Look through all the Netflix shows and movies, scroll through your Kindle, search all you want: there always comes a time when you can’t find anything good to watch or read. And you give up. You decide to listen to music, but even your own playlists have started to sound ho-hum. It happens to all of us.
So here is a quick little selection of things that deserve to be seen, read, and listened to. Unsolicited advice, sometimes haphazard and perhaps questionable, but valid for one fundamental reason: they’ve left an impression on us. And, who knows? They may leave one on you too.
The technique and creativity of true innovators
Strictly unsolicited advice about things we’ve seen, heard, read or listened to since the start of 2023. Creative challenges that have led to unconventional techniques. Original ideas that have evolved into something amazing.
For those looking for inspiration, here is our short and practical list of things that deserve a “Wow!”.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Elusive and powerful. A drama-adventure slash science-fiction comedy with existential urges that kept us on the edge of our seat minute after minute as it transported us from a laundromat to the Alphaverse. Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (pseudonym: Daniels) this jewel of a film seems to say that, if life has no meaning, then every moment is surely significant. Released last year, the film returns to the cinema in February 2023 thanks to its recent victory at the Golden Globes, Oscar nominations and other awards. A must-see!
A professor, a fire, the choices of a lifetime in question. David Mazzucchelli’s first graphic novel is a masterpiece. The story begins when a lightning strike pierces the night on Asterios Polyp’s 50th birthday. From then on, it’s a journey toward destiny. To be devoured.
Even if the plot is nothing extraordinary, this experiment produced by Netflix merits watching. It’s the first series consisting of eight episodes that can be viewed in random order. The title of each one is a color and, just like in a kaleidoscope, the colors can be combined every which way. Creativity for the viewer (there are 5,040 possible ways to discover the story!) and a remarkable technical-stylistic exercise. To study.
The Last of Us
While awaiting the release of the entire HBO TV series (January and February 2023), we highly recommend the original videogame: one of the best of all time (and one of the most awarded too). Plot, music, design: everything about its release in 2013 was a revelation. And everything remains, even today, practically unsurpassed. To play or re-play.
The Extended Mind
Rather than using your head to find creative solutions, at times, it might be more useful to use your body. Or at least, this is the advice of Annie Murphy Paul, a renowned science writer whose book explains how, to think better, sometimes you need to use your brain less. A must-read.
Translated by ROI Edizioni.
Innovation / Insights
Feb 14 - 2024
Reading time: 3'
Blossom AI HUB. What We mean by evolution
We are in the midst of a digital revolution, witnesses to a groundbreaking shift: something that will transcend technology as we know it and become part of our social and cultural fabric. Consciously or not, we are moving away from traditional methods as we embrace artificial intelligence, triggering significant changes in human interactions, industries, and power systems.
THE LOCUS OF CHANGE
With life moving at an ever-faster pace in a rapidly evolving technological landscape, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The onslaught of digital novelties and the constant influx of information can be challenging to manage, even for the most experienced.
The new Blossom AI Hub was born for this reason. Our AI Hub doesn’t aim to be a center for technological advancement, but a place to help people understand this moment and cultivate a mindset open to change. Our purpose is to support and prepare businesses and individuals so they can face the future head-on. This is our idea of evolution: a shared attitude that embraces the future.
A VIBRANT COMMUNITY
Sharing is a fundamental element of this attitude towards change. That’s why we’ve chosen to create a HUB, because we aim to build a broad community capable of encompassing employees and entrepreneurs, experts and enthusiasts, all driven by the desire to seek new solutions, learn new things, and exchange ideas that redefine the boundaries of innovation.
AN INVESTMENT IN TOMORROW
At the center of everything, of course, are people. Without people, there is no innovation, let alone evolution. That’s why continuous learning is key: in the last year at Blossom, we have significantly invested in internal training, completing over 960 hours of AI training in less than four months, involving all of our collaborators. A mission that goes beyond Artificial Intelligence, because continuous education stimulates people and creates an environment open to transformation.
