Interviewing Paola Cominetta: photoreporter

Paola Cominetta is very young, she is just 33, but she has already created a good number of photo essays nevertheless.

After graduating in Moral Philosophy from the University of Milan, Paola started working as a photographer, mainly with non-profit organizations.

How did your passion for photography start?
I was 13 years old when my mother gave me a Canon T70: the camera’s light meter was broken, but i started taking pictures all the same.

How hard was it to become a professional photoreporter?
Very hard! The photography community it’s quite a closed one and the job is very demanding: it’s not just a matter of taking pictures, you need a preliminary work of gathering information and finding the right contacts, this is vital to create a good and complete essay.

How did you get involved in social work?
I don’t remember a precise occasion. I guess the camera itself drove me on this path: it taught me to face my fears and to never let panic jam you, no matter what you are experiencing. Besides, I have never seeked or liked easy, convenient situations.

The project you are working on right now?
It’s a photobook that celebrates the 50th anniversary of U.I.L.D.M. (the Italian non-profit organization that fights muscular dystrophy): the book illustrates the history and the development of the organization from its start to our days by comparing old pictures I chose from a photographic archive and new ones I personally took.

The work you loved the most?
I don’t have a favourite one. I have been lucky enough to have a lot of different experiences: I worked in the streets in India and in a surgery room in Africa, I covered the world gambling and the divorce business in Reno, made reportages about the sexual life of the handicapped… I just can’t choose one.

What advice would you give to the boys and girls who dream of becoming professional photographers?
Look for a good school, study and practice! You’ve got to really push yourself, try to always be up to date on everything and find some time alone to practice and get experience.

All photos by Paola Cominetta

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