Since I was a child (many beautiful stories begin this way, so… let’s go) I always wanted to be a reporter with a mission. I wanted to travel the world and use signs, images and words for creating engaging stories and maps of all that is experienced: people, smiles, random acts of kindness, the magnitude of nature, creatures of big and small, infinite shades of color, unimaginable places — wild, exotic, normal, strange, unique, surreal, open, confined — needs and assets.
Luckily in 1986, I was able to start my career in the publishing industry when — alongside my daily job as professional skipper (I love the sea!) — I began to work as maritime illustrator (ship-portraitist) for some of the most important maritime museums, magazines and marine companies in France, Norway, USA, and UK.
The first change
One day, somewhere, I read these words: “This planet really does not need more successful people. This planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds”.
I read those words as a call to action. That was my tune: to tell real-life stories through my eyes and a camera. In 1992, I closed my illustration studio to embrace documentary photography. Since then I have built a career that spans from editorial to corporate and advertising, with images published and used in all fields, from social reportages to film, television, marine sports and high fashion.
At that point, commercial storytelling had given me everything that I could desire: the charm to see incredible things and to explore some of the most beautiful places on planet, good money, some fame, applause.
But something was missing and I felt a certain degree of unhappiness. I did not like all that noise in a marketing-driven industry filled with cynicism and absurd expectations: I realized that I was producing things devoid of feeling and warmth. I had forgotten the tune.
The second change
Everything was fine until 2008 when — after hundreds of publications, dozens of documentaries, many exhibitions and countless images published — suddenly, I decided to change everything.
At that time I was producing “Liberamente Angela”, a short-movie dedicated to my great friend, writer Angela Altieri. While I was editing the images, Angela’s voice reminded me — frame after frame — that it was time to walk along a different path, away from cynicism and absurd expectations. Her words reminded me that it was again time to get my hands dirty and my feet wet.
Again it was time to start a journey across the full spectrum of human emotion: joy, pain, hope, despair, belief, disbelief, hatred, love, grace… It was time to look at the other side. It was time to focus my efforts on what really touched my heart. It was time to turn my back on the overcrowded world of mainstream media. And so I did.
The idea of Lerario Photos was born: a nomadic and independent studio driven by the desire to capture the resilience, the quest for change and the aspiration toward beauty that unite human beings across different places, beliefs and cultures.
Back to the basics
Eventually I succeeded in reconnecting my work with my authentic self and, despite the (many) downsides and the (huge!) financial loss, I never regretted that decision. It’s not that easy and I have no exit strategy, but I’m doing exactly what I want to do here. That decision gave me back the deeper meaning of the word “storytelling”.
I know, unfortunately, in the last years, “storytelling” has become one of the most overused word within the creative and media industry. Actually, it is so overused it risks to become meaningless.
Nevertheless, to me, “to be a storyteller” has still an important and exact meaning that has nothing to do with brands, marketing strategies, advertising techniques or political manipulation. To me “storytelling” is still a noble word.
As it has always been for many ancient cultures, when the storyteller’s drum would call people together at sunset to unite the group, to connect the past and the future, to confront problems in a way all the tribe benefit and are richer for it.
In the name of resilience, change & beauty
Now — regardless of location, situation or issue — resilience, change and beauty are the three most common keywords in the images and in the stories we like to tell at Lerario Photos.
Since ancient times these words represent the lowest common denominator of all the stories that are inspiring, moving and bigger than an individual. Each of these words is important by itself but there is something mysteriously powerful that can happen when they came together inside a story.
Because — as our writer Loana Corraini explains here — “we need beauty: it reminds us of our humanity and helps us to keep alive hopes and visions. But we also need to believe in positive change if we want to expend energy, stamina and pride trying to make the best of our own lives and the lives of others. And we do need resilience to preserve our individual integrity and to defend human dignity, the two most powerful instruments with which to progress both on an individual and collective level.”
That’s why — even if as photographer I had often to confront the bad and the evil — resilience, beauty, and a quest for positive change are the things on which, in contrast to sad passions, I focus my eyes when I look at the world.