Photographers Inigo Taylor and Joanna Demarco discuss their street photography project Valletta in 2018.
In early January 2018, Joanna Demarco, a photographer who has always found Valletta an interesting subject, was walking its streets when something struck her. Was there a true contemporary representation of the city of Valletta being depicted to the rest of the world in the year when it was Cultural Capital of Europe?
As Joanna contemplated a photography project which would be both fun and significant, Inigo Taylor, a documentary photographer, was doing the same. They became aware of each other in mid-January, and immediately set to work together to make it happen.
So what is the Valletta in 2018 street photography project all about? Here it is from the photographers themselves.
What is the Valletta in 2018 street photography project?
Joanna: "The Valletta in 2018 project is a street photography collaboration born out of a sense of curiosity to ultimately create a portrait of a city. It started because we felt the need to discover and expose Valletta’s culture in 2018 in all its rawness. We are setting out to explore the true culture of the Cultural Capital of Europe for ourselves, using Instagram and Tumblr as platforms to show Valletta in 2018 as it is happening, day-to-day."
Photography is a tool to tell a story, a way of noticing, of connecting and of playing, all in one. ~ Joanna Demarco
Inigo: "The project is an opportunity to photograph all sorts of different themes around Valletta, so that by the end of 2018, we have an independent record of what goes on beneath the surface. It is also a great opportunity for us as photographers to create work on Valletta during a very important year for the capital and country."
Why do you feel that this photo documentation is important?
Joanna: "Firstly, such photography will document Valletta in the year when it is Cultural Capital of Europe, for the purpose of keeping record and as a point of reference. Secondly, to create an honest perspective of Valletta as a place, beyond the picturesque photos we see of the capital. Valletta is intriguing in its quirkiness and that spirit of the city should be captured and celebrated as it is.
Photography is an excuse to be interested in others and to go out into the world; a passport to ask questions and never be bored. ~ Inigo Taylor
Inigo: "As photographers, we are both interested in the everyday. Situations that can sometimes be regarded as banal or ordinary can tell us as much, if not more, about a place as choreographed events and cultural initiatives. Valletta 2018 is a tremendous opportunity and this spotlight and year of events is a framework and a grand excuse for us to take photographs and work together, letting the project evolve on its own."
Which images work or don't work for the project, in your opinion?
Joanna: "There aren’t rules as such. We are just taking photos of things that catch our eye, through our different perspectives and in our different styles. We both have a keen interest in documentary photography and both prefer images which are somewhat candid and document street life in not-so-typical shots. We will probably develop a clearer idea of how the photos work together when we’re sifting through our images to create a sequence of sorts for an eventual publication or exhibition."
Inigo: "The main aim is that the finished set of photographs is coherent and interesting, and we are taking a less is more approach. A good photograph can sometimes be very loud and sometimes very quiet, so it is balancing this out and pushing hard that makes interesting work. We are using social media as a place to show the work, but are not too fussed about likes and followers. We don't want to flood Instagram or Tumblr with images, but slowly add harshly selected images to build up the project."
Where do you go to take pictures for the project?
Joanna: "Roaming the streets of Valletta in search of nice light and something interesting to capture."
Inigo: "As the project is still fresh, just being in Valletta and getting to know the different aspects of the city is also important. We are looking forward to the different seasons becoming a part of the work, for example."
When did the project begin and when will it be completed?
Joanna: "Valletta in 2018 was launched on 20th January, the same day as Valletta 2018. It will continue until the end of 2018."
What do you plan to do with it when it is completed?
Joanna: "We both believe in tangible photographs and public spaces, and we have a few ideas but nothing concrete. So far, we both agree that we wish for a final exhibition or publication."
Inigo: "We’d like to make something that is accessible to the inhabitants of the city and its visitors. The work is creative in concept but also social, and it is important that it should be seen not just as street photography but as a social record: This was Valletta in 2018."
Meet the photographers:
Joanna Demarco studied photojournalism and documentary photography at the London College of Communication and is currently taking a mentorship by Women Photograph, an international female photography organisation. She has already worked on a few projects linked with Malta.
Inigo Taylor studied photography at the University of Lincoln. He is a freelance photographer and after moving to Malta in 2010, Malta has become the main subject in his documentary photography through several ongoing projects.