Street photography is not just a form, but delicate visual poetry whose verses are shadows, movements, glance and unexpected relationships suggested by that geometric deception that is framing.Street photography is also one of the most complete disciplines and I think it contains all photographic genres. This is why I think it is very educational and I recommend it to any photographer that want to get better.
RK :First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. How did you find street photography to be right for you, and what can you recommend to other photographers trying to find their niche?
Eolo Perfido :I always loved being able to tell stories within one single frame. In street photography, each photo is born unrelated to the next one and every image has to work by itself. The tools we can use to create a narrative are nothing but composition and timing, and the relationships between the elements in a photo, whether they are real or not, are the foundation of said narrative. My street photography is not meant to document the reality around us, it has instead the power to abstract itself from the context, using reality as a tool. It’s this trait of street photography in particular that draws me in so much. It is not easy to find your niche. I think that every photographer should practice many different kind of photography and styles before definitely choosing one. Only by trying with patience and dedication can a photographer understand what is his personal point of view. This way I was able to understand that Street Photography, Portrait Photography and Advertising Photography were my fields.
RK :Were you formally educated in photography, or are you self taught?
Eolo Perfido :I’m a formally self taught :) I studied alone but in a very pragmatic way. When I decided to be a photographer I was doing another job so I could only study in the evenings and during the weekends. For many years I have dedicated all my free time to photography. until i made it my job.
RK :What photographer made the most impact on you and why?
Eolo Perfido :Talking about Street Photography Fan Ho, Alex Webb, Bruce Gilden. For Portraiture Steve McCurry, Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi, Annie Leibovitz. For Advertising Photography Garrigosa.
RK :What camera and lenses do you use the majority of the time?
Eolo Perfido :For my Street Photography walks I normally get with me a Leica Q2 and a Leica M10 with a 21mm lens. In my studio work I use the Leica SL and the 24-90mm f4 lens.
RK :Is there something unique about street photography that differentiates it from other genres?
Eolo Perfido :Street photography is not just a form, but delicate visual poetry whose verses are shadows, movements, glance and unexpected relationships suggested by that geometric deception that is framing.
Street photography is also one of the most complete disciplines and I think it contains all photographic genres. This is why I think it is very educational and I recommend it to any photographer that want to get better.
RK :What makes street photography so special for you?
Eolo Perfido :Photographing everyday life allows us to learn to recognize the situations and details that can make a simple photograph of a great photograph. If you are interested in street photography over time, you will improve your ability to relate to people, quickly learn about their characteristics and develop relationship skills, all very important features for any photographer.
RK :Your idea between classic and contemporary street photography?
Eolo Perfido :Classic is black and white, minimal with one or two subjects. Simple but strong relationships between the subject and the environment. Symmetry often is used as a way of building the frame. Contemporary is color, with a lot of movement and many subjects. Relationships between parts are more subtle. Dynamics are more relevant.
RK :Why do you photograph mostly in black and white? Do you find black & white and colour to be totally separate beasts—or complementary?
Eolo Perfido :There are many reasons behind this choice. First of all, my love for how essential and timeless black and white photography is. After years of studying the work of some great photographers of the past, I started pretty much perceiving street photography itself as black and white. Of course there are some photographers that create incredible street work in color, but for me, it’s always black and white. On top of that, I shoot in color for all my editorial and advertisement assignments, and rarely do I get commissioned to shoot black and white. In this sense, we can say street photography became my personal way to shoot monochrome images.
RK :Taking a shot in the street can sometimes be difficult; you have to face the reaction of people or make sure not to be invasive, in the various situations that can arise, it is not always a simple thing. What is your approach in these circumstances?
Eolo Perfido :There is no such thing as one way to approach people and situations: when teaching my workshops, I always tell my students that our surroundings react differently based on how we feel, how we speak, and how we move. It’s important to develop a personal sensitivity to the street and its elements, instead of trying to copy someone else’s way to approach. It’s important to make mistakes and ask ourselves what went wrong, in order to develop a personal style of interacting with what’s around us. For example, I learned that sometimes being loud and oblivious is the perfect way to result almost invisible: my natural, very typically Italian predisposition towards starting conversations with complete strangers is something that helped me greatly with my street portraits. After all, there are two kinds of people: the ones that go to the same bar everyday for 10 years, and yet don’t know the name of a single person working there, and the ones that 5 minutes after walking into a place, already know everyone. I’m definitely the latter.
RK :In recent years Street Photography has boomed, many photographers have dedicated themselves to this genre. What do you think is the reason why so many people prefer to shoot on the street?
Eolo Perfido :You don’t need a plan. You don’t need a studio. You don’t need to travel distant places. You can just get your camera and wander looking for something surprising.
RK :What, then, makes a street photo effective? Can you quickly recognize the details that can make a good photo out of a simple shot?
Eolo Perfido :It’s a difficult question. It can be very formal or “dirty”. What is important is ennobling the relationships between the various elements within the frame to create something beautiful and unique.
A good street photograph has the ability to prompt you into looking at reality in an unexpected way. It can make the viewer perceive everyday things like a street corner, a shadow, the pace of someone walking by, elements overlapping at the right time, as something extraordinary and not mundane at all. It allows us to see the world with a different set of eyes, and to perceive the beauty in things that we normally take for granted.
RK :If you could witness the perfect street scene at the right, decisive moment, what would you want to see?
Eolo Perfido :Perfect balance between moving and static elements, a great light and a bit of human nature to make it real and emotional.
RK :If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of another artist, who would you choose and why?
Eolo Perfido :Not a photographer. Probably an illustrator. Somebody with the skills of Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Otomo or Moebius.
RK :What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Eolo Perfido :Nothing. The voyage until now has been beautiful.
RK :Do you have any tips for photographers to help them grow artistically?
Eolo Perfido :Do not study only photography. Try to get inspired by other visual disciplines like cinema, illustration, Comics, Painting and Graphics. Developing your own vision is about failing. Do not be scared to fail. And don’t worry, if you fail, nobody will remember it. Too many artists in this modern world, so there is a lot of noise. That means that you can test your audience and make errors without being too scared. Doing errors is a perfect way to grow fast.
RK :We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to build one single stage for all the artists, because we believe that artists are the most beautiful creation of God and geographical boundary can never break their unity and harmony. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your followers.
Eolo Perfido :All the initiatives that give voice to artists and their freedom of expression are a heritage for all humanity. So I wish you a good job and continue to support the creative community.