INTERVIEW WITH … Stefano Mirabella

Researched by Roberta Pastore


Was born in Rome in 1973 where he currently lives. He’s been photographing on and off for many years but it is only in 2011 that he started taking street photographs. 

Member of SPontanea Italian Street Photography Collective since 2013, street photography is for him an opportunity to be with people and rediscover his city. He loves the kind of photography that hangs in the balance between the wish to represent reality and the desire to transcend it.

He tries to share his deep love for street photography teaching courses. He has led street photography workshops in Laboratori Visivi and Prospettiva 8 photography associations. 

Winner of the international Street Photography Contest ‘Where street has no name’ in May 2013.

Finalist at Miami Street Photography Festival in December 2013.

Finalist at the Leica Talent 2014 in August 2014.


When did you start a passion for the photography and what was your first camera ?

We go back very far, to the Yashica MF2 my uncle gave me on First Holy Communion day, and to my early travels with my friend Simone, good photographer and lover of life. 

 Then there was the first photography course, the love for reportage, and finally three years ago the encounter – almost by chance – with street photography. A photography genre, or better a photography approach, that immediately bewitched me. I was struck by the incredible eye and intuition of a few contemporary authors who made of the everyday life the theatre where they move and shoot. 


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

I don’t live photography as a profession. I live photography as a pleasure, that leaves me free to express myself and roam around; it would lose all the excitement and spontaneity if I had to produce works on commission or for money. Spontaneity is the first principle of street photography. I love sharing this passion instead, that’s why I sometimes teach courses and lead workshops in photography associations and schools. 




The way I interpret it, street photography lives off single snapshots, photography series at most. To me a single good photo is a ‘work’, so I can’t really say which ‘work’ marked my entry in the photography world. If I got into this world, I owe it to the passion and the desire to share, know and learn from good photographers and from the masters. My entry in SPontanea, the italian street photography collective I belong to, changed me. Along with a wonderful group of photographers we started a path that is leading us through many festivals and events related to the photography world. 



 What is your favorite technique?

For the time being I see the world in black and white, but I don’t rule out the possibility of a different approach in the future. Sometimes a photo works only in color, and if the photo is particularly worthy, I don’t renounce to present it in color. I think that what comes first, even before the choice between black and white and color, is the way to see things and situations, the research and the eye of the photographer. 

I don’t pay much attention to the photography tools, I am not a brand or model freak. I favor a camera I am at ease with, a camera that I know by heart. My old Canon 40D does the job. All the rest relies on legs, eyes, dedication and luck.



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

Many times the success of a photo lies in little, very little subtleties and shades that come together, and that can even be out of the control, will or choice of the photographer. A sudden movement, a passing cloud, an unexpected detail, can influence positively or negatively a photo. Surely though the ability to choose locations and foresee situations that could work better then others, being in the right place in the right moment, is just as much important. After a while in the street, you learn to foresee with a sleight anticipation what is likely to happen and this will give you that precious instant to get ready and to make a functional and successful photo.


Why do street photography? 

I am fascinated by the concept and by the spirit of street photography, so I don’t set up or program photos. I don’t know what it will happen, what will catch my eye, and this complete unpredictability fascinates me and makes me love this photography genre. Of course if I spot a potentially interesting situation I try and wait there, hoping for that unexpected gesture that will make it unique. 


Which masters of photography inspires you?

I have a big weakness, I love collecting photography books, I study photographers and their works on books, but also on the internet, I think that observing and learning is essential. I love Alex Webb, Constantine Manos, Trent Parke, Mark Cohen, Anders Petersen, and many others. They contributed to make me a non-photographer, as Marco Pesaresi, another master, used to define himself.