Stuck in the Picture #12 Jean manuel Simoes

Let’s start with a small presentation who is jean manuel?

Father, married for nearly 30 years, photographer. We live in Paris, our daughter is the result of french-italian-portuguese cultures which is a richness. A man in his mid-fifties struggling to save his freedom.

When did you start taking pictures? Do you remember what it felt like?

Frustration, everything starts from frustration that’s an energy I like to deal with. Transforming negative into positive, playing upside-down games is a very photographic process. I bought my first camera when I was 17, I was convinced it was the perfect tool to seduce women… I’ve never stopped !

I don’t usually get into the specifics of the technique used, but your lith prints really impressed me, how did you approach this technique?

I didn’t study arts or photography, I don’t have any theoretical knowledge, any formal background, everything I do must be very practical, no concepts in my work. I take it as an advantage, I have no idea of the conventions in photography, I’m used to try and try again improving my knowledge. Few years ago I made a swap with a friend; she got a print, I got a box of chemical products. At that time I was -once again- out of money and had to handle with expired paper friends were throwing-out. Without any result using classic developer I tried Lith bottles from inside the box, that was the beginning. Since there I’ve practiced, tested hundreds of different papers and never stopped searching for old expired paper boxes.

The first images posted on Instagram -Paris lockdown- were shot with a large format camera -one again a swap- and paper instead of film inside the back holders. I saved few boxes of Kodabrom from a rubbish bin, properly developed with Lith results suit me.

Your works range a lot, some are very graphic, others enter the scene without frills, others are stolen shots. You seem to have a very spontaneous approach. How do you relate to the subjects you come into contact with?

I think there are two aspects in your question. First one is the subject: Usually, we photographers, consider subject what’s in front of the lense. I consider subject everyone in contact with the work. Every person who visits an exhibition, who opens a photographic book should be considered as a subject -in the sense of relation to an author/ity- for the photographer. Of course contact with these category is very different from the “conventional photographic subject”, both sides interest me. The second is spontaneous :  Being spontaneous is a great advantage in photography, the question is how to be spontaneous in difficult territories -each one has its own boundaries-. Experience has convinced me time and empathy offer all the opportunities a photographer need. I can shoot a roll as soon as I go-out but I also can stay hours, days without taking a picture, just trying to erase my ideas, avoid my preconceptions. Being “part of” generates a mutual respect, once it’s clearly established, being spontaneous is logic. Creating conditions for being spontaneous is an important part of my personality. That explains why I’m used to street photography and why every exhibition I do is always different.

Personally, I don’t like the way street photography has taken a turn, too much focused on style exercises and captions, but I find in your work a lot of honesty and truth, Which authors have influenced you? If there are any.

Many persons have had a deep influence on the way I can see the world. Some are photographers, some not and it starts from my parents, my wife, my daughter, my friends. I can not give you a complete list but Curtis, Atget, Giacomelli, Arbus and some japanese photographers are strongly present on my bookcase. I still spend hours watching new works, trying to satisfy my visual and cultural curiosity; probably less than years ago. The older you become, more time becomes precious for your own work, your life. Actually there is a contradiction here : I have that deep curiosity for new and older works, meanwhile I put lots of energy trying to erase my knowledge just to be more naive, to go my own way without any influence. For the last years I have extended my research to a larger range of arts with a great interest in the works of J. Beuys, S. Polke, R. Heinecken for their creativity, M. Tichy, E. Schiele for the eroticism in their works… and of course W. Flusser, W. Benjamin, F. Nietzsche… Always duality : going into the richness of what has been done and trying to keep children eyes ! Once again there is a second aspect in your question : the way street photography has evolved. There is a lot to say about, we’ll reach the usual point of the decline in any process of democratization -H. Arendt developed that in her essay “The crisis of culture”-. As a practitioner I consider every tool -camera, internet, books, exhibitions…- which helps to facilitate the use of the eyes as an entrance door to the world of image, and then imagination. Imagination is essential in the understanding process - while working on quantum physics A. Einstein discovered we can not understand something if we can not build a mental image-. Our contemporary lives, standart educations, mass media’s don’t stimulate imagination. Stimulating imagination is a natural need for human being, the more we practice eyes education the more doors we can open. The more culture we learn, the more imagination we develop, the more solutions we’ll find to perform the world, our lives and lives of the ones after us.

Tell me about the time you laughed until you felt sick.

Last night, we were having dinner together and I had to translate into portuguese an italian expression, very good moment… Happens once a day ! 

A photo you’re particularly fond of? Show it to us.

This picture, the day my daughter was born. I put distance, aperture and speed on the Leica, my wife took this beautiful picture. I have thousands of pictures of my daughter printed, on my head, but this one is very special even if I didn’t shoot it.

