Samantha Gazzetta: Capturing Cagliesi


by Karen Skoog

The walls of the photography studio tell the story of Samantha Gazzetta of Cagli, Italy. Every corner is filled with memories and dreams that demonstrate her love for family, art, and America. Center stage in the studio is the large, yellowed photo of Samantha as a child next to her father. This relationship holds the central place in her life as well.  Samantha Gazzetta: 4th Generation Photographer

Samantha works daily alongside her father. She is the fourth generation to lovingly capture the many faces of her hometown. She learned many of her skills at school but gained priceless experience being mentored by her father and grandfather. Her great-grandfather, or bisnonno, as she calls him, began the business in 1887. A local count named Duranti, who had an eye for creative enterprises, helped finance the operation, and in tribute, the family named the shop located near the piazza after him.  

Samantha proudly shows off one black-and-white collage tucked amid the other photos. The mix of photos sums up her relationship with the family she adores. Pictured at age 5, Samantha’s is the center photo. Around her are photos of the most important people in her life – her great-grandparents, her grandparents, her parents, and her aunt. She lost her mother to cancer about nine years ago, so these days it is just her and her father.

Another prominent picture in the studio shows Samantha and her best friend in front of the Statue of Liberty. Samantha loves Cagli and its historic character, but she also is drawn to the United States. She traveled to New York City once and longs to return. She loves the art there and mentions MOMA -- the Museum of Modern Art -- as a favorite haunt. She says she has an American flag hanging in her home. Even her name is American. She uses her finger to wiggle her nose as she shares that her mother named her after the character Samantha from “Bewitched,” an American television show from the ‘60s.
 “Most of all,” she says, “I love the creativity of making pictures.”
Samantha has witnessed dramatic changes in photographic techniques. Years ago, she learned how to develop photographs with acids and solutions. But these days, she says, she is not sure she could pull the steps from her memory. She credits her father with the skills and patience to keep producing photos that way. She rolls her eyes and laughs when she considers whether she could or ever would. Her professional life is all digital. The years of dark rooms, toxic solutions, and a week’s wait for photos are over. Her photo world is a computer, a large camera with multiple lenses, and compact discs filled with photographs as fast as she can burn them. While the shop still sells traditional film, the boxes do not move fast. A thin layer of dust covers most of the packages on the shelf.

Despite the changes in the photography industry, the artistry and creativity still capture Samantha’s eyes and heart. She says she enjoys helping people preserve special moments in their lives. She loves weddings, and birthdays and especially photographing the magic, innocence and energy of children. 

“Most of all,” she says, “I love the creativity of making pictures.”




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To find out more information about how
you can participate or support the Cagli project, contact:

Name: Shannon Zaranski
Phone:+1 509 - 313 - 3569
Director: Dr. John Caputo