experience many colour profiles as limiting and whatever end result a huge compromise (thus I’d rather shoot for B&W), Fuji’s CC enables my expression.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

Which kind of camera do you use?

I mostly use a Fujifilm XT-1 (I have two, while waiting for the XT-2) or an analogue Leica (M2) that I inherited from my granduncle.

What determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

Well, that is the mother of all questions… So much has been said and is being said every day on this topic that it makes little sense for me to go through all the viable “academic” answers. But looking at it empirically, I have a slight clue and one indicator is my immediate emotional reaction upon taking in a photo. If there is such a reaction (I’ve had all of them, from bursting out with laughter to having tears running down my face within seconds), well, that says a lot, though probably not all. If you have to look for the value in a photo, then I feel there is something wrong. A photo brimful of the “right” elements can be as dead as the paper it has been printed on, while a photo where everything is “wrong” can at times hit you right smack in the heart. Go figure. To protect myself from this question I have been hiding behind the words of André Kertész who when asked why he liked a specific photo during what I believe was an interview made by the BBC, repeatedly replied very simply “it pleases me”. That sums it up perfectly to me.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

In all honesty I believe it is impossible not to have images in my mind when I shoot, though that may sound like a provocation. I believe that all the images that I have consumed, digested and experienced throughout my life, and all the images I have photographed or otherwise created are all part of an ongoing dialogue between the world and myself. I cannot and wouldn’t want to position myself outside of this dialogue. And I cannot extricate myself from a referential totality of images. No one can. Then again, this does not mean that I go out with a specific photo in mind trying to look for and capture it. Not as long as we are talking about street photography. It is true that in the beginning I went out consciously wanting to emulate certain photos and photographers, but only for strict training purposes. I believe that is the basics for learning anything. But the goal was only to widen my gaze and heart as much as possible, nothing else. Why would I ever want to take a photo that already exists? By emulating the masters (big and small), the goal is to reinterpret, to add something, to push our knowledge one inch further. To the second part of the question, as to the (digital) post-production phase, I’m heading towards the end of a process of transformation. In the very beginning I spent, though not a lot, still too much time fiddling around with levers and stuff, effectively “creating” the photo after-the-fact on my computer. I’m even half-good at Photoshop and whatnot. Today I feel that if I spend more than a couple of minutes adjusting brightness and black point, I’m actually killing the photo. I’ve seen this time and time again. I have to say that there is nothing more refreshing than undoing every adjustment, seeing the photo as it was shot and then very soberly give it a very limited number of corrections. This happens only in Lightroom, and the most creative I sometimes get is perhaps to do some very basic and simple dodging/burning, the same kind I would be capable of doing myself in a darkroom. To me personally the photograph itself “happens there and then”, in the world and in the camera.

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Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

Technically speaking I am 100% self-taught and I have consciously not wanted to attend any course, school or training for the simple fact that academia kills me. Humanly speaking I am a product of the culture I was born into, again, that referential totality that constitutes all of us, and I would have to mention absolutely every experience I have ever had. I am saying this in all honesty and seriousness. My granduncle Harry Braude who was murdered in Auschwitz in 1942 is an important emotional inspiration. He was an actor and had his entire life ahead of him. I feel inspired to vindicate him and to pick up where he left off as an artist, though of course through a different form of expression. But I realize that the question asks for sources of inspiration from the world of photography. Well, today my greatest emotional-visual inspirators are Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander…and Klein, Eggleston, Levitt, Koudelka, Erwitt, Callahan, Kertesz… Impossible to narrow it down. Of our contemporaries, there are so many that I prefer to mention someone “outside” of the realm of photographers in the strictest sense of the term: David Lynch.

What was your first camera?

