Blognotes from a photographer life...

Dec 25, 2008


The website is now including some of the recent stories on Philippines..

Dec 13, 2008


The 2009 calendar, titled "East, East, East, Almost West", a gallery of recent images from that part of the world, is ready and we are shipping in these days. We printed 600 copies, of which around 100 are not reserved. Normally we ask for the new requests to cover the cost of shipment. We don't send more then one copy for each request. Mail us if you wish to receive it.

Nov 30, 2008


Massimo Morello is, as many friends know, the driving force behind many of the stories that we produce in south east Asia and other places. Again, he sees things and becomes the two extra eyes to make the "four that sees better then two". Still I wonder how and why I always find him in "convenient" locations... As in the case of the Cebu Prison where he decided to seat in the female section rather then in the...


In the Cebu prison we just shot a story on the "dancing inmates". It's a way they found for social rehabilitation and daily activity. The thing has become so popular in the Philippines that now they run a mass show once a month open to the public. Still is hard to describe the effort they put in this two hours dancing in a 38° open sun courtyard. And more difficult is to go beyond the joyful collective parade and see the hard, personal stories of the individuals imprisoned there.

Nov 28, 2008


As trouble is pouring over Mumbai, life seems to stand still in these remote islands... I wish I was there, not out of crazy masochism but for the wish of telling stories that will certainly unfold in this unique Indian reality. The city has such a strong, multiform vitality that will easily overcome these attacks. But people will keep living lives that would deserve to be told such is their unique strength among unique harshness..
As for me, still browsing Philippines islands, then on to Singapore.. Unless the situation in Bangkok turns ugly and a new crisis window opens up... Let's hope I'll still keep chasing sunsets for a while...

Nov 12, 2008


...even when you live in a old house falling apart, sharing it with hundreds of people and having ten square meters for your -large- family.. as long as your mother is washing your back!

Nov 5, 2008


Just entered Turkey from Syria, where excited people call Barak "Osama" the promise of the coming times...
I agree, still have to see, and then I hope with no inclination like the Sheikh..
Syria has many reasons to be angry and wanting change, but they should start from within their system. Communications are still limited, with many websites, all blogs and Facebook blocked in the net.
Still people are friendly, open, and looking at the future with a peaceful attitude.
We should always keep people in mind when we think to a Nation as a whole. Berlusconi is not Italy (well, maybe a large part), Bush was not the US. People are much better then their governments policy and we should search, know, photograph and write about them for a start..

Oct 26, 2008


Having a journalist with you when you are shooting a story is a great help. Not just because four eyes sees more then two, but even more because two competent eyes with a subject in focus can give you very competent directions. This is how the help of Cristina Gambaro during the recent Lisbon assignment helped me discover corners that I would have certainly missed... thank you Cristina!

Oct 21, 2008


Il prossimo Giovedì 23, alle 18, ci troveremo al Festival della Creatività, alla Fortezza da Basso di Firenze, per parlare del presente e futuro (futuro?) dei libri fotografici dedicati alla geografia con amici e colleghi... Idee e interventi sono ovviamente benvenuti...


I need to compliment all the people that organized the Parma photo shoot for 27 Italian Travel Photographers, and Luigi Alfieri in particular! I know very well how difficult is today to get these projects done, and when you see the show now open in Parma, and the catalog published by Mazzotta, you realize how much work and will there is behind it! So thanks Luigi for this great opportunity, and thanks to the fellow photographers that did a great job! (this image of my section, dedicated to the Gazzetta di Parma, is by Sergio Pitamitz). If you have the opportunity go this month to Parma and look to the images: you'll be surprised on how different and lively are these photos produced by people that many thinks to be "too commercial"!

