Big Event – Fiera Mercato della Fotografia was held on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October 2023 in Milan. Two days of events, meetings and exhibitions on the world of Italian and international photography held in a very suggestive location at Officine del Volo (formerly Officine Aereonautiche Caproni) in Via Mecenate 76/5 in Milan. The initiative curated by Fabio Prina and Giuseppe Ferraina, managers of FcF Forniture Cine Foto and Milano Sunday Photo was a great event with the collaboration of Loredana De Pace / Studio CAOS as Culture & Communication Manager. If you're a lover of film and digital photography it was also accessible to the public. It was possible to see first-hand the latest technologies, speak with over thirty new authors on display and meet great contemporary photographers.
Among the many high-level interventions, I had the opportunity to interview Paolo Verzone, a photographer with enormous experience who works for National Geographic, award-winning World Press Photo, Picture of The Year International and Canon ambassador. His works can be seen at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the Istituto Nazionale della Grafica in Rome. An enviable CV and a person who has traveled the world. Paolo Verzone presented his latest work called “Arctic Zero” showing a selection of shots while he visited the Svalbard islands, an archipelago north of Norway almost isolated from the rest of the world and his explorations in glaciers and ships.
At the end of the presentation I managed to meet him and we had a wonderful chat about photography and the world of videogames. It was an enlightening meeting and also a comparison. One of the things he has reiterated several times is how he is a big fan of digital and considers it a great achievement for the current world. Paolo Verzone believes that in the current world and in his work, digital is a fundamental tool and an evolution of technology. He takes the example of Leonardo Da Vinci who if he picked up a smartphone today would presumably start making art through it. Unlike many photographers, he would never go back to film and give up the possibility of being able to photograph without limits.
During his speech he says: "Digital cameras allow you to shoot where it was not possible before and penetrate the darkness: it has never been possible before" he continues by saying "today I can enter the darkness and add an almost infinitesimal light and I will shoot you outside the world but above all taking photographs where it wasn't possible before.”
Paolo Verzone is a lover of video games even though he has a job that keeps him away from home many months of the year. “It's fascinating but I have to limit myself because I know I like it and not the other way around. I have a great attraction to video games because I grew up with Space Invaders and I would lock myself away until 2 a.m. I miss them and I know that I would close myself in those worlds and get lost in them."
I asked Paolo Verzone if he was aware of the Photo Mode present in video games "I'm not aware of it but it makes sense and now that I know it I find it super fascinating".
He explains his concept of him if he were to use it to shoot: “You have to make a choice in the visual world, you have to take a shot, you have to think and there is no difference. The challenge is the same and let's see who is better. You will find someone who was unable to come up with anything and someone who was able to see something.”
He continues and talks about Call of Duty having photographed military academy cadets and the difficulty of creating real-time war shots.
“The photo is in the mind of whoever is seeing it, whether it is in a video game or in a square or in nothingness, that is” talking about how there is no difference in taking photographs but the important thing is to do it.
Give advice on how to improve. “Something that can help you and limit you. Try something crazy: a photo for thirty days. You limit yourself but every day you have to take a photo, just one photo, one good photo a day of the same subject. You think about it and I assure you that it is very difficult" he gives an example to better explain the concept "you have a neighborhood where you live, you set up your camera and you have to try to take one good photo a day. You have no idea of the difficulty."
He says he learned this approach while shooting for National Geographic because all photos must have a blurb. After a whole day of photography he stayed up until 5 a.m. writing, trying to remember what pushed him to do.
Paolo Verzone didn't talk so much about photographic techniques but also about what he doesn't like in his shots, how technology is a tool to be used to go and take photographs where no one has done it and not to re-propose the same things already seen.
Talking about how his way of photography has changed over the years “It's your relationship that changes with photography so for me it has never changed. I like it, I still like it and I still think I haven't understood anything. I try to learn every day and have fun doing it like crazy.”