“When a photographer is able to filter his knowledge and his feelings through the art of writing with light, he will be able to be absolutely personal.”
Alex Coghe is an Italian street photographer and photojournalist currently based in Mexico D.F. (Mexico). He was born in 1975 in Rome, Italy.
About his passion photography he says: “Street Photography is my calling, and the street was and is my gym, and my therapy.”
His body of work include editorial, documentary, events, corporates and portraits. Alex Coghe contributes on a regular basis to Leica Camera Blog and Hyde Park Photography Magazine.
Interview with Alex Coghe
Alex, where did you study photography?
I have attended several courses in journalism, but I’m essentially a self-taught photographer.
Your first camera and photographic experience?
Woosh! My first camera was an economic Point & Shoot Fujica – with this film camera I’ve started to fall in love with everything that is photography.
Why did you become a photographer?
I became a professional photographer in 2009. To tell the world around me through my eyes.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography gave me the sight.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
I would say Lee Friedlander. He inspires me to various levels. Reflections, transparency, the urban environment. With him, the photographer is revealed in the image, so telling his photographic experience. Yes, Friedlander is definitely my obsession…
Your all time favorite photo?
I don’t have a favorite photo. Because I think that the best photo is the one I am going to do. And rather than thinking in photographs, I reason for ideas and projects.
Your favorite photography quote?
“If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph.”
To the end, I think this sentence describes what is street photography, and I find it magically inspirational.
How would you describe your photographic style and way of working?
With my pictures I’m not in search of reality, but I want to play with reality. If there is documentation, it’s documenting the world through the filter of my aesthetic experience. Until that to my clients this is good, I’ll be a lucky photographer. Seriously, I think my photography is always a self-portrait. I am a writer, but instead of the pen I have a camera. I was introduced to photography in the film era, and also if things got serious in the digital age, I try to apply the philosophy and approach of film photography to my digital shots.
My style is marked by raw street photography images with the obsession of the decisive moment, but always with a documentary eye. I am a photojournalist, but I’m not afraid to call myself a street photographer, because many of my photos are made in the street with an approach and the aesthetic characteristics of this genre. The fact to call myself a street photographer doesn’t affect my creativity.
Visit the Blog “Alex Coghe – Photojournalist”
What’s important to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
Lately I read recommendations on the internet not to look at the work of the masters or other photographers. But I think it’s total nonsense. It’s like saying to a director not to watch more movies or to a writer to avoiding to read. The fact that we see the photos of others is always important. Acquiring our own style is important, but also this passes through a process of metabolism of the visual culture. Do not forget that a photographer should have a cultural background above the average, and I am not talking about only photographic culture.
When a photographer is able to filter his knowledge and his feelings through the art of writing with light, he will be able to be absolutely personal.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
This is a good question. I think that a good picture should have a mixture of good composition, effective management of light and then a good exposure. But it is not a purely technical discourse. Content is the soul of a photograph. Without that, I’ll pass over. But you asked me about a great photo, so I would say that strength of author makes the difference.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
It is a complex process. If we talk about the personal work I don’t plan my projects. Rather, a lot of photos meet my projects. Something different is happened instead for my project Reality Remade, absolutely planned to obtain the desired concept.
How do you keep up to date with new developments in photography, to keep on learning new things?
I consider myself an omnivore of photography, and I must say that the internet is a great resource to keep up to date. But the opportunities to do so are many: I also learn from my students. Even my activities of photo editor allows me to have a 360 degree view on photography.
Digital or analog?
I don’t want to choose. Because I consider digital absolutely essential for commercial work and also very practical in certain situations, in addition to being cheaper. But film is not dead, as evidenced by the many young people who have approached the slow-photography. I’ll say this: digital is a necessity, film is a pleasure.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
No DSLR for me. For my commercial work I am using a Samsung NX20 and the Olympus Pen E-P1. For street photography in addition to Pen I use a lot a point & shoot, the Panasonic Lumix LX3 but also the Yashica Electro 35 GSN. I work exclusively with prime lens, where the 35mm lens is perfect for me in the street.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
I think the website of Life, a good place to watch some great photographs.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
You can make some compromise in your profession, but this can be done without changing yourself. In the end, if you are a good photographer, they will want you and your style.