A Canon 5D Mark II.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

Photography to me is a way to negotiate my own temporal presence in the Brotherhood of Man. A way to not succumb to apathy and deadly routines. A way to contribute to the ethical survival and evolution of our species. A way to contribute to our collective referential wholeness, very simply by documenting how and who we are. To me personally, photography is the cultivation of culture. And naturally, the best means of self-expression I have yet to come across. As to what it should not be, I am not sure I know how to reply. I reckon we need bad photography in order that good photography may emerge and stand out.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

What is the photo that struck you the most of a great historical photographer?

I have tried to find an answer to this question, that is, the one photo that struck me the most. But I wouldn’t be honest to myself had I mentioned one single photo. Instead, I’m going with a couple off the top of my head, knowing very well that my reply will be different a week from now. The first photo that came to mind was Paul Strands 1915 photo Wall Street. The second, Garry Winogrand’s photo from New York 1967, the couple carrying chimps. Both examples of photos that rock me emotionally (and consequently, intellectually) every time I see them or remember them. But there are so many, and I’m sure I’ll regret not having mentioned others instead.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

What is your favourite technique?

There are so many, relevant to all the different aspects of practical real world shooting. From how I approach the day, how I move about and position myself relative to a subject, to how I hold the camera and which settings I may opt for. I am currently refining a technique that I’m hardly the first one to come up with, which I’m calling “automatic zone focus”. This in regard to digital photography. If I’m shooting people close (which is far from the only thing I do) and I see a subject, I keep my camera in AF, decide at which distance I want to shoot, point the camera quickly to something at the same distance (the ground, a wall, my hand or leg), half-press prefocus and hold it until the subject is in range and then shoot. I am sure people will cringe at this, but it works very well for me. Apart from this, I believe all techniques are valid. According to specific needs. All techniques and methods are means to a goal, a “towards-which”. Just like a tool. It’s all a matter of picking the right tool. So there is in my book no one single technique that I go to.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

Why do street photography?

It is the most intimate and immediate form of communion with humanity, in my experience. Personally, I do street photography because I have a strong notion that it transcends my own me. It is more important than myself. It gives my life a…procedural meaning. It extends me beyond my own neuroses. The public realm is the default “place” of our collective state of mind, the very manifestation of “us”. When we shoot the streets I believe we are acting out a basic human right and obligation, which is to observe, document and interpret history, and the way and who we are. Street photography is a constant dialogue between the city and the citizen, and this continuous refining of our attitude towards the public realm pushes us towards the city of tomorrow. Even before exhibiting our photos, by simply being out there shooting these public phenomena, we inform our fellow citizens that the city warrants, merits being photographed and commented on and interpreted and discussed and remembered. Each time a kid out there sees us, we might just have conceived the street shooter of tomorrow. We produce civic self-awareness by just being there, doing our thing, making new cultural references for the people while in fact practicing a counterculture of seeing, not only being seen. We show people that you can photograph the city and its inhabitants without being a tourist (or a terrorist). I believe this is of enormous importance. But these are intellectual explanations about why I shoot the streets. There is an infinite number of other valid reasons. To be blunt, every human needs self-expression. And this, among all forms of expression I have tried, allows me the most integrity, honesty and eloquence.

Reuven Halevi Photographer
Reuven Halevi Photographer

What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

I have thought long and hard about this question, and found it impossible to pick one. Then I remembered the one photo I have that is different from all the others. First of all because it is a proto-photo. I took it 13 years (!) before I started photographing. It was Halloween, 1999 in New York City. What it means to me is that it informs me about what I am searching for going forward. And lately I have been moving more clearly in a direction that ideally reconnects me with that photo. I am increasingly attracted to the metaphysical, hyper realistic and unsettling. Not that that is what the photo is brimful of, but that is what it offers me. The suspension. Both temporarily, spatially, corporeally and emotionally. Somewhere in between the black and the white I feel there are symbols I am only now starting to see. And this research feels right and truly honest to me. I’d say the Halloween photo is most likely not my best, but it is to me – at least right now – my most meaningful photo.

