Daniele Mattioli (born 1964) is an Italian documentary photographer currently residing in Shanghai, China. He did not study photography but worked in a photo agency and had an assisting job.
Besides from this artist profile there’s another interview with Daniele Mattioli on this site in which he talks about his recent series “Cosplayer in China” and explains what China and a robot costume have in common.
“Born in Umbria, Italy I started photography with some experiences in Toronto, Canada and from 1992 in Vienna.
I began to frequently travel to the East and was based for six years in Sydney, Australia.
From 2000 on I started to work focusing in China and more precisely on Shanghai. After many assignments and features, I decided to relocate to Shanghai in 2005. I have been represented by the Anzenberger Agency since 1992.”
“Artist Profile” – Daniele Mattioli
Daniele, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
I don’t know why I become a photographer. I guess because I have always been interested in images and could find the act of taking a photos an interesting and more suitable way to express and understand life.
Photography has therefore a meaning of expression, an act of curiosity towards what is visible, a graphic synthesis of life or what humanity could create or destroy.
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 used for this particular project in order to link form and content?
I don’t think of a project and in particular of such project where I put technical aspects as first issue to focus on. Actually the project “Cosplayer in China” was done with a film medium size camera and without external lighting, using available light.
In other words: How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
“Detachment from reality by ‘renting’ an identity.”
The process was more human although I did not communicate much with the people portrayed, for many reasons. Mainly because I want the kind of detachment of these young kids. Detachment from me and from the reality from which they try to escape by “renting” an identity.
I did not feel to communicate also for a generation gap and also because of my difficulties to “love” the costume player phenomena.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
My initial inspiration was given by photographers such as Robert Frank, William Klein, and August Sander mostly.
This was the beginning of what I consider the start of my passion for photography. Lately and especially in the last 5-6 years I have changed my view and my cultural understanding of photography and therefore I was more influenced by other photographers.
To name a few nowadays I have a big list of people whose work amuse me and inspire me. People such as Pieter Hugo, Alec Soth, Nadav Kander and many others.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
Not necessary from a photographer, but somehow used by photographers such as Dorothea Lange who used to have it printed on her darkroom. It’s a quote from Francis Bacon:
“The contemplation of things as they are without substitution or imposture without error or confusion is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I am using almost all kind of cameras, for my commercial work digital cameras from Nikon and for my personal project I prefer to work with medium size camera or even large format camera.
I do use Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 and a Chamonix 4×5 for the large format. I do use also a Hasselblad for more close portrait series.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
There are many good blogs talking about photography and many websites where it’s possible to look at new photographers. I used to like “Conscientious” from Jörg Colberg before he moved to a new site.
What book about photography would you recommend?
As a book collector I do always recommend to see books from different photographers, exploring a style and narrative in which it’s possible to see a distinct style, metric and approach.
I am not into photography manuals. I have some books in my collection which I would recommend to buy: “Seven” by Rafal Milach, “Excerpts from Silver Meadows” by Todd Hido, “She Dances on Jakson” by Vanessa Winship to name some new acquisitions I have made lately.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
To take apart the myth behind photography and don’t expect to do it only for a commercial reason.
The chance to live fully with photography is honestly too low nowadays.
Also to be honest with yourself and be able to understand if there is a talent or passion to make you think to start or not doing photography.