Hello Settimio, my name is Domenico and I am 22 years old. I apologize for thouing you, I hope you will not reprove me for that. I’m passionate about photography and some times ago I bumped into your website and listed you – after watching your work – amongst my idols. I regularly look at your blog and most of the time I agree with your thoughts and your perplexities about this world going adrift. I often find myself in tune with your views. I wanted to ask you a sincere and impartial opinion. don’t worry I will not submit photos that you have to judge. I’m only asking a sincere advice that I hope you can give me as soon as you have a little bit of time. as I said: I’m passionate about photography and I badly would like it to become my work in the future. but as a famous poet said: “there is no certainty in the future” and therefore I’m not underestimating the importance of following a traditional set of studies, (law). I don’t know if I lack the courage to face life without a second plan or I don’t repute myself good enough to base all my life on a (for the moment) passion but it has been a while since I’ve been in doubt if I should go on with my studies, or dive head-first into my passion (photography). Beside the work (at the very high standard) that you do, which choice would you suggest for me. I know you normally utilize the mail for work and not to give suggestion to someone like me. I hope, anyway that you will find a little bit of time to answer and help me to banish all my doubts. At what age did you became passionate about your work and when did you decide to make it a choice of life? Which and how many difficulties you had to face at the beginning? While I wait for your answer I send my regards and ENJOY YOUR WORK. Domenico. Hello Settimio, I don’t know if you reember me (why should you? but I try anyway). I’m Domenico and if I remember well I wrote to you an e-mail towards december/january talking about some existential doubts pervading my restless soul. As I was aware about your busy schedule I said you shouldn’t (if you couldn’t or didn’t want to) answer but you answered asking permission to publish the answer on your blog and I said yes ….. I would have not written to you again if those doubts would have in the meantime faded or in any way solved but unfortunately it hasn’t happened that way and know I would be really curious to know the answer of course without any rush and only if you feel like it … Bye and congratulation for your work I manage to constantly follow thanks to internet. P.S. I’ve seen your competition to became your “temporary” assistant but after having seen the level of the proposals and verifying the level of the winner I have given up even if I cannot deny I would have liked to assist you even for only one day…. well: another fallen dream. Domenico. Hi domenico, i’m sorry if i haven’t answered to you before, but i’m always really very busy. what you are asking me doesn’t have quick and simple answers, obviously, but i will try and explain my opinion about this, and i do it hoping it will be useful not only for you but also for all those, and there are many, that write to me with similar questions. it has to be verified if i’m the right person, without false modesty. there are those who think i’m a great photographer and those who think i’m really mediocre. surely only in the first case i would have the right to give advises. i myself do not know which side i can stand. i put an end to all the obstacles and i will give you my advise. because i surely have one quality and that, i know for certain, is not for everybody: i make a living, and also quite a good one, from this work. i think this makes a big and important difference. but let’s come to the point …. first of all i think the topic must be analyzed from the beginning. in the sense it looks to me your doubts of a twenty years old are especially between the “security” of a safe carrier, like study/degree/employment/ work and the insecurity of a future conacrated to creativity. and the word creativity doesn’t only mean to be a fashion photographer going around the world taking photos of what he likes, by creativity i mean to choose a rewarding job in life, funny, and pleasurable… an activity where one can put as much as possible of what he is. this can mean to open a bar, a sailing school, a trattoria … or to become a comic, a musician, and maybe also a photographer…. i have no doubt about this. i am absolutely convinced we have to choose a job that is what we are. unfortunately/fortunately work is our life. it is what we do most part of our life. i am (at least up to now, because (“there is no certainty in tomorrow”) very happy about the choice i made when i was your age. i really don’t understand those people that are happy on friday and count the days to the holydays. holydays?!?! but life must be holydays, and not the refuge of a shitty life. i’m very happy on a monday as much as on a friday. and i say it again i have no doubts about that, one must do what he wants. attention! attention! i’m also convinced that “what one wants” is absolutely personal. i mean: to be a rockstar is something that in the collective imagination everybody likes, but i’m not so sure that everybody would like to lead the life of a rock star. apparently yes, but i’m convinced that 90% of the people would have their ball busted giving a concert every night in a different place, and to sleep every night in a different hotel, and every night play the same tunes with the same passion and energy …. what i want to say is that it is very important to read inside oneself and really understand what one wants to do and be. maybe for you and many others to be a lawyer and not a photographer is the right thing ….. and here we are: if becoming a photographer is the right thing to do. her it become complicated, because there is no simple answer. first of all there is a problem, a basic uncertainty : the definition of a photographer. anyone who speaks about a profession defines it quite specifically. a chef makes food for people. more or less people, with minor or great success, but that’s what he is doing. it’s more or less like this for most professions. for a photographers things are a little bit different, he says “i’m a photographer” both the one who shoots porno in budapest and avedon in new york. this is to explain there are different and more ways of approaching the profession, that are more or less those i’ve taken. first of all to study a lot, to know as much as possible. nobody can be a great writer if he hasn’t read hundreds of books. nobody can become a musician if he hasn’t listened thousands of songs. and nobody can become a photographer if he hasn’t read everything about photography. did you read the “light room” by roland barthes? did you read “on photography” by susan sontang? did you read “the photography” by ugo mulas? if these three titles don’t tell you much you are not there at all. if you want to be a photographer you have to buy, steal, page through all existing photography books. when i was twenty i used to buy vogue italia and i remember very well the marvellous editorials by barbieri as if it was now. study, study, nothing comes by chance, if by any chance tomorrow i produce a good editorial is because twenty years ago i watched and absorbed a very good editorial, after studying is the next step, that is to start from the bottom, and it means to shoot, shoot, shoot … i was spending nights in the dark room to print, and develop and try, and try again. for years. then i moved to the professional world, and that can be achieved by taking the important step of being an assistant. to be an assistant is already a profession, but i will talk about this some other time. let’s come to the facts, to be or not to be a photographer, like i am, let’s say fashion/advertising/ people? i really wouldn’t know what to answer. i can assure you it is not easy at all. i know very good professional that do not work that much, and don’t make any money, also because the problem is not to make a very good editorial, a very good ad campaign (all this things i’m sure would make you happy) once and that’s it, the real problem is to shoot every week for years after years. there are thousand of difficulties, not only creative, but also managing, bureaucratic, entrepreneurial… i always work, my head is never free of this work. i always think how to solve the thousand shits i have. at the end i really would know what to suggest and advise, real recipes how to make it at the start really do not exist. also because it depends from the type of photographer you want to become and in which market you want to operate. the good news is that the market is infinite, vast and if you look around you will find millions of photos, that someone has commissioned, done, paid and bought. how to start marketing yourself depends only exclusively by yourself. to be a photographer like i am, i repeat, is not easy at all: but if you feel the real big fire inside you (and if you knew the three books here above ….) i would give it a go. because, although everything, it is a fantastic profession. good luck and write to me again in twenty years and tell me how did it go…..