“Once I took the plunge and really started shooting at night in earnest it became my passion. I didn’t find any other photographic work as interesting and rewarding for me. Most of my daytime shooting continues to be scouting for night shots and killing time for the real thing; I love it. Photography is based on light and to capture the light. However, night to some extent is the absence of light and this is why it is so fascinating to me.”
He loves pinhole, plastic and vintage cameras, although he doesn’t use them at night. “I love the serendipity and possibilities of things happening that you can’t anticipate. There is so much of this in night photography also. When you are taking a photograph you are capturing a time lapse that ordinarily you cannot see with the naked eye, so it’s a different view of what is going on in the world. After a period of time you just begin to develop an educated idea of the possibilities, but there are still such wonderful surprises you can’t predict and I love that aspect.”
Vizzini is also a fan of photographers Michael Kenna and Michael Yamashita. “Eventually I took a workshop with Kenna in Woodstock, New York, in 1997, which was amazing. He is a great guy and very open, which I find a lot with the really great photographers and people in the arts. When you are really up there at the top of your game, you are not afraid to reveal your secrets, because you are secure in what you do and you want people to expand their horizons. He was really very much like that with information and his time, so that was a great start. I also participated in The Quiet Landscape workshop with Yamashita in 1999. I had already been shooting a little bit of night photography and this also really helped me to advance.”
Vizzini’s day job involves working for non-profit companies creating design for print and production work for magazines in New York. “I feel it all goes together when you are a visual person. I definitely think my design work sharpens my visual sense for my photography, by being aware of new looks, styles and approaches in the culture.”
It is becoming rare these days for photographers to prefer film over digital but Vizzini has not been tempted to use digital for his night-time work. “I shoot commercial work at times and you kind of need digital for the odd still life or editorial piece because of the quick turn-around factor, but I much prefer film. I love the look and the quality it gives. There is no doubt in my mind it is a different look to digital but I guess I am a little bit of a throwback. For me, digital is the opposite of what I want to do. I want the long exposure and not the instant exposure that digital offers. It simply continues to work for me, so as long as they keep making film I am going to continue using it. My exposures do depend on where I am. If I am in the city, a two-minute exposure is pretty long but sometimes my exposure could be up to eight minutes. I have done longer exposures in rural areas, even up to an hour, but I haven’t really gone beyond that, although some people do. I know Michael Kenna has done up to eight-hour exposures.”
The most important thing is to be really meticulous. Always record your exposures, bracket a lot and use a light meter. “There may be times when the scene is way beyond what the meter can record but it is still an indicator of what your exposure should be, give or take a few stops. In the city you can use a light meter but always remember that because it is night the meter is still trying to give you the middle grey.”
To solve this problem Vizzini will always go by the reading on the meter and expose two stops below that to allow the images to record as a night scene; otherwise you are going to blow out the entire atmosphere within the shot.