TPL: When you step into the street, how do you engage your camera? What is it that inspires the click of the shutter?
MB: The answer to that can be so variable in reality. It depends on the day, and on what I want to focus on. Most days I’ll have a project to develop, therefore I’ll be taking pictures that I’ve already thought about a lot; I know in which direction I need to go; granted that in street photography you can never really know what you are going to get out of the day, I generally try to leave the house knowing with clarity at least what I want to communicate. I’ll have ideas, images, which I will then look for out in the streets.
Other days I’ll pick up the camera because I feel the need to take some time to think about other things that are going on in my life, in which case I’ll not pose any restrictions to my work and just let the camera be guided by the streets and by my curiosity.
I also like to reserve some days for exercising, go back to the basics and focus on very specific photographic elements throughout the day, for instance a specific color, or a texture, or a picture that I have seen someone else do and I want to copy. I personally find copying other artists so useful when it comes to progressing artistically, it feels like learning the grammar of a language, so that when you know the grammar and, more importantly, you have something to say, you can then write it down.
More generally, I always seek inspiration in a variety of artists and art forms, the furthest away they are from what I’m trying to do, the better. To put it in legendary jazz musician Miles Davis’ words: “I listen to everything EXCEPT jazz”. Contamination between different ideas, cultures and art forms is essential to produce novelty, at least in my opinion, and it’s kind of what I always try to do myself. Music is a big one for me, I always get great inspiration from it. Sometimes, when I listen to music, read a book or watch a movie, I get hooked to an idea, a concept or an emotion; other times, inspiration can come from different projects that I’m carrying on in other fields. From there, I begin experimenting until I find a clear path, which can also consist of just one or two pictures, that I think will lead me to something bigger and more articulate. Once I reach this stage, it’s mostly about trusting my instinct and my work process until the project feels finished.