Interview with 2016 International Singles winner Davide Albani
You have been awarded the first prize of the Brussels Street Photography Festival International Singles contest. Tell us how does it feel and what does it mean to you to have won such an award?
Well, it feels like the first time! Joking aside, it is indeed the first time for me that I have been awarded the first prize in an international street photography festival, and a major one too since it is the most important one in Europe. It is, of course, an incredible honor for me and I feel very happy and excited. I must admit that the prize was totally unexpected and a surprise, but what a nice one! This achievement means a lot to me, because, even though I am full of doubts when it comes to my pictures, it tells me that I am following the right direction and path in photography if my work is so well recognized.
You have decided to participate in this newly Street Photography competition regardless that it was its very first edition with no precedents. What motivated you to participate in it and what’s your take on Street Photography festivals and competitions in general?
I always try to identify the best street photography festival that I can apply to and there are different reasons for this. Beyond the obvious ones of visibility and self-esteem when you have your images hanging on a wall somewhere in the world, which I cannot deny make me happy, participating to a festival is, in a way, an “opportunity of editing”. What I mean is that by sending your best images to a festival with a well-recognized jury, you can understand by the results of the selection how good your pictures are (but always keeping in mind that beyond the rational judgement there is personal taste, which always influences the selection) and, maybe, critically re-evaluate your work. Finally, it is also a way for me to move forward with my photography and detach from my favorites images, since I never send the same picture twice to the same festival/contest. So, these are the main reasons that led me to apply to the Brussels Street Photography Festival, plus of course the incredible jury that the festival was able to invite (and congrats for that!): it is always the very first thing I check when a festival is announced. One last thing, finally a European festival! We really needed it, let’s push street photography in the old continent, too.
The winning photo can tell us many things about society nowadays, where you interested in portraying this specific current human condition? The absorption by technology to which many of us are victims. What were your motivations to take a photo like this?
I will be 100% honest here, what first drove me to take this picture is the reflection of the light emanated by the tablet on the glasses of the man. I was out in New York, close to Time Square, for some shooting, and that reflection just caught my attention and I ended up taking almost 20 shots of the scene. The one you see is of course my favorite. Anyway, even if I knew that the picture showed a relevant aspect of modern life, only after listening to the motivation given to the jury I fully realized that the image could, indeed, well represent our society, where most of us spend a lot of time with smartphones and tablet, often ignoring other important aspects of our everyday living. I guess that happens to a lot of us, that something catches our attention while shooting and only after we discover something more and realize the “importance” of the image.
You have been consciously photographing for almost 3 years now. This is quite an achievement for such a short period. What are the key points that made you who you are today photographically speaking and what would be an advice for novice photographers?
I consider myself just at the beginning (hopefully) of my photographic journey, I still have a ton to learn and I do not feel “mature” enough to give advices, but if I would have to, I would say: keep shooting, look at great images, always challenge yourself and find a way to receive honest criticism and feedback from people you trust photographically. It is the best way to grow and this is what I try to do every day. And all of this is really linked to what I consider a turning point in my photographic career (apart from picking up a camera for the first time): being part of the EyeGoBananas collective. Being part of a group of trusted people allows me and the other members (who I consider friends) to speak everyday about photography, to give and receive honest feedbacks about our images, to help editing our work and to give advices on every aspect of photography. It is like a photographic gym, where we grow together, and this is why we created it, it was indeed its original purpose.
You have won a prestigious award that has been carefully selected by a well established team of photographers, the jury of the competitions. What are your next goals in photography? Are you planning to exploit this?
I have to admit that I have not made any clear plans about my next steps in photography. I guess I just want to keep doing what makes me happy: shooting, hopefully more than what I am doing in this last period, and maybe come up with a nice idea for a project (which is tormenting me lately). Of course, I want to keep working with the other guys of EyeGoBananas in order keep working and create something all together.
A last advice you wish to share with the audience?
Just remember that photography is, first of all, a passion.