Detroit Based People & Commercial photographer
By Robere Lett | Publisher | Additional Text by Santa Fabio
I first met Santa Fabio many years ago and immediately fell in love with her immense and infectious personality, a kind, generous spirit that fills a room even with her demure stature. Always a consummate professional with an easy going aesthetic but the ability to nail every photo to perfection. Even now reconnecting with Santa some five years after our last encounter she is even more gracious and lovely, that our time reminiscing about the past, present and future seems like seconds when in fact it stretched for a few hours. Her passion for creating beautiful memories is still boundless and her desire to create has never wavered. It got me to thinking about what a perfect opportunity we have to highlight her amazing achievements and to help tell the story of her incredible new book project “Il Paese Del Mio Cuore” (“The Town That Stole My Heart”). Santa’s immense passion to delve into her ancestry in Italy through her camera lens is the catalyst for creating her beautiful pictorial chronicle of her family, friends and acquaintances revealing the changes that have taken place in their lives throughout the years. To see more of Santa Fabio’s amazing images visit her website @ www.santafabio.com
It is difficult to remember a time when photography was not a part of my life. From the moment a camera found its way into my hands, I was hooked. That journey began over four decades ago. Basically, I am a shy person, but put a camera in my hands and I suddenly have the courage to move outside my comfort zone and create. I owe that realization to my mentors, some of the country’s best photojournalists, who shared their knowledge and wisdom with me: Tony Spina, chief photographer from the Detroit Free Press; Eli Reed, Magnum member and former Detroit News photographer, and my favorite teacher, Walter Farynk from the College of Creative Studies.
The result is that I have a large collection of images, from local celebrities to sports to the renovation of the theater district. My life has been changed and enriched by all those who have been in front of my camera. I was born in Detroit, and the city has always had a strong influence on me. But being born in America had one drawback: My large, extended family lived in Italy. My first visit to Sicily came when I was six years old, and even though the details are not that much in focus, I do remember begging my parents for a return visit. Being the daughter of a mason didn’t allow for much extra income to be a jetsetter. So I waited, and waited and waited.
After my high school graduation, I was able to visit again, and armed with my very first real camera, I began my photographic journey of the village where my parents were born and raised. (Note: my father was born in the US, but my grandmother missed Sicily so much that the story goes, she cried every day until my grandfather took them home.) The photographs from that trip are far from wonderful, but it cemented my desire to go to school to learn photography and return.
“Il Paese Del Mio Cuore” (“The Town That Stole My Heart”)
Having my first professional photograph published the day after I turned nineteen was the beginning of my apprenticeship into photography. (It was awful and my very first exposure to sports photography!) Little did I know it would lead to becoming a sports and photojournalist for the next decade. It was a glorious time to be a photojournalist, filled with assignments that I would never have been able to do had I not been an image creator.
Although I loved my work as a photojournalist, I had another photographic passion. That one began at age twenty-seven and continues to this day: documenting the place my family calls home. Mandanici is a small village of 600 in northeast Sicily. For me this work is a way to connect with the people who knew my parents and grandparents. Yes, I could have visited and stayed only with family, but then I would have missed what makes Mandanici, Mandanici. It is more than a collection of stone homes and abandoned terraces where farming was once done. It is filled with people who share my bloodline.
Walking up and down every cobblestone path, day in and day out, during my visits has yielded not only friendships, but also a collection of photographs that have documented the town as it inexorably changes. The first few visits I was met with skepticism, but I began each conversation in Italian with, “Hi, my name is Santa and I am the daughter of Giovanni and Giuseppa. Who are you?” From there, recognition filled their faces and then the stories flowed like a river. I am very passionate about this project for it has helped me grow as a photographer and as a person. It connected me to a world I knew nothing about. I may not be able to attend birthday parties or holiday get-togethers with my family, but at least I have the images I’ve taken to remind me of them.
When I set foot in Mandanici, I become part of the town. The photographs I have taken, and will continue to take as long as I am able, will be the living legacy of the village that nurtured and raised my family.
The book “Il Paese Del Mio Cuore” (“The Town That Stole My Heart”) is a project that has been over thirty years in the making. It is the legacy I want to leave Mandanici, for without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
All images: © 2019 Santa Fabio - Detroit People Photographer, Corporate, Advertising, Editorial www.santafabio.com All rights reserved, No Reproduction Rights Granted Of Any Kind.