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.