I have been a cameraman for Reuters since 1998. Until very recently, I was very comfortable with the main traits of my profession, particularly the anonymity of my work and the fact that my pictures were like mayflies, passing quickly in news bulletins before disappearing forever. Up until recently I had very rarely looked back.
“The Surviving Frame” is a collection of photographs and untidy thoughts. The photographs are the result of boiling down hours and hours of footage I shot as a news cameraman over 20 years and across every continent (except Oceania). They are the remnants, the sediment. They are what I found when I finally started to take a look at what remained.
I was inspired to reflect when my son, Martino, started to walk. In that moment, something changed. As I watched this little man venturing fearlessly into his little world, I shivered to think of how little he knew, how little he had seen. So I began to look back, exploring the events I had witnessed and the people I had seen during my countless journeys. To my surprise, my memories did not come back in moving pictures. They came back as stills. As photographs. “Surviving frames,” in other words.
These images were not born as photographs, but they have deliberately become photographs; they were not meant to be photographs, but they have chosen to be photographs. They transformed in my striving for intense storytelling—they took on the form which I think is most capable of this kind of communication: photography.
Working on this project—trying to catch a few surviving frames extracted from years’ worth of moving pictures—has felt like swimming against a strong current, upstream. But it’s a pleasant feeling. I am working both against the current of my personal river that unavoidably pushes me forward and against the tide of a world that produces and consumes an immensity of quickly fading images.
The frames that survived are the ones where I can see a universal lesson about life and the human condition. The stories in these frames go beyond the specific complexities of the historic event or of the news event they portray. I think that my impulse to choose these particular images is related to my son and his budding experience of the world.
The frames that survived were chosen because they capture something archetypical about human life: about why it is so terrifying and so beautiful.
If you’re interested in seeing more work on this and similar topics, we’d recommend the following articles: an interview with award-winning photojournalist Sergey Ponomarev; a recent conversation with legendary Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas that moves from Nicaragua to El Salvador to New England; and Soldiers on Duty, a wide-ranging discussion with one of Russia’s premier photojournalists.