NAME Steve Razzetti
JOB Photographer & Mountain Guide
WEBSITE Steve Razzetti
PROJECT Pakistan Zindabad!
All my work is just for me. I have done very little “commercial” work, and shoot only to satisfy my own personal eye.
Steve Razzetti is a photographer and mountain guide who lives and works in the Lake District.
I’ve had the pleasure of working and traveling with him in countries ranging from Israel, Jordan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen and all over the UK. He shot the wonderful pictures for the book that accompanied the BBC TV Series “Myth & Heroes” with Michael Wood. The only thing that comes close to his enthusiasm for photography is a good cup of tea.
Steve spent many years working as a guide in the Himalayas and he has a deep love for the region and an even deeper respect for the people who live there. In particular, he has a real passion for Pakistan, so I’m delighted he’s shared his project “Pakistan Zindabad!”
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m just starting work on a very exciting project. In 1969 John Berger & Jean Mohr published “A Fortunate Man”, which was an in depth look at the life and work of a country GP. It is a powerful book and a rare marriage of writing and considered documentary photography.
A local author here in Cumbria is writing a modern take on this, and has asked my wife – a GP – to be the subject and commissioned me to take the photographs. I am shooting the whole project in black and white and welcome this opportunity to work amongst the community here in the northern fells of the Lake District.
The first few shoots have produced pictures which I am very excited about. One of my earliest influences getting into photography was the work of Walker Evans. Studying American Literature at university I read “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” by James Agee and Walker Evans. Published in 1941 it is an account of the impoverished lives of sharecropper and tenant farmers in the American midwest during the great depression. Agee wrote the text and Evans took the photographs.
WHY IS PERSONAL WORK IMPORTANT – IS IT JUST FOR YOU OR DO YOU SHOW IT TO CLIENTS?
All my work is just for me. I have done very little “commercial” work, and shoot only to satisfy my own personal eye. I know what I look for in an image, and am not interested in working to the perception of others.
When I first worked with The Telegraph picture library in London, Christopher Angeloglou asked me where I was trained. When I told him I was not trained, he was so happy, saying that the vision of untrained eyes was what he was seeking. I think this approach has led to my enthusiasm for photography remaining undimmed.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL PROJECT – HOW DID IT COME ABOUT AND WHY DID YOU SHOOT IT?
For many years, while I was working as a mountain guide in the Himalaya, I sold landscape images through agencies, prints from my web site, published travel articles and wrote guidebooks. Travelling for such extended periods amongst the most remote and physically challenging landscapes on earth I was of course immersed in the geography of the land.
But it was always the local people who travelled with me, worked with me and whom I met along the way who made the biggest impression on me. I devoted much energy to photographing these mountain people, but found almost no commercial interest in such work. People would ask me why they would want to put a portrait of a tribesman on their wall.
This I could not understand. So I self published a book of black and white portraits taken in Pakistan and called it Pakistan Zindabad! (Long Live Pakistan!).
WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING AT THE MOMENT?
Most recently I have seen Once Upon A Time In Iraq, which was harrowing but essential in my opinion. The recent BBC documentary about Castro was also excellent I thought.
For entertainment late at night I either watch music documentaries ( the recent BBC offering about Bob Marley’s time in England was very good) or mad escapist drama like Better Call Saul. The Netflix documentary series Abstract was something we watched and enjoyed as a family.
As for music, I stream very little but still buy the odd vinyl LP or single to add to my considerable collection. During lockdown I missed my occasional but incredibly fulfilling outings as a reggae / soul / funk DJ, and started doing my own series of music podcasts. These take up far too much time!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE GALLERY OR ART WEBSITE
Living on a hill farm in northern Cumbria we are light on art galleries, but a shout must go out to The UpFront near Penrith, who much above their weight on all fronts, putting on international standard puppet shows, exhibitions and more recently under Ben Parkinson’s guidance, an eclectic range of music nights.