“The more you shoot, the more likely you’ll be able to predict what might happen and be ready to catch it. It’s like football, the more you play the better your anticipation will get as to where the ball might come.”
Emilio Barillaro (born in 1980) is a street photographer currently based in Roma (Italy). He’s mostly self-taught and learned about photography on the Internet. He also attended some workshops with Italian photojournalist Alex Coghe and award-winning US-photographer Joel Meyerowitz. Emilio Barillaro was awarded with an honorable mention at the International Photography Awards (IPA) 2013. His latest underwater photography project is called “The Confession Of A Shark”.
“More than a photographer I consider myself a screenwriter. My stage is the street and my unwitting actors are people on it.”
Interview with Emilio Barillaro
Emilio, why did you become a photographer? And why street photography?
Since the beginning of my childhood I was surrounded by paint and history. My father is a painter, a very good one, and my grandfather was an archeologist. I’ve always been fascinated by the way art can help to express yourself and I always had the feeling that there was something inside of me that needed to be released. So I tried with painting and poetry, but it didn‘t work. I received my first camera as christmas present and I remember that I spent all my holidays reading all the material available about photography on internet.
I spend almost the entire day working in an office and in my free time I want to be surprised by something. What I like more, in fact is to go out and not to know what I will find. So I became a street photographer, a catcher of candid moments. I could not be anything else than a street photographer. I’m sure about it.
What was your most memorable moment shooting pictures out on the streets?
I was out with my camera in the center of Rome. Suddenly a woman of a certain age stops me in a decisive manner, with a very menacing look.
I said: “Morning madame…”
She said: “Did you just take a picture of me?”
I said: “Unfortunately not, for a fraction of a second I could not take what I saw…”
And than she said: “Damn, I’m sorry…if you like, you may take a picture of me now!”
What does photography mean to you?
Photography to me is like the voice, like a smile. A means to express what I have inside, what I’m. Through it I have the opportunity to create something and share it with the world. It is my corner, where I can be alone with myself and, at the same time, in peace with the world.
Is there anything in particular that you want to say with your pictures? And in other words: What is it at all that a photograph can say?
The cruelty, the unexpected, the coincidence. The amazing things that happen every day. I look for those moments and when I see something that no one can see, I just feel alive.
Which (street) photographer has inspired you most?
There’s no one in particular, rather I try to steal secrets and strong points of the images of various masters of photography. For example, I am inspired by the complexity of the images of Alex Webb, the sauciness of Bruce Gilden, the composition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the poetry of Jason Eskenazi, the genius and communicative power of Trent Parke, the unconventionality of Daido Moriyama, the madness of Gary Winogrand, the unique and inimitable vision of Robert Frank,…
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“Ultimately photography is about who you are. It’s the truth in relation to yourself. And seeking truth becomes a habit.”
How do you handle uncomfortable situations while shooting street photography? People, for example, not wanting to have their picture taken or not understanding the concept of street photography.
We can start from the fact that I am rarely noticed. But the few times (two or three) that someone told me something, I simply deleted the photo and shook their hand, explaining with a smile that a photo has never killed anyone.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
In constant evolution.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
Trust your instinct.
Street photography is very much about seizing the moment. Things usually happen unexpectedly. How do you train your eyes to “know” when a special moment is about to come?
Concentrating and spending as much time as possible out in the streets. The more you shoot, the more likely you’ll be able to predict what might happen and be ready to catch it. It’s like football, the more you play the better your anticipation will get as to where the ball might come.
What does a photo need to be a great street shot?
Must be strong enough to arouse the desire to see it again and again.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
In a couple of shots of a visionary (and, in my humble opinion, genius and innovative) greek photographer: Nikos Pavlidis (Agellos).
What’s the biggest challenge shooting on the streets?
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
A Fujifilm x100s and a HP c150w.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Magnumphotos.com. I spend hours looking to the portfolios of the various members.
What photography book would you recommend?
Jason Eskenazi: “Wonderland”
Because is simply a pleasure for the eyes, a masterpiece.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a street photographer?
Spend much time as possible on the street.
Emilio Barillaro is a member of the Italian street photographer collective SPontanea. Some others of its members have also already been featured on this site. Among them are Nico Chiapperini (“Kaleidoscope Of Memories”) and Umberto Verdoliva (“Man and Urban Environment”).