DENNY MAWELLA

 © DENNY MAWELLA

© DENNY MAWELLA

INTRODUCE YOURSELF, WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND?

Mine is a typical suburbian raised kid background. I am talking about the south of Milan, between the Abbiategrasso green subway terminal and the Gratosoglio neighbourhood, where I spent most of my days as a teenager doing basically nothing, hanging out in parks and squares. Then I got into graffiti (for a little time) and, almost simultaneously, I got into photography. Hanging around for the most part of the days influenced my production which is highly street focused and, maybe with a more conscious approach, is still like this. When I say "street" I don't mean just my neighbourhood and the graffiti but everything that was happening and may attract our attention, both between us as friends both looking at the people around.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY? HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THIS TYPE OF MEDIUM

It's always a bit hard for me to explain what I like about photography and I often change my mind. As a kid I was already very curious about it. My neighbour was a photographer and we used to go to his home to play with his son. I remember that sometimes, opening the bathroom door, I could find this red light with rows and rows of films hanging to dry, rather than photos dipped in to the developing tub. Later he moved away. I got back to photography many years later, as I said before, during the graffiti period. I met other people, which are still close friends nowadays, that were getting into this photography thing and from there it all started. We used to have the same opinion about what we like to shoot, even the choice to only use black and white, that was an obsession [laughs]. Later, we switched from digital camera to film. We developed the films at home and at school, we used to sleep the lessons to do prints in the darkroom. It was kind of a nerd period if I think of it now [laughs]. This is what I like about photography, the fact that you don't have to study it at an academic level. It's all about instinct. You shoot what you like, as you like it and with the camera you are more comfortable with. I think that you need some technique, for sure, but it may take just one month of full immersion with tests and then you get it. Also experience counts but, honestly, the only study I would do beside taking photos is discovering about other people productions. It is fundamental for me and also interesting.

This is what I like about photography, the that fact you don’t have to study it at an academic level.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN for YOU BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER IN THE INSTAGRAM ERA?

My first approach to Instagram was pretty ignorant. I was using with no real interest. Now I publish completed works rather than on going projects. In the end it can be a good showcase which, used in a proper way, can give you some good visibility. It rocks. It's a type of media that can really fuel creativity . You can be like "Everyone is good at taking pictures on instagram" but on the long period you can clearly see who is doing it properly and who's not. Real recognises real, in the end (cit.) [laughs].

 © DENNY MAWELLA

© DENNY MAWELLA

 © DENNY MAWELLA

© DENNY MAWELLA

DO YOU ONLY WORK WITH FILM OR ALSO WITH DIGITAL? WHY?

I work a lot with film. In my opinion there's no contest. It gives a better grain to the photos and the feeling you get when looking at them is totally different. Personally, I also have another approach to what I do if I am using film. It's like I was able to imagine the shoot I have to take, the way I want it, and in the end it's almost always as I had it in my mind, especially in the light chromatic result. It makes images more alive and intimate.

HOW DO YOU RELATE WITH YOUR SUBJECTS DURING A SHOOTING? WHAT DO YOU TRY TO GET FROM THEM?

I've been lucky to shoot mostly my friends and people I know, until now. This allowed me to interact with them in a faster and confidential way. Usually I tend to observe a person and get some details I want to stand out. But that's a very personal situation. They're often physical details or behaviours, I don't know...some pose made for mistake, a grimace. These are feature that makes interesting what I am about to shoot. It's an intimate approach that I try to establish with my subject, that's why I was saying I was lucky to shoot, in a working environment, close people. I think it's important that who's on the other side is comfortable and, to make it possible, I try to keep a distance that allow me to give a proper look without being stifling.

IN THE PROJECT SMALL BRIGADE WE CAN NOTICE A DIFFERENT STYLE THAN YOURS USUAL. HOW DID YOU APPROACH THIS PROJECT?

With a lot of appetite [laughs]... It came up like this, for fun. Laura tests lots of recipes she invents and obviously, before eating them she takes like one hundred pictures. In that moment we thought it could be exciting to make a small zine/cookbook, with her recipes, my photos and the graphic layout made by my friend and roommate Nicolò. We wanted the final product to be perceived with a home made feeling and that everything that was cooked and shot was on a kitchen table of an apartment. It has been my first still life. Colored backgrounds, warm living room lights, crazy food colors and the same goes for the plates that Laura collects, they made everything more exciting for us. What we were doing was very instinctive. Gut feeling in every way. Also, the second issue is coming out soon.

 © DENNY MAWELLA x SMALLBRIGADE

© DENNY MAWELLA x SMALLBRIGADE

WHAT WORK ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

I am happy with everything I have done so far. At the moment the Hoodwave Session zine is what I am the most proud of. It's a six hands work, shot by me and Any and directed by Dali. We are long time friends and having realised a product shot in our zone with our own photographic aesthetic, shooting our friends, was pretty unique.

WHO OR WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO PHOTOGRAPH ONE DAY?

Other people's life, maybe around the world.

FUTURE PROJECTS?

Eheh... I have an upcoming project in collaboration with  Hugo, another photographer friend I am working with on a series about Boifava, a south Milan located street. The book is coming out soon, you can see some posters around in town. For 2019 I have another on going project about a Bangladeshis boy which I am very close to, I am following him here and I will follow him through his country. Anyway, that's something we will talk later.

 

instagram.com/dennymawe