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Francesco Martinelli : Pure and honest street photography

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 26th of February 2021

I'm really thrilled to introduce you to Francesco Martinelli  - a fine and excellent street photographer - because sometimes it feels as if we haven’t enough street photography on 1x in spite of some very talented artists - in fact, we need a kind of revival. 

Francesco is one of those artists.  He loves to observe human activities and their interaction in the urban context. To him, street captures must be true and honest, consisting of moments that really happened. A decisive moment lasts only 1/1000 of a second.  That is what excites Francesco the most. 
He says: “In my opinion, true joy is not the post production but the way you are able to catch the moment”.
Enjoy this gallery of great images and enjoy as much as I did.
Don't forget to smile or to be touched ;-)


'he's watching'


Dear Francesco, please tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
Before starting to answer the questions, I want to thank the entire editorial team and particularly Yvette for introducing me to the public through this interview.  I really feel honoured.

I was born in Florence and I deeply love my city. The office I'm working in is right behind the Uffizi. I deal with topography and I am surveyor. Basically, my profession is to measure the earth, trace roads, buildings and tunnels. I live in the countryside in the Chianti area because I find it more relaxing and also because I like good wine. I live with a beautiful woman and I have a son. I like sports; I have been swimming competitively for many years, but now I stopped. I also like to walk and to do outdoor activities. I love rock music and psychedelic rock, which are a fundamental part of my life. My favourite group "as my logo shows" is Pink Floyd and I love to listen to their music again and again. I never get tired; they are my vital energy! And last but not least, my strong passion for street photography.


'Watch out! It's slippery'



'the other side'



'urban glamour'


How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
What I especially like to photograph are the people on the street in their daily life.
I really like to observe human activities and their interaction in the urban context.
In my opinion, the “street” must be true and honest, composed of moments that really happened.
I like trying to capture the decisive moment, or a particular situation, better if it’s humorous.
I imagine to be able smile through a shot, even for a single moment, and it makes me happy.





'if I catch you'



'3813 Vs 3814


I constantly try to imagine interesting situations even if all this is very difficult in the street! A great photographer called Cartier-Bresson talked about "capturing the decisive moment", unfortunately it is not a simple thing in the ‘street’, because the perfect image lasts only 1/1000 of a second; you can’t ask the subjects to pose. This is what excites me most, and I’m so happy when I get a result. In my opinion, true joy is not in the post production but in the way you are able to catch the moment.



Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
I started with photography very early, I remember that I was fourteen years old and with the first money I earned working during the school holidays. I bought an analogue canon (ae-1 program if I am not mistaken) and then also a photographic enlarger. I started to print black and white using the bathroom as a darkroom, sticking the prints directly on the mirrors and glass. I can still hear my mother's screams! I still remember it… so, in order to satisfy my constant desire, I went out on the street to photograph people.



What first attracted you to photography?
What attracted me first was to catch a certain moment in life for ever and to be able to review it. What I like in the street, is its faculty to remind me precisely of the moments I lived. I think it's wonderful!


'love is in the (h)air


Describe your overall photographic vision.
I think that photography is generally beautiful. Scrolling through the categories of 1x we find great artists, from abstract to wild life. Particularly, I l love those who do creative photography and those who get up very early in the morning to be able to see a sunrise and come back several times if the shots don’t satisfy them. Everything we like to do is beautiful! Concerning my personal photographic vision, I prefer not to define it within parameters, I just try to capture the flow of life, I am not a photographer but I can define myself as a narrator of urban scenes. However, when I photograph the street, I am the happiest man in the world. It’s like being a kid again!  I get curious again and I climb on a chair to see if my mother has hidden the Nutella from me behind the packets of pasta! That said, I call myself a street photographer, but the truth is that photography is beautiful, there are only different nuances.


'everyone on his own way'


Why are you so drawn by street photography?
It is the continuous mental stimulation, the research, to be ready to shoot knowing how you want to treat a certain scene from a photographic point of view. It is that infinite desire that pushes you to look for a new shot which is able to turn a moment into a story just with one “click”.


