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Marco Di Lauro

Tali, Kenya - February 9, 2011 for AMREF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Tali, Kenya - February 9, 2011 for AMREF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Tali, Kenya - February 9, 2011 for AMREF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Bokariah, Guinea, for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Bokariah, Guinea, for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Bokariah, Guinea, for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Goz Beida, Chad – May 27, 2009 for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Goz Beida, Chad – May 27, 2009 for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Goz Beida, Chad – May 27, 2009 for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Chad, “Internally Displaced” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Chad, “Internally Displaced” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Chad, “Internally Displaced” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Chad, “Internally Displaced” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Chad, “Internally Displaced” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Chad, “Internally Displaced” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

A child waits to be tested for HIV in Singi, Uganda © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
A child waits to be tested for HIV in Singi, Uganda © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

A child waits to be tested for HIV in Singi, Uganda © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan “War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan, “Casualties of The Nameless” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Afghanistan, “Casualties of The Nameless” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghanistan, “Casualties of The Nameless” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

British Field Hospital, Helmand Province, Afghanistan © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
British Field Hospital, Helmand Province, Afghanistan © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

British Field Hospital, Helmand Province, Afghanistan © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Al Musayyib mass grave, Iraq © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Al Musayyib mass grave, Iraq © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Al Musayyib mass grave, Iraq © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Najaf, Iraq - ICRC’s Physical Rehabilitation Center © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Najaf, Iraq - ICRC’s Physical Rehabilitation Center © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Najaf, Iraq - ICRC’s Physical Rehabilitation Center © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Good Willing Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits Afghanistan for UNHCR © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Good Willing Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits Afghanistan for UNHCR © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Good Willing Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits Afghanistan for UNHCR © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Lebanon, “July War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Lebanon, “July War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Lebanon, “July War” © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Haiti, “January 12, 2010″ © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Haiti, “January 12, 2010″ © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Haiti, “January 12, 2010″ © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Yemen assignment for Outside Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Yemen assignment for Outside Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Yemen assignment for Outside Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Khartoum, Sudan © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Khartoum, Sudan © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Khartoum, Sudan © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Kosovo - A Divided Soul © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Kosovo - A Divided Soul © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Kosovo - A Divided Soul © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Kosovo - A Divided Soul © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Kosovo - A Divided Soul © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Kosovo - A Divided Soul © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Venice Celebrates Carnival © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Venice Celebrates Carnival © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Venice Celebrates Carnival © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Boca Culture in Buenos Aires © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Boca Culture in Buenos Aires © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Boca Culture in Buenos Aires © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

"Vatican" © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

"Vatican" © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Bastoy Island Prison assignment for Live Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Bastoy Island Prison assignment for Live Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Bastoy Island Prison assignment for Live Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Helmand Province, Afghanistan – May 31, 2007 © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Helmand Province, Afghanistan – May 31, 2007 © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Helmand Province, Afghanistan – May 31, 2007 © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Attacks in Afghanistan © Marco Di Lauro / AP Photo
Attacks in Afghanistan © Marco Di Lauro / AP Photo

Attacks in Afghanistan © Marco Di Lauro / AP Photo

Israeli Police Unit Deployed Against Resisting Jewish Settlers © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Israeli Police Unit Deployed Against Resisting Jewish Settlers © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Israeli Police Unit Deployed Against Resisting Jewish Settlers © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Food Crisis In Niger, for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
Food Crisis In Niger, for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Food Crisis In Niger, for UNICEF © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

South Sudan Travel Story For Outside Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images
South Sudan Travel Story For Outside Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

South Sudan Travel Story For Outside Magazine © Marco Di Lauro / Reportage by Getty Images

Marco Di Lauro was born in Milan in 1970. Pushed by his mother, he starts practicing photography at a very early age. This passion grows stronger and stronger with time. After studying History of Art and Journalism, he graduates in Photography at IED, Milan. Since then, his career as photographer has been defined and developed greatly - from the first freelance reportages to collaborating with international agencies and magazines, often covering war zones, conflict and natural disasters.
He’s been part of
Getty Images since 2002.


You are a reporter who operates in areas of conflict and humanitarian emergencies. We’d like to start from this experience of yours. First things first: why did you decide to be a reporter in these contexts?

