What does it mean to be a photojournalist and documentary photographer in the era of social media?
In a world filled with pictures, it’s utterly hard to say something meaningful and powerful with a single image.
Truth is, there are potentially more chances to get one’s story shared, but there’s also much less attention. Nowadays, the audience does not turn pages: it scrolls, and all the time it’s able to give to a single post is compressed in 8 seconds. Captivating attention is now harder than ever then, but when photojournalists have stories to tell, they’re unstoppable. And I want to find out every secret of the modern storyteller.
Today I’m interviewing Marco Aprile, freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer. His style is raw, without filters, intense. His pictures say nothing but the truth, with a great focus on subject and composition. Hopefully his answers will be the same.
This is a tough job to pursue, especially if you don’t have a real passion for it. Have you always wanted to take up this career? Tell us about your personal path.
Journalism and photojournalism have become my main interest during the university years, so when I was about 20 years old. Before that I did not think they would become my greatest passion. Now I’m a freelance photojournalist and a documentary photographer. Since 2000 I’ve been covering news events mainly in northern Italy, sometimes in Europe, for various online media, journals and photo agencies.
Some of my works have been published on Italian and international newspapers and magazines. After graduating in Political Science in 2000, I started working for several local newspapers, radios and websites. In the winter of 2002, my first reportage ‘America Perdida: places outside of the normal tourist circuits in Latin America’ was published by De Agostini editions, while a reportage on social conditions in urban suburbs in Argentina and Italy has been published on some local newspapers edited by Editions Edb of Milan. In 2003 I became a full-time photojournalist, focusing mainly on contemporary issues and current affairs.
How important it is for you to share your work, especially on social media? Which platforms do you use? Do you look up to other photographers and communities? What’s your take on taking inspiration from others?
Sharing my work is really important, but I must admit I’m not very good at advertising it online. I’m not so keen on social media world, I don’t know why. The only platform I like and I use is Instagram. Obviously, social media allows me to have easy access to the work of the other photographers a lot. But the inspiration and the desire to tell stories comes from inside, so what others do does not affect me too much.
Surely I admire the works of my colleagues, or of the ‘masters’ of photography and when I look at a picture that particularly strikes me I try to put myself in the photographer’s shoes and try to imagine how it would feel to take the shot myself. As I was saying, the inspiration and the desire to tell stories comes from inside but for sure there are some works that influenced my storytelling approach.
Should photographers put their own insights in the storytelling or should the narration be objective?
It’s hard to answer, because it’s difficult to explain my thoughts on this delicate topic. I think storytelling must be objective. This must be the first rule of a photojournalist. Yet, undoubtedly during the narration of a story, something emerges that represents the one who tells it.
What emerges is the view of the photojournalist. Different photojournalists can tell the same story differently. But the story that is documented must in any case be told as it is, without filters. It must necessarily reflect the truth.
You shoot both with digital and analog cameras. How do you choose which medium to use for each project?
There isn’t a real choice that pushes me to use one or the other. Sometimes I decide to make something with film simply because I have the desire to shoot with the analogue camera. I often use both digital and analog for the same project. For example, a couple of years ago I shot at the Milan Fashion Week using 4 different Olympus cameras, three analog and one digital.
The project was ‘Fifty years of Olympus history at the Milan Fashion Week‘: a project shot with four different cameras (film and digital) that toldthe story of Olympus and of the photography world. From the 35mm compact camera ‘Trip 35’ through the 35mm rangefinder camera ‘RC 35’, the slr camera Omd Om1, till the digital micro four-thirds Omd EM-1.
Tell us the story of the picture or project you cherish the most, whether for its artistic or emotional value.
I’m tied to all the major works I’ve done. It’s hard to choose one. However, I can say that the events that occurred in Milan on the day of the inauguration of Expo, on the 1st of May 2015, gave me a lot of strong contrasting emotions. I’ve witnessed hundreds of demonstration, protests and urban clashes all over Europe: but that day, in my hometown, surrounded by all my colleagues and friends, it was emotionally challenging.
Photo credits: Marco Aprile
And now the one you hate the most.
The one I hate the most occurred, by chance, in the same year, 2 months after the riots in Milan. It’s the one about the referendum in Greece, on July 2015, on acceptance or denial of the proposal of the EU and the IMF regarding debt repayments and new austerity measures for the Greek economy, already on his knees. I do not hate this work in the true sense of the word because in reality it is perhaps the experience I lived with greater intensity and that gave me the deepest emotions. I hate this picture because I had high expectations for this job. I thought that the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had the chance to stand against EU and IMF’s plans and that Greece’s rejection of this plans would have changed the rules of Europe inexorably.
I was thinking of attending an event of historical importance that would have remained forever in the history books. Instead in the end, despite the victory of the referendum, nothing has changed. I remember vividly that experience and those strong emotions that the Greeks gave me in those hot days of July.
What’s your dream story to cover?
I’d like to tell a lot of stories. For example, I dream to travel throughout Russia and to discover the north side of China. The occupied territories in Palestine, that’s another situation that I would live and see closely.
Last question. 5 songs to listen to while shooting a riot.
Starting by saying that during a riot it is better and much safer to be careful about what happens around us…
Blitzkrieg bop (Ramones)
Lust for Life (Iggy Pop)
Fuck You (Rancid)
Don’t call me white (Nofx)
Stand up (Pennywise)
Photo credits: Marco Aprile
You can find Marco Aprile on Instagram: @maopril