“Daido Moriyama’s photographs are murky. I love them. I always try to use a small disturbing factor in my photos. That’s because I always look at books of Moriyama.”
Matteo Zannoni (born in 1982) is a passionate amateur street photographer from Italy. He studied cinema at the university “La Sapienza” in Rome and is a member of the street photography collective “I Go Bananas”.
“I’m not an artist, but I want to say that the most important thing are the photographs and they should speak for the photographer.”
Interview with Matteo Zannoni
Matteo, why did you become a photographer?
I was going through a difficult period when I was temporarily out of work. I began to roam the streets with the old reflex camera of my father. That’s how I became fond of photography.
Which genre do you prefer and why?
I love street photography because it is unpredictable. You must feel the road, with its smell and above all you have to see into the future – anticipate what might happen next. When you can snap the photo you were going for, it’s pure magic. I have to say though that I also adore the artists from the new topography movement and portrait photographers.
Is there anything in particular that you want to say with your pictures? And in other words: What is it that a photograph can say at all?
That’s a good question. A picture can say it all, but it can tell a lie or fake the truth. However it is important to be able move people with your images, to create in the viewer an idea or a dream, a question. This is what interests me to achieve with my photographs. The viewer should be drawn into my photo, but at the same time he or she should ask what is just beyond the frame.
Can you recall any special moment shooting pictures?
I remember many special moments, but perhaps one that is close to my heart took place one night with an old Petri 7. It was all very fast and confusing. I put the shutter speed as slow as possible (1/4) and checked the distance with meters marked on the lens. I believed I got it all wrong, instead it was a great result. The picture is called “n12”.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
I started to get excited about the work of the father of the decisive moment – Henri Cartier-Bresson – and the grand old men of Magnum Photos. But now that most effect on me probably have Daido Moriyama and Antoine D’Agata. Often in Rome I go out to take photos at night and I love “dirty”, highly contrasted and blurry photos.
Moriyama’s photographs are murky. I love them. I always try to use a small disturbing factor in my photos. That’s because I always look at books of Moriyama.
What’s your favorite quote by a famous photographer?
I don’t know many quotes about photography. I prefer the photographs themselves. Maybe “like a stray dog” by Moriyama, because I feel a bit like that when I go out to take photographs.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process of shooting images?
To describe my photographic language and the creative process of the shots I must first distinguish between the genders. For street photography I can say I really like a “stray dog”-feel to my images even at the cost of sacrificing the composition. In other situations, like new topographics, I’m very picky. I try to control everything. Balance is the key.
Do you prefer digital or analog? If analog, which photographic film do you use and what characteristics as to grain etc. are important to you?
I prefer photography, photographic results. Of course the film is just another story, it’s magic.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
I think it’s important to look at a lot of work by other photographers at the beginning. At some point, however, it is better to break away and go straight to your own vision, to always know that the risk of type-approval is high, at least for me.
Your recent project is called “Il bagno” and is set on the sea. What’s the idea behind it?
It’s funny because I’ve talked about photographers like Daido Moriyama and its influence on me and now I present “Il bagno”, the “sea-project” which I think is quite different aesthetically compared to Moriyama’s style. Anyway I wanted to make a project like this, representing the sea of the country where I was born, a sea that I know very well. The idea behind the project is to portray the people and the sea in a playful way, with a mood similar to the photographic genre I prefer: street photography. It’s a very simple idea, but the realization I assure you has been very hard. For the project I used a toycamera, the Vivitar Mariner underwater camera, and the photographic film Ilford HP5 – even though I actually prefer the Kodak Tri-x film for my other projects, alway a good friend.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
The most incredible website for me is Magnum Photos, but it is also easy to say that. So I say the forum I frequent very often and where I always get a lot of criticism, that helps me to improve is “In itinere”.
Which photography book would you recommend?
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.
Do you develop the negatives and prints the photographs independently?
Ok, you got me. Not yet, but I’d absolutely have to if I don’t want this to be my last interview! (laughs)