I believe this choice is part of a personal path I started at 18 - I was working as a Red Cross paramedic in Milan, the city I lived in at the time. Perhaps that’s my first experience linked to social [affairs], and that’s when I realized I wanted to do a job that had a social function as well as paying the bills to get to the end of the month… Working as a paramedic has taught me a lot about people, the problems of the society I live in. As I enrolled into Literature and Philosophy with the idea of becoming an art critic I grew more and more passionate about the composition of images, light, painting… Photography was already a hobby my mum had passed on to me when I was a kid, and I was extremely curious about geopolitics and “the rest of the world”…

What are the meaning and the value of this job today, especially in consideration of the shifts in technology and the market? Has the value of this job been altered in some way?

I value it just as much as five or ten years ago, even though the job has changed because the market has changed - and so have the risks inherent to it. Perhaps I think that, considering certain points of view, this job was easier twenty years ago than it is now. Here’s an example: many years ago the danger of kidnapping and extortion was far lower, the spreading of Islamic fundamentalism hasn’t helped out my job - it rendered it more volatile, dangerous and difficult. However, technology has made it even more accessible, even to young photographers who wouldn’t have gone certain places some twenty years ago.

Photographing war inevitably leads to confront death and sorrow. In your photos you don’t back out, and you choose to face them both. That is, it’s not just that and it doesn’t happen at all times. In some of your works, see July War and The Aftermath of Saddam, there are a few images that express this point of view. What’s the importance to capture these two moments of a human being’s life - namely, to give them back to the audience as pictures?

It’s very important, because it’s part of our job’s mission, that is to inform public opinion about the human condition. I don’t back out from the sorrow of photographing my subjects - I do participate of their sorrow in turn, so much so that I always need to shoot from a very close distance. Most of my photos are shot from a very short distance, with a 35mm lens, so that there is never really much distance between me and the subject. Plus, considering the nature of my job, It happens to spend months with these people…

So the reporter’s responsibility emerges, too… That is, giving back the intimacy of these subjects…

It’s extremely important indeed. It’s a big responsibility, but it has its limits: that is being just a single person, documenting a story that may feature several aspects. My truth is always a partial one - it’s filtered by my own opinions and ideas. It doesn’t matter how much I try to be neutral and impartial - I can only be in one place at the time.

You photographers are still aware of the fact that your pictures will end up into an editorial mechanism. Do you wonder about the fact that your photos will enter this articulated process?

I do ponder upon this kind of responsibility, as I work for such a big establishment as Getty - they put online photos that are on display for thousands of clients. Responsibility lays on clients, too, in that they should be used in an appropriate manner - and sometimes it does happen that they won’t be used appropriately. They will be twisted or placed in a wrong context, or the captions [will] be rewritten. They will be even copied and exploited as propaganda, as it happened with one of my photos that I took in Iraq - it got utilized ten years later as propaganda for the Syrian war…
Therefore it’s not a job that you carry on by yourself. Shooting is the phase you do on your own, but the use of the images is so vast and varied that you just won’t have any kind of control whatsoever.

With a career spanning over twenty years, you have seen this job change…

I’ve seen it change mostly in the past five years, towards what I like to call the “image fast food” direction. You don’t take good, solid photos on assignment for magazines any longer - for their assignments have shrunk to an average of three days; rather, you carry them out working on personal projects. If a newspaper asks me to shoot the condition of underage migrants in Sicily and gives me three days to do it, it goes without saying that it’ll be quite unlikely to produce a standout result. Years ago [assignments] would be a week-long projects, which have now been reduced to three days. In-depth work can be carried out if you’re working on personal, long-term projects. Instead, if you’re a news photographer for, say, Getty News, AP, Reuters, when a specific event takes place like in Gaza or Iraq then the agency may allow you some seven months to spend on location and document the situation.
Up to 2007 I was a news photographers for Gerry Images, and as such I’d provide daily reports of the events I was told to cover or that I chose to cover myself. Since 2007, these assignments for the agency’s clients have shrunk to seven, five and then to three days. In the beginning I was able to manage ten assignments of ten-to-fifteen days each a year, whereas now I do forty three-day assignments…
Financially speaking, it hasn’t changed much - however, what’s really changed is the quality of images produced.

Speaking of which, you have a particularly attentive eye for image quality, composition, light… Is it something you force on yourself as a sort of duty…? How important is it for a photographer in connection to this context?