TOWARDS THE FUTURE
By integrating AI into our work and investing in training, we have gained strategic awareness of its best uses, limitations, and possibilities. With the launch of our AI Hub, we are now ready to offer a wide range of services to accompany clients on their journey to deepen their knowledge and the application of AI in their work.
For us, change is not an abstract concept but the concrete result of a series of choices and actions that can be learned and applied anywhere.
The AI HUB has been created with the aim of sharing our vision and our latest findings. Because for us, evolution is – above all – a shared mindset, a real approach to change.
The Static Force of Photography. An Interview with Giulio Di Sturco
The winner of the three-time World Press Photo on his current work: “I don’t care about the photography. I care about what a person discovers beyond my photos.”
Read the interview.
READING TIME 10′
Giulio Di Sturco is one of Italy’s most prominent documentary photographers. Through his lens, he’s told stories from around the world. His “gaze” possesses the extraordinary ability to make viewers pause and ask themselves, “What am I looking at?”
We meet with him via video call. He’s connected from his studio in Arles, the European capital of photography. The encounter is digital, but with Giulio, the conversation feels instantly genuine and grounded. Perhaps it’s because it’s August. It’s hot, and we’re all a bit more relaxed, or perhaps it’s his Ciociaro accent. Either way, we feel immediately at home. And not just any home, but the home of a master in international photography. We take advantage of the moment and delve right in with a question that leads us catapults us into his life.
Q. What did we interrupt with this call, Giulio?
A. I’ll give you two answers, one less formal and one more formal. The first is that my wife and my 4-year-old daughter went on vacation, so I was enjoying the silence and solitude (he laughs). No, actually, I’m editing a book on a project I’ve just finished… Well, I’m not sure if it’s really finished, but it needs to be organized. It’s a project about airport cities (note: the project is Aerotropolis) I started it in 2014. Now I’ve printed all the photos and I’m selecting them. Then, a contemporary art curator will help me piece it all together. You know, on long-term projects, an external perspective is crucial. It always seems to me that something is missing, but that’s not necessarily the case…
Q. That’s great news! But before we talk about the future, let’s go back to the very beginning. When did you realize you would become a photographer?
A. I come from four generations of photographers. I’m from Roccasecca near Cassino, a town in the lower Lazio region. During the famous Battle of Monte Cassino, my great-grandfather took photos of soldiers fleeing the war. Then, my grandfather and my parents continued the tradition: they had a portrait studio in town. But in those days, as per the norm, I ruled out the possibility of following in their footsteps. Then I went to study at IED in Rome, and that’s where I met Angelo Turetta. He’s one of Italy’s most important documentary photographers and a renowned scene photographer. He has an energy, a way of immersing you in stories, in a reportage, that I really liked. He was the light that illuminated everything.
Q. Do you remember your first documentary project?
A. Of course! After school, I moved to Canada. Back then, “city portraits” were in fashion. I wandered around and took photos, while also working with an Italian wedding photographer in Toronto. I saw these absurd weddings and explored the city. But instead of “city portraits,” I was essentially documenting my own experience… When I returned home, I put the work together and, quite unexpectedly, sold it to “Amica,” a magazine that featured a lot of reportages at the time. From there, I said, “Cool!” And I started going back and forth between Canada and the USA: I would go, take photos, come back, and sell the reportages. That’s how I eventually joined the Grazia Neri agency.
For me, a photographic project is like a movie: it needs a plot, it has to tell a story.
Q. You’ve always told stories with your photos. Why?
A. Yes, that’s right. I’ve never focused on pure news or events. I’ve never been able to think about a single photo. I’m not interested in the beauty of the photo itself. I’ve always wanted to piece together photos so they tell a story.
Q. Over the years, your stories have become increasingly “involved.” As a photojournalist, you’ve worked for many NGOs, various United Nations agencies, and numerous humanitarian organizations. How did that happen?
