In times of tragedy, is it possible to find moments of hope? This is the question Canon Ambassador Massimo Sestini often asks himself. The very nature of his photographic work, documenting the frequent tragedies of immigration, means that he often finds himself facing harrowing events. He frequently exposes himself to danger and risk so that he can bring us, the viewer, a world we otherwise would not see. And despite witnessing so much suffering up close, he continues to seek and discover moments of beauty. And through it, Massimo challenges our perspectives and the emotional choices we make when presented with such images.
“I started as an amateur photographer in my late teens and fell in love with photography as the most powerful means of communication. Even more so than video, as photographs speak all languages. From there, I became a photojournalist, sent to increasingly important places to take images. I enjoyed developing a unique skill – to photograph things that others couldn't reach. I convinced a helicopter pilot to fly over Pope John Paul's funeral, which was the only one in the air over the meeting of all the world's dignitaries and took the one picture distributed the world of his funeral, captured directly above St Peter's Square.
When I'm photographing in a challenging position, I am so focused and concentrated on doing my job, I tend not to get distracted by the potentially dangerous or tragic situations around me. The emotion of the moment is temporarily gone. The focus of getting the right photo is all that dominates my mind. If I'm hanging out of a helicopter and changing lenses, I have to be really careful it doesn't slip out of my hands, as it could literally kill someone.