It depends on my cultural formation and artistic background, the studies I’ve done and keep doing on light and composition, the attention and sacrifices I make in producing such images, and - if you will - the luck of having so much time in my hands, when I used to make long-term reportages. If you look at the gallery of “The Aftermath of Saddam”, you’ll find twenty-five pictures, which have been shot over the span of three years as I was covering the war on behalf of Getty Images. Well, during those three years I put online almost 21k images. Obviously I chose the pictures I felt would best represent those three years. You can do this kind of research only when you’ve got enough time - it can’t be done when you have less time. Despite the presence of a certain care and research, you still have to provide information…
As I once told Giovanni Gastel, one of my professors at IED, «the photographer is the result of his socio-cultural background», and I believe it is true indeed. The more one feeds their cultural background, the more their photography will benefit from it.

In The space center you take some composition elements from other reportages, that are typical of documentary photography: the centrality of the subject and symmetries, and the use of normal lenses… Is it the subject that stands out for his own characteristics so that you give him back visually or is it your choice to utilize this style?

First of all, I had never shot in such a context. Shooting from within a space center is undoubtedly different to shooting from a war area in Iraq or Lebanon… Morever, it was a four-day assignment for an American magazine of technologies (and not a news magazine), hence I tried to shape it in a way that would prove satisfactory to the client’s needs. We must bear in mind that there’s a thousand of different styles of photography, and in the end, even though we might consider ourselves as “artists”, you still have a client who’s paying you to get a job done. And you have to satisfy his needs, whilst keeping a similar vision to the one the client has in mind. You don’t always get to shoot the way you wanted or could.

We believe that during certain reportages it’s difficult not getting involved and not feeling the emotion - be it fear or empathy. To what extent does the emotional dimension affect your work?

It counts a great deal, and it’s probably the final outcome of what the image is. If I didn’t feel strong emotions, I wouldn’t manage to convey that sensibility and nearness through pictures. As I was saying before, I need to feel - in a certain way - what the subjects I shoot feel. The massive difference is that I can get away from that condition, whereas they will be left with it anyway. I feel the strongest emotions during the editing process and when I return from an assignment. As I shoot in the most disturbed or dangerous situations, I must try to maintain some sort of filter (not a detachment, because I wouldn’t be able to) from the subjects I shoot - [a kind of filter] that will make me survive and not crumble emotionally.
However, I’ll say that the most painful times of my life have been at my returning home… Throughout the editing process you have to live with the sorrow you’ve absorbed during the job, the ghosts it generates and the nightmares they set free… These kinds of sorrow, you take them with you your whole life… They may “calcify” over time, but you’ll always endure a certain degree of pain - in your eyes or in your soul, one way or another. It goes without saying that to see people die for twenty consecutive years doesn’t do you good. Nobody is immune… Now that I’ve cut back on facing this sort of events, I suffer less… Now that I alternate different kinds of job, I’m leading a more serene life.

Twenty years into this job have influenced your life deeply…

They surely have influenced me until I decided to alternate different types of jobs. Now I do it all,  from commercial to corporate assignments - all the possible genres you can do for an agency such as Getty Images.

What does it mean to you to tell a story though photography? How do you relate to the composition of a story?

To me, narration is simply the unfolding of events. As I follow a story, I don’t have its narration in my mind from the start. I do have a vague idea of it, but the narration itself evolves through single images which have nothing to do with a chronological order - rather, they deal with my emotions. Obviously each single image is capable of narrating, but when I see a photo-report I’d like to see it the same way I read a book, with a prologue, a plot and all the rest… I’d like to feel the way I feel when I finish reading a book.
Despite being extremely solid, I think most of the reportages I see have a much too long editing. At exhibitions and especially at festivals, I see reportages of seventy photographs… There’s no need for such a vast editing in order to make me understand a story. I prefer brevity. Some twenty-five / thirty images would suffice… It’s something you learn, too: the viewer mustn’t get bored… On the other hand, you shouldn’t overload the viewer either. On my website there are roughly eighteen stories… Try to imagine if each story comprised fifty or sixty photos of this kind…

In the  Internally Displaced reportage there’s a photo of a young warrior shot from below, a cigarette in his hand and his eyes straight to camera. Do you recall where that situation originated from? What’s that look for you? Does it resemble other gazes you capture or something specific?

