When Winter Storm Jonas hit New York last month, the city was covered with a thick blanket of snow for days. The storm was so intense that 600 members of the New York National Guard were put on standby and people had a hard time getting anywhere because of the snow pile up.
We spoke to Michele about his viral photo, his background in photography, and the super cool photo series ‘Street Fauna‘ where he documents people on the streets of NYC.
Your NYC blizzard photo has gone viral. When taking it, did you ever think it’d get the attention it has?
‘Not at all, the photo grew in me a couple of days after. I normally place my attention on people and not too much on architecture. I wasn’t sure. I use my Ricoh GR in an old fashioned way – I shoot without looking at the screen and I “develop” the photos later on at home. It makes me feel that excitement of discovering something special. Which is just what I did!’
When did you first get into photography?
‘I started taking pictures when I was in high school, many years ago in Italy. My first camera was a Nikon FM that I borrowed from my father. Back in the day I used to develop and print photos at home in my improvised dark room, and I can still recall that feeling of anticipation from every image I was about to develop. Ever since then photography has become an inseparable part of my life, and along the way my focus and style have also changed and evolved.
‘At the beginning, my main interest was about travel, geometry and some portraits. During my years at University of Architecture in Venice, Italy, my main focus naturally shifted to architecture and buildings. After graduation, I started my own web agency in Bologna and I began to specialise in user interface and user experience design. As a result, the switch to digital photography was an easy step and with that I started to explore the editing process of digital photography’.
You’re based in NYC now, tell us how your photography has changed since making the move from Italy?
‘It’s such a unique city with so many stories to be told, and those stories triggered a new stimulus for my passion when I moved here five years ago. I’m not a writer but I’d like to consider myself a visual storyteller. I like to watch people and travel with my imagination 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. It’s the sort of mundane daily things I want to document, and slowly it became a daily routine for me. It makes the world a little closer, especially in NYC’.
Tell us more about ‘Street Fauna’.
‘”Street Fauna” started as my Instagram account dedicated to street photography. I wanted to open it since my focus in the years was shifting more and more on this kind of photography and I didn’t want to mix it with all the other photography already present in my personal account @casapalazzo.
‘Now basically it is my principal account name across different social accounts for photography. The name is a pun; in Italy we use to refer to “fauna” as the diversity of the population in a city, so I wanted to make this game with my nickname.
‘My pictures are 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 often reflected in my style: the high-contrast look and the intimacy of the subject. I always have a little camera with me and I’m ready to use it. My photographs are like a puzzle of life fragments’.
Can people purchase any of your photography work?
‘Yes, I had so many requests that I decided to open a quick account with photoshelter to sell prints and various framings. I never thought of doing that, but so many people were asking so why not?
‘The famous photo of the Flat Iron Building will be also a limited edition print in a big format, signed, numerated and sold through a New York Art Gallery. I’m refining the details so if someone is interested, just write me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘All the other prints can be purchased here‘.