documenting the youth of sicily in love

Follow Paolo Raeli’s lens to Sicily as the young photographer captures moments of honest friendship and candid intimacy. The resulting images explore the limitless and naivety of youth while celebrating coming-of-age relationships. From quiet...

by Robin Alper
30 June 2016, 1:40pm

Where are you from, and what do you do in your day-to-day life?
I live in Sicily, the triangular island of southern Italy. Thankfully, I don't have any alarms waking me up in the morning and I've worked hard to achieve that. I try to do something different every day, but I take pictures as much as possible. Wherever I go, my camera comes with me.

Who are the people in your pictures?
They're my friends. I'm not the type of person who can ask random strangers on the street for permission to take their picture. I prefer to have more of a personal connection with the people I photograph, it means both of us can feel at ease. You can see it in pictures when people do not feel at ease; I don't want that.

What fascinates you so about your friends?
There is something about my friend Morgana that just makes me want to take pictures of her all day. Maybe it's the way she moves. Agathe has an amazing smile, I love the pictures where you see her smiling. Marta has beautiful, seemingly never-ending hair that, for me at least, deserves to be photographed. Every person I meet has something special. I easily fall in love with small details.

Where do you take your friends to photograph them?
Parties, bars, and there are a few squares where youngsters get together during the night to meet new people.

Why did you decide to capture the moments you experience with your friends?
This is going to sound cheesy, but these pictures feel like little treasures to me. Every day we get a little older, memories fade and people fade, but pictures don't. Even after 20 years the dumbest picture can hold a special meaning to you. When I'm 60, it will be nice to see how oddly I dressed when I was 16, or to see photographs of the day I adopted my dog.

What are you trying to tell us through your pictures?
The future is unsure, the past is gone. The only thing we really have is the now and pictures are our only way of keeping little pieces of the past to help us create our future.

What, would you say, is really characteristic of our generation?
I think human beings remain the same over generations. The mediums we have at our disposal might have changed, but we still all long for love, happiness, health, success, and attention. My parents really are not that different from me, but I send iMessages whereas they sent letters on paper. Technology and easier access to the rest of the world are the only differences. Social media is kind of a looking glass that magnifies all your mistakes and desires but I'm sure past generations did similar stuff, there's just not as much proof online.

What is the biggest misconception people have about the youth of today?
Probably that we are self-obsessed and stupid.

Do you think that young people today are more preoccupied with things happening outside their own country?
We have a lot of information at our fingertips but I'm not so sure that our generation is using it correctly.

What do your friends think of the current political situation in Italy?
Here in Italy -- and particularly in Sicily -- there is a lot of talk about the migrants that come here by boat looking for peace and a place to live. Many of the political parties have opposing ideas about what's best, and people are stuck somewhere in-between. But my friends and I are completely convinced that we have to help people who flee war and hunger.

What would you like to change in the world?
I would want people to be nicer and just have greater understanding of each other, but I think things are changing. I have faith that the younger generations will diminish racism, homophobia, violence, and other sorts of discrimination.


Text Robin Alpher
Photography Paolo Raeli

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