Meet the Contributor: Antonio Balasco.

Meet this week’s Contributor, new IMAGO partner and hailing from Napoli, Antonio Balasco invites us to take a look at his best photojournalist shots from his home and tells of how his passion became a career after a redundancy in IT.

Let’s kick off, how did you get started in photography and why?

As a child I always had a passion for photography. I remember taking my father’s analogue camera from inside the wardrobe in secret and at the age of 16 I had my own DSLR. In my life I had done many jobs before starting to be a professional photographer. I worked in the IT field, I was responsible for the IT department of a large retail chain, bankrupt during the economic crisis of 2013, with the money of the redundancy fund and severance pay, I bought my first professional cameras and took photography from my passion to my career.

What was your first experience with a camera?

My first experience was at maybe my fifth or sixth birthday when I saw my father taking pictures of the cake and like any child I was intrigued by the box; where you put the eye inside and see what is on the other side. As I said before, at sixteen years old at Christmas time I bought my first digital camera, a compact 8 megapixel with which I went around when I went out with friends and photographed my evenings. My first news event was the arrival of Borussia Dortmund on the seafront in a hotel in Naples. The team arrived in Naples to play a Champions League game the next day and an online newspaper asked me to follow the event. Since then I began to follow facts of the Italian sports news, then slowly knowledge of various collaborations have helped me work with the Newfotosud agency, the largest daily newspaper in southern Italy, “Il Mattino”, to which I owe so much of my professional development.

IMAGO / Antonio Balasco
Photo: IMAGO / Antonio Balasco

What five words describe your photographic style or captured message?

My photographic style is purely journalistic. I try to put everything there is to communicate in a shot, this I must say has been the result of whole days viewing images of photojournalists from all over the world, but especially to see my direct competitors in the field on the same event; what they produced, what were my merits or what were the events that have passed before my eyes and maybe I did not know how to look at them. Self-criticism is important to know that you have done a satisfactory job and that ultimately leads you to do better and better in the future.  

What is the best element about being a photographer, and most challenging? 

Being a photojournalist is stimulating because every day there is something to do, like right now I’m answering you from a car. I’m waiting for some water samples for a report on environmental pollution that I’m trying to build. We’re always on the news, as they say in the jargon, you never stop, there are no holidays, there are no Sundays. It’s a continuous chase after all the different facts, you’re the camera and the news and you have to go in, struggling to bring back THE PHOTO.

"I would like to be told frankly these photos suck, or these photos are not useful at all, or these photos are beautiful."

ANTONIO BALASCO
IMAGO / Antonio Balasco
Photo: IMAGO / Antonio Balasco

To you, what is the role photography has in the world?

Historical testimony, at least in our category of photojournalists.

What one important lesson has your work taught you?

Never give up and be prepared to be ready.  

What is currently really getting you frustrated or annoyed?

What annoys me in the fact that no one expresses a positive or negative judgment on your work. I would like to have a closer relationship with photo editors. I would like to be told frankly these photos suck, or these photos are not useful at all, or these photos are beautiful. Receiving compliments and creating a relationship on productivity, to know what kind of photos you need and produce that kind of work. Believe me, we will all be happier.

IMAGO / Antonio Balasco
Photo: IMAGO / Antonio Balasco

If you could photograph any historical event, what would it be and why?

My answer may destabilize someone: I would like to tell more about this historical period, this pandemic. I would like to enter an intensive care ward, which in my region is currently not possible to do. We are then limited to telling its contours, like how we now tell of its damage not only with regard to deaths, but the impact of COVID on the socio-economic situation of the country.  

What does success look like to you?

Success is bringing the fruits of your labor to your family, buying a toy with the money you earned from selling a picture to your daughter.

What’s your go to album to listen to when you’re working right now?

Whoever reads this interview, if they are not Italian, probably does not know the Italian song called A Muso Duro. there is a piece that says I will face life with a hard face, a warrior without a country and without a sword, with one foot in the past, and my gaze straight and open in the future.

Visit our IMAGO site for the full collection from Antonio Balasco.

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