A. It happened because at a certain point in my life, I moved to India. For me, that’s where my real career began. At that time, India was experiencing a massive economic boom. Everyone wanted stories about India, and I had become somewhat known as “the Southeast Asian photographer.” I started working with The New York Times and National Geographic, and from there, collaborations with Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International, Save the Children, and some United Nations agencies began. It was through some of those projects that I met Blossom, by the way… Back then, I was shooting in black and white with a very dramatic style.
Q. Today, your work still revolves around social issues, but you’ve completely changed your approach to photography. Why?
A. While in India, I began to feel like I was telling the same stories over and over again. It might have worked for me, as I already knew which photos resonated and how to support the work of many NGOs. But I was afraid of going on autopilot. So, at that moment, I decided to look for other ways to address the same issues.
At a certain point in my career, I decided to seek a different, more metaphorical language.
Q. Is that how your Gang Ma project was born?
A. Yes, exactly. At the time, I was interested in climate change, and the Ganges River forced me to change my approach to reportage. Before, I would be in the midst of Kashmir during a war, where everything (too much!) happened right in front of me. In this case, I was positioned on the Ganges where nothing was happening. It wasn’t enough to set up the camera and capture everything going on around me. I had to find the right way to tell my story, my idea.
Q. Why did you feel such a strong need to find a new aesthetic?
A. Because I felt that new images were needed to shake up people’s thoughts. When talking about water pollution, for example, all the photos used to show plastic bottles in the water. I felt like that approach was no longer effective. We needed a more delicate, less explicit way to convey the message. Or rather, that’s what I wanted to do. So, Gang Ma was born, where pollution is what makes the photos aesthetically beautiful. Anyone can be drawn to these photos because of their colors and compositions, but it takes a moment to realize that the beauty of the colors is due to pollution. It’s certainly less immediate photography, but for me, it’s more powerful. Because it’s not finished; it leaves room for interpretation first, and reflection later.
Unfinished photography is not disposable. It takes more time, but for me, it’s more powerful.
Q. From the way you describe it, it sounds more like contemporary art than documentary photography. Do you agree?
A. I’m not sure… Perhaps now my photography lies somewhere between documentary and fine art photography… But these are just definitions. In any case, I come from documentary photography, from “real things.” I always want to show you something real. The difference is that today, I want to take something real and transport you to another dimension. But that doesn’t mean it’s not social or political photography.
Q. Is this what you’re pursuing in your current projects as well?
A. Yes, for me, that’s still the focus. The thing is, I don’t want to say whether something is right or wrong anymore. We’re surrounded by people passing judgments without real knowledge, and today it’s impossible to know everything. That’s why I prefer unfinished photography. Because it represents a “reality” that may be unknown, perhaps is still in its infancy, and brings it to people’s attention.
Let me give you an example: when I exhibit my airport city projects (the most recent one was in Padova), some people react very strongly, saying, “This is hell on earth!” Others are attracted and fascinated by them. That’s because they’re fake, constructed cities, but their architecture is futuristic, so they hold a certain beauty, giving the idea of a functional city. Opposite reactions to the same photo.
Q. How do your current projects come about? What sparks your curiosity today?
A. Well, looking at my projects with a bit of perspective, I realize that I’m working on the future and on solutions that might become the norm in twenty, thirty, or a hundred years. Airport cities are places where we might live in the future: cities where the airport is at the center, and everything revolves around it; a structural change that is anthropological. The pediatrics department in Bristol, where I’m about to shoot a documentary video, saves premature babies at 22 weeks who had no chance of survival twenty years ago. Then there’s the space project, and on standby, another one about transhumanism featuring a series of photos of humanoids I shot in China… Anything that pushes the boundaries of the foreseeable future, in other words. I would say I’m doing science fiction, but with photos of real things.
Q. Do you have a photo you are particularly attached to?
A. One? No, no… Because photography bores me…
Q. Can I write that down? Watch out, Giulio, I’m going to use it as a headline if you say that…
A. (laughing) And that’s how I stopped working… No, but it’s true! Photography itself is just a tool. I’m much more interested in the concept, the idea, the project. And you know what else? Every time I shoot, for example, for the space project, I think I’ve taken the best photo of my life. Then I come back, take more photos, and I like those even more. In short, when I take the perfect photo it will be time to retire.
