Last week my friend Wendy and I were on our way to Brooklyn to have dinner at Alex Majoli’s apartment when she asked, “Why do you have such a crush on him?” (Wendy had never met Alex – after dinner she understood). Here are my reasons:
1) In 2004 I applied to Magnum. The night before the members voted on my application I attended a Magnum party in New York. The room was packed with great photographers from around the world. I was intimidated. One photographer approached me and said, “I just want to tell you that I don’t like your pictures and I’m not voting for you.” Scrambling for the door, I was stopped by Alex Majoli. Majoli is tall (I’m guessing 6’5”), Italian, and looks the way a photographer should look. I prepared myself for another lashing. Instead, he grabbed my face in his enormous hand and said “Good pictures, good pictures.”
2) Majoli is a laid-back overachiever. When he was 15, he joined the F45 Studio in Ravenna. When he was 18 he became a full-time photojournalist. Since then he’s won all the prizes (Infinity Award, Magazine Photographer of the Year, etc). Despite this he comes across as casual and unhurried. Many overachievers are annoying. Majoli is just the opposite.
3) This is probably obvious, but Majoli is a bad-ass photographer. One example from Majoli’s book Leros:
A patient and a care worker lie in the sun. ©Alex Majoli
4) Majoli sings Samba. Listen here.
5) Majoli makes amazing polenta
6) Over the last few decades professional photographers have become increasingly specialized. Majoli has resisted this trend. “I want to photograph everything,” he said in an interview (watch it here). He’s produced iconic war images, sensual fashion work and austere portraits. But I wouldn’t limit Majoli as a generalist. More and more these diverse subjects are being woven into a remarkably unified vision.
7) As this vision becomes unified, many of the pictures are becoming simpler. Majoli has been stripping away content. The results are stunning. Here are a few examples:
Paris, the 18th District, 2000 ©Alex Majoli
Fashion week, New York, 2005 ©Alex Majoli
Murambi Genocide Memorial, Rwanda, 2006. ©Alex Majoli