Tell me an anecdote, something curious that happened while you were shooting. 

When I bought my first camera, 17, I put a film inside. Then I brought the film to the photographer shop and came back next week. The price was very cheap, there were no photos, I didn’t snap properly the film. It happened few times, and one day the price became very high. The lady at the counter couldn’t understand why I was so happy to pay 20 times more than usual.

One or more obsessions. If you have any.

Women, freedom, beauty, curiosity, tolerance.

Thanks for the talk!

Thanks to you and all the people who spend few minutes reading this.

Thanks to you who have read this far! 

If you want know some more about my photography and my books you can find me here:

Stuck in the Picture #11 Gaetano Ippolito

Let’s start with a small presentation who is Gaetano?

I’m a 22-year-old boy who only recently discovered photography. I was born in the northern suburbs of Naples, where I grew up and still live today.

When did you start taking pictures? Do you remember what it felt like?

I remember I started taking pictures while I was going through a really bad time. I suffered for years from a strong form of irrational anxiety that forced me to stay home all through my adolescence, so it was natural for me to associate photography with the possibility of moving with a goal that would dampen my fears and, in a way, even the possibility of healing.
In a month or so I had shot all the gardens, parks and museums in Naples, both public and private. It was liberating, just as if in that moment I had discovered that I had a mouth and that I could scream something, and even simple insignificant sounds were fine. They were all right then. After a few months, however, I already started to ask myself the first questions about the meaning of what I was doing, about what my visual contribution could really give to someone; these questions are still with me today, but I can say that I grew up trying to find the answers. 

It also works the other way around, I believe; I feel more if I photograph. Can photography be preparatory to a greater understanding of ourselves?

Yes, without a doubt.
I believe that in photography, as in any form of art, there is always the need to seek and understand ourselves. Only through this research, the desire to express oneself takes forms that are recognizable to the eyes of others and to our own.
Without this, without a strong desire to understand each other, the image produced is just the spelling of a word that can be easily said with the mouth.
It is perhaps for this reason that today I prefer false appearances, confused forms and everything that goes beyond a static meaning to be found and put aside.
It is no coincidence that almost all of us have strong tendencies towards self-destruction: this research is the best trigger for self-destruction, or self-torture.
Only struggles lead us to understand and grow, in life as in photography; they make us to look for a comfort zone different from the one we have left behind, and by walking this road we discover ourselves. 

Seeing your photos one always seems to perceive a continuous in-out-in-out, it’s almost tiring. Is photography a necessity for you?

My need does not lie in photographing, but in seeking my own language through the suggestions and sensations I feel.
Under this light, photographing is like feeling, and sometimes like dreaming, because like dreams we cannot control what we feel.
I often associate photography with the psychotherapy that I do several times a week, because both are made up of a continuous attempt to grasp something that is in itself an idea or feeling, literally, and it is frustrating to see how the tangible realization of a moment is able to completely change the starting feeling, then the search starts again.
I don’t know where it will take me, or if it will take me somewhere, but just thinking about making mistakes and growing up gives me a lot of strength. 

Tell me about Möbius, how did it go?

Möbius was the result of a special edition of the “Laboratorio Irregolare” by Antonio Biasiucci, and was presented and exhibited in the Museum of Villa Pignatelli (Naples).
It consists of a series of 12 self-portraits in b/w in which my body appears with all its faults.
The idea was born from various issues - still unresolved today: an initial tendency of mine to self-portrait as a form of self-awareness, a pressing urgency to show my body and, through it, my past and my shortcomings.
There is a strong visual emphasis in the photos because I wanted to erase the compassion and pity that I always felt on my skin, and at the same time I wanted them to give way to the mysticism that was fundamental throughout my adolescence.
There was almost a reverence for everything related to wounds and the process of healing wounds.
The human body will never cease to amaze me. 

What really pisses you off?

Indecision, and I’m eternally indecisive myself. The only solution I was able to find is to make a decision and try not to regret it after 2 hours, otherwise I’ll never get out of it.

Have any artists influenced you? Even unconsciously?

Yes, and very consciously too!
I’ve always been fascinated by the photographer David Nebreda, I find that the sacredness of his images automatically commands respect to the observer, although at the same time one may feel too impressed. 

A photo you’re particularly fond of? Show it to us.

Tell me an anecdote, something curious that happened while you were shooting. 

