Interview with Massimo Capodanno, Photojournalist of Positano
1. We are curious to know how life is in a wonderful place as the Amalfi Coast. Tell us who you are, what your job is, what life is like in Positano and surroundings?
I’m a photojournalist, I have worked for the Ansa Agency from 1973 to 2007. When I was younger, I liked to paint and sculpt: my passion for life and expressions fixed in a precise moment, as in a painting or in a sculpture, has inevitably led me to love photography. I worked in Milan as an art photographer taking photos of artists’ vernissages, for Jeff Vickers in London assisting photographers such as Mark Hammilton and Duncan Willet, in Rome for Rai and Il Messaggero shooting photos related to entertainment, politics, current affairs. In 1973, at ANSA, I discovered crime news, thus approaching the crudeness of the events caught in real time. In 2007 I moved to Positano. Today, I love capturing the city with my camera, its inhabitants, the daily life of the vertical city, which rises from the sea to the mountains, with its cultural, recreational, religious and political events. Positano is an active city, full of people who know how to live every single moment with enthusiasm, just like in a picture, but as part of a changing whole.
2. What do you do when you don’t work? How do young people have fun when they go out with friends? And what about the elders? Do they have any recreation areas to spend their time?
Actually I always work, because I have fun with it. I never stand still, I always go out with my Nikon, faithful companion of many adventures. Young people in Positano usually have fun with the many events organized by the youth organization Officina, or sports, like football, with the San Vito Positano team, going to the disco, gathering at their meeting places, as all young people do. And so the elderly, they meet by the wall of the New Church, to chat about things going on in the town or play bowls at the Cascata or cards in the bars of the Marina Grande.
3. Let’s play. Close your eyes. Visualize Positano and answer without thinking it through: what image comes up to your mind? What colors? What sounds? What smells?
It’s not a difficult game, because before each shot my heart and my brain have already given shape, color and smell to the image that I will produce. In this moment, closing my eyes, I can only think of the color of the sea when I go fishing alone or with my friends. The scent of basil and lemons that I get from my garden every morning when I open the window. But above all, the beautiful sound of silence in which my house is wrapped, the silence that descends from the mountain and meets with the silence that rises from the sea.
4. If for some reason you were forced to leave your land, your town, one day, what would you miss most and why?
I would miss those colors, those sounds and smells. I would miss the sea, always equal to itself, but different every day of the year. The sea, able to infuse peace when it’s calm and flat as a board, but also fervour, desire to live and be part of the world when it’s stormy, when it rails with force against the rocks and wants to show everyone that he is the master, who decides the fate of men and things.
5. The Amalfi Coast is one of the most sought after tourist destinations during the summer season. We are curious to know, though: how is the Costiera in winter? How is life in the Amalfi Coast during the winter season?
Let’s say that… many children are born in September. I think that this says it all. Anyway, until the Epiphany, there are many events to entertain our locals, guests and tourists who love the sea in winter. Positano, I repeat, is an active city, full of cultural and leisure events, so the “cold season”, if we may so call it so, is not a period of cosmic void where everything stops and sadness and resignation reign. Here we know how to fill our days. We are a small community able to take care of ourselves.
6. If you were a traveler, what should you NOT miss out on in your trip to the Amalfi Coast, apart from the classic tourist routes?
A walk along the Path of the Gods. Unfortunately, only a few tourists, in proportion to arrivals, engage in this small but amazing adventure. The Path of the Gods is so called because it may be not so different from the landscape of the Olympus. The path is the best place to admire the Divine Coast and the towns and villages that prop against the sea.
7. The Amalfi Coast is famous for its handicrafts. In your opinion, which of these are the most representative of your homeland?
Ceramics, Limoncello and handmade sandals. Positano, in particular, has always been one of the most “crafty” towns of the Costiera, especially with regard to clothing and accessories for ladies. But the beauty and uniqueness of the coast is the fact that, all within a few kilometers of each other, each town is famous for its specific product, for the processing of a material or a fruit of the earth. In short, you won’t find the sandals we do here anywhere else, but also Vietri ceramics are unique, as well as coral jewellery in Ravello.
8. When you decide to eat out, do you have a favorite restaurant? What’s its name? What are the delicacies you usually order? What kind of wine do you pair with them?
You can eat well anywhere around the Costiera. The restaurants I love are La Buca di Bacco, on the main beach, where my favorite dishes are: Grilled Swordfish with Fried Potatoes, Paccheri pasta with Redfish and a dessert called “Splendida.” The other restaurant I usually eat at is Mediterraneo, in Fornillo, where I always order Spaghetti and Clams or Scialatielli with Seafood, and Strawberry Cake or Lemon Delight as dessert.
9. Can you think of a work, a ‘famous’ quote, or a book, a song or a movie, that could “capture” the true spirit of the Divine Coast? Can you tell us why?
U.S. writer John Steinbeck, watching the girls of Positano working with the lace pillow wrote: “The nimble fingers of the girls working with hundreds of bobbins make you dizzy, but they raise their heads calm and laughing and chatting as if they had no awareness of their magic fingers. Some works are truly amazing. I have admired a tablecloth, it was a cobweb intricate as a thought. Fifty girls had worked on it for a year.” This is Positano, desire and joy of living, but also work and passion for the things you do every day.
10. What is your blog / website about? And why did you decide to carve yourself a little space on the web?
It’s always been stronger than me: I can’t sit on my hands all day. Even now that I’m retired, the thought of doing nothing kills me. I’ve always loved expressing myself through photography, showing my photos, creating something. At the Agency I’ve learned to capture true things always respecting others, to find news in the small and big facts of life. In Positano, I discovered my love for the sea, boats, fishing, fishermen, people and characters who live a real life, difficult but passionate. These are the reasons of this wacky idea of creating a blog a bit different from others. I would like to tell with my friends and workmates, Nikon and Leica, about the things that strike my curiosity and imagination, and try to give life to everything I’ve learned in my private and professional life. I don’t like to break rules, I always try to tell the truth, to capture expressions and moments by describing the fact, which shapes the news. And then I collect everything on my Blog.