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Stefano Zardini 1946-2019. A Eulogy

22 Gennaio 2019 | Condividi:

I met Stefano in the early ‘90s when in Cortina, and noticed beautiful photographic books about the Dolomites translated into an English that I thought I could improve on. I found out that his studio was in town so one day I knocked on his door. Stefano was busy but receptive, friendly, and forthright.

He started entrusting me with translating postcards and calendars about the Dolomites. Then, in 1997, he asked me to translate “Dolomites Journey through an Enchanted Kingdom”, a photographic book with interesting texts that has become a best-selling book, reprinted countless times.

I tried to live up to the exceptional photography, and graphic layout by Stefano’s son Nicola, by putting everything into my translation, which at times I rendered slightly differently from the Italian original texts.

From then, I contributed to most of Stefano’s projects and became, as he often said, his “official translator”. This despite Stefano’s excellent knowledge of English. But he trusted me to hunt for the right tone for his photographic art-works. He would often call me to discuss the nuances of words I had chosen, always contributing positively, and always trusting my choices in the end.

Over the years, I had the fortune to see his works – albeit in thumbnail form – as he would email me them so I could render the descriptions fitting to the works. His descriptions were invariably short and direct, harsh even when the context so required. I took up the challenge to write in similar manner, to re-create a style appropriate, in particular, to Stefano’s reportage projects on the plights of people in zones of war, of hardship (India), and of animals and nature exploited by short-sighted man who looks only for quick profit with no thought of the world we are leaving to our children.

The enthusiasm of Stefano was contagious. I never watched the clock when translating his material. I translated, post-edited, and re-wrote again. I cared not about the money, but only about conveying what he wanted to, through his inspirational art-work and words.

I found that, like many people of Cortina I have known, Stefano had a truly global outlook. Already well travelled, one day he announced he was closing his photographic shop in central Cortina to devote all his energy to his love: photographic art. He started travelling a lot more.

No more developing and printing others’ photos, selling cameras and equipment. He was off, to explore the world before it was too late.

His projects always included the Dolomites – including the publishing of the Zardini family photographic historic archive – but from now on he was pursuing his real dream: hunting out the locations and situations, the creative ideas he wanted to, unfettered by time.

Hungry to express his art, and thirsty for just the right light, Stefano climbed tough mountain routes, motorcycled, hiked, and took buses to impossible places. All with the drive to know the world by experiencing and commenting on it – especially the pervading lack of morality shown by man for his fellows and for our world.

When my adopted daughter, Elena, arrived from Russia in 2006, I asked Stefano if I could pay him to take some photos of her. He said ‘yes of course’ and that he would be delighted to do so. As a gift.

So, I publish a photo of Elena taken by Stefano in August 2006, on a day I will always remember. She has the smile of a child who is comfortable, reassured. The smile of the joy for life that Stefano brought out of people.

She is sharing the light of the Light Hunter.

See: the Projects – Reportage – Collective Exhibits – Fine Art – Special Events

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