A letter to the world

Where have I been, I have been doing , where am I now,
where am I going

Well, this is a task!

I am not sure how to get this going but I will give it a try. My journey with photography has been quite “bumpy”, with a few stops on the road and  extraordinary human experiences.  I have had the dream to be a photographer  since I can remember. As a teenager in Italy, I was literally following a local photographer on his assignments to learn how to use a camera.  I consider photography a means for expressing human emotions, conditions,  and  a means  to give a voice or speak out about social issues and injustices.  I always felt that, among many other reasons to be, photography can be a vital asset for changing and improving the lives of many by being witness to realities.  My first self assignment was to take pictures of families living in tin homes after years from the earthquake in Italy (1980).  I was quite young then and so open to the world that these pictures hold a particular appeal to me.

In the years that followed I moved to London, where my bumpy road started with travelling,  residing in various places, studying Fine Art Painting and being a full time fine art painter for a while.  I have been taking pictures and working on small essays mainly on refugees from Kosovo in London but  I was  very inexperienced and not confident.  In my clumsy way, I became a volunteer in a refugee centre where I befriended with a few refugees families and started to work around their lives in London.  Looking back, I can say that I followed this methodology  ever since. Most of the time, I entered a community, a situation by being quite close to the subjects I photograph.

The most important turning point for me was a seminar held by the photographer, Marcus Bleasdale. His work was inspirational not only visually but the way that as a photographer he was actively employing his work for campaigning on improving the lives of those he was taking pictures of.  To change or modify legislations in favour to a better working or living conditions, it was just fantastic to hear.  At the time, the seminar gave me the inner confirmation for the numerous possibilities that Photography could engage society in.  Up to that point I considered them to be remote and difficult. Marcus’s seminar gave me the courage to take my camera and go to Kosovo soon after. My idea was to bridge the gap between the refugees from Kosovo in London and those suffering in their country.  So much information was amiss.  Whilst in Kosovo, one of the things that drew me emotionally  was to see so many widows of war. I lived with a widow of war in Mitrovice and her three children for a while.  Some questions started to form in my mind about my practice and the relationship as a photographer to the people and situations that one is photographing. For instance, for a long time I have been feeling down because there was so much expectation from the widows of war that my pictures would have helped them in gaining more support. Back home, though the subject was not in” fashion”.

One of my question, is do we follow our heart  or are we having to modify our direction because of a market out there dictating what is to be published or not?  When I did not manage really to initiate an awareness campaign in support of the widows of war, did I fail as a photographer?  These are one of the main questions left hovering in my mind.

To summarise, since Kovoso Widows of War, I have been working as a photographer doing portrait work, press and teaching in order to finance my long term photography projects and projects with NGOs and charities. Workers conditions, illegal work, minorities and the oppression that corruption has on people, have been the issues that I have mostly being following and that I am drawn to for various reasons, including personal ones.  I have been most happy whenever by myself or with the collaboration with other organisations I have  initiated and created awareness campaigns.  This is what drives me and still does.  My work on illegal coal mining in China initiated a campaign from The Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese in mainland China.  The campaign was aiming to educate on the risks of taking illegal work and subsequently on the rights of the workers.  More recently I have been working on essays dealing with the conditions of minorities within Europe and that I have published  a book “Unwanted in Europe” http://www.blurb.com/books/2513800/pages/2 which I feel it is not final but a starting point.

Where am I at the moment?  I still feel naive in my practice. I wish to have a deeper understanding of what am I doing as a photojournalist, what is my role within society and how to address in the most appropriate way a certain theme . Explore and learn. I am enjoying very much the assignments given. Returning to basics in methodology and technologies is for me like creating a solid foundation, which I have been feeling amiss.

Where am I going?

Building a better understanding of my practice and my role as a photojournalist. Building an ongoing relationship and dialogue with peers and embracing thematics with a wider historical, philosophical and aesthetic awareness and engagement.



  1. Dear Cinzia, your blog post has really moved me. I feel and can relate to your passion for your work; the higher purpose we sometimes are lucky enough to feel and follow. Your work is a source of constant inspiration to me! Please don’t stop taking amazing pictures and telling us the stories we need and want to know about. With much support always.

  2. Halu… 🙂

    Building a relationship with your subject (like you did with the widows) is actually what gives a soul to your work. But somehow, if we are not careful, the work can affect us more than we thought it would. When I was shooting AIDS patients in Papua, and listened to their stories before I ever picked up the camera and shoot, there was one afternoon that I hurried back to my place, not far from the hospice I was shooting, just to cry in my room. It was devastating to know that there has been so little good thing that anyone had ever done to them, while they need a lot of things, and start with someone just to talk to, and make them feel good about themselves. As someone who has faith in God, I knew the ones who wasnt being fair, was the mankind. Life treats you good, but the people isnt.
    But one thing that we all must understand, even if we have this big desire to make change with what we do best (in this case, photography) we should never promise anyone, anything. (unless your editor, ofcourse.. you somehow are bound to promise sending him good pix).
    It’s like doctors, who would try best in healing the patient, but he cant give any promise. He shouldnt. The final decision is not his to make.
    Painful as it is, we cant be naive. There are many aspects to make our work “sells”. Sells as in, people want to see it, care about it and do something with it, while you got enough commissioned to feed yourself and live. And its not just about how good your work is! There are other factors like luck, timing.. and many things.
    Being an independent photographer, is aloooottt of work. Other than spread and building strong networks (especially to people in major media publication), you need to have strong images to convince the people in charge, that the stories you made are worth to be seen, and that something needs to be done to make a change. But hey, of course you know that already! 🙂
    My advice is, before you go out there and shoot, just keep your good intention to yourself while thinking the best possible way to make the stories heard and seen later. As for the subjects you photograph, never promise them anything..
    Sounds like you are good with people, since you seems to be able to approached them and even live with them. But just tell them that you are interested in knowing their life and want to take a closer look. Be their friend, build that connection, that you are good at. Take the pictures you need, but never promise them anything. Hopefully then, you will feel less burden to complete the story, let yourself loose in the creativity, and have a clearer mind to think the “selling” strategy.
    I wish you the very best for your upcoming projects, and even if you should make a high standards to your work, dont beat yourself up too much. I would say to my self, “better luck next time and go ahead, try again” instead of saying, “I have failed.” Embrace life and smile, Ms. D’Ambrozi! 🙂

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