INTERVIEW WITH … Giulia Pissagroia

Researched by Roberta Pastore


I have always cultivated a particular inclination for the figurative arts, a passion that soon turned into something more. Expressing myself with images and colors, and experimenting with styles and materials, has become a necessity for me – to the point that I have wanted to make a profession of it. I first studied architecture, then graduated in advertising graphics at the International School of Comics. I then worked for 10 years as an art director and graphic designer in a publishing house. Today, I am realizing my passions by dedicating myself exclusively to photography and painting. Fortunately, the first successes are starting to show/arrive. I participated in the Rome Art Week 2022 at the Fotosciamanna Laboratory in Rome with my personal exhibition “Sensus fugit”, in two group exhibitions at the Monogramma Gallery in Rome (“Scatti 2 – Street” and “Scatti 3 – Details of the art”), at the art collective at the Galleria La Pigna with an excerpt from my Synaesthesia project, “La morte di Narciso” and at the collective of street photography “Luci su Roma 2”. I received a Gold Honorable Mention at the Budapest International Foto Awards 2022 for the project “We are not there”, and I arrived among the finalists of the Tokyo International Foto Awards 2022 with the shot “Mental Cages”.

How important is photography to you? Would you have ever imagined, a few years ago, this passion would have played such an important role in your life? Throughout my life, photography has been a silent companion, especially during my travels (as often happens), during which it was impossible for me to stop blocking my memories, whether it was through my cell phone or camera. For some years now, however, I have been totally overwhelmed by it, first focusing on the interpretation of reality with minimalistic and abstract photos, and, more recently, with street photography. I have to admit that until a year ago this last genre was incomprehensible to me, and I rejected it completely. But when I entered the street perspective, I changed my gaze and fell in love with it.

Who are the Masters of Photography who inspired you most in your photographic works? I can’t say if they inspired me or not, in the sense that I think my photos are very distant from the authors I look up to with the greatest admiration. Daido Moriyama is one of them, his intense blacks and the rawness of his photos pierce my soul. Another is certainly Josef Koudelka, who seems to suspend time, not only succeeding in blocking it, but in making it float in a space that is not only physical. If I have to pick one, I would think of Martin Parr.

Are you interested in deepening your passion with readings and studies on culture and photographic language? Absolutely yes, knowing and studying different cultural elements as well as the great photographers is very important for improving and expressing oneself.

Taking a shot in the street could be difficult at times; dealing with people’s reactions or making sure it is not invasive in the various situations that could arise, is not always easy. What is your approach in these circumstances? True, it’s difficult. My basic rule is to leave the house serene and with a smile. This most of all helps in obtaining spontaneous photos without (excessively) annoying the subject. Also, because it’s not my habit to hide when I shoot, it’s true that many people are so absorbed in their bubble of thoughts that they don’t notice anything, but it’s equally true that many others realize it (also because I often shoot the flash at their face…) and being found in the best possible way, with a serene attitude, I think is the best formula.

In recent years, Street Photography has caught on, and many photographers have become keen on it. What do you think is the reason why many of them prefer to shoot on the street? Probably with the immoderate use of the Internet and social media in general, human beings have increasingly distanced themselves from their fellow human beings. I believe that photographing people in spontaneous attitudes allows for a rapprochement with that world made up of constructs and artificial “poses”.

What makes it different from other genres? Telling reality as it is, but through the photographer’s interpretation. It’s a challenge. When you go down the street you are not sure what you might encounter, nor if you will be able to “take home” a good shot. You don’t even know what will actually happen. Interaction with people leads to countless variables that are not predictable in any way. The challenge of controlling the imponderable as much as possible to create a good photo and convey a message, this I think is the main difference from other genres.

What subjects inspire you and push you to look for the shot in the city where you live or in the places you frequent? Undoubtedly the unusual attracts me a lot, but I’ve noticed that more than anything I’m attracted by people’s gestures, which are often the manifestations of their emotional state and which characterize the diversity of mankind. I’m not just talking about diversity of gender, age and culture, but also of personalities.

What is the line you don’t cross in a street photo. Are there ethical rules or is it allowed to shoot everything? Surely the limit is the dignity of people. I have often found myself wanting to photograph “unhappy” people, but the thought of upsetting them has always kept me from doing so. In my life I always try to avoid annoying people. Being able to shoot on the street has removed many limits and insecurities from me, but it’s my rule not to rage on others.

What makes a street photo expressive? Can you recognize, when you’re on the street, all details that can make a simple photo shoot a good photograph? Before approaching street photography, I too lived in the famous bubble I mentioned earlier. Now, however, I notice many details that I ignored before, and certainly the (almost) daily practice has helped me a lot to sharpen my eye. A well-made photo must be easily readable, but not trivial. It can be static or dynamic, colored or monochromatic, but it must propose the reality that everyone sees from an “artistic” point of view, so to speak.

Street Photography as a genre, has developed in you the ability to interpret everyday situations with an original vision and your own style? I think I’m still looking for what really represents me. In this moment of my life I like to experiment, as a person who gets bored easily, I’m always looking for stimulation and something new, so sometimes I like to change my “style” and try something different than my usual way of photographing. I don’t think there’s even anything wrong with doing that.

In a street photo, do you think that light contrasts are important to tell a story or are they just an aesthetic aspect? Undoubtedly the aesthetic aspect is not negligible, but, from the point of view of the story, the contrasts help to read a photo more easily, and if the photo is immediate it is easier for the message to arrive. Few people spend more than a few seconds in front of a photo, so if the intent is to speak to an audience, communication must be effective.

After shooting, what actions do you take in terms of processing and editing? Mea culpa, very few. I just do some light and shadow adjustments in Lightroom. As for editing, I don’t do it often. Whenever I have free time, I prefer to go and shoot rather than organize my photos. In this way I risk getting lost among the thousands of photographies losing sight of my real communicative purpose.

Do you prefer shots in black and white or colour? Earlier I mentioned a couple of photographers that I particularly like, whose photos are in black and white. In this period of my life, however, I feel color is more akin to my strings. It certainly helps me more to express the emotion of the moment .

We often hear about “photographic projects” in Street Photography too. Have you ever documented a situation from which, subsequently, a story or the idea of a project was born? Yes, a few months ago I presented the “Sensus fugit” project during my personal exhibition. This project intend to combine two appearently genres very different instead for me can be linked by the same connection: the emotion. I choose to recreate a dialogue between my shots and the result is an interesting combination within the two photographic genres that I feel most mine: international camera movement and street photography.

We often look at the photos we’ve taken over the years. Is there one you’re particularly keen on and why? It’s a difficult question, I constantly fall in love with my photos, and shortly after disown them in front of others. I believe that emotional transport influences my way of feeling. Most of the things we experience superficially, albeit intensely, vanish after a while. Perhaps a photo that I will continue to like is that of the child who becomes a “winged hero” while feeding the pigeons (which are notoriously mistreated in the cities), I recognize a pinch of fortuitous magic in it.

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