At one point too depressed to leave the house, former Baltimore letter carrier Anthony Lupacchino found an outlet in film photography. Now, with a self-published book called Postal — yes, as in “going postal” — he shares images of the city streets he saw in rain or sleet or hail or snow.
Anthony Lupacchino, 24, is a man of routine. He drinks the same thing every morning – iced coffee, black – from the same coffee shop. “I have like ten of these shirts and like five pairs of these pants,” he says, gesturing to his self-styled uniform of a black t-shirt and black pants.
The repetition extends to his art as well. Buildings fascinate him. Textures. Concrete. He’s not sure why.
“I stopped like six times on the way here and took pictures of chains and weird stuff,” he says over coffee.
Not long ago, he wore a different uniform: that of a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. With his standard-issue blue shirt, he wore short shorts through the month of December, drawing comments from the Baltimore residents he saw along his route. His fellow postal workers, he says, thought he was a “true freak.” But they looked out for him — urging him to seek help when he began suffering mentally and physically from the work.
The letter carrier days were long and monotonous, Lupacchino says. For eight to twelve hours per day, often six days a week, he’d pound the pavement, bringing people their mail. “It’s definitely a very depressing place to work,” he says of the Post Office. “Some people can handle it a lot better than others.” Lupacchino, ultimately, fell into the second category. The depression he’d struggled with for his whole life became crippling. He went on medical leave. He hardly left his house.
Until, at the urging of his partner, he began taking pictures of Baltimore — on film. The medium became a kind of catharsis, a means of digesting the city landscape. “We’re not really a beautiful glassy city and I think I really enjoy that,” he says. There’s the repetition: the brick and marble of older buildings.
He’s drawn to the element of chance that comes with film photography. “I like the ability to not really know what’s going to turn out, but also be in control,” he says. While digital photographers frequently take hundreds, even thousands of shots, then pick the best one, film requires patience and discipline. “There’s no like screen in the back for you to see. You’re putting faith in the medium.”
And now he has a book, titled Postal, a darkly comic reference to the cliche of “going postal.” “The book I guess is inspired from me leaving the Post Office,” he says. “Because I left the Post Office because of stuff I was going through, mentally and physically couldn’t handle the job anymore. Its kind of like a release of all that.”