Andrea Torrei | Rome, Italy

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Hello, Andrea tell us something about yourself and how you got into photography?
My passion for photography started in my childhood. I remember all the magazines laying around in our house. They were full of photographs - long reportages about wars, political and social fights and travel photographs, countries which I dreamt about to visit once I would be a grown-up. 

I grew up in the 70s and 80s in Rome, Italy. It wasn’t an easy time. „La dolce vita“ was gone. Kidnapping and murders occurred often along with political turmoils while the Catholic church entered our private lives. During that time I travelled a lot around Italy and was able to observe workers on strike and women who fought for their rights. All these memories shaped me very much as a person. Anyway, I can say photography shaped my path, my choices of studies and work. I have graduated in Political Science and worked in the social field for many years.

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Have you ever dreamed about to become a photographer? 
Well, I have never dreamed about being a photographer. It was more a coincidence. There was a time I didn’t have a job, there was the economic crises and the world turned upside down. This was the start for me to grab a second hand camera and start shooting. I took the camera with me all day long, even in the supermarket. One came to another -  books, visiting exhibitions and workshops made my passion for photography grow.

When you started with photography, you tried different genres. Finally, street and reportage photography are your favorite type of expression. Can you explain us why?
Yes, I started trying different genres and I am very happy I did.  For example landscape and macro photography helped me a lot to understand light, colors and details. But the results of my work never convinced me to get more into details. Street and documentary photography were the unavoidable conclusion. 

But I have to say, that I don’t express myself through this genres. I feel very comfortable walking the streets and connect with people and strangers. I enjoy to capture their stories with my camera. This is a journey and a search of who I am. With time I started to understand that it doesn’t matter to come back with a good picture. It’s more about the good experiences that go along with them.

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You submitted a series you recently shot in Armenia, a country you always wanted to travel. Can you explain us why?
Since I’ve graduated I wanted to travel to Armenia. Finally last summer I could fulfil my wish.

Tell us something about the life of the people from Armenia?
They say, that the Armenian hospitality is legendary. I can absolutely confirm this statement. I seldom experienced in my life such a warm welcome. This country has managed to save its own tradition and culture after several years under the Soviet rule.

It is not an easy life, but I have met so many women, strong workers, who are very optimistic by looking confident into the future. There is one example. One day, I got lost in the suburbs of Yerevan. It was a very hot day - the streets were deserted. All of a sudden a women took my arm brought me to her house. She called her neighbours, other ladies and we ended up eating fruits and drinking iced juice. As a present they gave me a fan, which I keep with love. This is Armenia and his people.

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How important is travelling for you? Is there a place in the world you would like to photograph? Traveling is a part of me and a kind of nourishment… I am very curious and strongly believe that we don’t need to go far away to exotic places to make good photographs. Usually, I like to go back to places I already know and experience in a new way. I am sure I will go back to Ethiopia and Asia, where I have worked.

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Has photography changed your life?
Yes, a lot. It changed my perspective of life and awareness of it. And it is an incredible adventure and discovery of myself as well.

Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
From Italy, I would name Letizia Battaglia and her many reportages about “Mafia”. Tina Modotti, for her adventurous private life. Nan Goldin is in my heart. 

There are so many works of female photographers I love and follow.The list would be too long to name them all. I very much enjoy seing a lot of young female photographers committed and producing great works. And it is very funny to hear, and not too rarely, that there are no femalephotographers, isn’t is?

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