Virgil DiBiase

Virgil DiBiase -
Virgil DiBiase –


“I don’t intend to tell stories. I don’t actually have any intentions to say anything with photography. It’s more like a visual diary.” Virgil DiBiase



Virgil DiBiase. Born in 1963, Virgil DiBiase is a photographer currently based in Valparaiso, Indiana (USA). He’s self-taught when it comes to photography.

Artist statement: “Although I have been making photographs since childhood it is only in the last four years that my passion has grown. And it is only in the past 4 years that I have made people my primary subjects. And now, a photograph that does not include a person no longer interests me.”


Virgil DiBiase -
Virgil DiBiase –


Virgil DiBiase, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?

My most memorable moment was in the darkroom when my father taught me to develop prints. I thought it was a magic trick.

Why did you become a photographer?

My father is a photographer so I grew up with photography, cameras, darkrooms. It was normal, natural. It wasn’t a conscious choice.

What does photography mean to you and what do you want say with your pictures?

Photography is a very psychological experience for me. My images are a reflection of a moment in conversation, usually with a stranger. I don’t intend to tell stories. I don’t actually have any intentions to say anything with photography. It’s more like a visual diary. There’ very little thought that goes into making my images.



Which photographer has inspired you most?

In what way? I really didn’t start learning about other photographers until the past couple years. So I’ve not had any photographic heroes early on. Now I have many: Lisette Model, Anders Petersen, Bruce Gilden, Eugene Richards and David Alan Harvey to name a few.


Bruce Gilden – Coney Island (2005)


“I’m known for taking pictures very close, and the older I get, the closer I get.” Bruce Gilden


Your favorite photography quote?

“Don’t shoot til the subject hits you in the pit of your stomach.” Lisette Model

How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process? 

My way of working is to walk with a small camera and look for individuals that are visually interesting. If a stranger is visually interesting then I want to meet them and have a conversation. My images evolve from that conversation. And this can last 30 seconds, 30 minutes or all day. So my images are a product of this fresh, concentrated relationship.

What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?

Self awareness. It has nothing to do with photography.


Virgil DiBiase "Conversation with a Stranger" - Top Photography Films
Virgil DiBiase “Conversation with a Stranger” – Top Photography Films


What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?

I use a digital rangefinder and shoot primarily in B&W. I have experimented with heavy post processing but am back to what I used to do in the darkroom: simple adjustments in contrast, dodging, burning.

What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?

That depends upon what kind of photography we are talking about. There is room for all kinds of qualities. But as I’ve said before, the more psychologically self-aware one is, the more true and honest the images will be.

What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?

I need to be able to imagine myself in the frame. To feel it and smell it.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?

From the people, animals and nature that surround me. From music. From dreams. No single source of inspiration.

Leica digital rangefinder, usually with a 35mm lens.

What’s your favorite website about photography?

Burn Magazine.

What photography book would you recommend?

So many to choose from. But currently I’ve been slowly enjoying “Below the Line: Living Poor in America” by Eugene Richards. Powerful images, powerful stories.

Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?

I’m not a professional photographer as I don’t make a living doing this. But I am a professional. My only advice is to know yourself, study yourself. Then you will know all you need to know.


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