What makes you angry about street photography?
The trash bins which are always in the middle of the scenic frame you want to build, or people who suddenly step into the scene to take a selfie or to look for something in their bag just in the middle of what you are going to capture. Unfortunately, street photography is made up of moments and the intruder is always lurking.


What is more important to you, the mood/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
If we asked this question to a photographer who deals with architecture or abstract, he would surely answer that technical perfection is of fundamental importance. Or a creative photographer would answer that the mood is of fundamental importance in order to convey particular interior atmospheres, and I think that’s right. Personally, concerning my images, I prefer to give more importance to the story behind it.


'women and men'


What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?  Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
I find it difficult to answer this question. I have sometimes asked it myself too.
The relationship is that, maybe I am what I photograph.
Yes, sometimes I find an interesting location and wait for the capture. This is what attracts me about street photography, it can be translated as a connivance between precognition and fatality. My only problem is that I always have little time…


'ton sur ton'



'I love Bulgaria'



'Social Distancing'


What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I do not give particular importance to my photographic equipment, I just take the image, however I own a Nikon D300 with various Nikon lenses and a Canon 5d MarkIII with a fixed mounted 24-105 f / 4L IS USM.
Unfortunately, such equipment is not ideal for someone who makes the street, because it is too invasive – it should be better to have a small machine in order not to get noticed. Anyway, somehow, I manage.


What software do you use to process your images?
A very banal software capable of managing only levels, dynamic range and few other functions. I have never chosen to buy Photoshop, perhaps because I have always dedicated my passion to catch the moment in the right place at the right time. Who knows, maybe in the future I could dedicate myself to different projects and decide to buy it.


Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
I don't have a default workflow, basically my post-production is based only on few transformation steps, and if I like it visually it means "gone"!


'Giotto's way'


What is your most important advice to a beginner in Street Photography and how do you get started?
I don't feel good enough to give advice, the only thing I could suggest is to follow your instincts, to read a lot to enrich your imagination and to push your boundaries.

Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
I am inspired by photographers who belong to the history of this beautiful art, I can mention Bresson, Erwitt, Berengo Gardin, Salgado etc. I don't try to emulate them, first because obviously I wouldn't be able to do it, and then because I don’t want it.  I only try to get some inspiration from them in order to learn how to tell life through images.


'They are coming...'


Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
I always tell myself that the best photograph I've taken is the one I'm going to take, but to be honest there's one I care about in particular, and it's "the man with the tricorn hat."

I'm excited about the way these children look at the street artist, it's a mixture of curiosity and the joy of seeing what they had never seen. They remind me a famous French poet and writer named Christian Bobin, who once said: 'Children are like sailors: wherever their eyes lay, it is the immense'.


'The man with the tricorn hat'


Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1x is of fundamental importance to me. Here I can find exceptional photographers, who give great inspiration. When a picture of mine is approved by the curators, I feel really happy because it means that my work has been appreciated.


'free road!!!'



'Urban glamour'


