What are the rules of your photographic work?

I traveled to Asia a lot, so I started taking photographs of urban landscapes and cities at night. This style of photography made me explore both the dreamlike dimension and street photography as well. In this way, I got some popularity in the cyberpunk-anime niche, and thanks to that I also had my first exhibition in Milan this year. So I think the rules of my photographic work are basically related to this style of photography, but rules are made to be broken 🙂

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

I make extensive use of Adobe Lightroom (that’s not a secret) and I think it’s something crucial for the kind of photographs I take. On the other hand, I don’t use Photoshop: the reason why is that I only like to play with lights in the scene. I think what makes the difference is the amount of time spent experimenting with colors and tones. Of course, to make this happen and to achieve a certain final effect you also need to experiment a lot with colors and tones in the real world with your camera.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

COVID19 for sure. This crap changed a lot of things, so in order to keep exploring the two dimensions I was talking about before (the dreamlike dimension and street photography), I needed to change my style. The main challenge was to force me in finding inspiration in everyday life, in my neighborhood. I mean, when you travel to Tokyo or Beijing everything seems to come from another and beautiful planet: finding astonishment and daze it’s easy from both perspectives, photographer and observer. Nowadays since I cannot travel on the other side of the world, I need to struggle a lot to find some beauty in the mundane. That’s why I started two new projects: one is called bnwchunks and the other one is called the.case.against.reality. It’s a way for me to grow as a photographer. On the other hand, I still have tons of cyberpunk pics to post daily so my main project it’s alive and kicking, meanwhile, I will hope to travel again soon.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

I think the answer to this question is strictly related to the story above. After months of heavy lockdown was finally time to go out but I was bored and depressed by the smallness of my caged universe. So I decided to start shooting random things around me trying to break the monotony. Cyberpunk alleys and Japanese crisp mornings were only a far, faded memory in my brain. All my sources of inspiration and the possibility to capture extraordinary things such as neons, urban nightscapes, and city life were (and still are) just a reminiscence of a distant and forgotten world. But the laziness, the depressive feeling, and this perception of living in a caged and very small world (where all the connections and the infinite possibilities that we used to live in the past are now shattered) helped me to focus on the ordinary and the beauty of the ephemeral.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

I have basically three main drivers: astonishment, human interest, and nostalgia. Regarding the first one, it’s relatively easy: if it can astonish me then it can astonish many other people in this world since we share experiences and feelings around common patterns, so probably it worth photographing. Regarding human interest, I try to act as an anthropologist or ethnographer, trying to capture people in their everyday and ordinary life. Small scenes, that have a universal meaning are interesting from my perspective: an old lady drinking her tea, a man going out for a walk with a newspaper under his arm, a dog barking at pigeons in the park. The last one is nostalgia, fragments of reality that have an inner and secret meaning: the building I used to look at every morning since I was a child, a small window that reminds me of my grandmother, a drunk man walking the Shibuya’s crossing that reminds me my crazy nights in Tokyo with people I love. This is basically a mixture of subjects and environments that open a small door to someone’s personal universe.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

Feel sad? Go out and take pictures. Feel mad? Get drunk, go out, and take pictures. Take a lot of pictures. And when I mean a lot, I mean A LOT.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

During 2018 I used to shoot with my iPhone8+ only, so 80% of my Instagram feed pics are taken with a smartphone. Nowadays I use a Fujifilm XT30, along with my XPRO1 mainly with a 35mm. I also use some old lenses from my dad’s equipment: a Pentax 200mm and a 50mm. They’re cheap and they still can do their job pretty well.

Are there any books you would recommend?

The power of intuition by Gary Klein. It’s not about photography but I think people can become better photographers if they try to focus more on understanding reality rather than photography techniques (these only come later).

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

My work is heavily influenced by movies like Lost In Translation, Blade Runner, In The Mood For Love, Call For Dreams, and their soundtracks and also very few animes (I don’t watch many of them) like Your Name and Evangelion, which are permeated with vaporwave, cyberpunk, sci-fi, and outrun aesthetic, along with that some Ghibli movies. Music also plays a fundamental role in inspiration: I can mention bands like A Place To Bury Strangers, The Cure, Joy Divisions, The Midnight, Alkaline Trio, and many many others. The point is trying to recombine all the time these fragments in a form of inspiration, and then doing what really counts: that is, taking pics.

Matteo Carella