“All around, my city is changing. With my camera–film, I don’t use digital–I am trying to preserve something here, the original part of things. You will notice in my pictures you cannot see any new atmosphere, nothing except the traditions. I focus on what I want to preserve. Maybe I’m thinking that everything is becoming very kitsch.”
“I was always with my camera, taking pictures of my family and friends. I didn’t like to speak a lot–not shy, but I was an observer, looking at and watching what people did. I didn’t like to be inside the group.”
“I like playing with reflections. Try to explain inside and outside: me, and at the same time, the people around me. I try in my pictures to show the moment of the other person, the life of the other person, but also myself, my own intimacy.”
“I like to keep my pictures simple and honest, while also stringing ideas together.”
“When I began in this business, I started out covering stories for the daily newspaper here. I started following the traditional folklore celebrations of my city. Here, Easter in Cicily is very important. But the traditions are becoming loose with time. Globalization is changing the face of my country, my people. It is very bad. Everybody throughout Europe is starting to look and act the same. McDonalds is everywhere. Everyone is coming to lose his identity. So because of this I started to use my camera to document, to record my people, our traditions, my culture. Before it disappears.”
“My technique I developed myself. I never studied. Learned everything on my own; and that for me is important. If I travel to a city to shoot, I don’t follow the main street; I go to other small roads that eventually arrive at the main road. This is important to me. For many years I was working with a very good photographer. Yet still, if he went on one side, I would go on the other. I didn’t want to just follow and learn from him how to do it the quick way, but to follow my own instincts. It may take longer; but that is the way I like to do it.”
“Surely the school is important and helps to form a ‘photographic’ thought. Probably it can also shorten the learning and knowledge, but sometimes it becomes a business; and at the end it has an interest in supporting the photographers it produces: If they become famous, other people will want to attend the school also.
But I like to be an outsider.”
“Today I was shooting a picture of an old man who had a very interesting face. So I shoot his picture; and the man stopped me and say, ‘Why are you taking this picture?’ He was from the second world war. And I explained that I do not work for a magazine; I am not commercial. And so even though before he was very ugly, after he heard me, he invited me in for coffee and he liked me.”
“So I talk to people as I photograph them.
Because at the first moment, I am like an intruder. When I went to photograph what was going on in the Balkan area, people at first saw me as a spy. They were afraid. I explained to them what I am trying to do. I looked at the people in their eyes and they saw me in the eyes; and I explained that I am doing this for me alone, not for somebody else, and that I work with film, not digital, and nobody does this anymore, and the people understand me.”
“Sometimes, traveling with no support or knowledge of the place I visit can be dangerous; not having any contacts, you can find yourself in an environment that does not accept you. Once I was in a small village that was destroyed. Three workers saw me and they were very afraid of what I was doing. Then they came over and ask: ‘Why did you come here?’ I tried to explain; but nobody understand me. So they asked for my film and I had to give to them, because it was impossible not to. I tried to give them another film, not what I was using, but they did not accept that. I had to give them all. I travel very cheaply. Staying in a small room. Nobody knows that I am there. Nobody checks up on me.
That can happen anywhere, even in my city; but it is important that I never stop.”
“And my photographs demand that I get close. I cannot be shy. I never use a telephoto–only wide angle and normal lens–otherwise I am getting distortion, losing perspective. Even wide angle lens, 50-45 millimeter, I do not like the distortion. With a 24-25 millimeter wide angle, I have a way to use those lenses.”
“Photos should show you the reality. What is real.”
“I am interested in all kinds of photography; but I think that in the end, most of the new portrait photographers never do the same things as the old ones did.
If I do not have a personal connection, I do not take it.”