Luigi Gazetta: The Cagli Man About Town
Friday begins like every other workday. As the sun hits the streets of Cagli, Italy, Luigi Gazetta opens up the door to his family’s studio. Preparing for his day, Luigi grabs one of his many cameras and fastens it around his neck. He never wants to be caught without the ability to capture a memory. He stands outside his studio, smiling gently and talking to anyone and everyone who walks by. As the evening draws near, Luigi, along with his daughter and many of the other storekeepers on his street, prepares for the group’s weekly meeting. This “meeting” takes place outside Caffe’ del Corso, which is just up the street from the Gazetta family photography studio.
As the owner of Caffe’ del Corso prepares the tables and chairs for the event, the local storekeepers gather around and prepare for a night of wine, food, and, of course, a little bit of town gossip. Still with camera in hand, Luigi begins pouring prosecco into glasses. The man about town that he is, Luigi has no difficulty convincing all of his female friends to take a seat at the table. Not a single person walks by without a “Ciao” from Luigi, accompanied by an invitation to join in the festivities.
As one of the lone men in a meeting that is predominately female, Luigi seems quite comfortable. He never allows a plate to stay empty or a glass to remain dry. All of the ladies are happy to accept the attention that Luigi devotes to them as he snaps their photos and engages them in the traditional Cagliese dialect.
As a teenager, Luigi studied in Urbino. Straying from the family business, he says, he spent this time “doing little studying and having fun with lots of ladies.” After about three years, he came back to Cagli to work with his father and focus on the art of photography. Surrounded by the business all of his life, he says, photography came naturally to Luigi, and he soon realized it was what he was meant to do.
Now, as a retired fourth-generation photographer, Luigi still finds it easy to make his subjects feel comfortable as he constantly snaps their photos. Currently, he helps his daughter, Samantha, run their photography studio. He opens and closes the store, never accepting a cent from Samantha. Luigi is just happy that his only daughter has found a passion for the one thing that has remained a constant in their lives.
His love for photography is evidenced by his commitment to his daughter and their family business. He acknowledges that the art has changed and admits that he only started using digital photography three years ago. He appreciates the instant ability to share photos, which he does daily using his active Facebook page.
However, digital photography has drawbacks. “Digital cameras took the romance out of photography, just as the recession did to weddings,” he says. Luigi uses both film and digital cameras to capture weddings. He still photographs around 10 weddings a year, but he says this is a far cry from the 50 a year he once did. Luigi feels that the true art of photography is captured by film. “Now, anyone can be a photographer,” he says.
He regularly uses film cameras to capture sunsets and other extraordinary moments, but his favorite work is taking pictures of the historic artwork of Cagli native Gaetano Lapis. He recognizes Lapis as an important part of Cagli history. Luigi travels around Italy, taking pictures of Lapis’s art and bringing the photos back to Cagli. He gives the images to businesses around town. “This is (my) way of bringing Lapis’s art back to Cagli,” he says.
History and tradition remain important to Luigi. He takes pride in his family’s history with the town, crediting his photo studio as the oldest business in Cagli and the Marche region. Luigi recognizes photography as his calling, but his personality cannot keep him hidden behind a camera. Be it an old friend or new acquaintance, Luigi’s infectious charisma and charming spirit make those around him feel as though they have known him for years.
His pride in his family, his work and in Cagli is displayed on the walls of his studio and a lucky few shops around the town. He believes his skills in photography are a gift. He has spent 50 years developing his passion and finds no greater happiness than sharing it with his daughter, friends, and all the people of Cagli.