Before diving into Fine-Art photography, I produced several documentaries, having experienced firsthand the suffering of the poor and vulnerable.
Close to my heart is the Left Behind project which tackles that very subject and looks at migration in Europe, with a focus on Moldova, a country that in recent years may have seen as many as one million people leave to find work. The Migration creates what I call social orphans; children and young people who may only see their parents once or twice a year if they are lucky. This was the central focus of my work.
Starting a new photo-narrative is always a challenge - I need to dedicate time to get that first shot which unlocks the rest. I begin by imagining the end result and allowing inspiration to wash over me, calling particularly to heart artists I have met personally. I remember Francesco Zizola's words during his workshop: "A photo-reporter must be ethically correct and respectful of the pain which he narrates."
I am not snap-happy. For my Left Behind project, many images passed through my mind's eye that I decided not to realise. There has to be a clear line between respect for photographic subjects and the exigencies of the free-press.
Self-reflection is key to my practice, I consider; is it too iconic? Is it too simple or too humble to accurately tell the story I want? Yet I recognise that as my language continues to take shape so maturity continues to develop.
But what drew me to the story and the focus on the children left behind?
I'm a father of three children and they are to me like water is to the sea. In my experience as a photojournalist, meeting the protagonists of my stories, I have got to the point where I firmly believe that each person is affected for better, or for worse, by the experiences of their childhood. For this reason, we must do everything we can to ensure children grow up in peace and serenity.
One day, I met a young guy from Senegal selling socks in the streets of my hometown Anzio, near Rome. He told me that his only dream was to bring his family over, but not having a job or full residency permit he knew that it could never come true. Looking into his eyes while he spoke made me realise how much pain and suffering he had in his heart. My mind then came to think about his children. Within a child's heart, growing up without one or both parents must be even more difficult to carry, and so I decided to try to tell the story of immigration from the viewpoint of those children left behind.
I chose the Republic of Moldova because other than it being one of the poorest nations in Europe, it has a shocking level of emigration, some illegally and without visas, so returning home is at best arduous. But if young Moldovans want any kind of future at all for their children they have to go abroad to work.
Sadly, this kind of situation may never end. Today our attention is turned to the migrants in the Mediterranean sea. Elderly and young people are just now trying to cross their pond, to find prosperity, peace and new spaces to live. We cannot turn our heads away, instead, we must fight to ensure that every child has freedom, serenity and the future they deserve.
© 2017 Carmine Flamminio