Q&A: Chris Maggio

13.11.17

Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Live Más.™ What will baffle future generations about our day and age? That we so willingly let corporations co-opt our most personal ideas about identity, ecology, and activism for profit. Hopefully, Kendall Jenner will no longer be handing riot cops Pepsis as a senior citizen. Are you aware of any conspiracies? That slobbering dog filter and other facial recognition software in Snapchat. There’s no way that such powerful, widespread tools were built just for fun. What is it that interests you about photography? The ability to confront an audience with imagery that asks more questions than it provides answers. That, and the ability of images to be incredibly transferrable (while meaning so many different things to so many different people). What is the worst thing about city life? The pervasive ads on the subway that promote a hermetic lifestyle in which you order all the city’s amenities to your doorstep instead of going out and discovering them yourself. Living comfortably in New York now means that you have the ability to hire surrogates that experience your life for you. What part of the planet would you like to explore? I’d really like to go to Honolulu and see the city life there. I think that to be in an American urban space that is so removed from the mainland would help me further understand just how homogenous our country’s culture has become. You can already go to almost any city in this country and it’ll feel like a strange facsimile of the one you just left- it’s like the eerie comfort of knowing that, no matter which McDonald’s you go to, the chicken nuggets will always taste the same. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? It’s too hard to hold on to those moments in your head! There’s no use having that regret, nor is there use pining for a means of recording an experience that you just happen to be forced to experience naturally. Whatever happens, happens- and sometimes forgetting is a good thing. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. A deliveryman, or a cab driver, or any job with an easy, built-in ability to slip in and out of the lives (and homes) of other New Yorkers. Too many of us working in New York have an incredibly myopic view of all the different lifestyles here.

Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. One would be the photo of Elian Gonzalez being held at gunpoint by that federal agent. For me, it was one of the first images that oscillated between both information and emotion. It was so charged with a bold, terrifying narrative that was easy to see as a kid. Photos like that begged for a deeper reading that I wasn’t yet accustomed to. How often do you take other people’s advice? Not as often as I should. What is the next book you want to read? Probably something by the late NY journalist Jimmy Breslin. If you’re a fan of someone like Jill Freedman as a photographer, you’d probably be into this guy. Both have a similar hard-boiled, intensely compassionate and funny view of NYC- even if it can get a lil ugly sometimes. Ultimate camera? FLIR C2 Compact Thermal Imaging System. Most used camera? Apple iPhone 5S in filthy rubber case with my passcode written on the back in case I forget. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? Imagine the pleasure and pain experienced by living your entire life in your armchair. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? There aren’t enough photographers who are straight-up ripped. Maybe some National Geographic dudes that climb rocks and stuff- but street photographers should be acquiring skills like parkour to pursue even the most elusive subjects in an urban environment. So, in short: no. Describe a cheap thrill. Photography. An image you create in a fraction of a second can potentially make you happy for a month. Corny, but true. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. I can’t imagine having my Canon 5D out during the Civil War without throwing history into some sort of horrifying, alternate narrative. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Drink a bunch of coffee and then get yelled at by my girlfriend when she comes home from work and sees that I didn’t unclog the tub after being home all day. Maybe watch a few movie trailers on Apple.com.

Chris Maggio is a photographer living in NYC with 8.5 million of his closest friends. His work sits at the intersection of observational and staged photography
and, given the opportunity, he’d really like to take your picture. To see more of Chris’s work visit — Website / Instagram.