Q. What do you enjoy looking at instead? Where do you find your inspiration?
A. Can I make another strong comment? (he laughs) I’m not interested in photography. I don’t look at it anymore.
Q. Getting better and better, I’d say… What do you mean?
A. No, seriously, I look at very little photography because I know it stays in my mind, and then, even unconsciously, I might end up reproducing things that have already been done. So, I prefer to look elsewhere. I read a lot of science fiction, watch a lot of TV series, view a lot of art: the surrealists, the futurists, and De Chirico are a great source of inspiration.
Q. Does photography have power for you?
A. Well… that’s one of the big questions about photography. If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have told you that photography changes the world, that we reporters give a voice to those who don’t have one, etc… The truth is, I don’t believe that anymore. Now I don’t want to change anything.
Q. So why do you do it, if I may ask?
A. Because photography gives me the opportunity to enter places that would be inaccessible. Because it allows me to bring out an idea and engage in a dialogue with the people who view it. Because, in any case, photography has great value, what I call “static force,” because it demands time from those who look at it and forces them to reflect, to ask questions. For me, today, this is stronger than saying, “Look, there’s a war here: these are the good guys, and those are the bad guys.” I believe a photo can say (or not say) much more than that.
Q. Your future dream?
A. To continue doing what I do, with the freedom with which I’m doing it. Because I do have to say, I’m happy with everything I’ve done: the awards, the people I’ve worked with, the works, the books… I can only be happy because I’ve been truly fortunate in life…
To be a photographer, you need a lot of curiosity and intelligence, and a lot of luck.
Q. When were you lucky?
A. The first World Press Photo was a total stroke of luck!
Q. You really didn’t expect it?
A. Absolutely not. I was 25 years old. I only submitted the entry because a friend had insisted. I didn’t want to send it… And yet, I won. Back then, such a victory was the equivalent of an Oscar; so, it certainly changed the course of my life… I’d be ungrateful if I said otherwise.
Luck or not, what’s certain is that since that day, Giulio Di Sturco has won many more awards. Over the years, he’s never stopped seeking new stories and different ways to tell us what’s happening in the world. Amid light and dark, problems and innovations, his perspective is a precious one that enlivens curiosity and understanding. Because sometimes, communicating isn’t about providing the answers, it’s about asking the right questions.
Oct 6 - 2023
Reading time: 1'
Communication makes a difference. A short video inside the life of an advocate
Jon Lidén seems to have lived a hundred lives. From anthropologist to war reporter and journalist, speechwriter for WHO, and Communications Director for a major NGO, Lidén has experienced the profound effects communication can have on the world over and over again. Today, he is Senior Strategy Advisor at Blossom, and in this extraordinary interview he shares his incredible story.
READING TIME 2′
In the world of social communication, when a strategic campaign succeeds, it can unleash extraordinary power. Convincing policymakers, mobilizing civil society, and securing crucial funding for social causes can literally alter the course of history. Sound like an exaggeration? Just listen to the words of Jon Lidén, and you’ll quickly realize it’s not.
Born in Norway but a global citizen, Jon Lidén now serves as Global Health Senior Strategy Advisor at Blossom. He is also one of the foremost international experts in mobilization and fundraising campaigns for humanitarian causes, especially in the field of health.
During the interview, Jon takes us from his couch in Geneva to the Philippines, traveling through Africa, Cambodia, wars, conflicts, politics, pandemics, WHO meetings, and major charity events. He shares countless instances where the right combination of meaningful messaging and action triggered positive chain reactions and tangible results for the common good. In other words, he tells us about all those times when communication became a means to create a real impact and, at least in part, made the world a better place.
Jeremy Bogen, Senior Social Media Strategist at Blossom, on social media as a catalyst of social change. Let’s dive in!
READING TIME 9′
Is social media still a relevant tool for social change and positive impact? The short answer: absolutely, even if times are shifting. It’s certainly been a wild ride so far, but there’s no denying the profound impact social media has had, and continues to have, on driving social change around the world.