The most particular experience is definitely related to how I approached photography.
For many people it may not be that funny, but today it still makes me smile.
About 4-5 years ago, I committed a small theft in a bookstore: I had no money to buy a picture book by Lorenzo Matteotti, so I tried to steal it and, of course, I was caught immediately. I’ve never been good with these things.
Having said that, the owner called the police and, after not even a month, I found myself in a social cooperative working as a secretary to serve for that sort of “sentence”. During this time I learned about a short photography course that was held there in the afternoon, and because I was afraid to go back and shut myself in the house, I took part. I liked it right away, and my first camera with a lens was my teacher’s camera. 

One or more obsessions. If you have any.

I am obsessed with various things, but first and foremost with everything concerning man and his self-destructive tendencies.
Besides, I am a regular poetry reader; I started reading poetry when I was 14, through Pessoa’s work, and I never stopped.
In the future I will certainly try to combine photography and writing. 

Thanks for the talk!

Thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to answer these questions, but above all thanks for making me discover excellent photographers (among which there’s you).
And thanks to you who read this far!  

If you want know some more about my photography and my books you can find me here:

Thanks to my friend Patrizio Mancuso For translation.

Stuck in the Picture #10 Guido Gazzilli

Let’s start with a small presentation who is Guido?

I’m born and raised in Rome. I am a passenger who testifies his present. I try to put together fragments of my life that include past and visions of the future. I am attracted to the different, a friend of the opposite and of error. I am interested in understanding and meeting people, understanding their beauty and fragility. In my long personal reflections I travel between worlds and stories, contemplating places, moments and shapes. Photographer for inner necessity, to be able to observe some parts of me and after some time to remind me of experiences and emotions lived. I retrace some traces of the past, a way to better understand and reconcile myself with parts of me still active and not always clear to my awareness.

When did you start taking pictures? Do you remember what it felt like?

I started photographing during a trip to Scandinavia, initially I just wanted to have a memory of these experiences, then with the help of some friends it became something more and more serious, and afterwards in the end a real lifestyle.

Do you think photographers should keep their egos out of their work?

I don’t know what others have to do, for me every change of perspective is both liberating and frightening, I inevitably try not to feel that security in a world of random connections, linear time and awareness of the other’s perspective. I am not looking for order, continuous approvals, I try to destroy any certainty that consciousness and the mind tries to build. 

Which authors have influenced you? If there are any. They don’t have to be photographers, they can be directors, writers, comic book authors, musicians. 

Surely I have been influenced by many friends that I have, many of them photographers who have helped me a lot in developing my creativity. Following some of them has given me a lot of growth. also being an assistant was a great path. I have always taken a bit from everyone, I come from graffiti, from youth subcultures, from the street, in general I love photographers who work on their life to try to understand more and more existence.

Your prison project is a punch in the stomach. You want to tell me how it went? How did it feel, what marks did it leave on you?

I initially wanted to curate an exhibition inside some prisons in Italy, asking to great authors to donate their works to embellish places of suffering and isolation such as prison. subsequently I understood that the interaction with the prisoner and the photographs made the project more complete on a therapeutic level and I decided to ask the prisoners to write stories of what they felt while looking at the photographs. I chose this path because I wanted them to tell about. I often use photography to tell myself through others, when I work in social issues I always try to have a human experience before the  result of the images. The work then comes automatically, if certain mental resistances are released and a relationship of mutual trust is established. themselves, to bring out emotions that prison often tends to repress.I believe that prisoners find it difficult to remember emotions, because feeling of feelings  can hurt psychologically and emotionally, the project is linked to memory, to overcome certain mechanisms and to get rid of negative creates connections, inside the prison while portraits were made many inmates met and became friends, the photos that I took during the meetings were kept in their cells for several months, as if they were the only one dear thing they had in there. I personally understood that you should never judge a person, prison teaches you that we are all the same and you can improve on the mistakes made.

Guido wakes up in the morning. What’s the first thing he thinks? 

I try not to think but to feel. 

A photo you’re particularly fond of? Show it to us.

At the end I am very attached to the portraits, to the feeling that transpires from the frame, from the contrasts, the shadows and the shapes. I am tied to many images and perhaps this is often the problem, letting go of more.

Is it implied in photography to feel empathy?

yes it is absolutely fundamental to create an empathy with what you have in front of you, you must have the emotion to try to translate reality with your own eyes, to create something surreal. Tell me an anecdote, something curious that happened while you were shooting.  In prison while I was documenting my project, I was so absorbed in the context and I was letting myself go and integrating with the boys that I was often mistaken for a prisoner, for one of them. this is what I want to become in the situations that I photograph, part of them.

One or more obsessions. If you have any.

I am obsessed with the connection I have with wilderness.

Thanks for the talk!

Thanks to you who have read this far! 

If you want know some more about my photography  you can find me here:

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