Interview with Graciela Magnoni
I was born in Uruguay to a French father and Uruguayan mother—I spent parts of my childhood between Brazil and France among other countries until I moved to the USA in 1990 and then Singapore in 2003.
Globalization made me into a normal person; I don’t need anymore to worry about deciding my roots or my identity. I feel confortable pretty much anywhere. I like to joke that I am probably too Brazilian for a French and too French for a Brazilian.
I started getting interested in photography in High School in Paris; I was about 16 years old. Since then photography has become part of who I am. It has been my only work for the past 30 years as well as my only hobby. I started as a press photographer in Brazil and worked for many years for various newspaper and magazines. Today I define myself as a documentary/street photographer who photographs on the streets without an assignment. I photograph for myself and I enjoy sharing my personal work with enthusiasts and photography lovers.
I photograph basically in any public space, probably 95% of the time on the streets of any city or village in the world. Any location with a potential for a good image will do it for me. Last year I started photographing in the streets of small rural villages in India. I find them visually fascinating. I also started a project in Punjab about the Partition and the Sikh community. This is a long-term project. In general I don’t have a plan or think too much about what to look for, I just enjoy walking and looking for surprises. Eventually an interesting opportunity will come up. The biggest challenge is to take full advantage of these rare opportunities. They can happen virtually everywhere or they may never happen. When I get to a place that I find visually interesting it is a lot of fun walking around. It’s very addictive.
Usually I prefer to photograph for long hours at a time as it takes me a while to start concentrating and paying attention to things around me. I try to organize my day so that I have many hours to wander around. I usually get my best results when I go out in order to photograph. I don’t have great results just by carrying my camera and not paying attention to what happen around me. I need time and focus. I prefer to photograph by myself.
Candid and unposed scenes give me the best results. In my opinion, it emanates an aura of authenticity that viewers empathize with. Street and documentary photography is a great counter point to the manufactured advertising and the synthetic visual pollution that pervades our everyday existence. Real experiences are precious and cherished more and more. The street offers endless available opportunities for candid scenes; there is no need for a press credential. In my opinion this is one of the reasons why street photography is so popular. It is also the only place where non-professional photographers are still free to photograph and the opportunity for producing great images is available to any who desires to take it. The street offers a free canvas to practice over and over again. It’s quite democratic. Personally I look for visually interesting scenes, where serendipity will make the image impossible to repeat or reproduce.
I like the sense of surprise of candid photography. You never know what you will find. The possibility to bring back home an unbelievable image is for sure a big motivation. The idea that you keep trying and trying until you get something is quite appealing to me. It’s a fun game. The potential is endless. I also love to travel and go to remote places and get lost on the streets of places I would probably never go if it were not thanks to my obsession for a visual hunt. But for sure the right and better answer is my passion for photography, the challenge to transform a banal scene into a special moment filled with mystery, compassion, and beauty.