Eric’s Note: Nico Chiapperini is an Italian street photographer currently based in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. He wanders the streets looking for documents, memories, and impressions, in which composition and light freeze feelings for eternity. He also uses his street photography as a way to collect his thoughts in which he uses a metaphor of a kaleidoscope of memories and future visions. Through this quest, he discovers questions, sometimes answers, but always emotions in his imagery.
Nico: My mum was a teacher in a primary school. I was eight years old when I went with her on a school trip to a Jurassic Park for children. There I took some pictures of fake dinosaurs with my father’s SLR. It was my first time and I used two rolls of film. The day after my dad told me I could have bought nice postcards instead of wasting so much film and money. He did not have bad intentions, he later tried to encourage me, but I was a sensitive child and never touched a camera again for a very long time.
When I was twenty years old I was diagnosed with a bad disease. During the night after the surgery, my mum told me what I had, with courage and immense love. I did not sleep a single minute; I kept on drowning in a vortex of emotions and fears. Early in the morning I looked up to the window of my room: I noticed the white of the snow on some roofs and a blue sky, stained with purple finger marks and scratches. The glass, a little dirty, was filtering the light with beautiful effects. That image gave me relief for a little while, but also a further sorrow, because I wanted to live and not stop seeing anymore.
That morning I started, or maybe better, I became again a photographer. Locked in that room, I observed the lines, the shapes, the geometries. I noticed the despair on the faces of my parents, my sufferance reflected on their eyes. I was suddenly aware of details and shades. I took several pictures during those days and the following years, but without a camera: having a piano in your house does not make you necessarily a pianist.
I had to wait until the date of my degree in Aerospace Engineering to get my first personal camera. For that occasion I got a digital compact one as a present from some friends of mine. I started bringing my camera with me everywhere, this time without the nightmare of limited budget due to the cost of film. Taking pictures became (and still is) a good help to run away from the horrible images of my past.
I developed a particular interest in Street Photography quite soon, because I was extremely fascinated by this wide and very challenging genre. For me streets and public places are a stage where people are unaware that they are actors playing comedies or drama. l like discovering their accidental connections and their relationships: there are endless configurations and possibilities. In the daily flow so many special, intriguing, strong or even ambiguous moments are waiting to be preserved from oblivion and when I notice and grab them, I am happy. If I also manage to take an artistic image with a sort of story in it, that kind of story which is more a series of questions than a clear answer, well, I feel also a big joy and a marvellous wonder.
In the last years my interest for street photography has grown even more because of some personal projects. I have also collected several publications and had some commissioned works. The last one was for Samsung for the most difficult and craziest thing I have ever done in my life: a two days of shooting in Amsterdam with a small video camera on my head, for an exhibition where people could see on a big screen on live what I was doing and watching. As you might already read on this blog or somewhere else, the agreement was to share through a wifi connection at least one or two pictures every hour: a mission almost impossible.
My usual workflow consists of leaving the photos alone for a long period after I took them. I can wait for months or even years before doing anything with them. But for the wifi exposition I had to shoot in jpg, decide which pictures to share in a very short time and without the possibility to edit. Maybe this approach might turn up the nose of some readers, but I really must admit that the “constrictions” I had to face made me work very hard and think more than twice, being a lot productive and in the end very happy with the results.
If someone asks me a good advice for street photography, or in general for photography, especially after the experience just mentioned, I would recommend this: leave your comfort zone and embrace the challenges.
Giving yourself some limitations and accepting the struggle to overcome them will enrich you. Use for a while a fix lens or the camera of your phone, taking pictures only in a specific location, maybe during the night or when it rains, just to make some examples. You never know what can bring to you, but I bet a fresh view and some new lessons to learn. And, last but not least, try to have fun in doing that (and not only that), because it is the best thing you can wish.