Congratulations to our Top Pic of the Week, Chris Saccente! Chris enjoys capturing the spontaneous lives of New York residents. As long as he has his camera in hand, he is bound to capture something interesting. Read on to learn more about the production of these photos.
*All photos are untitled, are 35mm film scans and are from New York City, 2018.
I’ve had a camera in my hand since since I was probably around 9 years old. I remember my parents sent me to day camp for the summer with a 35mm compact point and shoot and I would come back having shot the whole roll. I made some accidental double exposures and I guess that got some good responses with my family so they kept buying me film. When I got older I would film my friends skating and got pretty serious with cinematography and video editing. Aside from already using film I think this is where my commitment to film is strengthened. Film just has a cinematic quality to it that I admire so much, it’s difficult for me to achieve the same look with a digital camera. I sometimes use digital, but if I get an image I’m proud of I always just wish it was on film. When I stopped skating I would frequently carry a 35mm film compact on me just because it felt natural to have at least something on me. I found an Olympus Mju2 at a flea market back in 2012 and that jump started me back into photography. Seeing great results from such a little camera was exciting. I still bring that camera out occasionally with me till this day. I will not leave home without a camera.
As for my style, that’s tough. I don’t intentionally go for a specific subject or anything really. I walk around New York City for hours and photograph what I find interesting. Recently, if I intentionally go out to shoot I’ll try to walk 10-20 miles in whatever weather conditions. Often times I shoot people, but not all the time. I believe it was Winogrand that said, “All things are photographable.” I observe and react. I try not to really think at all when I’m shooting just click the shutter when the moment presents itself or when I feel the time is right. Most of the pictures I take are not good at all, but it’s extremely rewarding when I get a good one. Henri Cartier Bresson once said, “It’s seldom you make a great picture. You have to milk the cow quite a lot to get plenty of milk to make a little cheese.” If good pictures were cheese I’d barely have enough to put on a cracker.
Most people I’ve heard describe my work as “street style” or put it into the category of street photography. I don’t necessarily call myself a street photographer or use the term often. I like to make pictures anywhere and everywhere I go because I enjoy making pictures and that I believe is the the most important part. The love and the desire to go out and make pictures simply because it’s so much fun. I’m happy with a camera in my hand, always was and always will be.
Occasionally there will be circumstances where sometimes a subject or someone does not agree with what I’m doing. I believe the important part here is to always keep a positive attitude and be ready to talk at all times. It’s also very important to gauge your surroundings to know what reactions you might get if you have more of an apparent approach. I personally love to joke around and I’m a bit of a goofball. A lot of times if I’m apparent I’ll have a quick one liner or a compliment ready right after I snap the frame so I still catch the original moment I wanted and diffuse any confrontation before it even starts. I also do love talking to strangers and often I’ll strike up a conversation with potential subjects or characters without even photographing them. I always try to put positive energy back into the street because it’s the street that will deliver. I love to make people laugh, and if I can make a perfect stranger or strangers laugh it puts myself and everyone around me in a better place. It sounds cheesy but if someone catches you, stand your ground, be honest and be your best self.
For gear, I generally use my Leica and either 28mm or 35mm lenses, more so the 28mm. I also use the Olympus mju2.
I’ve been shooting more color film recently so I’ve been using Kodak Portra400/Portra800 or Lomography Lomo400/Lomo800. For Black and white I’d use Ilford Delta400 push 800. If I share scans online my rule of thumb for digital editing is only if it can be done in the darkroom.
I gain inspiration from seeing the beauty in every day life that most people don’t or just ignore. I’m also inspired by looking at good pictures. I have quite a few photo books from well known published artists, contemporary artists, peers and even friends. At the end of the day a good picture is a good picture and there is always room for good pictures.