After Paolo Verzone was named a finalist in the LensCulture Exposure Awards, he then went on to win third prize in the “Portraits, stories” category at World Press Photo! In Amsterdam, at the World Press Photo Award Days, we had the chance to sit down with Verzone and find out more about his (doubly) award-winning work. He also shared insights about the unique power of portraiture and lessons learned from a life-time spent making pictures. Enjoy!

For more than 200 years, Europe has had an important tradition of military schooling, where the officers-to-be are trained. The academies are the guarantors of military tradition and of the ancient values attached to the army. They also safeguard strong national identities, each claiming to form the basis of a country’s soldierly honor.

But at the same time that each of these academies is deeply rooted in their respective homelands, the military academies also represent a bridge between the European people. In a united Europe, the academies—and their graduates—are seldom opposed. So, these bastions of nationalism have slowly begun to open up to one another.

Long-interested in the quest for a European identity, Paolo Verzone uses portraits of the cadets from the most important academies on the continent to examine the tension between each country’s long-held histories as well as their painstaking steps towards integration.

For Verzone, the cadets are a symbol of the link that exists between their school’s (and country’s) past—and the burden of Europe’s future.


Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the work of all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2014. In total, you’ll find 31 visually delightful works from across the world.