In this VII Interactive lecture recorded live on April 30, Franco Pagetti discusses his photographic career. He writes: I have to start by saying that I accidentally became a photographer, that is, I met a photographer who asked me to become her assistant not because I knew about photography but because of my bad temper.
I started as an assistant in the early eighties and then went to work as a professional in 1985. I chose fashion because in Milan in those years fashion was in full creative evolution, and this intrigued me a lot. I was lucky to have Franca Sozzani as my mentor at Vogue Italia.
While working in fashion, I started taking pictures during my travels or accompanying journalist friends.
In 1998 I decided to switch to photojournalism, definitively with a trip to South Sudan and then three months with the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were at that moment, the two most insecure places in the world.
Why? Out of curiosity and to test myself. One thing is to work with a team for lights and an assistant who takes care of the camera, and one thing is to be alone to decide, where to go, what to photograph, how and when.
After the first impact, everything seemed easier and in a sense even more appropriate to my solitary character. Those lonely days fascinated me, the silence of “walks” in unknown places or only studied in books; the internet was not yet there.
After various experiences as a photojournalist, I received a call from VOGUE USA. If I had had a call from Vogue America while I was working in fashion, I would have slipped off the chair.
I was asked to collaborate with them for portraits of celebrities, political and otherwise. It was 2010. In the meantime, I continued to go to Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.
The return to real fashion began again in March 2016. At that time I lived between Milan and NYC, I was in NY where a Canadian director was making a documentary about my experience in the Iraq war, which I covered for 6 years for TIME magazine. Another call, this time from Domenico Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana, who proposed to me to work on the brand’s new ADV campaign. I accepted and established some rules of my own, which they took. I didn’t want to do a fashion campaign; I wanted to tell a story of a world, the world of the brand.
All this to say that I did not think of going from fashion to reportage and vice versa as a technical question; it was only a step. If you live in a house, you move from one room to another, you may change rooms, but you always remain yourself. So it was for me.
In my work, I have always tried to focus, not on objects or situations, but on man’s history and his belonging to a specific moment. I photograph because I want to tell what I see, what I am looking for, what I live.
Each of us, if he is honest with himself, puts his own story and experiences in his images, in a certain sense, speaks of himself.
For those who know me, they know that I am behind the photos in Iraq and behind the photos of D&G or InStyle in Rome.
However, while continuing to have a bad temper, I continue to photograph driven by the curiosity to know the new things around me.
This lecture was originally hosted at VII Interactive, a new resource for sharing insights and information on the craft of visual storytelling. We are building different platforms within the VII ecosystem, where the public can engage directly, online with a live instructor. VII Interactive offers programming that is free and available to everyone, in addition to paid classes and individual mentoring that can be fashioned to your needs.