Please tell us a little about yourself, and how you were drawn to the street genre.
I’m Valentina Martiradonna, I was born and raised in Rome, where I currently live. I am a psychologist, and I work in the field of vocational training. My greatest passions are photography, fashion and cinema. As well as working as a psychologist, I collaborate with a foundation which promotes art in all its aspects, and puts together many artistic performances.
Photography has always been part of my life, as I’ve been snapping pictures since I was but a child. I have always tried to shine a light on what brings photographic and cinematographic expression together.
I have been nurturing my fascination with street photography for the past ten years or so, owing to some courses I attended which brought me closer to this wonderful world, and through spending hours on end shooting in the streets. As well as studying the lighting and structure of a photo, I also learned to be brave and reach out to strangers to create “street portraits.” These courses made me realize that photographing people has always been a passion of mine. I remember when I used to go on school field trips, I always used to prefer stolen shots at my classmates, snoring in the back of the bus, over the usual landscapes photos!
You shoot a lot on transportation. What makes shooting on transport special?
Well, I use public transportation often to go about my city. People are so sucked into their phones these days, that they don’t even look around to observe what is going on around them, or to have a chat with the person riding next to them.
I, on the other hand, have a thing for “people watching.” I am truly fascinated by the little, every day life gestures, and that’s what I like to capture in my photos.
One thing I really like doing is standing at bus stops, observing people hopping on and off, especially in the morning when the light is amazing. I like to switch up the perspective, so sometimes I shoot from the outside (I love the way images reflect on the glass,) and sometimes I shoot from within the bus. At times I like to take the picture without being seen, but other times I want the person to be aware of being the center of my shot.
Do you shoot differently on transport than you do in the street normally? And are you primarily a film or digital shooter?
Because of the tragic events which have happened recently, I think suspicion has spread in our cities, can you imagine how a person in this state of mind would react to a complete stranger wanting to take their picture?
I learned to photograph when only analog cameras existed, but now I almost always shoot digital, even though I sometimes go back to my first love — it was so magical to snap, and then to have to wait for the photo to develop!
In the streets, I prefer to shoot with my camera, but when I travel by public transportation, the cellphone is definitely more practical, because I can always carry it around with me, and it allows me to go unnoticed.
Until very recently, I owned bulky reflex cameras which were hard to carry, but a few days ago I finally bought a Fuji X100T, and I really am head over heels! I now want to start shooting with the Fuji on buses and trains, because while my phone is very functional for some aspects, its downside on the other hand is that I can’t control the lighting, timing or aperture. I can’t wait to start going out with my new camera and be able to expand this project of mine to public transportation.
How do you think being a woman affects your photography?
I have an approach that takes respect for others into maximum consideration. I like to observe human beings in their ordinary lives, and I try to capture in my shots the emotions and sensations that I feel in those moments. Attention to composition and color is an essential component of my way of shooting. I don’t really know if these are all traits relatable to being a woman, but they represent me nonetheless.
Who are your influences?
Letizia Battaglia, Sarah Moon, Alex Webb and Joel Meyerowitz are among the ones that I love the most. As far as street photography is strictly concerned, Bruce Davidson’s and Stanley Kubrick’s shots in the New York subway are extremely inspirational to me.
Valentina Martiradonna | Instagram |