I am speaks to me.
Photography by Salvatore Di Gregorio, Interview by Isa Prieto.
Sicilian born photographer, Salvatore Di Gregorio, captures youth in London fashion week in his series I AM SPEAKS TO ME. We interviewed him to better understand his background in photography and how his artistic process unfolds.
IP: What was it like growing up in Sicily? What do you like about living in London and Berlin now?
SDG: I come from a small town in Sicily. I used to hate it when I was young but now I appreciate the freedom that only living in a small town can give you. London and Berlin are very different, and I try to get the best of the two worlds.
IP: How did you get interested in taking pictures?
SDG: After quitting my job in Rome and before moving to London to start my master’s degree I took some time off and I decided to travel to South East Asia for few months, just to recharge my batteries before kicking into a new adventure. I bought a small camera, I knew I was going to some unknown locations and I wanted to have some memories, but never thought that photography would become my life. That trip had evoked within me the excitement of taking pictures in exceptional places
IP: How would you describe your own work?
SDG: Photography empowers me to show who I am. Everything I photograph represents my life, my interests, my passions. My imprint is cosmopolitan, my attitude is nomadic. I am a curious person and photography fulfils my desires to communicate. My photographic approach is inspired by cultural diversity. I invite the viewer to adopt an alternative perspective and to think differently, my subjects are always shown rather raw and natural.
IP: Your project from 2014, I AM SPEAKS TO ME, juxtaposes young fashionable Londoners with cactus and orchids. Was this a purely aesthetic choice that you discovered by chance? Do you feel that this prickly yet elegant foliage speaks to something in youth fashion today?
SDG: London is a multicultural metropolis. People are coming from all over the world to experience this vibrant city. You can see almost every different culture and race. During London Fashion Week the city streets become the stage of an international catwalk, with people dressing in the most innovative way. It is a truly amazing people-watching experience. Orchids and cactus have always fascinated me: with their shape and elegance convey a natural feeling of being in an exotic place.
I shoot mainly in analoG. After shooting some backstage work during the Fashion Week I wanted to capture the people that gravitate around the shows. Few days later, I visited a botanical garden and photograph some orchids with the same camera and same film rolls. Surprisingly and accidentally I only discover the similarity in the darkroom.
Therefore, I AM SPEAKS TO ME, manifests my attraction to beauty in the most diverse way, which links human and nature’s own creativity, elements that are always present in fashion. The great thing about fashion is that it can be used to communicate an instant message. Young fashion forward people continue to use style to forge their identity. The impression they give can be interpreted as brash, severe and even prickly.
IP: You chose to shoot these images in black and white. Fashion and nature are often featured in full colour – how did this choice shape the project?
SDG: I love colour. I would say that I shoot 90% of my work in colour. In this particular case it was a surprise to find out about the similarity of the pictures that triggered me to put them next to each other and develop this idea. I think the black and white helped me to shape this project.
IP: In your later works, I see you often play with juxtaposing humans and objects. For example, from your series in Sicily, you sometimes pair a picture of a person with urban objects such as parking meters or telephone booths. What message would you like to convey?
SDG: The street is the most interesting backdrop for me. Those are elements that are part of your daily life and sometimes you don’t even notice them. Telephone boots are disappearing and useless nowadays that they are becoming a “feticcio”. I don’t have a particular message, but I like to encourage you see details that sometimes you won’t.
IP: What is one of your goals for your photography? Do you have any future plans or dreams?
SDG: Capturing moments of unusual yet exceptional beauty that excites me the most. At the same time, I think, it is just the simplicity and sensibility of photography that I love so much. The interaction with my subjects, the thrill of new adventures; I want to keep these feeling always alive when I photograph.