Eric: For this week, I am honored to announce this street photography feature by Wayne Ford, an internationally renowned media neutral and art designer. His work has received international acclaim and has been featured in books, exhibitions, and magazines including D&AD, Type Directors Club, Art Directors Club, Society of Publications Designers, Print, Graphis and Creative Review. You can read more of his thoughts on the photography he is looking at on his website or follow him on Twitter.
Wayne: A self-taught photographer, Paolo Patrizi was born and raised in Italy, before moving to London in the mid-1980s where he began his professional career working as a
photographic assistant, and undertaking freelance commissions for various design groups, and numerous magazines. From the very earliest stages of his career, Patrizi has pursued and develop his own personal projects alongside these various commercial assignments, and it is these personally assigned projects that have become a signature of his oeuvre.
To categorise Patriziʼs output is difﬁcult, for he is what I would term a ʻcomplete photographer,ʼ a rarity, who is equally accomplished in the many genreʼs of photography,
but at the heart of his work, is the ability to create engaging and informative narratives, which have seen his stunning and insightful visual essays appear in such magazines as, Stern, Panorama, Corriere della Sera, GQ, Courrier Japon, Geo, XL Semanal, Handelsblatt, European Photography, The Observer Magazine, and Vanity Fair.
With his relocation to Tokyo in 2005, Patrizi has primarily focused on Asian issues (although not exclusively so), often immersing himself in his subject matter for months at a time, such as his recent essays on Cambodia, and Vietnam, where he has explored the underlying themes and ʻcontradictions between traditions and modernity and cultural disconnections produced from rapid economic growth,ʼ that is evident across the region, and is a common theme evident in much of his work from the region.
But alongside these extensive, and in-depth bodies of work, and the numerous extended trips over several years, he also produces smaller, more intimate bodies of work closer to home, on the streets of the Japanese capital, and elsewhere, such as his ʻStarlingʼ series, a very graphical, almost abstract series produced on a brief visit to his native Rome, which garnered him with a World Press Award in 2009, one of many such international awards that have come his way.
On the streets of Ginza — a district of Chuo, known for its upmarket department stores, and designer retail outlets – Patrizi worked with a toy camera and black-and-white ﬁlm, to create a vignette of the young and chic women who frequent the area. Here amongst the latest seasons fashion of big sunglasses, and even bigger handbags, we experience an elegance that is distinctly cosmopolitan Tokyo, but we also encounter a young woman wearing a traditional kimono. Acting as a visual metaphor, this exposes the dichotomy of modern Japan, a country that on one level is one of the most modern cultures in the world, and yet at the same, its social and cultural roots are ﬁrmly embedded in many millennia of ancient tradition.
Earlier this year Patrizi took to the garbage strewn streets of historic Naples on another of his visits to his homeland, ʻThe garbage crisis in Naples encompasses the worst Italian clichés, and in particular those of the southern part of this lovely peninsula: mismanagement, political interference, maﬁa proﬁteering and the ability of those responsible to deﬂect the attention and the blame elsewhere,ʼ he writes of a situation that saw refuse accumulate over a period of many weeks, and was only ﬁnally collected when it became so bad that the government intervened, and ordered the military to collect the garbage.
During his time in London, Patrizi worked on a number of these smaller but no less focused and powerful projects, including an investigation into the strip joints of Londonʼs
East End that sprung up in local pubs, or ʻboozersʼ as they are known locally, during the 1990s. Although not street photography in the same sense as his Ginza, or Naples work, it is a good example of Patriziʼs craft and approach to his photographic art. With his Leica hidden under his coat, he went unnoticed as he documented not only the strippers as they performed on makeshift stages, including snooker tables, and bar tops; but also the regulars who frequent such venues, capturing the raw reality of these gritty back street ʻboozers,ʼ capturing a moment of rich social history.
Whilst sleeping in public, or whilst at work might be frowned upon in the western world, in Japan it is a sign on an employeeʼs commitment to their job and employer. ʻInemuriʼ is viewed as exhaustion from working hard, and sacriﬁcing a good nights sleep, says Patrizi, who captures businessman asleep in their parked cars, ofﬁce lobbyʼs, and on trains, in and around Tokyo. Whilst his series of portraits captured on the metropolisʼ streets focus on the now ubiquitous wearing face masks — which protect the wearers from germs and infections — masks which have become a visual motif of modern day Japan.
Across the spectrum of Patriziʼs work, we see an approach to visual storytelling that is marked by an intellectual and artistic vigor, at the heart of which is a compassion and feeling for the people and cultures he reveals in his vibrant essays.
Links to Paolo Patrizi
Untitled, from the series Allure.
Links to Wayne Ford
What do you think about Paolo’s work or Wayne’s storytelling? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!