Researched by Roberta Pastore
How important is photography to you? Would have you ever thought a few years ago this passion would have played such an important role in your today life?
Up until fifteen years ago, when I heard about photography, I instinctively thought of holidays or birthday parties’ pics only. My first true interest in photography started with National Geographic Magazine and from then on, things have changed. However, I always shot at alternating stages, but three years ago, following my own personal journey, I started shooting with different eyes, trying to crystallize what was exciting me. As I am not a professional photographer, today photography for me has a cathartic role: camera and long walks wash away all pains.
What photographers most inspire or have inspired you in your photographic works?
HCB, Gilden, Scianna were definitely the main references in my approach to Street Photography. But, above all, the major influence is that of Daido Moriyama. When I first saw “Stray Dog,” it was a fist in my stomach. I had somehow found what I had sought until then in the Street Photography. Unlike others, in Moriyama’s shots the visual impact is massive: vignetting, strong contrasts and blur. For someone like me, who is not a photographer but a walker with a camera, Moriyama is the perfect inspiration.
Are you interested in deepening your passion with readings and studies about culture and photographic language?
I have several books of great photographers. Photographic practice is – after all – easy to learn; the real difficulty is to have the “scene in your eyes”. I think the only real training each of us should do, is to look at photographs, lots of photographs. In a historical moment whereas we are overwhelmed by digital images sliding in front of us, a book of photographs is always the best choice.
Sometimes taking a shot in the street could be difficult and dealing with people’s reactions is not always easy.
What is your approach with your camera when you are shooting unknown people in the street? This is a problem for many photographers: how do you manage it or how did you overcome it?
Perhaps this is the most difficult question to answer, as it always depends on where you shoot. It is easy to do it in crowded places, especially downtown, but it is less easy to shoot in suburbs. Even nowadays in Rome, a camera always causes stir and it is a paradox inasmuch as we are surrounded by security cameras and smartphones. However, with the zone focus and not the autofocus, I can be quick enough to shoot and be almost invisible. As I said before, I always walk and I never stop; it is difficult for me to stand in one place and wait for the right moment; I pass by and shoot. Sometimes, I do not even bring it to my eyes; I try to see in advance what will come out. A prime lens, in those cases, helps a lot.
In recent years, Street Photography has had a boom. What do you think is it due to? And what evolution has it been?
In my opinion, it is because most of the people think Street Photography is – after all – easy to approach. You do not need photographic studios or models to shoot, as you do not even need to travel around the world. Actually, it is not as simple as it seems. Since when I came close to Street Photography, I realized that the most important thing to do is go back home and delete most of the shots. If there is no visual/emotional short circuit around, it is not enough to take photos in the street to make a good street photography.
I mainly shoot in black and white, sometimes in color. Lately, however, there are so many color shots and black and white is used more as a recovery for a mediocre shot. I believe the real problem is the photographic massification: I see so many colleagues taking photos continuously, always changing style and subjects. Maybe this is not an evolution.
Rome is a city with a thousand faces: from the degradation of certain suburbs to the beauty of its monuments.
Rome is a city made up of many small towns, each one different from the other one. It is as if they were all pieces of a badly-crafted puzzle: you cross the street and walk moving from churches to 70’s horrifying buildings, you turn around the corner and see flyovers passing just two meters far from houses. Making Street Photography in Rome is not so easy: you can risk falling into the banal with the usual “postcard” photo. It also lacks a whole piece of modern architecture that today is predominant in many shots made in other metropolises. Nevertheless, Rome is also the city you never stop discovering, especially in small things and people living in it.
Which subjects, both as people and places inspire you the most as they best represent this city and stimulate you to shoot?
Let’s first say what I’m not interested in shooting: the Tourist Rome you can find in postcards. Instead, I am interested in people who live their everyday lives, together with all difficulties of a disorganized and unloved city. I believe that in many of my shots, you can clearly distinguish melancholy and sadness: two moods you can find in the faces of people you meet in the street. Perhaps because they are two moods I also live a lot. . It’s as if we were all isolated from each other, yet in contact with us. Here it is, I try to shoot those contacts.
What makes a street photo effective? Can you quickly recognize details that can make a simple shoot a good photo?
I just talked about short-circuit visual, but it’s a forcing. Actually, what really strikes me is the emotional impact a particular image can arouse. There are lots of technically perfect street photos, where lights, exposure, composition, colors, are perfect. But they are aseptic. I prefer a “dirty” but emotionally disruptive photo.
Do you think is there something unique in the street photography that distinguishes it from other genres?
The human component in its deepest nature. That nature that no one will ever be able to encode in a universal scheme, as each of us is a unique piece.
Street Photography as a genre has developed in you the ability to photograph in any light condition and to interpret situations of everyday life with a captivating vision, or do you prefer particular times or certain light situations? In other words: how much light affects your style?
Street Photography has developed, even amplified in me, the aptitude to observe. Going forward, I have experienced different ways of shooting (from lights and shadows to color) but, in the end, I always return to my natural vocation: black and white and strong contrasts.
I discovered with the exercise that, if you want to play with the light, you have to be able to predict what will happen. Sadly, having not much spare time, when I can get around I have to settle for the light I find but, having the choice, I should prefer the morning or early afternoon bright light. It creates beautiful shadows and gives three-dimensional shots.
Is there an ethical limit in a street photo, a limit forcing you not to photograph a subject or situation? Or should it always be permissible to shoot everything in the name of the right of chronicle or in the name of “art”?
I think a limit is always needed, especially in modern photography where it always tends to sensationalize. I personally think Ando Gilardi’s “Non Fotografare” should be a rule for all of us: shooting a “disadvantaged” is taking away his dignity and when you have taken away a dignity from a man, you have taken him all away.
You are a member of the Collective “Roma Street Photography”. Would you like to talk about it?
The RSP Collective was born from a social reality that has evolved over time, with the purpose of telling a “provincial and cosmopolitan” city such as Rome and, of course, its people. Hence, the foundation of the Collective has been a natural consequence of all the photographic work done so far. We are seven authors, each one with its own style and way of shooting, seeking to offer a different, every day vision of the city we live and love. Rome has so much to tell and we strongly believe Street Photography is the best way to do it.
Pagina Fb: www.facebook.com/ABStreetPhoto/