It all began with a bittersweet moment, when he travelled to the Aeolian Islands to pay tribute to his paternal grandfather, Giuseppe.

“When he passed away, I asked my mum to cut off a lock of his hair for me and I took it back to his birthplace of Malfa, on the island of Salina,” he recalls.

“Two of his great loves were roses and fishing, so I planted a rose tree and then dove into the waters where he used to fish, letting his hair run through my fingers.”

It was the first time that Mr Cincotta had travelled, but it certainly wouldn’t be his last.

His paternal grandparents migrated to Australia from Malfa in the early 1950s and, though they both grew up in the same village, they only met when they arrived in their new home.

As if the world didn’t seem small enough, his maternal grandfather also came to Australia from Salina, and was born in Rinella, a small town just around the corner from Malfa.

Since his first trip to Salina, Mr Cincotta has returned on several occasions, staying with his great-aunt who still lives in the house where his grandfather was born.

He also soon developed a passion for travel, which led him to explore the world as a travel guide for over a decade.

Eight years into his overseas adventure, Mr Cincotta decided to start sharing his travels with family back in Australia, particularly his mother, who was feeling his absence. 

“I started posting a photo every day to show her the world through my eyes,” he says.

“In doing that, it showed me that I could take a good photo and it taught me a lot about photography.”

Despite having lived in the likes of Florence, Sicily, Rome, Spain, France, Portugal and Canada, Mr Cincotta has a soft spot for none other than his birthplace of Melbourne.

“When I’m in Melbourne I feel like we’ve got parts of London, Barcelona and Rome all in one,” he explains.

“We have our own identity for sure, but we’re also a great cross-section of so many other cities. 

“We also have a great sense of community in Melbourne, and although we’re a city of 4 million people, it feels more like a big village.”

Mr Cincotta’s passion for photography followed him back to the city which holds a special place in his heart.

Having returned home after living the dream abroad, he opened a small booth on the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets, in November 2014, from where he sold his photos.

It wasn’t long before locals and tourists alike began approaching the friendly photographer, sharing their life stories over a cup of coffee.

When Mr Cincotta told his girlfriend he wanted to start a Facebook page to spread people’s tales, she showed him the world-famous Humans of New York page.

“I didn’t know about the page at that stage and when I saw it I thought that was exactly what I wanted to do, except I would post more beautiful photos that would convey that sense of love for the city,” he says.

So, just 10 days after opening his booth, Mr Cincotta created Humans In Melbourne, with the aim of showcasing the city and its community while shedding light on issues which may lack exposure in the mainstream media.

Fast-forward three years and he’s still doing the same thing, only quite a bit has changed.

Mr Cincotta’s booth now sits a street over, on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets, and he has become somewhat of a street celebrity in the city.

The Humans In Melbourne Facebook page is currently liked by 170,397 people and counting, while its “sister” Instagram account, melbourneiloveyou, has over 69,000 followers.

Having gained a colossal online following, Mr Cincotta decided to use his reach to make Melbourne not only the most livable city in the world, but also the best city in the world.

“I don’t just want to tell the stories of these people, I want to be doing something that’s effecting change in the city,” he says.

“If I have the ability to use my platform to help people in the community, it’d be inept of me not to.”

Last year, he launched a not-for-profit called EnruobleM, Melbourne spelt backwards, with the aim of giving every single cent back to the community – something he has stuck to till this day.

Mr Cincotta has raised thousands of dollars over the past year, allocating the money to Melbourne charities, arts grants for local artists, photographers and musicians, and random acts of kindness.

Following the tragic Bourke Street attack this January, the ambitious photographer spearheaded a busking event in the CBD which raised more than $30,000 for the Bourke Street Fund.

While building bonds within his community and contributing to good causes across the city, Mr Cincotta has also found the time to launch a 200-page coffee table book, which hit the shelves of boutique book stores across Melbourne last week and is set to sell out by Christmas.

The book features evocative images of the city, alongside stories from the Humans In Melbourne Facebook page.

Two interview subjects who stick out in Mr Cincotta’s mind are Koky and Mike.

The former was born in a prison during the Cambodian civil war and was smuggled out along with his mother and sister, eventually seeking refuge with the rest of his family in Australia.

Koky has since gone on to build a successful business which creates backpacks and other products out of up-cycled material before it reaches landfill, while proceeds fund children’s rights and education in Cambodia. 

Meanwhile, Mike is a long-term alcoholic and drug addict who used a new addition to photography to turn his entire life around.

Having people share their stories and trust that he will do them justice is the secret to Mr Cincotta’s success.

With his warm demeanour and genuine compassion, it’s not hard to see why hundreds have sat down with him and done just that.

And he’s ready for you, too:

“If anybody ever wants to chat to me, come down to the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets; I’m always up for a chat and a coffee.”