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a book by Gaetano Mansi

You might happen to bump into me if you’re taking a stroll in Miami, USA or Cisternino, Italy or Arles, France. I’m the one sitting on the pavement with a camera in his hands, shouting instructions or pleasantries to the model of the moment. The reason why I get into such awkward positions is that for me a low perspective enhances best the style of a dress or a woman’s figure. And the reason why I’m sitting in the middle of the road, and not in a comfortable studio, is that I love to shoot on location, I love to be surrounded by people, wait for the sun to rise or …be run over by a bus.

From down low you get to see the city, any city, like no ordinary tourist does. People all around, they see you just before tripping on you, or they don’t see you at all. But, looking through the viewfinder with one eye, I see people and things move past my main subject, slightly out of focus, generally unaware of what’s going on.

Sometimes, after hundreds of shots, waiting for that magical moment when everything, face, outfit, light, posture, is at its best, I sort of get bored, crave for something different and so open my other eye or move slightly my lens and …there you go: the crowd that only seconds ago was blurred and faceless now  steals the scene.

No more extras but in a leading role, these people pass you by with their extraordinay faces: they are sad, happy, pissed, they talk to each other, or talk to themselves, they shout, smile, eat, munch, make faces.

Face after face you realize that these people on the move, this human crowd you go through, are more entitled to be on the printed page than your model, stunningly beautiful but more or less identical in every frame. Passers by, they are always changing, with authentic expressions on their faces and a lot of stories to tell, stories that you can try to guess from the way they move, the way they dress, the way they smile.

I borrowed the title of this book from a song by Leonard Cohen, one of my favourites long before these pictures were even thought of, one that was often playing in my mind while I was shooting them. I hope the Master won’t take offense!