“It seems I have a thing about detail and clarity. Being specifically unclear is something which seems to emerge from finished images of mine. Some people say that God is in the detail. This may be true but there is also dirt in the detail which is where the real interest lies. Beauty and the beast.”
Mano is a photographer represented by Stephen Bartels Gallery in London. For Mano photography is about “detail and clarity”.
Interview with Mano
Mano, on your website you state: “If I could explain it in words, I wouldn’t need the picture.” What is it that only a picture can explain?
Words = think, react. Pictures = react, think. I prefer the latter.
A photographer has many “tools” at hand to bring across his message: lenses, lighting, framing, color treatment etc. Can you elaborate a little bit on the techniques you use to link form and content in an image?
I trust that my gut understands composition. If I stop trusting that, it gets stale. It could be because I was born that way or it could be that the prison bars have burned the rule of thirds onto my retina. I see in black and white most of the time, colour has to earn its place.
One important tool of course is the camera itself. You are shooting with a Leica. What does that particular camera mean to you?
My Leica is a beautiful, flawed object. It is my teacher, it sets the rules. I break them.
What reaction do you intend to provoke in people looking at you photos?
I want them to keep looking and not know why, I want them to dig at the picture, at me and at themselves.
Your images are beautifully composed. How did you train your gaze to anticipate a moment when everything is in harmony?
“The excitement comes from the gamble, the hope that something will happen.”
The joy with photography is that I have 50% of the control, the other 50% is a gift from someone or something beyond my power (some may call that luck, but they’re probably the people that didn’t get the shot because they were still in bed or were changing lenses).
The excitement comes from the gamble, the hope that something will happen. Hope enough and you’ll start to trust something will happen, and it might.
Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
I’ve always looked at the world in the same way, I just understand why now.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
I saw a picture of a girl I knew, the person who took that picture captured everything about her, everything. Taken with a shit camera and a shitty kit lens with no thought to editing, but this picture said everything, and still does. They say that there are 7 basic plots. Mine is ‘The Quest’. For now.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: Here’s one for you. You have to choose one of my pictures to put up in your toilet, one in your living room, and you have to burn one. Which and why?
A: That’s a tough one you tossed me there. I wish I hadn’t asked you that question. Well, I would hang the one with the girl looking down in my living room – perfect match with my prefered type of interior design: detail and clarity. In the bathroom would go the one with the two people in the museum – discretely looking away. And to burn art? I would never do that, sorry.