Colour, Light and the Street

Colour, Light and the Street

“A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person.” American photographer Saul Leiter (1923–2013) is remembered for distinctive colour images of New York – suffusing the city’s streets, architecture and inhabitants with a rich, painterly palette. Leiter is amongst Francesco Gioia’s (b. 1991) biggest inspirations; shown below is the self-taught street photographer’s own, contemporary interpretation of a rain-drenched window. As water droplets smear blues and yellows across the glass, the composition appears to have been plucked right from Leiter’s imagination.

Gioia’s candid pictures are influenced by other icons of the 20th century – William Klein, Ralph Gibson and Ernst Haas – as well as various art movements: emotive German expressionist painting, for example, or the narrative mystery of film noir. Featured here are shots tied together by the colour red – from bright crimson coats to matching high-heeled shoes, cherry-red lipstick and flags hanging from Hamleys’ shop windows. Gioia pulls out singular moments from the fast-paced everyday, giving them new meaning.

There’s a palpable sense of movement in Gioia’s visual world, as inhabitants pound pavements or hail taxis. In one shot, a woman looks above and beyond the camera, cigarette in hand, seemingly glimpsing something in the distance. The photographer also demonstrates a strong grasp of light, shadow and contrast – an approach which has led to features in The Guardian and worldwide exhibition. Faces become obscured and abstracted by darkness, whilst taillights and neon signs glow in the gloom.


All images courtesy Francesco Gioia.