What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots? The streets and the people who inhabit them represent to me a caldron of fear and empathy. People scare me, but at the same time I really, truly platonically love them. I even empathize – a lot – with the 130 kg braindead gorilla in front of me who wants to break my skull with my camera for having photographed him. I think that pretty neatly sums it up.

INTERVIEW WITH … Ciro Cortellessa

Researched by Roberta Pastore

CIRO CORTELLESSA

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Going back in time how was your passion for photography born ?

My passion for photography started at the age of 18 when I bought my first SLR with a standard 50 mm lens, fascinated by the images of a dear friend of mine. I began to experience every photographic genre thanks to the advice I read on many photographic magazines. I have been hooked to photography for 32 years, since the era of the images was a far cry from what it has become today. Slowly, with the passing years, I began to discover a great attraction for reportage and investigative photography to the point that I decided to abandon all experiments to dedicate myself, up till nowadays, to travel in many areas of crisis. Parallel to photojournalism, I dedicate myself to Street Photography, the second great passion of mine, so that today I am a member of the collective “Italian Street Photography” with the aim to spread internationally the Italian style of this photographic genre. I used to shoot primarily with films in black and white and color used to be only for the photo slides. For many years I have printed my photos in black and white and this has allowed me to understand the entire process that was behind the creation of a shot till its materialization on paper.

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Considering your works, which ones marked your entrance in the world of real photography?

I havevmade a lot of reportages in different areas of the world, including Vietnam, Turkish Kurdistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,India, Turkey, but the one that marked my entry into the real world of photography was the one I shot in Bosnia. Telling the devastation of a war so close to our borders has involved me a lot under the emotional aspect, without neglecting even its organizational one due to the fact that I had to crossmany territories in the Balkans that are still mined today.

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How do you manage colour and B&W?

With regard to the management of black and white and color, I follow these practices. I always shoot in Raw format and according to the purpose of my work, I then decide whether to present it in black and white or in the past I strongly believed the stereotype that reportage and street photography should only be in black and white. In recent years however I have shot many of my works in color and I still keep this trend.

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Which kind of camera do you use?

As soon as I started photographing I bought a Nikon camera and for 25 years, I have been aloyal user of this brand, changing various models. I have recently decided to switch to Canon, specifically  I usea 5DMARKIII with lenses as the Canon 24mm f 8 and the SigmaArt50mm. f 1.4 for reportage and a FujiX-20 camera for Street Photography.

What determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

Basically I take a picture only if I consider that the situation that I have in front of the lens has something to tell me. So I always do a selection in the shooting phase, on the wake of the emotions that I feel. If the situation does not tell me something I do not take the It’s not my modus operandi to shoot in any case and then look at the image on the display. I consider that a waste of time because I could lose interesting situations to shoot if I immediately look at the shot just taken. Many photographers do that.

 

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When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

To this question I think I’ve already answered in part in the previous point.I do not have an image already in mind. I definitely think I could deal with specific situations during shooting according to the place where I am. The post production for me is limited exclusively to the exposure correction if I find any serious errors.

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What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

I am self-taught and the “Street” was without a doubt my true school. In my life I have attended just one workshop for war reporters with Francesco Cito, but I have gained my experience from the territories I have come into contact and with the people I have met. As for my second great passion, Street Photography, I have carefully studied the great exponents of this genre such as Garry Winogrand, Bruce Gilden, William Klein and others, still managing to create a Street Photography style of my own. I take my inspiration from the people I meet on the street and the myriad of situations that occur around me. Basically I do not choose a photographic theme especially when it comes to Street Photography. Street Photography is improvisation, it’s a bolt from the blue, it’s speed, anticipation of the scene that is going to happen. It’s a difficult genre that requires constant attention to what happens around us and for this reason a good Street picture repays for the kilometers one often walks to pursue it.

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What was your first camera?

My first camera was a NikonF601 with a 50mm f 8 lens.