Oct 9, 2008


This gentleman is a member of the Merwari caste in India. This caste used to live in beautiful haveli residences in the Shekawati region of Rajasthan. Then the economy crashed and they had to move out, most of them to Calcutta, starting a new life but still in the trading business.
The Chettiars were even more poweful, with their palaces in the dry heart of Tamil Nadu. Their business was controlling India and most of South East Asia. Then the British Empire fell, and the Chettiars had to change their life too. Now they are in California, London and still in control of Indian economy.
Well, you know what I mean.. Now that our empire is shaking maybe is time to think... new ways, new environments, new ideas.
Creativity will be the only way out of this... hopefully!

Oct 2, 2008


Giusto per informarvi che il 10 ottobre, nel tardo pomeriggio, sarò alla Feltrinelli di Firenze per parlare delle esperienze di lavoro e viaggio, dell'ultimo libro dedicato ai Pellegrini cattolici, e di quanto possa venir fuori. Se siete nei paraggi... E' alle ore 18,00


well, let's try the virtual world... I'm there, too. But I still think to the personal interactions we are losing everyday. Especially in our job (I should call it a life project, like a serious photographer) that part is so crucial..

Sep 23, 2008


I was walking in a tranquil area of Budapest today when I had one of my classic deja vu.. from a long, long time ago! I realized that I was in the city exactly 33 years ago this month, during my first ever trip abroad. Two months across Europe with my friend Sauro, traveling on Inter Rail, sleeping in trains and stations, occasionally in parks.. and here I was, the small garden where we slept a couple of nights. We were awaken in the middle of the first night by a police patrol (remember, this was before the Wall came down) that got very suspicious -and pointed their machine guns- when I reached for my passport at the bottom of the sleeping bag. But they were kind afterwards, and didn't bother us on the second night, even when they passed by. That was my countless star hotel in Budapest. Great service and security! The next time I would be staying at the Inter Continental, with only 5 stars available. I guess our personal history is so much part of what we are that we tend to forget what's in it.. Somewhere I still have a picture of my 18-years-old-self standing under this statue, rising a fist in the dream of socialism.. and now all the socialist statues of Budapest have been jailed into a cage outside the city..

Sep 22, 2008


Fighting with clouds, once again.. Autumn settled in suddenly after a gorgeous summer. Shooting a travel story for a very demanding magazine like Hemispheres is not an easy goal in these light conditions. And Budapest is a city full of visual contradictions, with modern building rising near old socialist condominiums (that were a photographer's playground), especially in this time of intense restoration. The attraction of Budapest is great, with thousands of tourists taken around, but I feel like it still needs to find is new personality in the Western world. I can still feel the uncertainty between what is left by the past-socialist social system and the new generations that are emulating the web culture. Just a matter of time?

Sep 12, 2008


The working time in front of the screen has produced some peace of mind (ah, ah, just jocking!) and the updated portfolios that you'll find in the website. The new version on the Muay Thai story dedicated to the very young kids fighting is also there. Please don't think at this as a denouncing story of decadence and corruption: although they even fight once a week in the middle of a red light bar in Pattaya, these boys live the Muay Thai experience as a true sport and martial art. A positive experience. As for the surrounding environment, well,it's like the controversial view on Thai social ethics that westerners find so hard to comprehend. We had to give up the idea of describing the Bangkok nightlife from a Thai point of view because we would have sound like defending prostitution. The line of different thinking is so subtle that would be impossible not being misunderstood!

Aug 12, 2008


I need to remember that sitting in front of the computer for hours a day is not the hardest task in the world... (see this child in Arakan!) Still is quite boring! August is devoted to past editing, relaxing in my garden, thinking and planning.. The next few months, and the longer term projects I have in mind.. I'll let you know new ideas as they become more definite: now relax yourself, and keep in touch...

Jul 22, 2008


Sometimes stories are born in the mind of people without really thinking.. I wonder why I'm in this city that, yes, was beautiful, and yes, was important, and yes, was an attractive sea resort for Russians.. but today is, well, just a place for real-estate investments forUkrainian mid-class holidaymakers.. The hard part is to show the place in a beautiful light, even if it seems everything is under repair. Unfortunately, I would say. The only places I really like are the old buildings in full decadence.. and the hordes of tourist that really reminds of Western Europe in the sixties.. But why should we suggest anybody to come here for visiting?

