Romeo is a street photographer of Italian origin who’s presently living and working in London. His color street photography depicts very interesting people and situations that are most vital elements in street photography. His current project “Streets of London” consists of photos that are beautifully shot with impressive shadow and lighting. He candidly captures emotions and reactions of bored commuters and persons engaged in their routine jobs. Romeo tells us more about himself and his work in our basic interview below:
I am an Italian architect who lives and works in London. My real name is Antonio Chiorazzo (Romeo is a nickname). I was born in Bernalda, a picturesque village in the south of Italy in the province of Matera, which keeps my childhood memories. I studied and lived for many years in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence.
When I was studying architecture at the university, photography was an important tool to analyze and catalog my studies. I did not give much value to the photograph in itself, I was using it just to store and archive. One day I discovered the Luigi Ghirri’s photos (he shot for many Italian architects) and realized the expressive power that is hidden in a click. I became interested in photography from that moment. However, despite the strong interest, I have never photographed “intentionally”, I have limited myself to observe, to admire, as I do for art in general, and taking snapshots from time to time. Only about a year and a half ago I bought a DSLR camera, big and heavy. I did not know exactly what to do with it but the city where I live now slowly has shown me the way. Probably this is the reason why I do not have so many pictures. Nevertheless, I am very selective.
Photographing to me is a mental adventure to discover unknown worlds. Journey, waiting, sometimes boredom and then the action, adrenaline and surprise, all this for a click, just the time it takes to trigger it and everything is already gone and you start again. I do not necessarily need to leave the place where I live, in the streets I can catch all that I seek.
Nikon D700 with a 50mm lens. When I bought it I was not thinking of a specific genre of photography, I just knew that I wanted a full frame. I reached the 50mm gradually after experiencing the all possible lenses. The wide angle for example opens up the space in an unnatural way, the honesty of 50mm is what I need. I do not have any favorite settings, depending on the weather (you know I live in U.K.) and above all I like to experiment. As for editing, the important thing is not to distort the essence of the captured image.
The term “project” in photography makes me feel caged. When I moved to London photographing was a way to know the city. Slowly I began to recognize signals, cracks and anomalies that caught my attention and which went beyond the appearance of this place. If “Streets of London” is a project, it is because these pictures can not belong to any place other than London. This concrete jungle materializes the drama of the human condition, an attempt to justify human existence through a totally artificial world in which it is victim and victimizer.
I am not sure if it (see top) is my favourite photo, but it means a lot to me. I was at a Funfair when I saw this guy, with a melancholy and distant air in this cabin and started to shoot. On the seventh shot the child appeared, on the tenth I realized I caught something, I still took two more shots but everything was gone. There is no big story behind this but I cannot forget the excitement I felt in that moment. That picture was the beginning of Streets of London.
Enjoying the feeling of freedom that photography gives to me is what I need; thinking about my achievements could be a mannerism in old age. I have no clients.
Photographic debate does not interest me so much. It reminds me a lot of that on architecture: everyone tries to prove that their theory or any other vision is the right one in order to sell their product. Many architects have written and theorized for several years before they could get someone to realize their first project. If you look around, there are hundreds of definitions of “street photography”, everyone has a formula. I do not want to waste my time thinking about theories or styles, I photograph from a gut feeling, and I enjoy the others’ photography when it touches me.
I am still working on “Streets of London”, I do not know when this “project” will end, probably when I leave London. I am interested in European culture; the idea of photographing other cities on the continent is enticing to me, it would be a long term work, trying to strip away the make-up of its attempts to rebuild itself. I hope to stumble across the unexpected, surprise and serendipity plays an important role in my pictures. Another experiment that I would like to photograph is the famous Way of St. James, but that’s another story…
I am always suspicious of those who give advice, therefore no tips. I am reminded of a quote:
…Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth… (The Big Kahuna final monologue)