Why do you like shooting with primes over zooms?
"It's what Robert Capa said, 'If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough.' For me, it's not about physical distance, but emotional distance. You cannot get emotionally close with a long lens. When you use zoom, you aren't encouraged to get closer to people, and you're not shooting at, for example, 35mm, but you can shoot at 38mm, 42mm. This doesn't help you establish empathy with the subjects you're photographing, and your eyes will never learn to see at 35mm."
You've displayed work in some amazing locations, including churches. How important is it for you to exhibit your photographs?
"The main motivation behind capturing images is to share them. When you're documenting conflicts and nobody sees your photographs, it begs the question of why you're risking your life to be there. I'm deeply committed to showcasing images, not just in newspapers and magazines, but also in exhibitions. Whether it's in museums, galleries or places easily accessible to people, including street exhibitions, I always collaborate with artistic directors to curate my exhibitions in a way that fosters interaction between the audience and my pictures."
What inspires you visually and creatively?
"Photography is the art of using light. In a way, as photographers, we are the new painters. So if I need inspiration, I look at Caravaggio, Titian, and many Italian painters of the Renaissance and Late Renaissance. I am more accustomed to looking at paintings than photography because I draw inspiration from that reality, from the use of light, and the construction of the frame. If you see Vincent van Gogh's The Potato Eaters, you'll notice a perfect composition, with different layers and an intimate atmosphere created by light. This is photography."
How do you choose when to use colour versus black and white, such as in your long-term project on the refugee crisis, The Dream?
"Working mostly for editorial platforms, the majority of my productions are in colour since they mostly publish in colour, to enhance the perception with reality. However, when I'm engaged in long-term or documentary projects, I willingly opt for black and white. I've been working on The Dream for over seven years in more than 12 countries, including Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Italy and France, among others, capturing various moments and atmospheres. On one side, I was shooting editorial assignments covering conflicts, and on the other side, I was documenting the consequences – the refugee populations that arrived in Europe. In this case, black and white helped me work on the story at another level and unify the work."
Do you seek to take iconic images or build stories across a body of work?
"More than discussing single frames, I prefer to focus on storytelling and stories. How you edit your images is incredibly important today. Think about a photographer who takes 3,000 shots and needs to select the best 15. If they aren't skilled at editing, they might end up being a subpar photographer. However, a photographer who can select the best frames can become an exceptional one. I've seen many talented photographers struggle with editing, which has led to them undermining their important stories and struggling to find publications and platforms to showcase their work. I highly recommend that the younger generation invests in honing their editing skills. I believe that how you tell the story is more crucial than capturing a single outstanding image. Sometimes, you have to 'sacrifice' your best picture to convey the essence of your story and reportage."