Dario Mitidieri

In conversation with… Dario Mitidieri

Each month we feature a different artist in our 3×3 Instagallery. This month, our artist in residence is photojournalist Dario Mitidieri, twice winner in the World Press Photo contest.


So Dario, we’re storytellers, you’re a storyteller. How central is storytelling in your work?

Since I have started working as a photojournalist back in 1987, storytelling has been at the centre of my work. Being able to tell a story through pictures is a mental process and an exciting way to experience a new situation, regardless if is the backstage of a fashion show or a shelter for street children in India. It is a satisfying way to look at life and often I feel incredibly privileged to witness and experience something that most people will not be able to.


And what gets you in the mood to create? What sparks your creative juices?

What gets me inspired the most is the work of other photographers. And not necessarily the work of great masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastiao Salgado or Robert Frank, to name of few. But especially the work of emerging photographers, who often risk their lives to cover important stories, with little or no money. This is very evident when attending the World Press Photo ceremony in Amsterdam or the international festival of photojournalism Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, where incredible work created by incredibly talented photographers is on display. In most cases the work is self financed and hardly published in the printed media.

Bombay, India, 1992

Tell us your secret, what makes a great shot?

When I look at a photograph I always ask myself “What’s the point?”. Is it a photograph with great content? Does it convey a social meaning? Does it move me? Does it inspire me? Is it aesthetically amazing? Does it have a great composition? A good photo should have at least one of these requisites. A great photo will have all of them!

My opinion about what makes a great shot has not changed, but my opinion about the delivery of great photos has. For the most part of my professional life, I have always been drawn towards analogue black and white photography and reportage photography in particular, whilst now I have embraced all mediums, including digital photography, fine art and photography shot on different cameras and gadgets such as potable phones, as long as my question is answered: “What’s the point?”


What should the creative industries do more of?

What I would love to see more is for the creative industry to push more for social responsibility. There is no reason why advertising could not be used in a more challenging way, by telling stories about big brands whilst raising money and awareness. Global campaigns, involving global brands, where advertising can be used to sell products as well as to promote social change. I am not a particular fan of Oliviero Toscani, but I love what he did at Benetton. Oliviero Toscani MADE Benetton with his controversial ‘United Colors of Benetton’ campaign, whilst using the power of advertising to bring into the open subjects such as AIDS, Sex and Religion.


What tips do you have for young artists?

“Don’t give up”, of course. The creative industry, and photography in particular, is a tough and often brutal industry. There will be a lot of setbacks and becoming a working photographer is a rollercoaster ride. When going on job’s interviews, don’t believe other people telling you that your work is great. Most likely they are lying. Put you ego aside and ask instead for a truthful and critical review of your portfolio.


Last of all, what’s next for Dario Mitidieri?

On a smaller scale, I am going to Rome next week and again at the end of September to shoot a rebranding campaign for a re-launched hotel. What makes the project interesting is that I have not been asked to photograph the hotel in a traditional way, but instead to tell story of the hotel by photographing the experiences that the hotel has to offer and the historical context of the location.

I am also in discussion with a NGO working with street children in Afghanistan and hopefully I will be involved in this campaign as well.

Exciting stuff and a nice mix, happy shooting!