Alex Coghe: The Nasty Project

Photography for me is a reaction to what I have before my eyes. When I look at my work I see memory fragments, parts of my dreams and nightmares and even traces of my mood when I made the picture, but also statements of my visual path.

I am a commercial photographer. This implies a series of rules which are often dictated by my clients. My approach changes when it comes to my personal photography, something different from my work as a commercial photographer. I use a Leica X2 for my commercial work and also my personal photography. Despite my personal photography which represents me as an artist, clearly what helps me pay the bills at the end of the month are the projects on assignment.

When I am shooting for myself I want to be free. So photography for me is a matter of walking and meeting. This is the big difference from my commissioned work. I don’t make plans; I don’t have projects. I am just shooting for myself and I photograph what draws my attention. Just me and the camera walking quickly. I think it is correct to define snapshots as images taken in absolute freedom, made as a reaction to an impulse, independent and unconnected. This is the way I prefer to live photography.

What I Get is What You See

My images shared on the internet are not cropped, using the black-and-white settings, JPG straight from the camera and just corrected a little bit in contrast in post processing. JPG tells no lies. JPG doesn’t forgive. I don’t need and I don’t want flexibility when I make my freestyle photography: what I get is what you see. I want to feel the thrill. And I don’t want to spend my time in front of a computer; I prefer to take pictures.

The Nasty Project

Nasty is the project dedicated to my personal photography. It represents a way to distinguish my artistic activity from that as a commercial photographer.

Nasty is my vision, strictly and proudly monochrome. What about the title of the project? It refers to the statement from Daido Moriyama: “I want to take a lot of nasty pictures.” I think that describes perfectly also my philosophy and approach to the photographic medium. Don’t expect nice and reassuring pictures here. There are my dreams and my nightmares. There is the documentation of life but filtered through my eyes, my mood, my state of mind.

My Vision

Photography, art in general, is close to freedom only when we manage to bring it to our innermost being. The more I photograph, the more I know myself. Photography is not a matter of form for me. I am interested in content. The content should not necessarily be revelation. Or even worse, didacticism.

Photography for me is not a matter of tonal range. Photography for me is instinct, the ability to capture fragments, being able to move through the images in my state of mind. Didascalic photography is terribly boring. My photography doesn’t want to be reassuring. I live in a Mexican barrio, why should I photograph sunsets and flowers? I photograph flowers, but even these through a dark eye, so that I find les fleurs du mal. My photography is not looking at the beautiful. I’m not even interested in the composition. I feel indeed that I must improve in this. I want to be dirtier. The image is the thing that matters. The process is not important, but the idea.

What is originality? Is yet another portrait original? A new shot in the street? Everything is reinterpretation. Everything is reproduction in photography. Decoding is the key. Or, if you prefer, the filter. The photographer through his experience and his cultural heritage is that filter. Sure, I am not talking about technique. For me, I think Charles Bukowski is more important than Henri Cartier-Bresson. There are no rules for the visual inspiration. My photography has several influences. The most important is the music I listen. Motörhead and Type O Negative are important to me as Daido Moriyama or Nobuyoshi Araki.

There is not reality in photography. There may be realism, not reality. I can try to collect portions, fragments of reality. It is through this consciousness that I create images. The image of an image is another image. Rewritten, regenerated, raped. A new image. A new fragment of reality.

- Alex Coghe

Alex Coghe is an Italian photojournalist currently based in Mexico City whose professional activity ranges from editorial photography to events. Learn more about Alex’s nasty project on his website, Tumblr, YouTube and download his books on iTunes. He is also a member of the international photography collective, noise. Check out their work on Tumblr, Facebook and Blurb.