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What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

For me, photography is the translation of an emotion into images, but not only that. It’s a master key that opens every door on different worlds and  that allows us to see what often goes un noticed by the speed with which that moment vanishes. That moment we know will never come back. Photography must not be spectacularization, should not be detrimental, but above all it must not be debasedin its beauty. Today the sharing speed of each type of images has reached un expected limit seven just 20 years ago. Photography once upon a time,and not so long ago, used instead to require more dilated times that allowed to savor the joy of having stopped a unique and unrepeatable moment. Let’s get those times back even with today’s technology.

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Below my websites and my Facebook pages :

http://timelux2.wix.com/ccstreet

http://timelux2.wix.com/cirocortellessa

https://www.facebook.com/CiroCortellessaStreetPhotographer/?fref=ts

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Biography :

Ciro Cortellessa lives and works in La Spezia. Reportage Photographer, he has created his work in Bosnia, Turkey, Turkish Kurdistan, India, on the Pakistan border, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, on the border of China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan. He has won numerous national and international awards, including:

1995 – Second prize at the International Art Competition city of Hallstahammar (Sweden)

1996 – Sixth prize at the International Art Competition city of Hallsthammar (Sweden)

1997 – Photo exhibition ” Gente di Mercato ”
1997 – First prize in the Photo Contest City of  Santa Margherita Ligure
1997 – Photo exhibition ” Infrarosso, il mondo dell’invisibile ”
1999 – Photo exhibition ” HD, il mito americano”
2000 – Photo exhibition ” Presenze ”
2002 – Photo exhibition ” Srebrenica, 11 luglio 1995 11 luglio 2005, il genocidio e la memoria”

2003-2005 –  Design and implementation of the documentary with  Marco Della Croce ” Il cielo sopra Srebrenica” documentary about the war in Bosnia.

2005 – First prize in the Photography Competition “Memorial Raffaele Ciriello” for war reporters.

2006 – Preparation and publication for the “Observatory of the Balkans” of the reportage- dossier on the effects of depleted uranium shells during the war in Bosnia.
2008 – Photo-reportage/ exhibition “Good Morning Vietnam” on The effects of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
He has partnered with magazines like “Quark”, “Tutto Turismo”, “Viaggiando”.
2010 – 1st place at the National Photographic Competition ” Sudest del mondo” with the reportage “Good Morning Vietnam”.
2013 – Photo exhibition ” Le figlie sono come le madri, donne lungo la via della seta” after the eponymous documentary written and directed by Lisa Castagna at the Women’s Museum of Merano (BZ).

2014 – Photo exhibition ” Le figlie sono come le madri, donne lungo la via della seta ” after the eponymous documentary written and directed by Lisa Castagna at the Cineteca di Bologna.

Photo exhibition Photolux with the solo exhibition “My Street Photography” Lucca.
Held photography courses reportage and street photography.
Photographer Fujifilm Italy.
Photo exhibition “Le figlie sono come le madri, donne lungo la via della seta ” after the eponymous documentary written and directed by Lisa Castagna at the “Fabbrica del Vapore”, Events in Expo Milano 2015.
2015 – Photo exhibition  “Don’t forget Srebrenica, l’ultimo viaggio di Ibrahim Šaban”. Padua
2016 – Photo exhibition  “Don’t forget Srebrenica, l’ultimo viaggio di Ibrahim Šaban”. Brescia
2016 – Top 20  at the London Photo Festival 2016
2016 – Photo exhibition in London form the 29th  of February 2016 to the 29th of May 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH … Andrea Torrei

Researched by Marco D’Aversa

ANDREA TORREI

Going back in time,when did your passion for photography started? 

Photography has always been an important part of my life. A daily presence in many aspects: magazines, books, newspapers and movies. At home there were always issues of National Geographic magazine, just to cite one, that I leafed through with great curiosity and amusement. I can say that photography has influenced my personal education through news and social reportage, the sphere in which I work. I was born in Italy in 1967 and live in Rome and I worked for several NGO’s, (non governmental organizations). I had never thought to actually busy myself with photography until a few years ago also due to a sluggish economy and a slow labor market. I’ve used the extra time on my hands to dive into this, for me, new adventure.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Considering your works, which did mark your entrance in the world of real photography?

