Interview: The Beautiful Mundane

An Interview with Michele Palazzo by Hon Hoang.

Michele Palazzo is a New York based photographer that blends his passion for architecture and photography into enthralling visual narratives of a bustling city. Each image captures the beauty in the mundane tasks of the bustling inhabitants. Moving from one routine to the next, under silhouettes of monoliths.

What were some of your early experiences with photography?

I started taking pictures many years ago, when I was in high school in Italy. My first camera was a Nikon FM borrowed from my father. Back then I developed and printed photos in my improvised dark room, and I can still recall that feeling of anticipation from every image I was about to develop.

Since then photography became an integral part of my life, and along the way my focus and style have changed and evolved.

What is it like to live in New York? How does the city and your emotions affect your photography?

It’s such an unique city with so many stories to be told, and those stories triggered a new stimulus for my passion. I like to watch people and use my imagination to travel with them in their lives. My photos are tied to people and their movements and emotions, I’m interested in those little quirks that connect us as humans.

How do you use your training as an Architect in your photography?

My background and focus is architectural photography, but I don’t want to do purely that. My goal is to combine architecture and street. That’s what I am exploring as my style: Incorporate architecture with nature, weather, and the human dimension. I want my photos to show how we interact with spaces and how the weather is changing that perception.

What is it about your subjects that makes you want to freeze them in that moment?

My photos are tied to people and their environment, their movements, and their emotions. Those are the mundane things I want to document with my photography. Shooting has become a daily routine for me: I feel that it brings the world a little closer to me, especially in New York City.

When photographing, do you visit the same place often or do you try to explore areas new to you?

I always have my camera with me or in the worst case my phone and in my daily commute I am always taking pictures, so you will see many of my photos taken in my neighborhood because I already know lighting and people here, but I like to explore new places in the city because there's always something amazing to discover.

Do you plan photography projects or do they happen organically? If planned, what is your process like?

I should plan more, but most of my “projects” are happening organically when I can see a pattern or a story.

What was your inspiration for Emerging from the Dark?

Emerging from the dark are mostly photos I took during my early morning commute (with some exception) when the sunlight and the shadows are more harsh and when people are in a rush to go to work. It’s during that time of the day where you can see people stressed or immersed in their train of thoughts...and those moments are the most interesting to me.

This series is not necessarily about beauty, but more about hunting people in this “concrete jungle.” I like strong contrasts, comic situations, and interesting faces, and this is reflected in my style: my images are often high-contrast and try to convey a unique intimacy.

How much of the tension and emotions of a situation affect your photography?

It’s all about those moments, it’s that little facial expression or situation that make a photo great...I’m constantly researching that moment and I think that is the engine that makes me take picture everyday.

What was the most tense moment you have experienced? What did you do in this situation?

To be sincere I never experienced tense situations or moments where I was not comfortable. I’m trying to be invisible to not ruin the candid moment or to not piss off anyone.

How much of yourself do you put into your photographs? When do you decide to interact with your subjects? When do you decide to blend into the background?

As I said before, I think I’m pretty good in the art of the camouflage and being invisible, plus I’m lucky because I live in NY where people simply does not pay too much attention to photographers.

Would you have any advice for aspiring photographers? If you had to start all over again, what advice would you give yourself?

Try to take pictures for yourself for your own pleasure, watch the masters, read, travel and focus on the images you want to create and maybe one day you will find a your style...I’m still looking for it.

Photos Courtesy of Michele Palazzo

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