Anna Positano

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Where did you take this photograph?

I took this photograph in London (UK), within the Olympic site. This is the Copper Box by MAKE Architects and Populous. In front of it is Monica Bonvicini’s sculpture RUN.

When was it shot?

It was in early May 2012, before the Olympic games.

What were the conditions on site?

London was quite cold for the season. It did not rain, yet it was wet and the sky was gray.

Can you share some of the most technical aspects about this photograph?

For most of the commissions I usually work with my view camera on a tripod. In this case I used a medium format Pentax and no tripod, because it would have been too tricky and tiring to wander with all that weight around a 560 acre site all by myself.

How did you get to the site?

The Italian magazine Casabella informally tasked me to shoot the Olympic site for their July editorial. To be honest, I got in with a ticket for the waterpolo match and no photography pass.

Why did you select this photograph? 

I like this photograph, even though it is not my favourite ever. I have chosen it because this is the toughest picture among the most difficult shooting I have ever done (for now!). And it was totally worth the effort, because after the publication on Casabella my work got way better.

Is there any peculiar event that happened in the preparation for this photograph?

Today I can say that all the experience of the Olympic shooting was funny, though at the time it was just crazy and tough to me. As I mentioned, I was informally tasked by the magazine. That means no photography pass for granted, no expenses cover and insane deadline: They would only buy the pictures, take it or leave it. Right before they called me in April, my business was in deep water. The conditions they offered were not actually meeting my needs, but I told myself: ‘It could be the last time I do this job. If it works, great. If not, it’s not a big deal.’ Then I borrowed the money, got a cheap flight to London and asked some friends to put me up.The magazine was interested in the completed Olympic site, therefore they recommended not to show anything related to the construction sites. Since the editorial was entitled ‘London 2012. The Running City’ they also told me to pay great attention to Bonvicini’s sculpture RUN. Well, you can imagine my dismay when I found that the Copper Box and RUN were entirely behind a closed fence. The security was all over the Olympic site (a guard every 20-30 meters) and I could not climb the fence without being arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. When I was about to give up, I ran into a builder getting out of the construction site from a little door. I asked, I begged him to let me in. After a couple of no-no-no, I started weeping; then he left the door open and told me: ‘I didn’t see you!’ I shot my photos and did not get arrested. Casabella published most of my photographs and I still work as an architectural photographer. A sort of a happy end.

Is there anything valuable to take out of that experience?

What happened during this shooting is a great lesson to me. I had the proof that being genuinely determined in achieving your goals can make the difference.


This is an excerpt of an interview which is part of the editorial project “1 Photo(grapher)” and originally published for Scopio Network.