It was a workshop in New York City in October 2014 that set me on course for street photography. Before that I did some portrait  in studio and went on to landscape and macro, very useful experiences for the study of light and detail. But from New York on, street photography is my main interest.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How do you manage color and B&W?

Often it is not I who decides that a picture will be in color or B&W. It is the photograph itself that suggests it to me according to several factors like mood and lighting. I have no set preference. Initially I tended more toward B&W but lately I explore color with pleasure.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Which kind of camera do you use?

An Olympus M5. Small, light and, above all, unobtrusive. I usually use wide angles, I’m not a big fan of telelens that I use very rarely.

What determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

The interest it evokes, the message it conveys are the main elements to me. Then I ask myself why a picture has impressed me so much and I start noticing several aspects like the subject, the light, the composition and the so called “decisive moment”. I think a good picture is the outcome of a combination of these elements but most of all it is the inspiration of the photographer. It could happen that the light is not that impressive nor the composition perfect or that the horizon or street plane are not perfectly level. That is not my primary consideration in regard to the “feel” of the photo. I don’t care for “pretty” and “perfect” photos. Street photography regards mainly people, the capture of a fleeting moment. A photo can be blurred, out of focus and yet of strong and great impact.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

Some pictures are part of a series. So in this case I have a clear idea in mind of what I look for. Others come from a completely unplanned moment like the picture n. 16 taken in Istanbul, near the Blue Mosque, where I was immediately attracted by the play of light, shadows, and silhouette. I always struggle to get my pictures in camera, before I click. Post production is very important and I use it to enhance the picture I already have. About post production I would like to say that I see a lot of very interesting pictures around but devastated by an overbearing post production that, in my opinion, has got nothing to do with street photography. It’s really a shame.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo n:16
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

I attended several photography courses and workshops where I met good teachers and a stimulating environment. Inspiration, anyway, is all around me, comes in many forms and from different sources.

What was your first camera?

I don’t even remember. It was a point and shoot camera.

What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

Photography is a powerful language and tool, for better or worse. It documents, informs, and even shocks, makes people feel strong emotions and think in depth. So it should be used with a high sense of responsibility.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is the photo that struck you the most of a great historical photographer ?

The list is too long! Many amazing pictures and photographers would be unjustly overlooked. But I only would like to name some italian photographers like Mario de Biasi, Nino Migliori, Berengo Gardin, Mario Giacomelli, Ferdinando Scianna, strongly recommended to get acquainted with the history and culture of my country.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is your favorite technique?

I follow the light, the people and my instinct. I’m very impulsive. I started with a minimalist approach which is not the easier one. But soon I discovered the pleasure of multilayered images, pictures with several points of interest. When I see an interesting situation I start to build the picture around my subjects, trying to tell a story, like in photo n 1. It is extremely difficult to get a good picture, there is always something that goes wrong. It takes a lot of patience and determination. It’s true what they say: street photography is 99% failure and can be very frustrating. But this is the technique I like most and when I deem a picture good it gives me great satisfaction.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA photo n.1

Why do street photography?

Taking pictures of my times, of people around me is the most challenging and rewarding experience. Street photography is also a surprisingly amazing therapy to get know myself, another unexpected great side of this adventure!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

I do not think  I have a n. 1 best shot that does represent me, perhaps others might tell me.