Jul 18, 2008


Shooting in Kiev the first story that Bell'Europa is dedicating to Ukraine. Well, I have to say that I don't find this part of Europe that exciting. The process of integration they are undergoing is somehow obvious and full of predictable contradictions. You can't say that they are losing their culture in the name of globalization because socialism had virtually canceled, or flattened at best what was there. Is seems that only religion, Orthodoxy, can revive from the ashes of recent history. But with so many contrasts that it seems another topic for the next fight. Closer to Russia or to Europe? What? Do you think there is going to be a difference in the future? Everybody is sailing on this sea of oil (petrol, I mean).. One thing is still here, for sure: everybody is walking with a bottle in their hand, and this Friday night is just full of drunks and Eastern European emptiness..

Jul 16, 2008


During some works, even the more professional oriented ones, like the archaeological coverage for Focus magazine in Istanbul last week, I end finding magic moments where photography becomes a precious connection to the subject. Only in a country like Turkey, and few other places, you can still approach the Islamic world without creating suspicions. Here I found this very mystical moment, with the old Imam teaching a young boy to read the Koran. I shoot many images, for some time, and they both accepted my presence with total spontaneity.. One of those moments that make this job still a pleasure..

Jul 2, 2008


Talking with friends and fellows in Montepulciano was very enlightening.. I may have sounded pessimist in declaring the poor working condition of photographers in Italy today, but I had to speak the truth. Few bright cases in the editorial activity (National Geographic, Geo Germany -thank you Ruth for your encouraging words- Time, Newsweek) cannot represent a solid ground for a large number of professionals.
Still I think this is the best profession in the world. Not just because we travel taking pictures but rather for the opportunity of looking around the real side of life and expressing it at our best.
So, if you really feel you want to do it notwithstanding the economical hardship... well, just go for it! But don't forget that your quality will be the only key to success...

Jun 24, 2008


Cooling down in Oslo, once again. I'm finishing the story on the new Opera House (very nice architecture) for Bell'Europa magazine.
For all those guys who keep asking what difference I see in my "travel" or "reportage" works, as divided in the web site, let me explain.
I feel reportage, intended as documentary photography on cultural and social aspects of life worldwide, is my main interest and vocation. But there is little space left for this kind of stories: magazines don't have budget nor much interest in these large stories, and people interested are lessening by the day.
Therefore to feed myself and my professional activity (and opportunity to keep shooting what I like) I also keep on my professional "travel" work, with coverage dedicated to tourist and cultural destinations e to be published on travel magazines. The good aspect of this compromise is not just money and travel: I can put some creativity and research also in this part of my work, and everybody likes this style cross-process (allow me...).
I know this can create some confusion on my image as a photographer, but I think a good picture is a good picture, and I prefer doing this rather then to work in a bar to feed myself. Comments are appreciated...

Jun 19, 2008


During the PASSION & PROFESSION time in Montepulciano my show dedicated to Burmese people will be inaugurated. Here is the presentation.
"A dedication to the BURMESE people, their daily life and culture. Victims and executioners, pacifists and violent, believers and transgressive. A people who fought for freedom, but dominates ethnic minorities that make up the rest of modern Myanmar. People who follow the Buddhist precepts but wear a uniform stained of the worst crimes. Monks who embody the spirit of the country, but are able to rebel only when their privileges are called into question by the regime.
Beyond the clichés the modern Myanmar is a reality poor, violent, complex. With a few innocent and many responsibilities. And many victims.
The democratic freedoms of the Burmese people is in its ability to overcome internal divisions and contrasts. The country risks becoming Yugoslavia in Asia if not balanced find a way out of the military dictatorship. Parties from all the opposition knows well, and they fear civil war more then repression of the regime.
How will Shan, Karen, Rakhine and the many other ethnic groups react to a power vacuum? Somebody will be able to create a federalism that completely erases years of oppression and violence? The monastic power will become an instrument of union?
A country with a culture so old as well preserved must put aside their divisions and grievances and seek new road to stay abreast of the continent. Provided that the two neighboring powers, China in the first place and also India, finally renounce that political and economic control that has condemned Myanmar for its state of passion."

