Interview with Mauro Benedetti

Mauro Benedetti is one of Rome Photography Workshop’s photography leaders. He specializes in the Morning Light, City Night and Street Photography tours and the post-workshop review sessions. His award-winning work has been published in several books and magazines. He is currently authoring a book on street photography and preparing for a series of New York City Popup workshops.  Read more about him here.

Mauro Benedetti in New York City. Photo by Livio Mancini (2014).

How long have you lived in Rome?

Since I was 13 years old. I was born in Palermo and spent part of my childhood in Siracusa. I have also lived in London, Amsterdam and Milan. I currently spend two months each year in New York.

Where are the top places you traveled and photographed in the world?

New York, the American Southwest (Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado); Israel (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Hebron); South Africa; Honduras.

Who was your top influence / teacher of photography?

I started documentary photography with Livio Mancini, who influenced my style in a sort of Japanese documentary way. I developed a humanistic angle after a long session with Alex Webb. I’m constantly evolving my style through the study of contemporary trends in street and documentary photoraphy and through my personal connections with leading European photographers.

What is the trickiest part about doing photography in Rome?

To go beyond the cliché and capture the uncovered self of the City.

What is your favorite thing to shoot in Rome?  

I like to frame the theatrical aspects of Romans inside the beauty of the traditional environment. My knowledge of streets and places which stretch outside and beyond the well-known tourist places allows me to present angles which are both unusual and compelling in that they frame the City in an unexpected way.

Who are your favorite photographers?

Alex Webb; Livio Mancini; Georgie Pinkhassof; Anders Petersen; Deido Moriyama; Letizia Battaglia; Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

What are your go-to cameras ?

Right now my go-to camera is the Leica Q, followed by the Leica M and Ricoh GR.

What time of day do you prefer to shoot?

Early to mid-morning but not sunrise. Afternoon when the sun starts to have the proper angle – in the Winter that’s around 2pm; 4 pm in Spring; and from 6pm in the Summer.

Are there any places or monuments in Rome that are harder than others to get good shots?

Most of the classical venues are very difficult to shoot. The Colosseum is very hard because of its orientation relative to the sun and the visual chaos around it. It’s also difficult to photograph Saint Peter’s, not the church itself, but all that surrounds it – due to recent antiterrorist measures. And it is super difficult to have nice pictures of the historical center because of the pervasive presence of parked cars.

What should someone visiting Italy simply not miss?

In terms of photography only: for landscape, Val D’Orcia (Tuscany). For a totally unique environment, Venice – outside the tourist flow. The markets and nightlife in Palermo for street photography; and of course Rome because it has one of the best photography environments in the world along with NY, Paris, Tokyo and London. It’s among the 5 top street photo locations.

Please share your personal favorite shot of Rome and share why you are proud of it:

Photo by Mauro Benedetti (2015).

It’s a sort of a description of Italy – a beautiful woman disappears inside a doorway, the unabashed object of everyone’s gaze. Most Italians are attracted by even a fleeting passage of beauty. Beauty freezes time and space.

Where can one see your photography?

Online – www.mbenphoto.com for top galleries, shows and press. Follow me on Facebook for my ongoing stream of imagery.

Finally, where is your favorite place for gelato in Rome?

The granita in the Sicilian bar next to Piazza Cavour – Il Catanese. There’s also Fatamorgana for gelato.