Interview: Giuseppe Santamaria
With images shot for Mr Porter, GQ Australia and Harper’s Bazaar, a recently released photographic book and the much loved website ‘Men in this Town’ under his belt, Giuseppe Santamaria is a street fashion blogger paving the way for Aussie style snappers.
With Giuseppe’s images now appearing in numerous campaigns around the world and the launch of a sister website ‘Women in this Town’ a little over a year ago, Santamaria has certainly established himself as a true triple threat in the online world.
Last week, Makers of Melbourne met up with the Canadian born, Sydney based lensman, as he celebrated the Melbourne launch of his style bible ‘Men in this Town’ at Henry Bucks’ flagship Collins street store.
According to Santamaria, ‘Men in this Town’ was originally inspired by a personal need to develop his skills behind the camera. The softly spoken Giuseppe made the clever decision to start a blog in his adopted hometown of Sydney, a city lacking in sartorial snappers.
Santamaria: “There were older photographers like Saul Leiter, who had always inspired me and I loved seeing the romance in his shots. I always wanted to get into photography, although I wanted something solid to focus on. Menswear was something that I was interested in and street style was just starting to emerge and become popular in 2010, so I decided to go with that. It made sense to start in a city that didn’t have much of that going on. It was probably something that was unique at the time, and very niche focussing on men. It just took on a life of its own.”
With a background in Graphic Design, and (until recently) a full-time gig working as the deputy art director for Good Weekend Magazine, Santamaria immediately saw the value in creating his own “personal style column” and although there were many days spent out on the streets only to return home without shooting a single frame, he found the thrill of the chase was motivation enough to keep going.
Santamaria: “It was the challenge that I liked about it. I could walk the streets for a whole day and not get a single image. But it was nice to have the chase to go along with it. I did Sydney for the first 2 years solid and I managed to get a lot, it was about being persistent and as the menswear scene has grown there’s been a lot more to photograph.”
Once ‘Men in this Town’ began to attract serious attention, Santamaria made the tough decision to quit his day job and focus on building a personal brand. There was a book deal pitched to publishing house Hardie Grant and only 2 weeks before he was due to leave his job at Fairfax, he was advised that his work would be printed in hardcover.
Santamaria: “I just needed to take that leap. There were more opportunities coming in and it seemed like the best time to do it. It was hard to choose the images for the book. There are a lot of old pictures in there that I wanted for sentimental value, but at the same time there’s only so much that you can print. I don’t think a lot of photographers necessarily know how to edit, but being from a design and editorial background I know how to kill a photo.”
With a second book, ‘Women in this Town’ due for release in mid 2015, Giuseppe is about to jet off on a whirlwind trip around the globe to find and shoot subjects for the new tome. Although ‘Women in this Town’ initially started life as a side project, the astute snapper can see the value in putting his own unique spin on women’s street style.
Santamaria: “When I’m looking for women [to photograph], it’s the same as when I’m looking for men. It’s a confidence and an almost masculine energy. It’s a bit of a challenge, because of my natural instinct, so it’ll be interesting to see what shots I come away with, and if they [his subjects] are more masculine or feminine.“
Starting in March and with only a month and a half to shoot, Giuseppe will be covering six cities including London, Paris, New York, L.A and, Makers is pleased to hear, Melbourne.
Santamaria: “What’s great about Melbourne is that it’s more expressive, more creative. There’s a bigger artistic community and it’s more, for lack of a better term, New York like, where Sydney is more L.A. The cultures are very different, and there’s more of a buzz, more experimentation here, whereas Sydney is more laid back.”
Santamaria: “It’s an intense schedule, but I work best under pressure. You know, at first I was scared about trying to make a living from my passion, trying not to loose the shine of the task, but if you do it your own way and be true to yourself it can work. I don’t have ambitions to create something massive, I’m happy for it to be a nice small project. I get to travel and money’s not an issue - not that it’s something that was a great concern for me - As long as I can make a living and I get to travel too, what else do you want? Money can’t buy happiness. Be surrounded by good people, be a good person, that’s what I care about.”