For the humanitarian world, the difficult truth is that reaching and engaging audiences on social media has become a hell of a lot harder, and for some, prohibitively expensive. Today, showing up in an audience’s feed and making people care requires a well-oiled social media team able to craft workable strategies, captivating storytelling, eye-catching content and targeted outreach.
Social Media is dead. Long live Social media!
Even though some say differently, we are not in a post-social media era. That’s a far-fetched idea and nowhere close to the reality of the world we live in. Social media plays a huge part in our everyday lives.
It’s where we get our news, how we communicate with friends and family, and what allows us to comfortably isolate ourselves while feeling connected at the same time.The discord surrounding a post-social media era is just another topic “experts” use to predict what’s coming next, what the latest trend will be. But claiming to know the next big thing is tricky, even for the people who sit in executive meetings in the C-suites of X, Meta, TikTok, Google or Linkedin.
Sure, there’s always something new in the pipeline, like the recently launched Threads. Maybe it will take off or maybe it will be the next Google+. It’s always so interesting to see which new platforms have the impossible to predict power to make people change their digital habits.
The most exciting part about the “next big thing” is that we don’t see it coming. We rarely ever do.
Social media communications for international ORGs and NGOs used to be a much simpler job when it was truly social; let’s call this the “pre-monetization era.” Organic growth and engagement were earned, not paid for. Social media strategies were driven, first and foremost, by actually being social and creating engaging storytelling via micro-narratives. Today, the landscape for international ORGs and NGOs is tougher and requires expertise in strategy, creativity, production, media buying, channel management and project management. We’ve also become slaves to algorithms, which ultimately determine the content of every user’s feed.
The good news, however, is that social media remains a powerful medium where people connect, share information, and tell stories that can mobilize activism, inspiring small individual actions that make real differences.
The gold standard for covering social issues via social media is New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to write social media posts, Kristof is one of the best because of his authenticity and direct engagement with his followers.
He once wrote about a woman whose life was torn apart after photos of her appeared on PornHub without her permission. The situation escalated until she lost everything. Kristof didn’t write the story to solicit donations, but his post spurred enough people to contribute that she was able to restart her life. Plus, the outrage caused by the article created significant backlash towards PornHub, which changed its policies as a result.
What’s the lesson to be learned here for an NGO? No story is too small, because you never know who’s listening. And, even if it’s just a few people, they can still make a real difference. Be a storyteller for the people you support, even if it’s just a text post. Do it with compassion and respect for the subject. When your audience comments, tell them how they can help. Always respond, even in cases where there’s no specific action they can take.
Impact for good on social media doesn’t need to be defined by millions of views or thousands of engagements. Yes, algorithms on Facebook and Instagram make it more difficult to reach large swaths of existing audiences, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
Let’s get to work
A common topic that comes up when we talk about strategy with clients is: “What’s trendy on social media right now? What should we be doing?” No matter the trends or what the new tools are, the focus needs to be on content and narrative to raise awareness and engage.
Nine-step Social Media campaign
1) Set realistic and meaningful objectives and determine if social media is the right platform to achieve those goals.
2) Map your audience, meaning:
– Define your key target audiences
– Set a campaign objective for each audience group
– Identify the best channel to reach each audience
– Decide what type of content will best reach and engage each audience group
– Establish the KPIs for each target audience (i.e. number of video shares by partners, etc.)
3) Based on the results of Steps 1 and 2, craft a creative campaign that will resonate with your audience, develop the topline key messages, and, of course, a hashtag.
4) Design your content strategy based on a narrative that will boost and maintain audience engagement.
5) Plan an editorial calendar and determine the assets you will need to execute it.
6) Decide if a paid promotion strategy will be necessary to achieve your campaign objectives. If so, define the budget, channels and content that will be prioritized for paid promotion.
7) Build out a strong list of supporters, partners and influencers who can amplify your campaign reach.
8) When the production of assets is complete, create a toolkit for partners on your amplification list.
