They say Facebook is evil, that social media keep you stuck in your comfort zone. Maybe, but without it, I would have never met Raffaele Montepaone and his photos.
Actually, I never saw him in person and I didn’t even hear the sound of his voice because he dislikes talking on the phone. All I know is that, when I saw his photos, I instantly decided I wanted to share these images with you.
The result is an interview made by e-mail, something I would normally refuse, but with Raffaele is different. There is so much truth in his pictures, that words are kind of optional.
Who are you, Raffaele?
“I’m 35, I live in Vibo Valentia, a small place in Calabria, Southern Italy. I’m a photographer and I do different stuff, from weddings to reportages. My passion for photography started when I was 12. Since then, I love to give people some kind of immortality with my shots”.
When did you start taking pictures of old people?
“Life and Hands are my two projects focused on Calabrese centenarians which I started eight years ago. In 2007 I worked for a local newspaper and they asked me to do a story about Stilo, a small village nearby. There I met this 90 years old hard working woman, Concetta. At first she didn’t want to be portrayed so I just sat there with her, listening to her story. Eventually, she posed for me and then I understoood I wanted to represent the beauty and greatness of life through those faces”.
Why do you like them so much?
“Their stories and their knowledge are food for my soul. I am Calabrese too and very much into those simple values like family ties, good feelings and the power of sacrifice, as they do. Each of them taught me something”.
Is there anyone whom you particularly remember?
“I came across two sisters. They married two brothers and had totally different lives. The eldest one (centre, below) enjoyed her loving husband, he respected her, gave her wealth and they had many kids. The other (on both sides, below) went through misery and fear, since her husband was violent and jealous. She never was a mother and was very much frustrated. They explained that they had a premonition dream in which the Madonna gave the lucky one some linen sheets (symbol of prosperity) while the younger got a wood bundle, a bad omen. I was shocked to see terror in her eyes and words when she recalled her husband, even though he was dead by that time”.
Where are you showing next your work?
“I’ll take part to the next FFE – Festival Fotografico Europeo starting on March 5th at the Palazzo Leone da Perego in Legnano. The Archivio Fotografico Italiano organises all the events and you can get infos on their website”.