The latest talk in our PassTheSalt series took us on a journey around the world guided by internationally acclaimed photographer, Dario Mitidieri

Above all, Dario is a story-teller. Best known for his black and white photographic reportage, the magnitude of his talent is immediately evident in the breadth of his work, from the Tiananmen Square massacre to Ibiza’s electric party scene to big brand campaigns. 

As Dario led us through the colourful chapters of his life's work, it became increasingly evident where his true passion lies. In harnessing photography as a medium for social awareness, Dario has devoted so much of his life to chronicling issues related to the human condition, culture and conflict. This has pulled him to the epicentre of some of the most important events in recent history and to some of the rarest cultural events still practised today. 

To this day, his timeless book, Children of Bombay, might be considered his most evocative. Immersing himself in the lives of Bombay’s neglected street children and exchanging an open ear for trust, Dario invites the reader into a world that goes beyond that of a journalistic project. "I followed them for a year: where they slept, ate, worked, the relationship between them, between them and the adults, the prison, the social workers, drug abuse and sexual abuse. The pain, the joy, the work, the movies – all of that. I tried to cover every possible aspect of their lives and I think that’s what made the difference," Dario explains. Ultimately and perhaps heartbreakingly, we see children who, in the face of all horrors, demonstrate an unbreakable hopefulness.

Dario then brought his talk to the present with his recently commissioned portraits of Syrian refugee families. Setting up a photoshoot in a Lebanese refugee camp, Dario shared how he had invited families to pose for formal photographs, with chairs left empty to represent dead or missing relatives. In aid of CAFOD, this Lost Family Portraits project stands as a powerful reminder of the devastating effects that conflict has on families - "families like yours and mine."

Whether Dario was guiding us through portraits of the marginalised or of the hedonistic Ibiza partygoers, his stories shared similar qualities. Giving voices to the overlooked and humanising individuals lost amongst stereotypes and generalisations, Dario’s work is touched throughout by the same inquisitive attention and honesty. 

Stay tuned for our next PassTheSalt speaker!

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