INTERVIEW WITH … Mauro Cangemi

Researched by Roberta Pastore


Born  in  Naples on 25/10/1962 in the  San Lorenzo district,  he  lives  in  Naples  in  the Vicaria district.  Since 1978 he has pursued his passion for photography, studying imagesand poetry of the  great  masters.  Dedicating many hours of his  youth to  the  film,  the darkroom, alternating black and white to color, taking care personally of his own images, to arrive in 2000 to digital photography.  Architect by profession, photographer by need. The requirement of the story, the communication through images, the sharing of feelings.  He prefers the use of the camera without any automated function with the exception of the  light  metering.  He  prefers  the  ” Hyper-focal ”  technique.  He  favors  the  Street Photography genre.

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 When did you your passion for the photography start?

Looking at my older brother. He owned a beautiful black ASAHI PENTAX Spotmatic with a  50mm Takumar F1.4. It was 1978, I had just turned 16. Always thanks to  him I discovered the darkroom, where I learned the technique of film developing and printing. Totally overwhelmed by the passion, I began to buy the first books on the technique (I remember  dearly Andreas  Feininger)  and  the  photographic  composition  of  the  greatmasters. The need to tell a story grew stronger and stronger because, being born in a city that is  special in every sense, it was enough to  walk  through  the Historical Center and inevitably one would remain speechless observing the laminating light creeping through the hung sheets, the same one that reverberated on the ancient walls of tuff  or  the  lavastone paving of the road.

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The images of people,  daughters of ancient  folks,  with the mimicry of the gestures and the loud sound of the voice, associated with the scents and smells coming from homes on street level (low), slowly sublimated in the image taking form in my mind:  just like on a sheet of paper dipped in the developing bath. And inevery alley of  all the districts of the city, the story turned into new tale. I grew up like this: admiring such beauty in silence, waiting with infinite love and patience the precisemoment to stop the moment of my tale.

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Which was your first camera?

MIRANDA Auto Sensorex EE – Auto Miranda 50mm f1,8.

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

It  is capturing a unique moment of life,  that makes  a  recognizable and shared sense,a  mix of unique factors related to the places,  the people, the time, trying as much as possible to  depart  from  the  basic  rules.  I  would  not  want  it  to be  coy  and  self- congratulatory, but a testimony of personal sensitivity towards the changing reality, at the service of the future observers.

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Which masters of photography inspires you?

Alfred Eisenstaedt, Robert Doisneau, Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier Bresson.

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

Elliott Erwitt, Men Fighting,  New York, 1950.

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 What is your favorite technique?

Hyper-focal and total manual control of all the parameters .

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 Why do street photography?

I think that,  for a photographer, it  is a daily test  .  What you have  experienced just  a moment ago, it does not apply to the next one, nothing is ever repeated in this genre,  a irrepressible and never banal provider of ideas and stimuli for cultural growth.

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

I am very attached to the photographs of old ladies, residents in level road housing (low) of the historic center. Each one of them is related to a story, sweet or melancholic, happy or sad, often told by them through the memory clouded by the years. Stories related with availability  and  pride,  because  in  those  moments  of  personal  consideration  and involvement, in their infinite wisdom, they are able to perceive the quality of the people in front of them and that intends to portray them. I often received gratitude and caressesas they slowly composed, with their hands, their hair.

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

I never had any problems because I move so obviously, never in furtive way.  I always ask, with an elegant and never aggressive approach, permission to portray, explaining the motivation,  trying  to  make  the  subjects  participant  of  the  story  that I intend to  tell, never taken out of context.  Nearly every time, the most  artistic  ideas come from  the subjects own involvement.