Contrast to popular belief, youth isn’t wasted on the young, at least not the way Paolo Raeli captures it. In his photographs, the young and beautiful bathe in the glow of a luminous sky amidst twinkling city lights, as they press against each other to keep warm from the thin-crisp air. It all takes place in the same world Holden Caulfield lived in, free of obligations, completely detached and infinitely boundless. To them, knowing how long it will last is irrelevant to what they’re experiencing now. They’re not wasting their youth, they’re living it in all of its pure glory.
Paolo Raeli is a gifted artist with a knack for capturing moments that fall between spiritual and dreamy but that overall, are simply moments of unequivocal young love.
Tell us about your self…
My name is Paolo and I am 21 years old. I was born and raised in Sicily, an island in South Italy, where my passion for photography started.
Your photos seem spontaneous, is any of it planned?
Every single one of them is spontaneous. I can’t deny that, of course, if I can make the picture even better I ask the person I am taking pictures of if they can look at the camera, or move a little forward.. Things like that. But all the pictures are unplanned.
Where does your passion for photography come from?
I’ve always have been fascinated by photography. When I was a teenager I got my first compact camera, taking random pictures of my friends without really care about the composition, lights and so on. But when I got my first good camera as a birthday present, I stated taking photography more seriously. I never stopped since then. I am scared of forgetting memories, and photography is a great way to keep lovely frames of the past.
Best time of the day to shoot?
It’s not really about time, but more about the light. Basically, whenever the light is not too sharp. Usually at twilight, also cloudy days are the best days for taking pictures. I really like taking pictures at night, too. I love the colorful lights of the night.
How honest are your photos?
I try to celebrate the “best years” of life, you know? When you’re young and full of life and making new experiences with people your age who are just experiencing the same things as you but in a different perspective. Those pictures will tell future generations that we were there before them, we were happy and in love with life.
What makes a good photo?
The emotion in it, probably. The light plays a huge role in it of course, but it’s not just about that for me.. If looking at one of my picture, you feel touched by something then I probably took a good picture. What I fear the most is taking pictures no one can feel connected to in some ways. Photography is also sharing for me so I am always happy when people can relate to the feeling of a picture.
What influences you?
This is a very difficult question. I really like the work of Nan Goldin, speaking of other photographers. The weather, and also the place where I am living also influences my pictures a lot. I think I took the best pictures of my life in Rome, the most beautiful city I’ve ever been into.
How do you begin your drawings?
I usually draw people, mostly friends or people I am interested in. The hair is the last thing I draw, usually, and I start with the mouth (my favourite part to draw)
Your favorite place to draw?
I really like to draw near the lakes in Copenhagen, it’s very quiet and the air smells good and there are a lot of lovely swans and ducks and being surrounded by such a nice environment makes me kind of serene.
What matters most to you?
Memories I think. I am scared one day I will be in my sixties without any memories on what I looked like at 16, and I am scared I won’t remember how my hair looked like when I was 19 and how silly I used to dress at 14. I am scared I won’t remember my beautiful friends (the one I’ve lost and the ones who are still with me) and the things we have done together, I am scared I will forget the places I’ve seen and the eyes of my pets, the smile of my mom.. I feel like pictures and the memories attached with them are all I have, so it’s something I keep close to my heart very dearly.