Jun 11, 2008


In Italian, for once. L'iniziativa del TPW Passion & Profession, da un'idea di Carlo Roberti che io ho caldamente incoraggiato, vuole rispondere alle molte domande dei giovani che vorrebbero intraprendere l'attività di fotografo. Con particolare attenzione a fotogiornalismo, travel e fine art. L'intervento di numerosi esperti professionali assicura una panoramica della situazione analizzata da vari punti di vista, e la possibilità di colloqui mirati molto efficaci. Il tutto a un costo complessivo molto contenuto. Invito allora tutti gli amici che mi pongono domande di carattere professionale a partecipare: è un'occasione unica per chiarirci le idee (tutti noi) e decidere da che parte andare! Ci vediamo a Montepulciano il 27 giugno!


In the Lake District shooting a story for Islands magazine on England's Coast to Coast walk. This is supposed to be one of the most safe and peaceful places on Earth. The perfect retreat for pensioners and wealthy Englishmen. Yet yesterday I managed to be chased by a gentleman (well, an hooligan I suppose!) that used nothing less then a baseball bat to convince me that he was not a proper subject for this story! After Kashmir , Burma and Chad it would have been absurd to be injured among the rolling hills of England... Never give up your expectations...

May 26, 2008


"Modern city life".. oh yes, this is the subject of this story, with a special attention to food. But what is modern? What is traditional? What is new? No women were wearing burka in Turkey until a few years ago. So burka is a new element of modern Turkey? We could discuss longly about it..
In 1976, the first time I was in magic Istanbul, the boats serving grilled fish at Galata Bridge were numerous, small, crowded. Ten years after few were left, and few people -mostly local- were buying food from them. Today only four are left, but much larger and with hints of funny grandeur. Tables are set on the Golden Horn banks: fortunately most of the clients are still Turkish and not groups of tourists. So, is this modernity too?

May 15, 2008


Hello from Bergen, Norway! Just out of this lively pub with a great singer and rivers of beer running to the sea... Not for me, but still upbeat! But I really would like to thank the participants to the FNAC workshop in Naples, last Sunday. It was a new, interesting experience: a walk through this lovely city focusing on what and how to see scenes to photograph. Once again I think these occasions are as precious to me as to the other guys because we can really discuss what is outstandingly interesting and what we thought could be but is not!

May 8, 2008


Hello from Hong Kong! Next Sunday I'll be at FNAC in Naples for a one day talk and a short walk through the city. Needless to say, photography will be the subject. Let's try to keep it more on the content side rather then the usual technical talk talk..

May 5, 2008


Once again Myanmar is the center of terrible news. This time was nature to strike in the Ayeyarwady Delta. Some of you may remember the story I shoot couple of years ago in this region (this is my boatman there): it was hard to enter the area forbidden to foreigners. Forbidden because the military government didn't want the world to see how basic and poor life is there. And now is not difficult to imagine what kind of damage such a powerful storm must have produced in this unprotected delta, and how many people must have succumbed. For sure many more then the 4000 said. Help is needed...

May 3, 2008


What is an art scene without some eccentricity? Well, Takeshita Dori has the answer.. actually, many answers! Young people make an art of dressing themselves, like in a Vivian Westwood dream world, and then keep expressing their feelings in all possible ways. Meet Ryo, Myo and Mashiro, their pictures, their face-language, all what is in front of them...

Apr 28, 2008


Working on a travel assignment here in Kyoto, the city often said to be the Japanese equivalent of Florence.. and seeing the flocks of tourists crowding the magnificent temples I can understand why! I'm still searching for the soul of this place, if there is still one to be discovered! The most difficult task, in this modern globalized world, is really this: searching for a reason to travel when at first sight everything seems so familiar.. But there is always a good reason to explore: at least the exploration itself...