I think it was the look of someone wondering what I was doing… Keep in mind that I spent several days with that person, because he was wounded and following a comrade from one place to the next in this flow of refugees. He probably had got accustomed to my presence. In certain cases, by looking at an image, I manage to perceive whether the gaze belongs to a person who’s just met you, or to someone who knows you already… I don’t feel disturbed by the fact my subject looks into the camera… It depends on what I want to convey, and it depends on whether I like the photo or not during editing… Keep in mind this: I shoot a lot, and my editing process is quite long and accurate, and I don’t do it alone.

There it is… Could you tell us how your editing works?

I have a managing picture editor from Getty Images in New York, Lauren Steel, with whom I’ve been working for many years. Once I’ve finished a reportage, I send her a first editing draft, and we talk it out will we reach an agreed final editing. It’s the luck of being backed up by a very efficient structure. It’s also an individual matter: some photographers do their editing on their own and that’s it. For me, it’s a choice: I like having a confrontation. Photography is a continuous confrontation indeed… For example: I wasn’t satisfied with one of my last editings, so I had Paolo Marchetti do it [who indicated Di Lauro on his passing of the baton]… I’m perfectly okay confronting with different people for editing. In addition, an external eye is not biased by the emotion you’ve felt whilst shooting that particular photo…

Under your website’s portfolio category there is a subsection, Hipstamatic. Are these personal experiments of yours or are they part of an approach to photography through smartphones? What do you think of their use on a professional level?

It’s not a research, and it didn’t express any particular aspiration… Quite simply, unlike other photographers, I don’t stroll around with a camera during my everyday life: I’ll just have my iPhone with me, and I’ll shot whatever captures my curiosity, thrills and amuses me, or surrounds me.
I spend plenty of time in nature, because I’ve a passion for various outdoor sports, and I often shoot using this app. One day I collected all the Hipstamatic photos just for fun, I did an editing and sent it to my editor in NY, asking her to help me create a series I could upload to my website as a divertissement… And it stay there! It’s a game. However, there are renowned photographers who use these apps to shoot works that end up winning the WPP - see Ben Lowy. To me, it’s simply a game. To others, it’s a research… Something serious.

How are you interacting with multimedia? Do you consider it a field of development for your profession?

I deem the multimedia dimension particularly fundamental and captivating. I think nowadays no photographer is really exempt from the skill of making videos. I have a big client I work for on a regular basis for whom I create videos. However, I must admit I feel much more comfortable with the simplicity of an image rather than the motion of a video. Had I wanted to be a video-maker, I’d have done that instead of being a photographer. Technology has changed, the needs of magazines have changed. Obviously, if you have the possibility to make videos, you’ll get many more job opportunities compared to those who only takes photos. I think that the merging of text, images and videos, if put together in a certain way, can create a marvelous product, with a much higher impact that a mere photograph. It takes much longer, though. It requires having different skills and a team-work.

You’re part of the Getty agency, which has recently changed its relationship with online images. What changes for you, the professionals? Has journalism changed?

The use of different technologies has surely been part of this change. However, the big change lies in the new business, too. Namely, ever since the editorial industry faced its crisis and funds decreased, you look for funds in different contexts. This is change, too: the diversification of business itself…

Are there any personal projects you’re working on?

Not at the moment, no. I’m trying to head towards what I call “the third phase” of my life and career: the first phase was being a news photographer (from the start of my career until 2007), the second phase was between 2007 and now, i.e. working on assignments from an agency for clients of the agency. From now on, I’d like to try and produce personal projects that interest me, on the long run. I think I’ve reached my professional maturity, and the financial solidity to do it. I’ve a couple of ideas on things I’d like to do, but I won’t tell you…

What do you want to give us back through photography? Where does your gaze look at?

My gaze goes out to people who need it. The need of telling stories. The need of having a voice that gets raised to the attention of the public opinion. I’m not interested in photography per sé: honestly, the fact I’m a photographer is a pure chance - maybe it’s because of my talent, the possibilities I’ve had, the influences I’ve lived… Had I been a photographer or writer, a journalist, a sculptor or a painter, my attention would have been channelled towards the need of telling about social problems, or themes that need to be told. I wouldn’t like being a sports or a fashion photographer. I’m interested in telling stories that deal with social issues.

Who do you pass the baton to?

To Martina Cirese.

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