Welcome to RVA, Mr. Fili – street photography with an edge

by | Nov 11, 2014 | PHOTOGRAPHY

Mr. Fili comes from Philadelphia–hence the name (Philly). He’s been documenting the world as he sees it with a variety of cameras for years now, but he’s only been in RVA since January.

Mr. Fili comes from Philadelphia–hence the name (Philly). He’s been documenting the world as he sees it with a variety of cameras for years now, but he’s only been in RVA since January.

Regardless, he’s seen a great deal of this town, and is sharing it all on the internet through social media–particularly instagram (@misterfili) and tumblr (mrfili.tumblr.com)–as well as on his own blog at misterfili.com. His work caught our attention both because he captures the kinds of things we want to see around town and because of his clear, evocative imagery. We shot Mister Fili an email to get the story about exactly where he’s coming from; here’s what we got back…

Vinny Testaverde

A photo posted by misterfili (@misterfili) on

You had mentioned that you recently moved to Richmond. Why did you come down from Philly to live here?

Well, my job brought me to Richmond. I was commuting from Fredericksburg daily, and that trip was exhausting. I just got here at the beginning of 2014, and I’m loving the art scene here. It’s hard to attend all the events, but I try to get out when I can and mingle with the crowds.


A photo posted by misterfili (@misterfili) on

What do you think people see when they look at your work?

I don’t get much feedback from viewers. I’m always excited when I hear something–good or bad. The feedback I’ve gotten back from viewers is the generic comment “I like your work.” Makes me think that my work is generic–I’ll have to think outside the box more, I guess. I’ve actually been looking to get more feedback from people; just thinking about the best way to go about it.

Blackberry Sunset

A photo posted by misterfili (@misterfili) on

You have a number of great portrait shots. What is it about portraits that you like?

This is a tough question for me. I am not sure why I take portrait shots–and I take a lot. I do remember after watching Everybody Street–which is a great documentary on street photographers in New York–I watched this documentary a few days before heading to Texas for SXSW, and that documentary was the sole contributor to the portrait style that was created during my stay. I took that and [have] been running with it on the front of my lens ever since.

What attracts me to the portraits I take are the stories behind the images. Sometimes I’ll take the time and ask someone, “May I take your pic?” And we will spark a small conversation. Other times it will be me walking up to a face I like and taking the picture. The situations you get in while taking the picture [are] all a part of the experience, and ingredients for a photograph. When I’m looking at my portraits, I see the story behind the image. When other people look at my portraits, I’m not sure what they are thinking or why it even captures their attention. I’d like to bring them in on the story behind the image. [I] want them to feel they are at the front row of a concert. I know being able to create that emotion in a photograph is nothing that will happen overnight; that’s why we have goals, right?

This article is taken from the latest print issue of RVA Magazine, out now. To read a digital version of the full issue, click here.

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