Matteo Patocchi: writing stories with light

Matteo Patocchi is a photographer from Switzerland, who's based in London. I had the pleasure to meet him last summer, and we immediately talked about his work, so the idea of the interview came, and now, here it is.
Matteo opened up about his professional development, life and work in a very direct as well as deep and spontaneous way. I was mostly fascinated by his ongoing project called Out the Window.

How have you discovered the fascinating world of photography?
I always enjoyed practicing different activities and meeting people with different interests and backgrounds. When I was little I practiced sport of athletics, judo, I played football, ice hockey, skater hockey, I was break dancing, skating, snowboarding. I took piano lessons too… I listened to many different music genres and followed their trends, especially in my late teens. So, as you can imagine, I never managed to stick to one thing only for a really long time, but photography seems to have broken all this as I've been photographing on a regular basis for so many years now.
When I was a child my parents gave me a flashy green plastic camera that magically printed an icon of a ninja turtle on the bottom corner of every photo. Only whilst studying graphic design though I realized that photography was giving me much more than just a fun time to play: it was giving me the chance to express my feelings towards people and life. I've a lot of black & white negatives collected from those years, it was late 90's/early 2000's, and although today I work predominantly with digital photography, I'm grateful I had the chance to experience the conversion from analog into digital.

What does it mean to be a photographer, to you?
When I was little I wanted to be a writer and now I feel I can write my stories with light, although I'm first of all a reader of the world rather than a writer. Photography is like a passport to gain access to new places, meet new people and live outside the box. When I'm taking photographs it feels like starting the first chapter of that book you always wanted to read. It's exciting as there are many stories to dig into or create from scratch.
My grandfather once wrote me a note "I hope photography will take you even where it should not take you". There's poetry, thrill and mystery behind his words and these are some of the main reasons why I have chosen to be a photographer.

What does photography teach you?
Photography teaches me something new about the world and the people living here every time I shoot. The people I've met and the experiences I ended up into since I started photographing are countless. My camera is a mean for me to get to know people and thanks to these encounters I learn new things about myself and the world. Photography is my passion and my job and I like to go wherever it takes me. Depending on what I'm working on, it also teaches me to stay young, imaginative and playful.

What’s your favorite thing about being based in London?
London is one of the greatest creative hubs in the world and the strongest melting pot I've ever seen. I like it because it constantly keeps me interested in the world and it's rich in culture. I like it also because there are 5 international airports and it feels like living on a platform. It's nice to know that I'm connected with the rest of the world in so many ways.

Lately you've been going back and forth between London and New York for collaborations and new projects: do big cities have a particular influence on you and your work?

The places I visit and the people I meet are very strong influences. I find the balance between urban and natural environments extremely important and I love city life because it keeps me alert and able to meet up with a large international community. It constantly teaches me a lot about others and about myself too. City life can be vibrant; its rhythm and multiformity constantly trigger my inspiration.

What or who would you like to photograph, sooner or later? And why?
Unseen landscapes and more people: they are the things that make me feel alive. I would pick different subjects, bring them to different cities or to the edge of the land, on the coasts, in the desert and shoot a new fictional story with each one of them.
There's a quote I really like that always fascinated me: "Landscape is not only around us, it is within ourselves". I like the idea of bringing together photographs I've taken during different times of my life and recreate a series of fictional (and less fictional) stories.

How do you take a picture?
I look, think and shoot; sometimes altogether at the same time. I love hunting for locations; the surface of the city and nature are always like a new set for my photographs and natural light plays a very important role in my work too. So the different subjects will trigger my inspiration for a new photographic story but the location itself could help too.
A good read,
art, travels and people will often give me the inspiration and ability to work on a new project.

Through your blog project called Out the Window you’re collecting pictures from all around the globe showing a window and a segment of the panorama. Can you tell us something more about it?
Out the Window started out very spontaneously: looking out the window of my room and taking snapshots when I was a teenager. It was the 90's and I started taking film photographs out this window noticing that the seasons, the weather or the light at a different time of day changed the atmosphere of that landscape I was looking at every day.
When I moved out of my family home I decided to start a personal blog with pictures taken out the window so that my relatives could dream with me out the window, wherever I was.
And today this project is still a work in progress and has evolved into a blog open for submissions worldwide with the aim of showcasing photographs taken out of windows from around the whole planet.
I like to think about it as a new visual journey that brings us together in an intimate and evocative moment that we all share regardless of where or who we are. The window is such a starting point for new adventures. It never stops to inspire new stories.

Can you please take a picture of your current Out the Window situation?
This picture was taken recently on a airport runway. I've chosen this photo because today I feel in motion like flying.

Images: courtesy of Matteo Patocchi
Text: Laura K. Inserra