10 Favorite Photographs: Salvatore Matarazzo

Bird In Flight asked Italian photographer Salvatore Matarazzo to choose 10 favorite photographs from his project Street Photography Versilia and tell the story behind each of them.
Salvatore Matarazzo Age 36

Street photographer from Viareggio. Studied photography, after that worked as a photojournalist, published his work in Italian newspapers. In 2012, left photojournalism and took up street photography. Worked for ISP, Vieworld Photo Magazine, Street Photography Magazine, and Huffington Post. In 2013, became a member of InQuadra collective and an international collective called Elephant Gun.

— Street Photography Versilia is one of my long-term projects started in 2013. In this project I collect photographic notes on the meetings I do when I’m in the street. I always try to do al l this in an ironic and grotesque manner, reinterpreting the faces of people with the lights and shadows of the flash, so my subjects become icons representing my perspective.

I’m a bit spiteful while I work, I get close to them and “zack”, I take photos without alerting them, but after shooting I stop to talk to them about my photography. I don’t give titles to my pictures, I think that this is a forced choice, I write only the place where it was taken and the year, the rest I leave always the interpretation of the observer, he or she can see as much as the want, or nothing even.


I took this photo in Viareggio in 2016. The lady had a very good look and two beautiful eyes, to add to it there were these two very nice dogs stacked as if they had one body with two heads. Then again, the two red fingers, the ring, the cigarette dangling from her mouth. Everything shown in this image, speaks to me of her character, her history. As background a world in motion, mixed lights, and a well-known symbol that hovers in the air, many will find it a disturbing element, for me it is a fix on which make a further reflection.



A big red man peeps at the door and greets the eccentric girl. Both have their eyes closed, they both communicate with each other. The scarf tied on top of the girl, her hair sticking out like a kind of firelight, the headphones, I like these special ones. I always look for this when I take photographs.



I also love to put people in touch with the environment, here the girl was putting a veil on her head and I waited so that the veil had the same lines of the cathedral before I took the picture. Surprised eyes under the veil, she is surprised that I’m photographing, we live in the world of Facebook and reality shows, and there is still surprise for a picture?

I play a lot on this, I like to experiment with reactions, perhaps my photography is a social experiment, I do not know, I do it with my heart and I love it.



The symbolism of this photo is really important to me. I was at a demonstration of Body Printing in Lido Di Camaiore. It was not a good day for the photos. There were too many people, the other photographers were taking the girls and put them in poses, and I felt like a fish out of water, I did not want a photo pose, I looked for a moment to steal. So I waited with great patience for when the girls got together.

When the moment for shooting was good, the girl in the foreground is beautiful, there are beautiful colors, the written a famous Italian RAI public television, popcorn, Coca Cola and vinyls in the background. There is a strong call to the 50s, an era that has always fascinated me.

I did not want photo pose, I looked for a moment to steal.


It was taken during the Carnival of Viareggio, one of the largest carnivals in the world. A very fascinating event that dates back to 1873, when some rich bourgeois decided to protest against high taxes masquerading as a kind of remedy for discontent.

I enjoyed it a lot at photographing people in masks, and I tried to tell the carnival through the people who live it.



This is a picture in which I am particularly fond of. I took it in 2014 in Viareggio during the Christmas season in a street in the central market. The face of the grandmother is redrawn by the flash, and seems to float in this vortex of red lights, the woman’s expression is surprised but retains its own distinct personality, and in the background the writing in Italian “every expectation, sweet surprise”.

I’m fond of it because of my audience is a child, he made a drawing and sent it to me. This is thing that made me very happy. Knowing that my photos are liked by such a difficult audience as children, I think it’s something to be proud of.



Sometimes I go so close to my subjects that I seem to breathe their own air, I portray them instinctively, if a character I like to feel a strong impulse that draws me towards it, in some cases, I will go ahead and snap furtively, and in others I go and wait behind and wait until they look at me. When I get the expression I like, I click.

Sometimes I go so close to my subjects that I seem to breathe their own air.


Often I try to de-contextualize the scene, to create mystery and tension, in this photo a girl with beautiful blond hair is looking down, highlighting even more her hair. The background is very dark and she seems almost a creature of light.



One thing that does not fail in Versilia, is the sea, and every summer the beach is filled with sunbathers. I like to walk along the coast in search of characters to catch. In this photo, the gentleman saw me walking towards him with my camera and without notice has produced this nice and allegorical beach caricature.



In conclusion, Street Photography is giving me a lot of satisfaction, both from a personal and social point of view. That’s how I like to live on the street, and I think now I can no longer do without. Photographing other people I’m learning a lot about myself, and the first main beneficiary of my photographs is me.

I do not know what I’ll do with SPV, for now I feel that I still have to continue. Every new and interesting encounter is a gift, a moment that I have to be able to exploit, as well as I did in the last picture.

Every new and interesting encounter is a gift.

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