9) Launch, measure, adjust and… enjoy the ride!
Good VS. Evil
Today, a lot of attention is given to the harmful impacts of social media: divisive and hateful political discord, bullying, fraud, fake news, etc… The list is long. But if an NGO is credible and its messages are concise, factual, and backed by solid data and information from reliable sources, it can handle the risks.
For instance, let’s say a climate-focused NGO is running an awareness campaign about the need to stop the use of coal. Algorithms tend to behave as follows: people who agree with the NGO’s messages will see the content, and if it’s compelling, they’ll engage and the algorithms will reward the account/posts with more visibility.
If a pro-coal group sees the campaign’s organic visibility success, chances are they’ll create a counter campaign rife with false messaging about how harmless coal is. They might even invest in a media content boost…
And voilà, the social media Good vs. Evil battle is on.
What can an organization do? The NGO just wanted to increase awareness about a key contributor to climate change, and now they find themselves in a fight to defend the truth. Rather than attacking the other side or responding negatively or emotionally to comments, the best strategy is to reply politely and professionally. Craft a boilerplate, fact-based response that includes relevant links to the source of the data-backed evidence. An unemotional tone is crucial: don’t attack the messenger, just address the false message. And don’t forget to report any posts that violate the platform’s policies regarding fake news and false information.
In it for the long haul
Social media has to be thought of as a long game where we need to stay active, present and responsive. Most importantly, be disciplined: an effective content strategy must provide consistently compelling and relevant content. If a post is designed only to inform a few stakeholders, then email is probably the best channel. Long-term commitment to this approach will pay off in many ways, especially for the positioning of the NGO’s brand identity.
One trend we are currently seeing is the result of user dissatisfaction with algorithms curating their feeds. Many people have decided to take matters into their own hands by going “old school” and spending more time in groups and smaller communities. Even Mark Zuckerberg has talked about how people are changing their social media habits. According to Facebook, more than 1.4 billion people are active in groups every month.
Telegram and Discord channels have become hugely popular with groups and are gaining ground with people following news in real-time much like they do on Twitter (X).
For humanitarian organizations, this is good news because they can connect directly with their audiences by building groups that will grow organically through their most engaged followers.
Thanks for reading and… see you online, maybe in the next Facebook Group!
Arts & Culture / Culture
Oct 6 - 2023
Reading time: 3'
Striking shots. Inside Steve McCurry, Dario Mitidieri and Joey L. works
Giuseppe Ceroni of Sudest 57 shares his personal insight on three international photography stars.
READING TIME 6′
Steve McCurry, Dario Mitidieri, and Joey L. represented in Italy by the Sudest 57 agency. They belong to three different generations, hail from different nations, and embody a unique story. At the same time, all of them exemplify the extraordinary power that photography can wield over society. Time and time again, their shots have shed light on places, cultures, issues, and fragilities in our world, capturing the public’s attention.
To discover how the artists work and what drives them, we interviewed Giuseppe Ceroni, from Sudest 57 agency. The photographic consulting and production agency collaborates with the photographers in various stages of commissioned projects, managing their relationships with clients and contracts. For those who may not be familiar with their work, here is a brief introduction of each photographer.
Steve McCurry: The Living Legend
Born in 1950, Steve McCurry needs no introduction. The world’s most renowned active photographer, he’s a true global icon with a broad and diverse audience spanning all ages and social backgrounds. In addition to creating some of the century’s most iconic images (such as the “Afghan Girl”), he boasts a photographic archive comprising an impressive quantity and quality of shots accumulated over a career spanning more than 40 years. Among his numerous endeavors is Imagine Asia, a non-profit organization founded by Steve McCurry and his sister Bonnie. The association carries out projects in Afghanistan, with a special focus on children and women.
Dario Mitidieri: Advocating for Rights
Born in 1959, Dario Mitidieri is an internationally acclaimed Italian photographer and one of the most awarded. A veritable reporter, his work is characterized by a genuine, sensitive approach to the subjects he captures. Each of his photographs weaves together tales, stories, and emotions. Mitidieri is one of the few who has snapped “the iconic photo,” much like Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, James Nachtwey, Gianni Berengo Gardin, and a handful of others. His series, “Lost Family Portraits,” drew global attention to the plight of Syrian families taking refuge in Lebanon.