Apr 19, 2008


On June 27-29 the TPW project Passion & Profession will be held in Montepulciano. It's a great and affordable opportunity to talk in a very realistic way of our profession today. I'll be part of the panel on the 28th, but all of the three days will be equally useful to clarify many ideas to all of us. See the link to have more info..


Hello from Norway! Just to remind that on April 22nd the NAG show will be opening at FNAC in Genoa. I can't be there as I'll be going to Japan right afterwards..

Mar 25, 2008


Just back in Bangkok from Burma. The situation is really difficult to the people: practically no gasoline, electricity.. Still the military regime is building a new capital in the middle of nowhere. It's really a bunker to protect themselves from possible revolts. A government based on terror. I managed to shoot a story on the new city: a risky idea that i hope will be published soon. I'll keep you posted..

Mar 13, 2008


Just got the visa form Burma and going there again for around 10 days.. Subject will be mostly the Arakan region, but I'll stop in Yangon, visiting the Shwedagon pagoda at full moon, with so many new feeling in mind.. you know what I mean.. No connections there, not even phone: so I'll be in touch after the 24th.


Just to remind that on March 19th the NAG show will open at FNAC Turin. I won't be there, of course, but I hope we can plan with friend at FNAC a meeting during the show that will last until April 17th.

Mar 8, 2008


Just back in Bangkok from 3 weeks in Yunnan, Southern China... Connections were difficult, and accessing the blog, as many other websites, impossible.. But it was a nice experience covering an area that is mostly dedicated to internal travel rather then to foreign visitors. We also shoot a story on Ruili, the border town with Burma where Jade market  seems to be very far from Beijing control. Now I’m heading for Burma to shoot a story on the Arakan region.

Feb 18, 2008


Waiting for the sun in Luang Prabang, unusually cool.. We descended the Mekong from Thailand, and the work here is almost done... The city has been transformed in a big living-museum, with temples and guest houses, bars and restaurants.. In the center there are no private residences any longer. Even here is possible to foresee how the globalized world will look, how the destinations will be more a place for relaxation then discovery (discovery of what, after all?).. But is a pleasant place, with thousands of young monks strolling in the streets and spending time in internet points.. We wanted it, we got it..

Feb 9, 2008


The story on the tragic situation on the Burma-Thai border is done.. Burmese refugees are stranded in a large no man land, in camps that after September events have become cities drowning in mud, employed for underpaid labor, somebody reduced to search among the Mae Sot city rubbish for at most one dollar a day.. We talked to monks who participated in the Yangoon revolt, opposition parties acting from the border, the Karen army fighting the regime for independence.. I think will be a great story... And now we are going north, to Laos for a week, and then Yunnan.. Going cooler, i guess..

Jan 27, 2008


Back in the city that can give deep thrills or sorrows... this time on the more earthly task of shooting the unique street food experience of the city... blade runner atmosphere once again: pork, fish and papaya as frame to incredible faces... I love it...

Jan 21, 2008


Even in Phuket, you can find moments of peace... well, most of times is just apparent, but we like to think this way...

Jan 15, 2008


Back in Thailand tonight. In Phuket for a new travel assignment. Somebody says life is easy, but you should see the mess tourism has created in this place to think again. We’ll need to see through the crowd to find a reason why this place means something, why somebody should travel 20 hours to get here. The first night out...

Jan 10, 2008


And from today, January 10th, the NAG show will be at FNAC Naples through February 20th. If you are in the area and visit it let me know your impressions.


On the January issue of TuttiFotografi (an important Italian photography magazine) there is an amazing portfolio of my NAG book and a story telling about my work. Rarely I found such a clever presentation of it, without the usual common places but pointing instead to the real aspects of our profession in these difficult times. I would like to thank the publisher for the (over 10 including cover) pages of images and clarifications. This will save me a lot of time answering the usual questions from photography lovers who have an unclear idea of the job.