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