Image by Alex Coghe
Here is the second interview, in this case we talk to Alex Coghe photojournalist installed in Mexico
Interview with Alex Coghe
Here is the interview we did with Alex Coghe, italian fotojournalist based in Mexico.
How did you decide to become a photographer?
If you mean as a professional photographer, anything happened in a natural way, as something that had to happen at some point. Despite counting with previous experience as journalist and with some achievements in photography, when I moved to Mexico I started as a correspondent for some online Italian newspapers. The evolution of this commitment has been fueled by from my interest in making it something definitive, and Mexico has helped me a lot in this.
One of the first reports made was a report on Santa Muerte. Since then I have never stopped, but I want to clarify that for me photography and writing always go together and I could never imagine one without the other. I am a writer and photographer, and vice versa.
Do you have formal training as a photographer?
Despite taking some photography courses I can’t say to have a formal training. The street forged me. And all I do and propose is a reflection of my life experience. During the trip I met people who proved to be fundamental for growth. But I believe that Hunter S. Thompson and Thomas Wolfe are also responsible. Let me say that many think that a photographer is only what he has studied or the photographic style he loves most, but it is not like that at all. At least for me. When I was 4, it was 1979. I ate bread and milk in front of the TV showing Actarus in a new adventure, heroin entered its boom phase in Italy even though I still couldn’t know, my mother was sticking aluminum foil to her paintings…
At 8 I was reading Hemingway for the first time. At 10 I was given the first camera.
All of this was an effective training to me. And I am lucky, because I still remember it.
Do you prefer to take street photography in your city or while travelling?
I am Italian, and I was born in Rome, in 1975. I am currently based in Mexico City, dreaming to move to Oaxaca. The place is where I am at the moment. I don’t have any preference. In the city I am making a certain kind of work and while I am travelling is another kind. They can’t be related because by changing the experience, changes also the perception and so my mindset and approach.
About street photography, what do people starting out need to know?
I know yours is a blog focused on street photography, but let me say…let’s stop to think for labels, so let’s stop to think to your photography as street photography. Think to make your own thing: photographs that reflect who you are, your thoughts and what you love, you hate, makes you smile or getting angry. And then study…a lot. A visual culture is truly formed through study, but I am not referring only to that of other photography. I mean to be hungry of knwoledge: cinema, music, literature, and then psychology, sociology…all these things help me a lot to become a better photographer because all helps to form and forge visions.
What do you look for, when you go shoot street photography?
I really don’t need anything other than my camera. And I don’t go out to make photography. It would be terrible to act like that and I know many photographers do that, but I am not like the other photographers. My photography is a continuous blood loss for me, because is something very personal. Simply when I go out I always have a camera with me, and usually is when I go shopping at the market or another commission. I photograph the most in my neighborhood and the closest neighborhood, this means my loved barrios. By living at the border with EDOMEX, state of Mexico, it happens to photograph also there. Don’t expect from me the usual street photographer approach. I am essentially a documentary photographer, and I don’t respond to any classic rule or way to act like street photographers do. My photographs are not anymore the result of a photowalk. It has been when I started, but is not anymore like that. My photos are the result and the evidence of what my life is.
What is most challenging about street photography?
Always the same: to make good photos. And for good photos I mean: photos with a perfect balance between form and content. And photography should be not about having balls or showing how much close you get to the subject like most of street photographers today think. Also I get bored soon with most of street photography I see today because I can’t see really what is behind the photographer. And this is the reason why I think 80% of street photography is crap. It is because so many think just to be in the genre, to respect the genre, so you see the copycats of Moriyama, those copying Gilden and then, oh we have so many Alex Webb around us. But this is very poor and…pathetic. I talk as a photo editor, you know I am editor of THE STREET PHOTOGRAPHER NOTEBOOK since 5 years, I featured a lot of photographers and what I want to see as editor but also as a photography enthusiast that still loves a lot photography personality, authorial strenght. I want to see photographers that through their photos show who they are. And I don’t want to see photographers worry to stay in the street photography label. Seriously: most of street photographers have today the big dilemma/concern if a photo is enough street. Fuck that!
Have you ever received complaints because of a street photography photo?
Never received complaints. A pair of confrontations yes. One in Los Angeles, but not caused by me, for a photographer with me. Then an episode in Mexico City downtown, with a man hitting me on the chest after a photo I took of him. But nothing particularly relevant. I always argue that with the right mindset our body language responds in a positive way and we communicate mostly with our bodies. You have to consider I photograph in popular neighborhoods, considered dangerous. I photograph for example also in Cuautepec and after 10 years I am still here.
What makes a good shooting day for you?
To enjoy really a shooting day I need just a thing: to enjoy my day. I need to be serene, but don’t get me wrong, I mean that serenity that allows me to feel, observe, understand. There may be things that don’t work during the day and yet I can enter in a particular mindset, it is like a zen meditation, so I can affirm that photography helps me a lot in life, like a sort of psycho therapy. Sometimes a particular meeting, perhaps generated by my photographic action, can make a day really special. And that’s what I love more than anything else in photography.
What type of editing software do you like to use for your completed photographs, and what do you like about it?
I am using Adobe Lightroom since many years. Currently I am using also Phocus by Hasselblad, but only for the fashion and erotic photographs. Generally I don’t do a heavy job in post production so what I ask is something essential, fast, for the few adjustments I need.
Check more of Alex Coghe’s work on alexcoghe.com