Overhead Compartments

Photographs by Carola Di Poi
Interview via emails, November 2016

What is it that draws you to photography?

The solitude, the quietness, though those are also things that irritate me about photography, when thinking about it long-term. I know that I see things differently, and, however it may be, the camera legitimizes one's view of the world. You can talk less when you take photos, photos can speak for themselves, which I love. I hate photo titles.

Even abroad, many of your photographs turn towards partners, grandparents, family. What is your process when setting out to take a picture?

I like to do a lot of scouting. Whenever I'm in a new place, I try and walk around the same spots at different times of day, and think about pictures I might make. Sometimes with one of my siblings, usually my sister, but then again, all my family, at this point, is used to my asking them to freeze, step back there, stop talking/chewing/smiling, etc, so that also plays a huge part.

They're the best, and legitimately supportive. They also get prints sometimes, so I think that's an important part of it for them too, they're more likely to be patient. My sister bought me my first plastic camera senior year of college, which is probably my favorite, so she gets all the credit.

How does photography play a part in the way you experience place while traveling?

I have to be in the mindset to take photos. I usually want to be alone, not talking to anyone, not distracted. I approach photography so differently depending on what camera I'm using, so it kind of all depends. I try to take my film cameras on trips, so I slow down, I choose slowly, whereas with digital, I can think less about what I'm doing. I don't blast away like I probably used to, the older I get, the less pictures I come back with, but the better they are, I think.

Humans feel so important to your choice of subject matter. What compels you to photograph people?

Everyone has a different face, and story, and people, at their core, respond to someone taking their photo. They may be skeptical, but I've spent so many years patiently waiting for people to let me take their photo, or telling me to go away, that for the right one, I will wait it out as long as it takes. I think people are secretly flattered, though in this day and age, everyone is skeptical about you and warns you not to post it on facebook or instagram, which sucks a lot. People feel respected when you take their photograph, so it's usually a positive response.

What is something that the act of photographing teaches you?

Patience. And boundaries. It's hard to walk away when someone says "no" but you have to.