Shoot with a heart, what I mean is don’t just take a photo, you have to feel it.
Q1: State your name and occupation, please. Where do you live?
A: My name is Enzo Cositore … I am a joiner and I live in London.
Q2: Welcome to The One Photo Interview, by the way. It is the TOP Interview. Do you know what that means? It means that you will only have the opportunity to show one single photograph and you will refer to that for the rest of this interview, right? Would that be ok with you?
A: Yes, that’s fine.
Q3: Any particular reason for taking that picture, Enzo?
A: No, no particular reason. As I was walking by, I saw these tourists having their picture taken in a fun way, and behind them, by coincidence, a couple doing the same thing. I thought it was a cute picture, entertaining.
Q4: Is this your style of street photography then? Do you think you have a style? If so, what is it?
A: I don’t think I have a particular style, usually, when I take a walk I don’t go out to specifically take pictures…
Sometimes, when I am walking, suddenly in front on me I see a scene taking shape with “stage” and “actors”…and then I shoot. These scenes could be a person or a group of people doing something interesting, or I maybe I am attracted by the way they dress, the light at that moment, nice expressions or simply I like the person in a specific place. Briefly, I like what the “stage” has to offer me from time to time.
Q5. Tell me what is street photography? Have you got a definition? Let’s hear it!
A: To me street photography is a way to record today’s history and to preserve it for future generations. Just like photographers in the past did with us.
Q6: Give me some basics. How long have you had an interest in street photography? Do you have any mentors that you have learned from?
A: My interest in photography began as a teenager. However, my interest specifically in street photography began when I was recruited in 2009 by the city of Modena in Italy to shoot special city related venues, from political to entertainment and even religious events. At that point, I realized that I enjoyed taking pictures of people in their daily routines. I try not to be inspired by one specific photographer but by various, some of my mentors include: Garry Winogrand, H.C. Bresson, Joel Meyerowitz and Gianni Berengo Gardin.
Q7: Let’s talk about equipment. Some have an almost religious addiction to it. Long lenses, short lenses, rangefinders, non rangefinders, compacts. Leicas, Canons, Nikons, analog or digital. What is your opinion of this? What is your preferred gear? Don’t be boring when you answer this, please.
A: It is difficult not to be boring. Talking about camera equipment is for geeks, someone who is more interested in talking about the latest lens or camera etc… is more interested in the tech side or the current trend rather than photography. In my opinion, someone should use whatever equipment he/she is comfortable with or can afford, like for example even taking a photo with your mobile phone. As far as my preferred gear, I personally prefer a small discreet and silent camera because it isn’t intrusive and it doesn’t scare people, or prep them to pose. I tried using my old canon gear, but people often stopped me to ask me which magazine I was working for, so for this reason and also because heavy equipment takes a toll on my poor back, I decided to minimize my gear and lighten the weight l lug around. Today I use a Fuji X-Pro 1 with 2 lenses (18 & 35) or a Fuji X100 and all I need is a small bag…sometimes I like to shoot film and for this I use a Yashica Electro 35 or a small Olympus reflex.
Q8: Are there any particular reason why you call yourself a street photographer? Many people picture landscapes, seascapes, birds caved in. Do you take such pictures as well? What I mean to ask is, do you in fact do much parrot shooting in the zoo? Or similar non-street themes?
A: I don’t know if I can define myself as a street photographer, I take walks, long walks as I already mentioned and sometimes I find my self in the right place at right moment with my camera and I shoot. Sometimes, I go back home with no pictures, I just enjoy my walk and that is it.
Even if my primary satisfaction is taking picture of people, if I am in front of a breathtaking view with the right light, I still enjoy using my tripod and filters to capture a nice landscape photo.
Q9: Do you know what is the difference between photography and plain picture taking? If so, tell me what it is.
A: A photograph can tell you a story, it stimulates the imagination and emotions, while plain picture taking can be a nice memory of a vacation or a birthday and so on…
Q10: Why do you think that all the best street photos are shot in black & white? How do you explain that?
A: There are excellent black and whites as well as color street photos. I personally prefer the black and white because it allows the observer to fully concentrate in what the photo is saying, it allows the viewer to imagine and perhaps travel with his/her mind.
Q11: Do you think that street photography is a serious type of photography? Can anything good come of it? How do you see this?
A: I think street photography is important, it is a testimony to history and I hope more and more people get involved in it. Nowadays it is very affordable; as a result of this, the circle is already widening, just take a tour on some of the social networks and you will find beautiful testimonials from around the world. The only thing which concerns me a little at the moment, is the restricted privacy laws in some countries.
Q12: Is there any value in street photography you think, besides your own enjoyment?
A: Yes, it is valuable for society today and future generations to come, it is history in the making.
Q13: Your vision? What is your vision for European street photography? What is the vision for your own photography? I am not going to ask how you see the future, but tell me anyway.
A: I am very optimistic for the future, in comparison to years ago, today it has become so much easier to take photographs, we have a lot more equipment available to take photos, any time, any place and anyone can do it. This is not just for European street photography but worldwide. As I already mentioned, at the moment the only possible obstacle can be the privacy laws in some countries. I think I’ll keep doing what I am doing, first thing is first and that is enjoying what I do, I don’t want it to become an obligation or drudgery.
Q14: One last question: What is the most important thing with a photograph? With any photograph?
A: Shoot with a heart, what I mean is don’t just take a photo, you have to feel it.
Q15: Is it true then that street photography was invented in Europe?
A: Yes, from what I’ve read, it all started in France.
Thank you very much, Enzo. Much obliged. Will you see yourself out?
© Knut Skjærven 2014. All rights reserved.
The interview was first published October 25, 2014.