What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

There are places where it is  relatively “easy“ to shoot. In Cuba, for example, where people are very photography friendly, I often have been invited at home for a coffee. I met people and families and got to know their stories and enjoyed taking environmental portraits. I rarely get confronted in the street. See the picture N 7, of this family in Trinidad.  They noticed me after I clicked. I smiled to them and showed the picture in the monitor; they replied with a smile. In other places things get more complicated. People normally are very suspicious and jealous of their privacy. Some can react very badly. Street photography is not easy at all! But definitely thrilling and very addictive!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA photo n.7

INTERVIEW WITH … CRISTINA DUCA

Researched by Roberta Pastore

CRISTINA DUCA

I was born in ROME in 1970. I’m a mom, a wife, a worker. I’m a curious person who llikes  observe the world around me.  I’ve always done it, without a camera too. During last 2 years I have started to get more in touch with the photography world, and this passion captures me more and more.   I love photography and I love people. SoI try to capture their moments and emotions. Camera is a friend that is always with me. It is in my bag with the phone, the keys and the agenda, it is becoming more and more part of my life.

PERSONAL WEB SITE : https://www.flickr.com/photos/naturae/

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Going back in time how was your passion for photography born ?

Photography had always attracted me, but my commitment started in an unusual way. I have a blog about “farming on balcony” and I needed a new camera to take better images. So I bought it  and I started to shoot. Passion started to grow click after click. So I changed subjects, from vegetables to persons.

Considering your works, which ones marked your entrance in the world of real photography?

Was a photo that portrayed the feet of a man and a woman sitting inside a bus.  I showed the photo to a friend and he told me: hey this is really a street!  I liked that pic, so I continued with this  kind of photos,  for me new at that time.

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How do you manage colour and B&W?

I try to obtein the best in camera. After I use Lightroom to editing photos.

Which kind of camera do you use?

I have two cameras. A Canon 6d and a Sony dsc rx 100.  I use both of them, even if with the sony I’m a little more invisible.

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What determines if a photo is “good one” or not?

Emotion first. Light, geometry and composition after. In the past I thought that a pic was good if people likes. Now I think that a photo is good if communicates something, sometimes only to me, other time in a more objective way.

When you are shooting, do you have an image in your mind? Do you build the final photo before shooting it or are your images also a result of a post-production phase?

Sometimes I have an image in my mind. Happens when I find a place or a light that I like. In this case, I compose the photo and wait the right subjet. Other time the subject arrives  unexpected and I have just the time to catch it. The photo born when you have the camenra in your hand, not in editing phase. Post-production is important to get the best of a picture, as photographers have always done.

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What training did you follow? Who inspired you?

My training is “never a day without camera with me”. Besides this, I love read photography books, listen tips of expert photographer and watching the endless amount of wonderful images available today. When I started, I was quite unprepared about photography and photographers. So initially, I had no real influence. Now I begin to know and appreciate the work of many great photographers. I love artists like Bresson, V. Maier, F. Fontana, but not only. All of them, even if differently, surprise and attract me.

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What was your first camera?

A little camera, a Sony DSC RX 100.  Often I continue to use it, I love this camera very much, both for its performance and for its small size; with the Sony I’m more invisible.

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What is photography to you? And what should not be instead?

I know only what is photography for myself: is a passion, is a way to live emotions. Mine and that of other people. And should be respectful of the people.

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What is the photo that struck you the most of a great historical photographer?

Among the photos I love most, there is the portrait of Matisse by Cartier Bresson. A man and his life all in a shot.

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What is your favorite technique?

I haven’t a preferred technique. The only thing I can say is that I love use wide-angle lenses

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Why do street photography?

Street photography is the way that allows me to put into practice what I used to do without owning a camera: observe people, take a snapshot of their life, capture an emotion… I love people as they are, in my view this is the most attracting show in the world.

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What is your best shot and what does it represent for you?

Is difficult replay to this question. I love many of my pics, each one means something to me. If I have to choose, peraphs the “mom in the bus”, one of my first street photo. I don’t know if is my best pic, buti this  is the photo  that gave me confidence to continue with this photographic genre

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What is your relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots?

The street is a big  theater where people are  reciting their lives. Sometimes I have no relationship with  the people in the pics. Other time, directly or not,  I know the people in my photos.