Abstract, bold, surreal – just a few words I would use to describe Napoleon’s images, although no words can adequately express the feelings they evoke. I asked Napoleon a few questions about his work and not surprisingly, he comes from an artistic background. His thoughts on color and perspective are fresh and motivating. Read on and you might even come away with your own renewed vision of what it means to shoot street.
“I ran into street photography by chance. . I had a Reflex with a 3mm lens. I was at a venue. I was particularly interested in faces, expressions. I took pictures all afternoon. Then, when I was at home, looking at the pictures I realised some “worked” better than others. I understood that inside those pictures there was an inner order. An order made of people, buildings, lights and shadows. This made them work. Ever since then, every time I walk down a street I look for order. That is not easy because streets are fluid, in a continuous movement. This is the challenge, fitting in quickly and fixing the order in the right moment.
“I don’t want to give documentary evidence of the street. I don’t mean to be objective. I want to show what goes on around me, from my own point of view. My pictures show who I am, my humanity. I think my style could be defined as ‘inner street’.
“I have an artistic background. I’m a sculptor. I adore black and white pictures but I think colour is an element with a very strong emotional impact. Colours very often catch my attention. Colours are the main elements of an image.
“I always carry my camera with me, I take pictures everywhere. I live in a small Italian town, Asti, in Piedmont, which is where all my pictures are taken. Since it is a small town, I can walk around it in an afternoon. I love those places where I can meet all kinds of people. I love people getting home from work, people on buses, people with their shopping bags, kids going to school. I love to get into their daily lives.
“When it rains I sit in my car and watch those who are in the rain. If it’s a sunny day I’m attracted by the lights, by the back light. I search for beauty in everyday life.
“The most important thing is to carry a camera which will be unnoticed. I bought a small compact one which allows me to rotate the screen. I put it on my stomach, watching from above, like the old Hasselblads. This won’t make people suspicious and gives me the right viewpoint to give the depth I want.
“If the light allows it it is better to put the diaphragm on high levels, in order to have a good sense of depth. I usually don’t modify my pictures much. Only small adjustments. In my opinion it’s very important deciding the effects you want to get when you take the picture.
“I love contrasts, they give a sense of mystery. Mystery is a good part of the charm of an image.”
Thank you so much for sharing your compelling shots and thoughts, Napoleon!
Do give Napoleon’s Flickr account a follow, you’ll find plenty of inspiration there for your next trip to the streets.