56-year-old Attilio Tripodi travelled the globe for his photographs. His latest exhibition, titled Temporary Solitudes, focuses on unsuspecting individuals standing against the architectural landscape of our time. There are in total 50 photographs that are part of this show, organised in Delhi in collaboration with the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre. Tripodi spoke to Guardian 20 about the exhibition and the role of street photography in his art.
Q. What is it that you want to convey through your exhibition of photographs, Temporary Solitudes?
A. Temporary solitudes is my personal view. It is a very intimate look at the people around me; it’s my reflection on the beauty of a particular time and of loneliness. Often, we see only the negative aspect of this condition; in fact, loneliness is presented to us to give us the opportunity to speak with ourselves, with our soul. This is the first step towards an internal dialogue and a personal evolution. I hope that this can happen to all people.
Q. In your photographs, you have successfully established a sense of balance between people and their surroundings. What drew you towards creating such photographs?
A. My photographic work is very spontaneous: I never lead with a precise idea but elaborate while I’m working on it and step by step, the work takes shape. When I speak of photography, always I quote a passage from the Talmud, which, in my opinion, is applicable to everyday life: “We do not see things as they are, but we see things as we are,” just because the vision of reality is absolutely intimate and personal. My photographic expressiveness is inevitably influenced by my profession: I’m a graphic designer, so I always try in the images to strike a balance of the elements, an overall harmony, but also to convey an emotion.
Q. What first drew you to street photography — and how did you discover it?
A. For me it is always exciting to photograph people, to capture their joy, their awkwardness, the signs of ageing visible on them. Often I stop to talk to them in the universal language of solidarity. I meet most of my photographic subjects on the streets. Besides, all this is a way to review myself, through the infinite game of mirrors that is life.
Q. Does travelling affect a street photographer’s creativity? If yes, how?
A. Of course, every place has its own charm, its mood, its atmosphere and this inevitably affects also how we photograph. But I think that every photographer has his or her own stylistic line that still emerges at all latitudes.
Q. Did you also face some challenges as a street photographer? If yes, can you tell us about the same?
A. I am always extremely respectful towards the life of every human being and even when I shoot, I ask myself as if it is possible to photograph that person. I seek contact with someone who may have caught my eye, of course. At times, I instinctively snap to capture the spontaneity of a face, of a situation. I never faced particular challenges, though, or difficult situations as a traveller who wants to document what he sees.
Q. Why did you choose to go for monochrome instead of colour for this series?
A. I love colours: usually my photographic collections always have a very lively colour range. When I developed the concept of Temporary Solitudes, though, I immediately thought of the black-and-white form. I believe that this subject is so introspective, that using colour would have been too intrusive. The black-and-white shades, in my opinion, show the meditative character of each photo in a better way.
Q. According to you, what makes the good picture stand out from the average?
A. A good image has several aspects that make it unique and exciting, and it is difficult to establish what they are, in addition to the purely technical aspects: what is that “quid” that is able to convey the thrill? They are always to be found in situations where the picture elements have not only a pleasing layout or a “good shot”. I always try to capture the emotional feeling that illuminates the photos and try to transmit it to the viewer.
Q. Nowadays, many people depend upon post-processing rather than actual photography for the final outcome. How far do you think this practice should be followed?
A. I think, for pictures of reportage, photographic processing is not necessary and must be limited to the simple post-production of brightness or contrast or image cleaning, as was done in the analogue era, in the darkroom. I am not against the use of post-production, it always depends on what you want to convey. I use Photoshop in my graphic design job daily, but this is a different area. I think that the digital processing aspect is just one more instrument for those who want to communicate using the visual arts. I am currently working on a new collection of photographs, assembled precisely and digitally with the computer.
Q. Whose work has influenced you most?
A. I love art in general — from Hieronymus Bosch to Picasso, from Caravaggio to Hopper, from Flemish painters to the artistic avant-garde, just to name a few. And I think whenever something excites us, it remains inside us in a vision. The images that capture me and my sensitivity are ones that generate a strong emotion in me, images that make me think, that make me smile, images that convey to me the beauty and variety of life and time. I love the work of many photographers, like Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau, for their genuine and spontaneous outlook on life; Elliott Herwit, for the intelligence of his shots and the humour of his photos; Salgado, for his careful and meticulous gaze over mankind; Steve McCurry for the festival of color and beauty that he manages to capture in his shots.