ART: Mark Manzi - "Connecting with your subject is key."

Written by: Violet Myers

These days it’s pretty easy to be fooled into thinking you’re Britain’s next big photographer. Everyone and their mother can take a half decent photo with an iPhone and a SnapChat filter. It’s in focus, they’ve got their eyes open and you didn’t even drop the camera. Maybe you are a genius? Perhaps you’ve finally found your artistic calling? Very possible. But before you hand in your notice down at the abattoir, take a look at Mark Manzi’s gorgeous shots… Yeah and that is how it’s done.

We caught up with the gifted young photographer in the hopes of understanding how he pulls it off.

What were you doing before you took photos?

“I was doing a lot of graffiti with a good friend of mine Ben, he still works within that field. Me and him were obsessed with typography and the whole culture around tagging / skateboarding. I also used to produce a lot of music, back then it was a popular thing to do with friends.”

Your portraits are so vibrant! What do you think makes a great portrait?

“While I was studying photography at college Laura (my teacher at the time), set me a brief to photograph strangers in the street. After snapping over 80 people, I started feeling comfortable talking and engaging with people and then getting that good shot.”

 

If the person isn’t comfortable with you, it’ll come across in the photograph. Connecting with your subject is key.

We see you’ve snapped some real life celebrities! What was it like papping Noel Fielding and Sam Smith?

“Funnily enough, those shots were very much like a large collection of my work, all spontaneous. I work in Soho so I bump into a few famous faces every now and then while I’m out. They were both lovely, I actually spoke to Noel quite a bit and he was keen on helping me get more shots. I think it’s all about how you are with people, if you’re nice they’ll be nice back. I’ve worked with other famous faces and I enjoyed it all, most of them are just cool people.”

Where’s the best place in London to pull some serious shapes?

“Honestly, I think North London has definitely won me over since my move from sunny Manchester. I also quite like East London, it’s got some nice parts.”

Where’s the best place in London to have a bang up lunch?

“I actually really like The Finsbury, it’s right next to Manor House station and the pizzas there are surprisingly tasty. I’ve been going there for quite some time now and the pizza is still banging.”

When was the last time you said “oh helllll no!”

When I ate a large amount of wasabi thinking it was some sort of mashed up veggie thing. I thought I was going to die.

Who, alive or dead, would you most like to photograph?

“I think I’d have taken a good photo of Martin Luther King Jr, he was quite an important figure.”

Do you have a favourite photo of your own?

“There is a photo I took of a woman in Milan with her shirt aligning up with a wall. She had no idea, it all happened really quick but I was really happy that I caught it. I find it satisfying to take a photo people can only assume is staged.”

Are you photogenic or do you prefer to stay on the other side of the camera?

“My mum says so but I’m happiest behind the camera, without a doubt. Although sometimes I do think it’d be nice to actually see myself in photos. I tend to hear the line “bring your camera’’ quite a lot before going to places, I think I’ve accepted my role within my friends and family.”

Mark himself.... To think he said he wasn't photogenic!

If your work were a 90’s RnB classic which would it be?

“Backstreet Boys – ‘I Want It That Way’. Simply because it’s got bags of nostalgia, which is what I’d like my photos to have and I think the title reflects how I feel when I take a photograph.”

Complete this sentence: “If I wasn’t a photographer or an artist I’d be a…”

“I would be a chef. Food is very important to me, I would say it’s almost impossible to describe how I feel when I eat good food.”

To check out Marks portfolio and purchase his book ’21’ go to Mark Manzi.

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