INTERVIEW WITH … Robbie McIntosh

Researched by Roberta Pastore

Robbie McIntosh

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How important is photography for you? Would you have imagined a few years ago that this passion would have played such an important role in your life today?

I see photography as a way to connect to the whole universe. I firmly believe that observation of reality leads to awareness.

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Who are the photographers that inspire you or have inspired you in your photographic work?

Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz, Susan Meiselas, Letizia Battaglia, Luigi Ghirri, Tano D’Amico, Bruce Gilden, Jim Marshall, Annie Leibovitz.

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Are you Interested in deepening your passion with readings and studies on culture and photographic language?

Always. All the time. “The Nature of Photographs” by Stephen Shore is an excellent read. “Lezioni di Fotografia” by Luigi Ghirri is another must have.

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Taking a shot in the street can sometimes be difficult, dealing with people’s reaction is not always easy. What is your approach with the camera when you find yourself photographing strangers on the street?

I try to get in tune with the environment, by establishing an empathetic contact with the subjects. Everything must flow naturally, with no pressure. It’s all about being a dancing ghost. Being there and not there at the same time.

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In recent years, Street Photography has boomed, what do you think it’s due to? And what evolution has there been?

Maybe it is due to the fact that photography is accessible to everyone. First digital cameras, then smartphones and quick sharing thru the social networks have done the rest of the job.

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Naples is a city of a thousand faces: which subjects, both as people and places, inspire you more and urge you to look for the shot, or do you think better represent this city?

In my humble opinion, Mappatella Beach and the Colonna Spezzata are the best places to feel and touch the true nature of the city. There you can find all walks of life, all kind of people. From the smuggler to the lawyer. From the thief to the retired policeman. The rich and the poor. The ugly and the beautiful. The respectables and the renegades. Everyone loses the sense of decency, no matter if they are overweight or fit.

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What, then, makes a street photo effective? Can you quickly recognize the details that can make a good photo out of a simple shot?

It must have the capability of getting something extraordinary out from the ordinary. With no use of staging or special effects.

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Is there something unique about street photography that differentiates it from other genres?

Just to make a long story short: everything is unpredictable, which may be exciting and frustrating at the same time.

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In a street picture, do you think the contrasts of light are important to tell a story or are just an aesthetic fact?

I think it is just a cliche. I love seeing details in the shadows, so I’m not exactly into strong contrasts. Never humiliate anyone, never shoot minors.

Which are the limits of ethics in a street picture, or is it possible to shoot everything?

Never humiliate anyone, never shoot minors.

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