Joey L.: Beyond Photography
Born in 1989, Joey L. has been a professional photographer since the age of 17 and is one of the most intriguing young talents in the international photography scene. Along his noteworthy path as a portraitist, storyteller and video-maker, Joey L. alternates between commissioned productions and personal work. He recently published his latest book, “Ethiopia,” a collection of images from over 10 years of work. He’s received several awards for his short film, “People of the Delta,” and has collaborated with numerous brands engaged in social activities.
We asked Giuseppe Ceroni for his insight on the photographers and their work.
Q. In your opinion, based on your familiarity with each photographer, what common traits do they share?
A. It may sound trivial, but what these great artists have in common is a passion for their work. For example, I’ve seen Steve McCurry take his camera and go out to shoot street photography after a strenuous day of shooting for a client… The same goes for Dario, who always has his Leica with him. Joey L. is the embodiment of dedication to work in all its phases.
I’ve seen Steve McCurry take his camera and go out to shoot street photography after a strenuous day of shooting for a client
Q. What makes them unique?
A. It’s difficult to define these artists in a single word, but I can say that Steve McCurry is unique for his sense of composition, skillful use of color, and his ability to see the scene. Dario Mitidieri is unique for his ability to isolate the situation and convey the boundaries of a story. Joey L. for his methodology, which allows him to control every phase.
Q. Besides the iconic photo and individual personal projects, what’s the significance and advantage for a brand, foundation, or organization that works on a project with professionals of their caliber?
A. Sudest 57 was founded in 2002 with the idea of connecting great photographers with companies and foundations to create special collaborations for both parties. Working with renowned artists to convey their vision through more personal and engaging images, distinct from those of commercial or fashion photographers, injects fresh energy, inspires new perspectives, and fosters discussions in the corporate realm. Moreover, the projects become part of the brand or foundation’s history. For the artists, aside from the economic compensation, which is often reinvested in personal research projects, it’s a way to take on new challenges and share their art.
Q. How do the best social photography projects come about?
A. There’s no single recipe, but there are various examples that demonstrate how it’s possible to build powerful projects capable of impacting society. Some may be fundraising projects, like the one created some time ago for the “Doppia Difesa” association with Eolo Perfido, where he portrayed 30 men holding a red shoe to raise public awareness about violence against women. Others, like Dario Mitidieri’s “Lost Family Portraits” project, were created with Cafod and M&C Saatchi to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees.
There are also projects fully supported by a brand for informational and educational purposes, such as Lavazza’s sustainability project, “Tierra!” – a photographic documentation by Steve McCurry spanning 10 years – or Joey L.’s project for Novartis, which took him to six countries on four continents to capture stories that change the lives of doctors, scientists, and patients.
Q. Do the best opportunities always arise from new productions?
A. No, not necessarily. I recall, for instance, the exhibition “Children” organized in Bologna for the International Day of Children’s and Adolescents’ Rights proclaimed by the United Nations. On this occasion, some of the most impactful images of children by Dario Mitidieri, Steve McCurry, and Elliott Erwitt were selected, generating great media and public interest. Looking ahead, in November 2023, there will be GoodstArt, the second edition of an important charity project with the art world. The auction, conducted with Christie’s and Triennale Milano, will raise funds for the Neuro-motor Rehabilitation Center for Children that the Tog Foundation will inaugurate in Milan in autumn. Four of our artists – Dario Mitidieri, Susi Belianska, Eolo Perfido, and F31 – have donated a photograph close to their hearts from their archives.
Photography has the unique power to convey a message in an instant, but you can also spend hours just looking at it.
Q. Do you truly believe that photography can act as a catalyst for change?
A. Yes, I genuinely believe that an image can effectively convey messages and drive change. Or rather, it’s already happened.