Where are you from and how did you get into street photography?
I’m from a city in Northern Italy called Parma. Street photography found me, by chance. One day, seven years ago I was taking a walk near my home with my old camera. Suddenly, I saw an old lady who looked like a nice subject and without thinking, I took the picture. I still remember the amazement and adrenaline I felt that day. After I got home, I took a closer look at my photo, and I started reading up on the fantastic world that is street photography. I totally fell in love with it!
I can honestly say, street photography ran towards me head on, I never went looking for it myself.
How would you describe your street photography style? What do you hope to transmit with your images?
My street photographic style is characterized by a minimalist composition, and the use of shadows, dark and negative space with strong contrasts.
I shoot mostly in black and white, and occasionally in color. I try to create surreal situations using shadows, strong contrasts, and silhouettes.
In my early days with street photography, I always tried to transmit some kind of emotion, but these days I consider my street photos more of a graphic art. The visual aspects are more important than the emotional ones, but I do hope that those who look at my photos still feel emotions towards what they see.
Are there any street photographers in particular that you draw inspiration from?
I think it’s important to look to all photographers for inspiration, famous or not, and “steal” something from everyone to create your own personal style. That’s why it’s hard for me to choose anyone in particular, but I think Alex Majoli and Alan Schaller have been very influential for me, as well as all of the Magnum photographers.
Where is your favorite place to take photographs and why?
I usually photograph my home city of Parma, or Bolzano, or any other city in Northern Italy that I know well. But I think my favorite places are wherever there is light, shadows, and strong contrast. As the word “photography” implies, my street photography doesn’t exist without light.
Ok, so why so many pictures of “shadow people”? I love the silhouette photos, but I wonder, what makes you go back to that style photo again and again? Any special meaning for you? Also, how do you get this kind of image – what’s your technique?
I’d say there are many reasons.
I love shadows and therefore also the silhouettes because they say everything, but without “making judgements.” Silhouettes are us, without being us in a definitive way, and sometimes they are strange or distorted, creating very funny situations.
Equally important is the fact that I think I derive my approach to photographing from my way of being. I don’t like being the center of attention and I prefer to be on the sidelines, as if I were a shadow, or a living shadow of myself. In short, shadows are my home, I feel good there. 😂
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in street photography?
I am very shy, so beating my shyness has been my biggest challenge. Even though I don’t interact with the subjects of my photos, I’ve still had to improve this aspect of my personality.
What is your most memorable moment or photo from street photography?
Besides being shy, I’m very hard on myself. I always expect a lot and I’m never satisfied with what I’ve created. Therefore, my best photos right now will be full of defects from my point of view in in the near future. I always try to raise the bar to improve, and to never be satisfied with what I do.
I am very proud to have placed very high in an international competition (35awards). I got second place in the series category and fourth in the single shot category…But I can do better. 😉
What has street photography taught you?
Street photography has taught me to be patient, tenacious, and never give up.
I’ve learned a lot on an emotional level. Street photography, in my opinion, is more than a photographic category. It’s a lifestyle and it’s difficult to do, because often, you are full of fears, doubts, and discouragement if you don’t take the right photos in the infinity of variables that are on the street. I’ve thought about it a lot and for this reason, I’m writing an eBook on the topic for those who are approaching street photography for the first time.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Mattia and see more of his work, be sure to visit his Flickr photostream and website. This photographer was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.