Fixation: You seem to have a hand in many different things, from your photojournalism and commercial work to holding workshops. What are you working on at the moment?
Marco Secchi: In terms of photojournalism, at the moment I’m mainly working on the refugee crisis in Idomeni, on the Macedonia/Greek border. Right now this is the place I tend to spend most of my time. I work a lot for Getty images but I also supply newspapers directly.
I’ve also worked on a few features, such as the [recreation of a] Palmyra Arch that was built in Italy and taken to Trafalgar Square in London. I’ve also recently done a few features in Venice, Ljubljana and Croatia. My workshops are usually in Venice, but also in Croatia and Slovenia and occasionally in London.
F: You also helped to form a photographic collective, correct?
MS: Yes. I’m part of a collective called #Awakening, which covers social issues. So, fracking, the refugee crisis and so on. There are eight or ten photographers working on it. Some are more involved, some are less – it depends on how busy everyone is. And we also work with Getty on this. So, I work with Getty personally and also with the collective.
F: What is the overall aim of the collective?
MS: I strongly believe that if a photographer is involved in photojournalism, it’s not for the money but what’s behind the photojournalism. With the collective, the idea was to make our images accessible to a very wide audience. Our way is to print very big pictures and put them up on walls. In a UK newspaper, the largest size you will get is a double page spread in the Guardian – and maybe this happens a few times a year if you’re lucky. But seeing your picture printed to 4x3m on a wall – I think this is very rewarding.
It’s interesting to see how people react to images on a wall. People stop, take selfies, they discuss it. There is a relationship with the images. I and the other members of the collective find this interesting and rewarding.
F: You have over 50,000 followers on Twitter. You must invest a lot of time in social media to get the kind of following you have.
MS: Yes I spend quite a lot of time on it. For me, the channels that work best are Twitter and Instagram, but in different ways. To be honest, I barely use Facebook. On my professional account I probably only have 2,000 followers. I think Twitter and Instagram are more professional. I believe there is also Snapchat but maybe I’m too old for that!
F: There are so many travel blogs and photographers looking to promote themselves on social media sites. It must be increasingly difficult to make yourself heard above what everyone else is doing. What advice do you have for anyone seeking to get themselves established in these spaces?
MS: I think you have to try to be constant in terms of how often you send images to social media sites – at least that’s what I try to be. In my opinion it doesn’t work if you just do it for a week and then abandon it for another two or three weeks. I have about five or six posts per week on Twitter, but it would be impossible for me to tweet like that so I use software.
I spend about two or three hours per week doing this, generally on a Sunday. Then if I’m working on something else, say I’m in Idomeni or London, and I see something interesting I post this too, but at least I have a skeleton of what’s going up. And this applies to Instagram too: try to be constant, try to have a niche market. I think hashtags are also very important. This is what works, at least for me.
F: What gear do you take when you travel?
MS: The camera that I use the most is the Leica M (Typ 240), and also the M Monochrome (Typ 246) and the Leica Q. I also use a Fuji X-T1 and one or two Sony bodies, and I’m getting the new Sony A7 II. I’m just experimenting with the Sony. I’m quite happy with the Fuji but I tried one of the old Sony bodies and found it was excellent.
F: Does your location affect what you take?
MS: Yes, it depends where I’m going. For a typical assignment I will tend to take my Leica, and sometimes in the refugee camps this is what I will use. But if the weather is bad or it’s dangerous, I will tend to use the Fuji or another camera. It’s all about protection – I don’t care about me, but I’d hate to lose one of my Leicas!