it is a pleasure to learn something about you and your photography here dear friend Francesco. Thank you very much. Many thanks also to Yvette for her work as an interviewer.
Hi Hans-Wolfgang, thanks a lot my friend for your continuous interest and support in my photography. I do appreciate it very much! Good light!
What an amazing interview. It is as honest as the photography of this fine artist. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, without filter, with the rest of us. Grazie Francesco
Many thanks Rob! I am very glad that you liked my story, I really appreciate it very much! All the best!
Che bravo sei!! si sente la freschezza, il gusto, l'ironia, la gioia di fotografare. Un vero piacere guardare le tue foto!
Grazie mille Antonio e Giuliana, veramente felice ed onorato per questo vostro gradito commento. Buona luce
Francesco sei davvero grande... in ogni tuo scatto, con pochi elementi, riesci sempre a raccontare una storia e trasmettere sensazioni... !!! Complimenti sinceri per i tuoi lavori e per questa intervista che ho letto con molto interesse. Ciao
Ti ringrazio molto cara Fabiola per queste tue gentilissime parole ed anche per il continuo supporto che ricevo da te. Sono felice ed onorato. Buona luce!
Complimenti, Francesco! Articolo ampiamente meritato, vista l'eccellenza e l'umanità dei tuoi lavori. Buon weekend. :) And thank you, dear Yvette, for this beautiful article. Have a lovely weekend. :)
Grazie di cuore Francesco per il tuo continuo supporto, lo apprezzo davvero tanto! Auguro anche a te un buon fine settimana pieno di meravigliosa luce per i tuoi splendidi click!
Prego, Francesco! Sono io che ti ringrazio, sei fonte di genuina ispirazione... Ciao, buona luce anche a te! :)
Comlimenti Francesco, molta ironia e ricerca nei tuoi lavori. Un sincero apprezzamento anche all'umiltà con cui ti approcci all'intervista.
Grazie infinite Ivan, felicissimo che tu abbia letto l'intervista e altrettanto per aver lasciato questo tuo graditissimo commento, sono onorato! Buona luce
Complimenti Francesco !
Grazie mille Franco, ricevere un tuo apprezzamento è come per me ricevere l'oro! Buona luce!
Complimenti bella intervista ma soprattutto belle fotografie. Ciao
Grazie di cuore Roberto, felice e onorato di questo tuo messaggio, perché ammiro le tue stupende fotografie! Buona luce!
Beautiful, heartfelt interview. I follow Francesco for a while and delight each time he posts something. Especially since the pandemic time, the street photography is such a novel and interesting topic. Personally I appreciate a lot the story in an image, the candid side of it that is not easy to capture. The "decisive moment" is sometimes the millisecond after the its climax and this is where imagination of the viewer is actively involved. Living in NYC I am part of the diminishing street life the way it used to be. We have to adapt constantly. Thank you Yvette for another great story. Looking forward Francesco for your finds.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read the interview Mariuca! I'm very happy and honored for your nice words dear friend! Cheers, Francesco
Complimenti Francesco
Grazie mille Massimo per esserti fermato, sono felice e onorato di ciò. Buona luce!
Congratulations dear Francesco! I admire your work and are very pleased with your fine collaboration, my friend. A real pleasure to put you in the spotlights through this interview. Cheers, Yvette
Thank you so much dear Yvette, I am very happy and honored for having been able to talk to you, for giving me the opportunity to tell a little about my life and my photographic vision. Thanks again, for your kind words towards me. Warm regards!
It is always fascinating to get an insight to the life of a photographer you love and appreciate. Good street photography is for me the essence of photography, and it requires so much empathy and the ability to document a street scene in a way that the emotions and mood will be transferred to a frozen frame. Francesco is doing it so well that I visit his page regularly waiting for a new photo. My deep compliments on this interview to Francesco for sharing his story and photos with us and to Yvette for making it so accessible and such an enjoyable read. Have a great weekend.
Thank you, Arnon! My big pleasure to present such a talented street photographer to our readers !
Thank you very much for your great comment Arnon, I really appreciate it very much! All the best my dear friend :-)
A fine collection of photos and a meaningful interview with a great street photographer. Thanks to all who were involved.
Thanks Hans Martin!
Hi Hans Martin! I'm very glad you enjoyed my story, it makes me happy and honoured! Thank you so much!
What a great article! I love Francesco's work, so it's always very interesting and inspirational to know more about the person behind the composition. Francesco, you are a great street photographer! Congratulations for your beautiful images! Thank you dear Yvette for preparing this beautiful article to share with us.
I fully agree with you, dear Roxana ... Street photography seems to get a little lost lately here on 1x in spite of having great talented street photographers as members. And yes, Francesco's is a great artist when it comes to bring pure and honest street photographs.
Thank you so much dear Roxana, such wonderful words for me! I'm very grateful!