One of the first things we learn when we’re photographing people is to make sure their eyes are in focus. Italian contemporary street photographer Salvatore Matarazzo often takes this fundamental portrait photography lesson to his bold work. In his most recent series, he especially dedicated a collection to some of the eyes he met while out in the streets. Not quite like the posed street portraits usually see or think about, these photos are quirky close-ups that introduce us to the subjects that caught our featured photographers’ eyes.
Armed with a Ricoh GR II and a powerful flash, Matarazzo gets really close to his subjects in Bruce Gilden style, as we’ve previously seen him do in sets like Smoke and Pocket Beach. We also see the same vibrant colors and contrasty imagery brought by the flash and proximity to his subjects. However, his goal was not simplyto capture them as candidly as possible — he also made sure we get fixated at their eyes.
We can say that the set’s title alone — Eyes From The Street — is a suggestion of what viewers should look for (and look at). Still, it’s also evident in the way he captured most of his subjects: positioned at the center of the shot, eyes either wide open and staring straight at the camera, or closed as if in defiance to the flash and Matarazzo’s tight framing. In other photos where we don’t see these qualities, we nevertheless still have details that get us looking for eyes, human subjects or otherwise: bright colors, furry faces, stern expressions, and expressions.
As with his other sets, the focus of Eyes From The Street is not to present his subjects accurately. Instead, it gives us a different perspective of something that is otherwise ordinary, like looking at someone’s eyes.